When Muhammadu Buhari and his co-travelers truncated Nigeria’s democracy on December 31, 1983, some of us were not born. I heard how Nigerians faced the most undignifying treatment from his military goons.
My late father was a teacher and was also a good recaller of historical facts. I have no doubt that he is turning in his grave as I pen this piece. He must be so angry that Nigerians allowed Buhari to have another shot. He must also be angry that folks, who were victims of his first coming, fell for the biggest propaganda Nigeria has ever witnessed.
I will not dwell much on the days leading to the presidential election that produced Buhari. Let me restrict my brief to the dismantling, exposure and demystification of Buhari in the Senate. I will take you through the not-so-distant past of how Buhari was revered and dreaded in the Senate. I will also inform Nigerians, who may not be aware, how the president has become a huge joke in the Senate.
The election of Bukola Saraki as the President of the Senate came at a huge prize. Buhari, the leadership of the faltering All Progressives Congress (APC) and some so-called national leaders of the party, had endorsed Ahmad Lawan from Yobe State.
Forging an alliance with his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Saraki humiliated Buhari, the party and Lawan’s camp. The mighty Buhari, who thought he did Nigerians a favour by contesting, did not stop there. As soon as Saraki settled down, Buhari, still trapped in his old military delusion, saw the Senate as one of his conquered territories.
His letters were quickly treated, despite clear cases of contravention of the constitution. At least, Saraki wanted to be in his good books. Buhari flouted and blatantly refused to implement many resolutions of the Senate. This notwithstanding, he always had his way.
He also got lucky. He had loyal foot soldiers that were never scared to confront Saraki. Whenever Saraki ‘erred’ he was always blackmailed with the name of our infallible Buhari.
Kabiru Marafa, Shehu Sani, Barnabas Gemade and others, could go to war to defend Buhari. Ironically, Buhari did not reciprocate this love affair. While lawmakers who did not take any extreme position could speak openly, it was haram for Buhari’s diehard fanatics to speak on any issue dispassionately. Who will blame them? They did not want to offend the emperor of Daura.
Gradually, like the blind man in the bible who Jesus healed, Buhari’s unofficial spokesmen in the Senate, began to see clearly. They started asking the right questions. Although it was belated, at least, ‘at all at all, na im bad.’
You remember Senator Barnabas Gemade? Yes, the former chairman of the PDP? He was the leader of the camp of Buhari’s loyalists. In age, I am certain Gemade can favourably compete with Buhari. But at some point in the Senate, when the going was good, it was impossible for Gemade to make any remark without appreciating how Buhari was taking Nigeria to the Promised Land. It is now certain that there was never any promised land. It was a padded promise.
As soon as Buhari’s overrated status was exposed, Gemade jumped ship. His first sermon after he was healed of buharinomia, syndrome, occurred mid last year.
In October 2017, Gemade shocked newsmen, when he took Buhari to the cleaners. He warned the Buhari-led Federal Government that the country was on the brink of collapse.
“Hate speech, divisive and secessionist quests raised their ugly heads, but we fortunately overcame. The delivery of public values has seized to be the essence of governance, as our fellow countrymen can barely access basic social necessities. These challenges have shaken the very foundation of the Nigerian people’s faith in leadership,” a repentant Gemade told Buhari.
He did not stop there. He had another opportunity to lampoon Buhari and he did not spare him. In December 2017, when the Senate considered the general principles of the 2018 budget, Gemade led an offensive and told his colleagues to suspend the consideration.
“What we have seen is far from the 40 per cent capital project implementation we were told. In many MDAs, budget performance is hovering between 12 to 15 percent.
In early November, the borrowing plans were brought, and we approved it. They said they were going to release more funds. As of now, we cannot say if that is true,” Gemade stated.
You remember Shehu Sani from Kaduna State? He once worshipped Buhari like a deity. In 2015, he campaigned vehemently against former President Goodluck Jonathan. On the floor of the Senate, Sani was once Buhari’s sweetheart who could never question him.
That is history now. I have lost count of the number of times Sani openly opposed Buhari and has denigrated his administration. Late last year, the APC stalwart accused Buhari of using deodorants to pamper his goons who are fingered in corrupt practices and applied insecticides on his opponents. Today, that blockbuster movie is still showing in many cinemas nationwide.
The punch of all punches from Sani landed last Tuesday. Sani took away whatever was left of Buhari’s impeccable nature. His punch was so hard that those who stood beside him to witness the bout, left with bleeding noses. If Buhari decides to recontest, which I pray he doesn’t, his opponents will find Sani’s bestselling punch line very useful.
Contributing to a debate on the recent killings in Benue State, Sani offered the following punch lines: “This is not the time for diplomacy and courtesy. This is the time to provide leadership for a nation that is in a national emergency and national distrust.
“There is something that I like about the presidency. When it comes to the issue of directing attacks to the National Assembly, they do not in anyway curtail, reduce or suppress any of the missiles. But when it comes to our turn to point the finger where the problem is, you will see some form of crowdice, escapism, and people who try to water-down issues.
“In the report that was presented to us, the “Federal Government” was mentioned about seven times. The security of this country is under the direct control of the President. Why are you shying away from calling on the President to wake up and stand up to the challenge of protecting this country?
“Few days ago, I saw leaders and elders from Benue State in the villa. What were you doing in the Villa? You are bereaved. Your people were killed. The villa should go to Benue and not Benue coming to the Villa, for goodness sake.”
When Buhari was Buhari, who would dare offer the above blues? Not so anymore! Everyday, the orchestra in the Senate changes and soon, the music will stop playing. When that happens, Buhari will be so exposed that scholars will spend the next 10 years trying to understand how a man who was padded by his handlers during the election could be rubbished.
Before I conclude, let me include this aspect. Senator Olusola Adeyeye is the Chief Whip of the Senate. He is a smart player and a good apostle of Bola Tinubu’s brand of politics. In the past, Adeyeye never missed a moment to eulogise how Buhari transformed Nigeria in his active days as a military dictator.
Adeyeye never opposed Buhari. Whenever he could not contribute or defend the president, he just looked the other way. That has changed now. For him, it is now ‘to thy tents, oh Israel’. He is also fighting for his own political survival and Buhari appears to be a baggage he cannot carry anymore.
What about the Senate Leader, Lawan? Until recently, Lawan could have sacrificed his life for Buhari. As Senate Leader, Lawan doesn’t allow the opposition party, PDP, or rebels from the APC to denigrate Buhari on the floor of the Senate.
Today, he sleeps, while Rome burns. Everyday, Buhari gets bashed and shamed. Lawan just sits back and does nothing. But who will blame him? Buhari has become unmarketable and unless you want to mortgage your 2019 reelection, it is not okay to keep defending him.
There are other senators who have now seen the light. Since I am constrained by space, I can’t write about them. We must however salute the courage of Senators Dino Melaye, Isah Hamman Misau, Bala Ibn Na’Allah and others. They are my new heroes of democracy.
I so submit!
One more thing…
Day Victor Umeh’s jobless thugs ‘attacked’ journalists
On Thursday, January 18 2018, Victor Umeh finally took his oath of office as the senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District. This is coming barely one year and six months to the end of the current Assembly.
Rather than make the day colourful, Umeh’s jobless thugs decided to descend on journalists who cover activities of the Senate. The thugs, numbering over 50, took over the press centre of the Senate Press Corps and threatened to beat up journalists.
What was our crime? We respectfully told them to leave the reserved space so we could do our job. This is unfortunate and I blame Umeh who allowed uncultured fellows, who should be gainfully employed to harass journalists.
If this is how he intends to relate with journalists, after riding to power on their shoulders, then I wish him well because he is going to need it. May be he thinks that the Senate is Anambra Central where he is worshiped like a god. Sorry to burst your bubbles sir. You won’t get that VIP treatment here.