There is an outcry from certain parts of the country over the Muhammadu Buhari presidency. The South and Middle Belt are wailing and weeping. They see the Buhari regime as one long night of drudgery. A good number of them are inclined to believe that they are in a trance. A certain nightmare has enveloped them. And they are struggling fiercely to wake up from the bad dream.
But you cannot say the same thing of the rest of the country. The greater majority of the North do not seem to be complaining. They give the impression that they are at home with the Buhari order. Most of them are blind supporters of the man and his actions. Like the Pope, he can do no wrong. That is why they see nothing wrong in his actions and inactions. The other day, Prof. Ango Abdullahi led us into the minds of his people when he argued that there was nothing wrong with the Ruga policy of the Buhari administration. His position was this: if the Igbo can own shops in Kano, why should the Fulani not have land to rear their cattle in the South? That is how shallow, how cheap, our reasoning has become.
Let us focus a bit more on what I see as the collective nightmare of those who were once Buhari-drunk. A little recap will do. Buhari, our President, seized the political stage four years ago when he upstaged Goodluck Jonathan from the presidential throne. It was a momentous event. The defeat of incumbency, especially at the presidential level, was never seen or known on our shores. Yet, the defeat was welcome everywhere in the country except in the South East and South South. The South East was particularly derided for voting against Buhari. Some said they voted unwisely. When, therefore, he ascended to the high office of President, Buhari demonstrated that he did not feel good about the people of the South East. He sidelined them in his administration. Nobody made any issue about the way the South South voted. The Buhari maniacs put up with it without any whimper. The South East remained the only black sheep among the flock.
Then came 2019. The South West, the zone of the South that voted massively for Buhari in 2015, came close to repeating the same voting pattern in 2019. But the Igbo in Lagos posed a great challenge to the result the South West would have wished to turn out in that election. That development created a schism. It was viewed in some circles in Yorubaland that the Igbo in Lagos have become a thorn in the flesh. That was why some Yoruba elite openly told the Igbo to return to their homeland and leave Lagos for them. The bone of contention was Buhari. Who should share in his largesse? Who should be denied access to the goodies that come from his office? As it was in 2015, the South East remains shut out from the Buhari presidency, and the people have since come to terms with it. But the ultimate beneficiaries of the Buhari presidency from the South remain the people of the South West. They are eating with all 10 fingers, as one of them accused the South East of doing during the Jonathan presidency.
But there is an irony in the entire set-up. The South West, the zone that has been wearing Buhari like a crown of glory since 2015, is wailing and weeping. Their leaders, except Bola Tinubu, are up in arms against the Buhari presidency. Prof. Wole Soyinka, who, four years ago, described Buhari as a born-again democrat, has eaten his words. He is incensed with the Buhari order. He is now singing a new song. His refrain now is that Buhari lacks the capacity to tackle the challenges that Nigeria faces. In other words, Buhari should give way to someone who can take Nigeria out of the woods. But that is a far cry. Buhari’s second term has just begun. His reign can only be truncated if Atiku Abubakar wins in the election petition he filed in the courts. If that does not happen, the Soyinkas of the South West will have more tears to shed.
Generally speaking, the entire South and Middle Belt are agitated over the Fulani invasion of their land. They have been fighting the scourge. Benue has boiled. Plateau is a traditional killing field. The South East got its own share in Enugu. The South West is yet to have the Enugu and Benue experiences. But it has suffered some high-profile kidnappings in the hands of Fulani herdsmen such as the Olu Falae experience. And just a few days ago, the daughter of Pa Reuben Fasoranti, the Afenifere leader, was cut down in her prime. There is outrage in Yorubaland over this. They are disappointed that Buhari, the man they have stood by since 2015, has failed them. The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, has warned that the South West will not take any more attacks from Fulani herdsmen. Some of them see what is happening to them lately as a declaration of war on the Yoruba.
In this matter, I can only say that reality, for the Yoruba, is a late dawn. They are just beginning to realise what the people of the South East and parts of the Middle Belt have been talking about. But I am somewhat not persuaded by the outpouring of emotions from the South West over the security situation in the country. I say so because, if another opportunity to choose between Buhari and someone else in an election presents itself, the people of the South West will still choose Buhari. They will shove aside all his transgressions and still choose him as their President. Were it not so, they would not have queued behind him in the 2019 election.
In the light of what our land has become, who should we blame for voting who? The people of the South East are, till date, still being blamed by some people and segments of the country for not voting for Buhari. As things stand, shouldn’t we applaud them for shunning the divisiveness and killings that the Buhari order epitomizes? I strongly feel that we should. As for those who saw Buhari as the much-awaited saviour, the time to take stock has come. Were they right or wrong? I have no doubt in my mind that they were wrong. Buhari, the supposed saviour, has turned out to be their nemesis. It is a case of reaping what you sow. You cannot sow the whirlwind and reap strawberries.
Perhaps the only man who deserves a bit of our sympathy in this matter is former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He was one of the people who installed Buhari as President in 2015. Obasanjo derided Jonathan to no end and practically hounded him out of office. Jonathan, the meek one, did not want trouble. He made a dignified exit from the presidency. Then Buhari, Obasanjo’s choice, stepped in. But less than three years into the Buhari presidency, Obasanjo saw reason to shoot him down. He asked the President not to consider running for second term. But Buhari, unlike Jonathan, ignored the threats and haranguing from the Obasanjos of this world and insisted on retaining power. But Obasanjo did not relent. He has continued to take Buhari to task. If things get out of hand, history will remember Obasanjo as one man who said no to tyranny when it was not too late to begin to look for the black goat.