Arising from the acute governance inertia of President Muhammadu Buhari, the ship of the Nigerian state appears rudderless even as it sails backwards. Attributive to his lack knowledge of basic economics, President Buhari in his first four years presided over the slide of Nigeria into the bottomless abyss of socio-economic doldrums that reduced Africa’s most populous country to the poverty capital of the world with the largest population of miserably hungry people. When he elevated such corrupt practices as nepotism, cronyism, favouritism and sectionalism to a near policy of state of his administration, President Buhari effectively deepened the roots and broadened the branches of entrenched systemic corruption in public service through state capture by influence peddling. With the Boko Haram insurgency still raging in the North East, cross border banditry ravaging the North West and marauding killer herdsmen pillaging farming communities in Central and Southern Nigeria leaving a trail of human and inanimate destructions, Nigeria was easily designated as the third most terrorized country in the world, under President Buhari’s watch.
Having failed to fulfil any of his three key campaigns promises of fixing the economy, tackling corruption and taming insecurity on the eve of the 2019 presidential election President Buhari was burdened by a heavy baggage of incumbency advantage that portends an imminent loss for him. To escape the people’s democratic wrath on polling day after he left them worse than he met them, President Buhari deployed a combination of electoral banditry and judicial perfidy that will allow him to steal and keep a people’s stolen mandate respectively for the next four years. Consequently, President Buhari’s electoral banditry has equally birthed administrative banditry in the highest level of government as his cabinet is mostly comprised of the dealers of the 2019 electoral heist or their protégés whose primary interest is self-service at the detriment of public interest.
Less than two years into President Buhari’s second term of four years, Nigeria’s present is doomed to a future of agonising gloom. As presently constituted, the government of President Buhari is fundamentally detached from the everyday reality of the Nigerian people and appear hopelessly helpless in the face of mounting socio-economic and security challenges currently confronting the Nigerian state. Nigeria’s economic problems have become increasingly compounded with rising debt, falling revenues resulting into high inflation, mounting unemployment and mass poverty, with the Buhari administration putting up an appearance of cluelessness about how to solve these problems. In Buhari’s Nigeria, corruption has been normalized with nepotism, cronyism, favouritism and sectionalism given an official stamp of authority at all levels of government, resulting into massive public treasury heist.
However, President Buhari’s biggest failure so far has been his inability to contain and defeat the hydra headed monster of insecurity currently wearing the Nigerian state apart. The resurgence of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East has once again put a lie to the claim of ‘’technically’’ defeating one of the world’s most deadly terror group by the Buhari administration. In addition to the raging Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, the deadly activities of cross border bandits in the North West, the continuous pillaging by marauding killer herdsmen of farming communities in its central and southern parts, Nigeria is a country in full blown war with itself. The deadly cycle of violence by non-state actors seems complete with the conversion of the entire Nigerian space into a thoroughfare of criminal economic opportunities by cross border bandits through armed robbery and kidnapping for ransom of defenceless Nigerians.
Nigeria is currently a state of siege by armed criminal gangs operating out of the forests of its vast ungoverned territories on major network of motor highways robbing, killing and kidnapping of millions of unsecured Nigerian lives. While Nigeria is currently scourged by a complex web of complicated security challenges that portends an existential threat to its continuous survival, President Buhari is in a state of ‘’shock’’ and is watching helplessly. President Buhari has failed in his capacity as the commander in chief that should make things happen and has now become an inactive spectator, who while watching helplessly is wondering why things are happening.
The heightened state of insecurity in Buhari’s Nigeria has raised genuine concerns among critical stakeholders across partisan lines and ethno-geographic divides with Nigerians demanding strong action from the government. Unfortunately, President Buhari cannot be the solution of a problem that he is part of. President Buhari’s elevation of sectionalism to a near state policy and overt partisanship in five years presidency has sharply polarised Nigeria along its numerous fault lines leaving it most divided in its entire history as well as the politicization of government to detriment of actual governance. A country as divided as Nigeria, wherein the war on corruption and terror is overtly politicised cannot defeat common enemies such as Boko Haram insurgency and cross border banditry. The refusal of President Buhari to rejig the headship of his security architecture to reflect inclusivity of spread away from its current domination by his northern section of the country and specifically to sack his service chiefs, that have exceeded their mandatory retirement after 35 years in service is indicative of his prioritization of sectional interest over national interest and more concern for his regime protection that security of the lives of his citizens.
To solve the current heightened state of insecurity in Nigeria and pull the brakes on the slide towards national destabilization and consequent disintegration, a strong leadership that is rich in nationalist credentials with the capacity to unite the Nigerian people around a pan Nigerian agenda for socio-economic development and national security is urgently required. President Buhari, a man unapologetic provincial proclivities who manifestly lacks the much required nationalist credentials to rise above the pettiness of sectional interests in overall national interests is not the kind of leader Nigeria needs in this troubled times. In his five years in power, President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to learn the important lesson of futility of sectionalism, which only benefits only a privileged few family and friends to the detriment of the overwhelming majority of the people. Despite the concentration of government appointments and heads of security agencies in northern Nigeria, the region is still the epic centre of the unravelling security earthquake and dungeon of socio-economic dislocation in Nigeria. And the rest of Nigeria may not be willing to continue to share in its unbearable incineration of socio-economic and security self-immolation.
To stir the ship of the Nigerian state from its current rudderless backward sail onto a channel of purposeful forward sailing vessel, which inspires hope of safely reaching a destination of abundance and plenty for the people, a new captain is needed. In realization of his inability to provide effective leadership in Nigeria in the face of mounting socio-economic and security challenges, President Buhari will be saving whatever is left of his fabled personal integrity by towing the path of honour to voluntarily relinquish power under constitutional democratic conditions in the overall interest of the nation. This will afford the ruling APC the opportunity to re-invent itself by guiding President Buhari’s successor with its robust manifesto and programme of action towards reviving the Nigerian project. Nigeria is bigger than any individual including President Buhari, and should no longer be rendered incapacitated by his lack of capacity to lead effectively.