Nigerians Look On To Atiku After The Buhari Disaster, By Charles Ofoji

atiku in calabar

The presidency of Mr. Muhammadu Buhari will surely go down history as the mistake of 2015, notwithstanding what happens on February 16, 2019.

With the unmasking of Buhari and what is now known about him, future generations will have to figure out how we allowed such a man to even get close to power.

The ex-general and former coup plotter, who once ruled Nigeria with an iron hand, was sold to Nigerians, by those who had packaged him, as a patriot, a new democrat and an impeccable man of integrity, who will prosecute an uncompromising war against corruption and recover most of the nation’s wealth believed to have been stolen under the nose of former president Goodluck Jonathan.

Nigerians were promised change; a new Nigeria that will work for all – a country where modest dreams could be realized. And where law and order, and the rule of law will be enforced, as in other civilized climes.

I had believed. It was also the case with majority of Nigerians. Those who knew Mr. Buhari well however warned us, but nobody was listening. Nigerians were too angry to think clearly. Jonathan’s administration was terrible, we thought.

I have always held the view that Buhari did not win the 2015 presidential elections. What happened was that Nigerians rejected Jonathan. And anybody, anything could have defeated him then.

On Saturday, Nigerians will again go to the polls. This time, they will either hand Buhari an undeserved second term or send him back to his farm in Daura.

The latter looks more likely to me.

There are only three categories of people who back the president for a second term.

The first are those who are profiting and ballooning in riches with a weak and incompetent man as proxy president.

The second are the so-called religious bigots, who are less interested in a peaceful heterogenous Nigeria. While the third group consist of those who I think urgently need mental scrutiny.

Let the truth be told. Sentiments aside, Buhari’s presidency, to put it mildly, is a historic disaster.

The former dictator sabotaged our democracy with his disdain for the rule of law.

Buhari abused his power in his personal quest for vendetta, keeping political prisoners, which his predecessor never did. The former National Security Adviser, Mr. Sambo Dasuki, arrested since December 2015 is still behind bars despite court judgments ordering his release.

The same is the case with Shiite leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife.

Did I forget to mention how the president unlawfully suspended the Chief Justice of the Federation, Walter Onnoghen, in flagrant contravention of the Nigerian constitution? As if he needed extramural class to understand how government functions and the principle of Seperation of Powers.

This apart, Mr. Buhari comes across to me as a man totally overwhelmed by the office of president, needless to mention his crass incompetence. It leaves right-thinking people wondering why he had desperately wanted to lead a democratic Nigeria – bearing in mind that he had run for the country’s top job four times.

President Buhari failed woefully, and on two fronts. He lacked both the capacity to change the country as he had promised and the ability to navigate a chaotic country through its numerous challenges, so that at end the worst case scenario would have been to leave Nigeria as he met it.

Things got terribly worse for the commonplace people, with the cost of living quadrupling under his government. Petrol, for example, sells at N145 per liter.

The Buhari gamble by Nigerians turned into a case of springing from frying pan to fire. The Buhari government is a naked heat.

Apart from the economic catastrophe, Buhari also failed to carry out structural changes and reforms desperately needed to put the country on the path of progress.

For the records, there is no one living or dead, who had supported Mr. Buhari in 2015 more than me. I did so believing that he would have the courage needed to ram through reforms badly needed to save Nigeria.

I had believed that he will reform two key institutions of the Nigerian State that is still rotten.

Without reforming the Judiciary and Police, it is useless wasting public funds saying you are prosecuting a war against corruption.

I had erroneously believed that Mr. Buhari would have the courage to prune down on wasteful government spending. It was absurd that a president, who promised change, chose not to influence who emerged leaders of the National Assembly. That is why, in a country with N18,000 minimum wage, it still costs tax payers N290million yearly to maintain each over-fed member of the National Assembly.

I had expected Buhari to legitimately plant people in leadership positions in the National Assembly, who would have helped to make laws needed to change Nigeria and especially reform that prodigal branch of government. With the type of money wasted on the legislators, there would always be in recession and this country would head nowhere.

Despite promising change, Buhari simply had no ideology and vision of where he wanted the country to be by the end of his tenure. One can therefore draw the conclusion that the man was only driven by ego and love for the perks of the office of the president all the four times he had contested for Nigeria’s highest office.

If the trouble with Mr. Buhari were only his incompetence and lack of vision, it could have been forgivable. If he had tried his best, but probably it was not good enough, it would have been understood. Unfortunately, he was unapologetically parochial and sectarian.

He is also not a sensitive president. At some point, you get the impression that Buhari despises a section of those he was supposed to be their president. Despite cries in the North-central and some areas in South-West, South-East and South-South that his kinsmen, who are Fulani herdsmen, were allegedly killing their fellow countrymen and women, Mr. Buhari felt no need to reshuffle the security positions, at least to re-assure those he took an oath to protect, who felt threatened.

He was accused by his critics of pursuing an agenda to islamize the country, yet Mr. Buhari damned such legitimate fears and still retained his lopsided security structure. He simply chose, as president, to deepen the lines of division in the country.

Buhari also unwittingly chose to say nothing in dire times when citizens expected to hear from the father of the nation and the commander-in-chief. As president, he mastered the art of using silence to derogate from his duties and undermine the legitimate expectations of a vibrant citizenry.

Unfortunately, despite boasting that he belonged to nobody after he was sworn in as president, Buhari gradually revealed himself as a nepotistic, narrow-minded leader, who is incapable of living above sectionalism and bigotry.

We had foolishly believed that, having once fought to keep Nigeria united, the man is a great patriot, who would help unite a badly balkanized country. But it is hard to call a man, who flooded his government with his Daura kinsmen and people who worship the same way like him, a true Nigerian.

The man defiantly violated the Nigerian constitution by not reflecting the federal character in his appointments.

In a country, where the president, the leaders of the legislature are all from the North, Mr. Buhari felt no discomfort in appointing Northerners to lead 13 out of 15 important security agencies. They are, Army, Police, Airforce, DSS, EFCC, NSCDC, NIA, Customs, NSA, NIS, NIP, FRSC and Fire Service. To add salt to injury, the minister of defence is also from the North. They are not only Northerners but Muslims and mainly Fulanis – the tribe of the president.

Even during Nigeria’s dark ages under military rule, the country did not witness such nepotism.

Mr. Buhari will be remembered as an insensitive president, who neither showed love nor sympathy to his people. Twice, Benue, a state that voted massively for him in 2015, held a mass burial for victims allegedly killed by Fulani herdsmen on New Year Day in various parts of the state and in April when they attacked early morning worshippers in a catholic church in Gwer. Twice, the father of the nation shunned both funerals. Imagine a father deliberately skipping the funeral of his children? Not even a condolence message from the president to the Benue people as they buried their dead; their people Buhari failed to protect as commander-in-chief.

As president, Buhari avoided some parts of the country, as if they were not part of Nigeria. He hardly left Abuja, except his frequent visits to his village Daura or when he jetted out of the country to see his London doctors. The man simply failed to realize that he was the leader of all Nigerians.

He saw only the North and probably the South-West as his constituency and went to other places only when it was time to beg for their votes.

Actually, it is only in a country like Nigeria that a president will perform so abysmally in office and yet have the audacity to ask for a second term.

To be candid, Mr. Buhari failed to show me, his former supporter, and I guess majority of Nigerians, why he had desperately sought to lead this great nation – talkless of seeking a second term.

The truth is that our dear country cannot afford another four years of disaster, which is what his first term turned out to be. Nigeria will simply collapse. There is no hope for Nigeria under Mr. Buhari, except the one seen by the president himself and the three types of people I had earlier mentioned.

In their estimation, there is still light at the end of the Nigerian tunnel – the one only them can see.

However, to majority of the citizens, the Nigerian darkness got more intense under the watch of the man from Daura.

Saturday is judgement day for Mr. Buhari and his APC co-travellers, who had seduced the electorate with their dubious message of change in 2015.

Nigerians are expected to reject Buhari, and rightly so.

In all fairness, the president did not do badly in the area of infrastructural development, social welfare and in the war against corruption, except that it was one-sided and the few cases, where he turned the EFCC into a tool to be used against those he perceived as his enemies.

But other things are more important to Nigerians at the moment. Presently, they are less interested in a president, who mainly wants to jail looters, like Buhari promised in a Lagos rally on Saturday.

The Nigerian ship sunk deeper in treacherous waters with Buhari as captain. Therefore, the voters would choose a president who has the capacity to rescue the country.

As they go to the polls, on the back of their minds is the urgent need to create jobs for the 80% unemployed Nigerian youths, which to me is a ticking time bomb.

More importantly, Nigerians would be voting for a president who will unite the country and run an all-inclusive government.

Taking into cognisance of where Nigeria is at the moment, it appears to me and the Nigerian electorate that there is no better presidential candidate than that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Atiku Abubakar, who was vice-president from 1999-2007. Nigerians are already looking up to him for redemption and I encourage them to elect him the next president of our dear country.

Unlike Buhari, who was sold to us as a saint, Atiku is human. He has his flaws. Nevertheless, he will make a great president and put Nigeria for once on the path to greatness.

As a private citizen, Atiku has created thousands of jobs. Now imagine how better he would do in job creation as president?

Unlike Buhari, who is still stuck with 300 cows in his Daura farm, the former vice president knows how to successfully run a business and will do better in the area of economic development.

Unlike Buhari, who sees cabinet positions and vacancies in state agencies as bonanza for his party members and supporters, Atiku would engage Nigeria’s best brains like he has done in his businesses and as vice president.

These apart, Nigerians are highly ATIKULATED at the moment mainly because, unlike Buhari, who is now adjudged to be bitter and vengeful, the PDP candidate is a cosmopolitan, large-hearted person that would be kind to all Nigerians, irrespective of religion and tribe.

This seems to be Atiku’s greatest strength going into Saturday’s presidential election. Different times, different priorities – thanks to Buhari’s divisive, vengeful regime.

Nigerians are already dreaming of a new Nigeria, with Atiku Abubakar as president. And it appears nothing can stop that dream now – NOT EVEN RIGGING!



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