The story of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has always taken a lot of stormy elements of drama and shocking revelations never seen in decades in Nigeria. Every sector of our national life, especially in economic and security fronts, have taken a hit. It leaves many broken hearts and questions unanswered. Does Buhari Presidency really care about public opinion? I doubt. When the final story of his administration is written, historians will certainly record that Nigerians never had it this bad under his watch. Enough evidence to support that.
As some commentators are already saying, this government can only be compared to that of King Rehoboam, King Solomon’s son and successor (1 kings 12:14-31) who ill-advisedly adopted a harsh policy that divided Israel and brought war among brothers. Rehoboam, it will be recalled, rejected the advice of Israel’s elders and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He divided Israel into kingdoms. He did some terrible things and few wonderful things, and they all came out of the same place. As Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto told Arise TV three months ago, “Buhari has done a terrible job as President of Nigeria. He has divided he country on ethnic and religious lines”. Mike Okonkwo, the presiding Bishop of the Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM) also spoke in the same vein last year, when he said:”It’s only the blind or dishonest that will say he is satisfied with how the country is now”. Again, I ask:does the President care, does he listen to the crying voices of Nigerians? What has Nigerians done to deserve the ‘Rehoboam treatment” from the APC government? You see, when things go wrong, and getting progressively worse, rather than getting better as it’s the case under the watch of an elected government, these questions are bound to be asked. That’s why there’s an outrage and high-octane reactions, all condemnatory of the recent purchase of 10 Toyota Land Cruiser V8 vehicles valued at N1.145bn for the government of Niger Republic. According to reports, the government of Niger Republic had requested “logistics support” from Nigeria vide a letter with Ref: 000104/PRN/DIR.CAB, dated January 20, 2022. Approval was reportedly given by President Buhari on February 22, 2022. This was not disclosed to the Nigerian public until few days ago when a whistleblower and social media influencer blew the lid on the matter. The leaked document from the Budget Office showed the amount released to be a hefty N1.145bn made to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation(AGF) with payment via its Fidelity Bank account. The funds were transferred to Kaura Motors (Nigeria Ltd).
Expectedly, when this became public knowledge, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed defended the purchase of the vehicles. She said while Nigerians have the right to ask questions, the President also have the “right to make his own assessment of the situation and act accordingly”. She added that Nigeria has a policy of assisting her neighbours, a development, she insists goes a long way towards strengthening capacity to safeguard Nigeria’s security within its neighbours. In March this year, Buhari doled out $1million to Afghanistan. It’s not his personal money. All of this came from Nigeria’s treasury, and at a time the economy is in a financial cliffhanger. The Academic Staff Union of Universities have been on strike for six months and counting over failure of the government to release funding for the universities based on agreement reached some years ago. And, here we are, doling out money to other nations like ‘father Christmas’. Let this be clear: There are reasons why nations give assistance to other nations. It’s also plain truth that Nigeria had entered into some agreements with Niger Republic. It’s part of national foreign policy thrust. But despite all of that, what has Niger Republic done to reciprocate Nigeria’s ‘big brother’, kind gesture? For what is the public domain , Niger Republic remains the conduit for illegal arms into the country at the disposal of terrorists. Therefore, the vehicles purchased for that government is strange and misplaced. The timing is utterly wrong. There’s no sector in the country that doesn’t need immediate financial assistance at this time. But, that’s part of the afflictions of this government that has left the country bleeding from all corners, much worse than it met it.
From my point of view, it’s not unkind to say that this is an administration driven by demons and these demons are real. I heard that Satan can put people in bondage and makes tyrants and despots out of leaders to impoverish their citizens. But the good news is that Nigerians have become sophisticated to resist tyrants and despots and speak up against evil in their country. We are yet to know the details why this President has done so much to the Nigerien government and much worse to Nigeria and Nigerians. Months ago, the Nigerien President Mohammed Bazoum was in Nigeria with a powerful delegation. His mission: to appreciate Buhari for approving $1.96bn Kano-Katsina-Maradi rail project. Recall that Buhari had in February, last year, performed a ‘groundbreaking’ ceremony of the 234km rail facility. The project was reported to have been approved in September 2020, for reason the government said would facilitate rail development in Nigeria and the West African sub-region. The contract was awarded to Mota-Engil Group, a multinational construction company. The rail has 15 stations along the corridor, and is expected to boost the economy of the landlocked country of Niger Republic. Buhari had said, among other things, that the project would enable the people of Niger Republic to enjoy affordable transport, and service the import and export of goods for that country through Nigerian ports. But, our ports and roads are in terrible condition. For instance, the N50bn NIMASA floating dock is currently rotting away at naval dockyard, Apapa, Lagos. Many federal highways have become deathtraps. If you are still wondering why Buhari is doing all these wonderful things for Niger Republic, including the rail project, this are the real reasons. And he said it himself. In an exclusive interview on Arise TV sometime in June 2021. His words,”I have cousins and family members in Niger Republic. I should not cut them off”. All of this is happening when poverty is ravaging Nigerians. And unemployment and inflation are soaring. Insecurity has reached a frightening level. Having a larger end has always been more important for Buhari than what is happening in Nigeria. When he gives instructions to security chiefs, it’s unclear if they heed his instructions. They know his interest is somewhere else than the duties he was elected to attend to. Perhaps when it’s all over for him as Nigerian President, Nigeriens will miss him more than Nigerians.
But the authenticity of leadership demands that every elected President should act like a shepherd who knows what stirs the hearts of his people and attend to their entreating cry for help. He should see the office as a duty to be done, not a prize to be won. These are not exactly my words. Former President of America Gerald R. Ford said so. But for Buhari, once the presidency had been won, nothing more to desire for, not power to accomplish great goals for Nigeria. That’s why power reveals more than it can hide. Without power beyond his own advancement, the goal for seeking power has been accomplished. Nothing else to achieve but build monuments unto his ego. It’s a lesson for those seeking to succeed Buhari. And a lesson for the voters as well, to choose wisely. Give no more chance for politicians who have no agenda but to dominate others and bend people to their will. Nigeria has had enough of selfish leaders who seek power just to fulfill personal, vaulting ambition.