Is Buhari’s Nigeria existential threat or essential treasure?


Bubba Malam hails from Katsina State. It is the home state of Nigeria’s President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). Malam calls himself Hausa-Fulani because his father is Hausa, and his mother is Fulani. Recently, Malam shared with his friends on social media his thoughts about Nigeria’s President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, and his style of governance. It was a mouthful expression of personal opinion:

“When we told them Buhari’s ineptness will destroy and balkanise this country, they said this day would never come. And it arrived earlier than we all envisaged, with ferocity of hate never seen in our entire history as a nation. Six years wasted with the North gaining nothing for having its son on the throne, but his regermination of seed of hate sown since the civil war, and that’s how he will leave in 2023 with nothing but the rekindling of this evil, as his greatest legacy. Nigeria has never been divided like now, in its entire lifespan as a nation, which proves that the Prophets who suggested that Buhari’s presidency is a death sentence to corporate Nigeria as we know it may not be wrong after all”, Malam submitted.

Not a few people in all of Nigeria’s geopolitical zones share Malam’s sentiments. Despair and despondency have been in the uptick in the country. Hunger and poverty are soaring like a launched space rocket. Lives of Nigerians are now on the jeopardy lane as the menace of bandits and Fulani terrorists continue to envelope the nation. Today, Nigerians are as divided as daylight is from the plunge of thickset darkness. Not every Nigerian views the country from this depressing perspective. Innumerable Nigerians still believe that Buhari is Nigeria’s hybla-bee with beaucoup rushing and gushing honey. To them, Nigeria is at its best under the man from Daura. A few days ago, Buhari performed the groundbreaking ceremony of the Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway project with new extensions and facilities, and construction of Bonny Deep-Sea Port and Railway Industrial park, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. When completed, we were told, the 1,443-kilometre Port Harcourt – Maiduguri Rail Line will connect Rivers, Abia, Imo, Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe and Borno states all by rail.

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The President later reportedly said that the administration he succeeded in 2015 borrowed money only for the purpose of sharing among party bigwigs. I agree with him. Who will ever forget the rampant recklessness, and determined daredevilry and depravity in that season? Mr. President, however, blew his own trumpet saying that his regime borrowed money to build. I also agree with him. No doubt, Buhari has built many things. He built rail lines, he built roads, he built refineries, he built seaports and airports. Buhari has built many things and done plenteous good. But talks on the streets are that Buhari has also succeeded in building an environment where ethnic hate thrives; where nepotism flourishes, and where the domination of Nigeria’s vital organ agencies of government by his ethnic group is daily celebrated in the corridors of power. If you asked farmers in the South-West region, and families whose loved ones have been kidnapped, raped, and beheaded by rampaging Fulani herdsmen all around the nation, they will tell you that Buhari has also built a nation where Fulani marauders have become untouchable killer kings.

For example, one Fulani headhunter-herdsman called ‘Wakili’ has terrorised an area in Oyo State for eons. Recently, the locals who had had enough of the menace invaded the forest hideout of the Fulani miscreant and his hundreds of followers. Not wanting to take the law into their own hands, untouchable Wakili was apprehended by the locals and dragged to a police precinct for justice. The police immediately slammed the arresters behind bar questioning who permitted them to smoke a terrorist out of his cave as they set the terrorist loose. Nigerians believe that the action of the police was in response to an instruction ‘from oga at the top’ to protect killer-Fulanis at all cost and at the expense of their hosts.

It is true that before the ascension of Muhammadu Buhari as president; all manner of animus, gall and grudge swept through Nigeria. The country has always been a hotbed of troubles. I’ve never experienced a Nigeria that was Paradise when I became a conscious adult. Did Nigeria become Paradise when others were Presidents? Did poverty die and did hunger subside? What President in history was better than the man he succeeded? Nigeria got worse with every succeeding administration. But there seems to be something eerie about Buhari and his style of governance; not because he is Fulani. Former President Umaru Yar’Adua was Fulani and there was no national brouhaha when he reigned. Atiku Abubakar is Fulani; millions in the South voted for him in the last election and Nigerians aren’t assessing him from the lenses of a Fulani irredentist. There is something eerie about Buhari that Nigerians seem to have figured out.

From the expressed opinion of my friend I mentioned at the outset of this treatise, it is very obvious that where somebody comes from in Nigeria does not necessarily determine who gives Buhari a pass mark or a woeful failure as Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria’s armed forces. Nigerians from the North and the South believe that this President has torn down the nation’s oneness and unity. The discourse around the world today is Buhari’s posture as an unapologetic ethnic bigot and a fanner of Fulani domination of Nigeria and her tribes and many tongues.

I am not certain how history will record and recall Buhari’s second coming as Nigeria’s leader. What I am sure of is that it will be a gallimaufry of opinions and conclusions. While some perceive Buhari as Nigeria’s existential threat to oneness and unity, others will see him as a symbol of progress and peace. Is Buhari, Nigeria’s President and Commander-In-Chief now the country’s existential problem? leva in circuitu oculos tuos et vide. Look around you and see! It is believed that Buhari has built walls; not bridges. Is it too late for Mr President to change this narrative? I don’t think so. After all is said and done; and after Mr. President wraps up his assignments, how will Nigeria remember him? Will he be remembered as a wall builder, or a bridge builder?

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