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On Buhari and Governance in Nigeria

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Leonard Karshima Shilgba

Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo has written a letter this week to President Buhari, entitled “The Way Out: A Clarion Call for Coalition for Nigeria.” Discussions on the content of this letter are trending now on social media. The letter seems to have given life to the usual suspects, who seize on any opportunity to sell themselves as rescuers of the nation. They have seen an opportunity to cast wool over the eyes of Nigerians, and take them on the hand to a “better tomorrow.”

The Nigerian constitution provides that security and welfare of the citizens remain the primary responsibility of government. As a Tiv man from Benue State, the most recent killing fields of the terrorist Fulani herdsmen, I should say that President Buhari does not deserve my trust in his ability (or willingness) to keep me safe. In fact, President Obasanjo described as insensitive the visit on President Buhari by some APC governors only hours after the new year Benue killings, to publicly announce their support for President Buhari’s yet-to-be-announced candidacy in 2019 presidential election. Obasanjo also called on Buhari not to run in 2019, and has chronicled many failings of the Buhari government to warrant the advice.

I think that no one should tell another not to run for any elective office in the land; rather, Nigerians, who have registered to vote, have the right to vote for whoever they want. If I failed to consider the direction of Buhari’s government, the deliberate steps being taken only few years after the 2015 general elections to boost national food production and thereby wean the nation from imported foods, develop our railway transportation and rebuild our decades-abandoned roads, feed our primary school pupils across Nigeria, stabilize the local currency, naira even as our foreign reserves have grown by almost 80 per cent to over forty billion US dollars ($ 40), block revenue leakages, improve non-oil revenue, reduce the time of registering new business and official transactions, and cut down on official stealing of public funds, I would say that Nigerians need another president from May 29, 2019.

The democratic governance of any nation demands both active and rational conduct of citizens and the clear vision and unmistakeable resolve of the elected to fulfil the promises for which they were elected. Although the problem of belligerence of terrorist Fulani herdsmen predates the Buhari government (Remember the vicious killings on the Plateau, which destroyed the State’s image as a tourists’ resort during Obasanjo’s government, and the bloody maiming of Benue people by terrorist Fulani herdsmen during the Jonathan regime), what we in Benue expected after the new year murders was for our president to visit us, comfort us, speak to and with us, and assure us that he was taking the correct measures to fix the problem.

President Buhari has a small window of opportunity to do this. Every security measure he has taken so far to shield Benue and other Nigerians from the rampaging AK47-wielding terrorist Fulani herdsmen will pale into insignificance if our plight does not deserve his personal visit. Just like Tor Tiv, Professor James Ayatse said, if he does not come soon to visit and personally commiserate with the Benue people, it would only mean that we are “not his friends.” The anger I see in my State and other States suggests that Buhari is no more trusted on security. And when it was reported this week that his Minister of Defence has blamed the killing in Benue on the anti-grazing law of the State, and even asked, “When the ancient cattle routes have been blocked, what do you expect the herders to do?” my people felt they cannot be protected under President Buhari.

Governance must take into account the interests of the various people who have surrendered their mandate for a time. At this moment, Nigerians would like President Buhari and his team to demonstrate both skill and heart toward their physical protection. I posted on Facebook some of Buhari’s achievements, and the preponderance of responses indicates that the people wish to be alive to enjoy those achievements.

On Thursday, the chairman of the APC committee on true federalism, Governor El-Rufai laid before the party’s chairman its report. Among its recommendations are: Establishment of State police, resource control, reduction to a two-tier system of government from the current three, and inclusion of provision for referendum on any national question in the country’s constitution (Sections 8 and 9 of the constitution will be amended accordingly). If the APC government will take steps to make those proposals a reality, national security will be enhanced. President Buhari has an opportunity to make a mark in the building of a more perfect union, not the perfect union, which can never be achieved.

Nigeria does not need another make-up movement to “take power” in 2019. We have seen this movie before. We know the usual actors. We shall always have a nation in our image. Our leaders will give us only what we love. They can never be better than us. We must not tear down this house in order to build another within months for the funeral of our ancestors. Let us make this one more beautiful as we frankly and sincerely point out the flaws, with suggestions on removing them. Where is the alternative vehicle that has been prepared and serviced for this journey that we want to disembark because the Conductor in Chief (C in C) has given orders of disembarkation?

We must check our emotions, and ponder the future.

 





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