Nigeria got its 16th President on Monday, 29 May, 2023 with Bola Ahmed Tinubu taking the reins of office from Number 15, Muhammadu Buhari, whose two terms of four years go down in the public imagination as a deeper drag of the country into anomie.
For the clobbered masses Nigeria, especially majority of the young and the nascent Middle Class, the Buhari Presidency is a nightmare they openly pray President Tinubu would lobotomize out of their individual and collective psyche.
No other elected President in Nigerian history was better heralded into office that President Buhari in 2015. However, eight years down the lane the street says ‘a calamity has befallen us. Never again!’
Few Nigerians would dispute the avowal that President Buhari who, just eight years ago, rode on a sky-high crest of populist approval, has fallen down to Earth in popular reckoning. His presidency goes into the history book as an admonitory tale of the road never to be taken.
It is not difficult to apprehend why the President exits office unsung. For an individual who sought presidential powers over four, unbroken, electoral cycle, the assumption was that he was beyond prepared to stem the country’s steady march into self-destruct since independence. In eight years though, President Buhari proves himself adept at incompetence, making a high art of vacuity and elevating anti-masses, neo-psychopathic policies into staple statecraft in governance.
A study in emptiness of vision, President Buhari leaves the country in a worse shape than he met it on key indices. No unbiased, credible assessor would pass the President on any of the tripods upon which he campaigned in 2015 – insecurity, anti-corruption and economic renaissance. By one credible count, insecurity claims over 63,000 Nigerian lives under the President with terrorists, kidnappers, bandits and hoodlums having a field day staging repeat spectacular attacks on places of worship, schools, military formations and whole communities in several expanded ungoverned spaces in the country, including in Katsina, the President’s home state.
Only the irredeemably deluded would contend that President Buhari struck a decisive blow at public malfeasance. Corruption thrived as par course since 2015, plumbing new ignoble depth in the gaze of a President who returns the favour with uncommon, sociopathic taciturnity as billions of naira disappeared into individuals’ pockets. It is safe to say that Nigeria would neither fully account nor recover substantially what it lost to graft under President Buhari. The enormous figures involved can only be extrapolated from such blown cases as that of the President’s Accountant-General, for instance, who is standing trial for allegedly helping himself to N109 billion from the public till. The poser would be: If an individual can pull this alleged heist in just one office, how much would others like him have ferretted away successfully in the last eight years?
Simply put, the Nigerian economy tanked under President Buhari as factories and businesses shuttered in droves in the last eight years, with the inevitable job losses. We cite our sector – the media – as an example. Pre-2015, the average pagination in the regular national newspapers was 64. Many did 80, 96 pages weekly, regularly. Some did 100, 120, 150 pages occasionally. Daily print run were in multiple thousands in all newspaper houses, with the average Nigerian buying a paper or two to read daily. Alas, no sooner had President Buhari assumed office than the newspaper ecosystem collapsed. No newspaper could sustain their pre-2015 pagination and print run in the Buhari locust era. The sector remains reeling in salary default and mass sack of journalists, and the over-work of the few remaining hands working under excruciating circumstances for slave pay. Can anyone point out a sector where same scenario did not play out under President Buhari? The legitimate enterprises and individuals who made any progress in this period did so in spite of President Buhari and his government, and only through their own grit, ingenuity and can-do spirit. In any case, President Buhari plunged Nigeria into economic recession twice in eight years in a rinse-and-repeat of his first coming (1983-1985), historians say, as they point out that he was the first Nigerian leader to do so and holds this unenviable record as the only individual to do this in the country’s history.
Of course Nigeria records some achievements under President Buhari, which his inept spokesmen have lately saved into some recoverable forms – concrete and digital. In his inaugural speech at the Eagle Square, Abuja President Tinubu, awarded some marks of a sort to his immediate predecessor on infrastructure. However, Nigerians insist that those milestones would still have materialised within the last eight years even with a misty effigy of the individual known as Muhammadu Buhari installed in Aso Rock in the period. Rather than being signatures of a Buhari Presidency therefore, the touted achievements were systemic products wrought by the bureaucratic mill which grinds on regardless of whether a corporeal or ghostly Muhammadu Buhari turns up at the presidential desk or not.
To be fair to President Buhari, Nigerians, including the 16th President, Tinubu, brought the calamitous Number 15 upon themselves. In 2015, the cluelessness of Muhammadu Buhari as a military, coupist Head of State between 1983 and1985 stood in sharp relief and veritable warning to the nation as an apocalyptic cul de sac to duck. Three times providence steered us away from the brinks until gushy thoughtlessness, mesmeric messianics and unbridled ambitions locked the wheels in Fates’ hands the fourth time a man who cannot lead a queue thrust himself to lead the nation. (First Lady Aisha Buhari confirmed President Buhari’s unpreparedness to take office in a farewell interview with The Sun Newspaper, hence her periodic interventions in state affairs to take control of the situation – made famous by a number of fierce, Amazonian outbursts in the media since 2015 – when her man bucked in total paralysis of thought and action. Who knows a man better than his intimate, the one he lies beside last at night and the first he sees upon waking in the morning. “I just knew my husband needed help,” she stated matter of factly. Hajiya Aisha Buhari knows that given Eternity, Muhammadu Buhari will never be ready to lead anyone, group or nation; he does not have it in him to lead. Another must lead Buhari for him to lead the rest. That is the sum of the man.)
What manner of a man shuts his country’s borders overnight – with zero preparations, zilch mass mobilization of men and machine, etc – because he wants his country to grow what they eat if not a sociopath on the scale of killers-despot like Chairman Mao and his genocidal Cultural Revolution?
What kind of mind, if not a dye-in-the-wool ingrate, devices a last-minute currency confiscation from the masses of the people as the best way to stop his chief benefactor from succeeding him as President, a gentlemanly pact reportedly reach as part of the 2015 political parties mergers which made sure the serial loser Buhari finally becomes President?
What a joke of a specimen, as his anti-corruption solution, allocates strategic cabinet portfolios to women not for their competence or any of sort but because they are female hence – to his reasoning – ego would prevent men from going to these beautiful women to steal billions or snatch contracts as favours? Women – straight, LGBTQ – cannot go to these women to beg for favours and take the billions off them? Women in power are impervious to the wiles of wannabe Lotharios, current, old, new, flames? Or, somehow, we are to think that our man is so misogynistic the women could not have been installed pliants? Or that our saintly just-departed does not buckle at the knees upon the faintest hint at some nymphs’ nipples in wetly negligees and so did not hand over these portfolios for reasons of personal libidinal lust?
All said and done, President Buhari is a tragedy foretold. His first stint screamed it but even Nobel Laureates in Literature – that “Mother of All” discursive domains in which all of mankind present themselves in the broadest character shades possible and which caveats us to beware of Jeroine charlatans masquerading chivalries – fell for the Buhari ruse! So much for learning from historical knowledge!
The most tragic development of 2015-2023 is that President Buhari trashed the very fundamental building block of the nation-state – contemporaneous or antiquated – national unity. We need not doodle on the grounds – primarily nepotistic – upon which President Buhari rents Nigeria’s unity asunder by tactlessly poking open primordial and colonial-era cracks that the founding fathers of this nation and others before him – President Olusegun Obasanjo, for instance, to give the devil his due – have carefully, doggedly tried to paper up. The faint sketch of success highland, in its most zygotic form, had emerged in that task of national imperative, until Buhari happened to Nigeria. How ironic of the messianic figure of our time!
At this juncture what is important to state, and very clearly too, is that the wasteland which President Buhari makes of our country is here for Tinubu and all of to tackle as the gone flop hits Daura, or exile himself to Niger Republic as he unashamedly rubbed on our battered bodies in the dying days of his ruinous rule.
It is to this imperative of national reintegration, rehabilitation and reconstruction– physical, psychic, metaphoric, etc – that this newspaper calls the attention of President Tinubu and all patriots nationwide. We are glad to note that President Tinubu referenced the need for this national healing in his inaugural presidential address. He must walk the talk for the sake of Nigeria.
Our country is a cat with nine lives. This newspaper fear that the country has wasted the eighth with President Buhari and President Tinubu has plucked the ninth from the punctured pouch. We hope he is aware of the dare consequences of squandering this last lifeline.
A candid acknowledgement of the incendiaries on which we all walk with President Tinubu is required if we are to save Nigeria. The landmines strewn before this country are plethora. We need only list out the Frankensteins on the frontline: The bitter fallouts of the 2023 General Elections; secessionist agitations; recalibration of internal colonial enterprise truncated by British rule; fresh, contemporaneous caliphate state ambition via acts of terrorism; the biggest, left-behind army of highly educated youth in Africa; and an economy in shambles, tottering on vaporous fundamentals touted in print, on air, via social media and the Internet at large by mendacious mandarins in faux, failed art of subterfuge who plagued Nigeria since 2015 – more that we had ever witnessed in our annals.
To the extent that he was instrumental to the making of President Buhari in 2015 and his re-election in 2019, it is fitting that President Tinubu steps into the Apocalypse his maladroit charge created, shovel in hand to clear the Buhari mess.
Can President Tinubu tackle this alone? No! Who should be excused from this herculean national task at hand? None – including want-away President Buhari whom we must press, intermittently, collectively as a nation, to answer the hard questions that President Tinubu and indeed all Nigerians would inevitably have to ask as the scale of the rot of eight years starts to surface. (We concede that President Buhari himself – like his much-maligned predecessor, President Goodluck Jonathan – would likely be oblivious to a lot which transpired in his presidency. He may find the revelations about to start tumbling in shocking since he did not authorised them as President. However, ask Muhammadu Buhari, this nation must, because they occurred under him, with his name likely cudgeled to get them done.)
This newspaper urges all patriots of our land to flip the Buhari years behind us and rebuild our nation. President Tinubu must take the lead in this regard. There is no margin for error anymore. The Tinubu Presidency must have this stark reality before it as it takes decisive decisions to reintegrate, rehabilitate and reconstruction the fabric of nationhood. The sparse worthy of the Buhari era should be retained and all the depravity discarded.
A point in reference is Buhari’s infamous cabal which allegedly held him hostage in Aso Rock as its members did as they liked. Already there are whispers that some close associates have formed themselves into a clique with a view to supplanting themselves between President Tinubu, the incoming cabinet, the federal bureaucracy and indeed the Nigerian People.
If the rumours are true, President Tinubu must take charge of his Presidency and nip that noxious group in the buds. This is Nigeria, and not Lagos. There is no room for a presidential mutant of Lagos’ “Governors’ Advisory Council”. The Council of State serves the President in advisory capacity. That should be good enough for President Tinubu. Augmentation may be needed. However, that should take the form of direct, wide consultation by the President or aides assigned to such matters on a case-by-case basis, and not the formation of a quasi-cabal entity unknow to the Constitution whose members would entomb President Tinubu in the Aso Rock Villa and rule the country as de-factor fudge-presidents, turning the President himself into a pinup incubus they wheel out for occasional national fanfare.
As the most experienced First Lady Nigeria has ever had in terms of direct exposure to governance before her spouse became President, and seeing that how influential she, reportedly, is on the President, First Lady Oluremi Tinubu has a great role to play here, even if constitutionalists would differ on legalistic grounds. She must not allow new cabalists to hijack the President, even as she must also quash the temptation to form or head a cabal in Aso Rock as First Lady.
To all Nigerians, this newspaper says the election are over and we have the first President of the true, progressive hue in Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Based on his Lagos antecedents, we are optimistic that President Tinubu would deliver on his “Renewed Hope” campaign promises. He needs our support, and not socio-political, ethno-religious recriminations either from the last elections or those birthed long before the Tinubu Presidency, especially under ex-President Buhari.
In the last eight years, Nigeria has walked through the valley of death. It is time for our nation to escape from the grasp of the Grim Reaper. We can only pull through together. We urge the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Candidate in the 2023 General Elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and his Labour Party counterpart, Mr. Peter Obi, to act like true statesmen as they pursue their electoral suits against President Tinubu’s victory. As proceedings continue at the Presidential Election Tribunal (PET), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Mr. Peter Obi should avoid inflaming passion on the streets of this country and rein in their supporters in cyberspace too. None of them can preside over a country in turmoil as the needless, orchestrated protests their alleged supporters take to PET sittings have the potential to ignite. And when the courts issue their verdicts on the presidential election, the course of wise acceptance is commended to all parties in the matter.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!