President Muhammadu Buhari was a cult figure in northern Nigeria. I am not sure if he still is. Prior to the 2015 general election, he enjoyed the euphoric chant of ‘Sai Baba’ that trailed his campaign movements across the country. Today, ‘Sai Baba’ is gradually changing to a new sing-song.
Recall that last week, Buhari went to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, on a sympathy visit. It was soon after he returned from a five-day trip to Ethiopia for the African Union summit. On hand to welcome him was a large crowd of Borno residents. But, instead of ‘Sai Baba’, they booed him, chanting in Hausa, ‘Bama so! Bamayi! (We don’t want, we are not interested).’ Ironically, this troubled state gave him the widest margin of victory in the 2019 presidential election.
What prompted Buhari’s visit was the recent havoc the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents wreaked in a village called Auno. They burnt about 30 travellers to death in their vehicles. Earlier in January, the terrorists attacked Gamboru in the same state, killing no fewer than 30 persons. On January 18, the insurgents killed at least 20 internally displaced persons waiting for assistance at an aid facility in the Ngala area of the state. One soldier and four of the terrorists also died.
In Kaduna, over 100 bandits raided a village recently and burnt 16 members of a family to death. And just last Friday, some bandits invaded Buhari’s home state of Katsina. They killed over 30 people and burnt houses, animals and foodstuff. In Adamawa, Zamfara, Taraba and many other parts of the North, life and death are now in the hands of bandits and terrorists. This is not to say that there is no crime in the South. There is. But it pales to insignificance when compared to what is happening in the North today.
These killings clearly show that Buhari has failed his people. Security is the number one thing a government provides for its citizens. Any government that cannot do that loses its credibility. Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto alluded to this last week. In his homily during the burial of the 18-year-old seminarian, Michael Nnadi, recently abducted and killed by terrorists in Kaduna, Kukah said, “Our nation is like a ship stranded on the high seas, rudderless and with broken navigational aids. Today, our years of hypocrisy, duplicity, fabricated integrity, false piety, empty morality, fraud and Pharisaism have caught up with us. Nigeria is at a crossroads and its future hangs precariously in the balance. This is a wakeup call for us.”
Indeed, the protest in Maiduguri clearly shows that most Borno, nay northern people, are fed up with Buhari. It shows that, despite his nepotistic and divisive policies mainly aimed at favouring the North, the people are not happy. It shows that such policies do not bring development. What they largely do is to line the pockets of the appointees and leave the majority of the masses in penury.
Today, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children of primary school age in the world. Most of these estimated nine million children are from the North. They roam the streets begging for alms. People call them almajiri. I call them abused children. When they become young adults, they either migrate to cities where they ride okada or join gangs and begin to terrorise innocent citizens.
Truth is, there is a correlation between poverty and crime. If the majority of the citizens can afford the basic necessities of life, they will most likely not resort to crime. But when they see opulence on display by a few privileged individuals, they take up arms to fend for themselves.
A recent World Bank report indicates that northern Nigeria accounts for 87 per cent of the poverty rate in Nigeria. Buhari’s North-West, according to the report, happens to be home to almost half of all the poor in the country. Poverty rates in the South were said to be around 12 per cent, with little variation across zones.
The World Bank report added that, “the youths used by Boko Haram to partake in the conflict are jobless, without skills, or trades, and are easily susceptible to radicalisation.” Besides, according to the World Bank, only about 25 to 28 per cent of households in the North-East and North-West have access to basic services such as electricity, water and sanitation.
This present government prides itself as having social security measures for citizens. There is TraderMoni, whereby they give N10,000 loans to traders, and there is school feeding programme. These social protection measures as implemented by the Nigerian government, the World Bank noted, have not been able to address the high level of poverty in the country.
By and large, what the people want is action against Boko Haram not sympathy visits or insincere promises. They want real development, not skewed political appointments. They protested from the bottom of their hearts and couldn’t have been hired by opposition elements as presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, would want us to believe.
In civilised countries, most leaders resign when the ovation is no longer loud. Last November, Bolivia’s Evo Morales resigned as President to ease violence that gripped his country after a disputed election held on October 20, 2019. He is currently on exile in Argentina. Morale’s deputy, Alvaro Garcia Linera, and the then Senate President, Adriana Salvatierra, also resigned. Many of the former President’s allies, including Mining Minister, also stepped down.
Morales, who was in power for nearly 14 years, bequeathed strong economic growth rates to Bolivia, and drastically cut the country’s poverty rate. His undoing was his determination to cling to power and seek a fourth term in office. In the anti-government protests that erupted after the flawed election, the police even joined. The military said it would not confront the people over the issue. The Attorney-General of the country ordered an investigation and threatened to prosecute whoever was found responsible for the election irregularities.
When shall we ever witness this kind of action in Nigeria? When will our security forces and other government agents realise that the power of the people is greater than the people in power? Will any Nigerian President ever step down voluntarily? Will Buhari ever heed the cry of his people who have pointedly told him, ‘Bama so’?
Re: Nigeria: Tragedy of a nation
Dear Casmir, I was just bitten by the poetic bug of savagery in your piece on “Nigeria: Tragedy of a nation.” In prose and the art of writing, every writer has a peculiar style. And if President Buhari is not a writer, let no one give us that BS that he wrote an article in a US-based magazine, “Christianity Today,” analysing whether more Christians or Muslims had been killed, butchered, beheaded by Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen, infiltrated kidnappers and bandits over time. It is a cinch that the article was written by the President’s honchos, our old friend, Femi Adesina, or Garba Shehu. Since both have a ready caveat of “just doing our job,” such bare-faced lies and false attribution to Buhari as a “writer,” is another half-clever way of attacking their own images. As a fellow Army General, Olusegun Obasanjo once revealed, how can you tell us that a man who has limited “attention span” can be exposed to the world as one helluva writer? Better talk of a rat’s fart!
– Dr. Chuka Nwosu, Port Harcourt, 08085914645
Casmir, Nigeria is in the hands of cabals who respect cows more than human beings. It is indeed a tragedy. In his first four years, President Buhari and APC gave us sorrow in the name of change. In his second tenure, he branded it next level. We have all seen the introduction to the next level. All should ride to fight for our survival, as we can’t trust the government of the day. May our God be greater than theirs!
– Pharm. Okwy Njike, 08038854922
Dear Casmir, the fight against crime should start from the armed forces and police. Criminals can’t wreak havoc without tipoff and protection from security agents. Government should take good care of ex-servicemen and improve on care of security agents.
– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215
Casmir, the problem of insecurity in Nigeria was compounded after the Maitasinine killings in the 1980s, via the introduction of Sharia into the polity by the then governor. This marked the beginning of discrimination and hatred of Christians in the North by the Muslim fundamentalists/extremists. Nigeria has known no peace since then. To put an end to it, stop the implementation of Sharia in the North and change their orientation towards Western education.
– Mike, Mushin, Lagos, +2348161114572
Dear Casy, the tragedy of this nation started with the British colonial lords that imposed the Fulani feudal and hegemonic leadership at the centre and also the political disagreement between Awo and Azikiwe that left southern Nigeria open for the Fulani political hegemony. The Nigerian tragedy commenced the 1966 to 1970 trouble. Gen. Ironsi’s intervention to restore peace was rejected by Gowon and his Fulani and other collaborators. They murdered Ironsi, hijacked and destroyed the regional governments. Southern Nigerians should come together and speak love to one another.
– Eze Chima C. Lagos, +2347036225495
Any country that loses its citizen in uncertain manner bears the blame for failing to protect the citizens. But seeing our President making analysis that 90% of those he is supposed to protect were Muslims shows that the President has nothing to offer this nation.
– Anonymous, +2349017805102
It is long overdue for President Buhari to do the needful by removing all the service chiefs and bring in fresh ones to take over and find a lasting solution to insecurity in Nigeria.
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348115368466