Nigeria: Desperate Times; Failed Presidency

Six years after retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari a Fulani Moslem from Daura, Katsina State, near Niger Republic, took oath of office twice, he has misled the Country into becoming one of the most troubled sovereign entities in the entire World.

Aside pushing Nigeria into the inglorious index as the capital of poverty in the World about two years ago, the President has serially failed to adopt proactive and workable strategic defence mechanisms to protect and defend Nigeria and Nigerians from external infiltrators and internal insurgents. Nigeria has also become the third most terrorised nation in the World.

The government has in six years out of the eight years he will serve and no more, Muhammadu Buhari has failed to translate his vows embedded in the Constitutional oath of office into practicality. He has done virtually everything in that sacred oath he said he wouldn’t do. He has populated the hierarchies of the nation’s interior security in the hands of persons of his tribe and religion when Nigeria has well over 300 tribes and religious denomination are innumerable.  His nepotism violates the Grundnorm which he swore to defend.
In six years, the security of lives and property of citizens and lawful residents of the Geopolity has progressively declined to a sad extent that dozens of Nigerian students were abducted violently from their hostels in Kaduna, North West of Nigeria and kept as hostages for nearly two months and half.

These citizens made captives by armed non state actors were only freed when their biological parents could mobilize fund to pay off the ransom demanded by the terrorists who kidnapped them. This in itself is a Constitutional breach that should attract censure but alas, the Federal Legislature and the judiciary are effectively bought over by the executive arm of government and silenced. These two arms of government aren’t different from the innocent People of Nigerian descent captured by armed Fulani Ethnic warlords and detained in the forest awaiting payment of huge ransoms.
In six years, it has become very clear that the political class, and especially the set of political office holders in the current dispensation have virtually destroyed the core mandate of government which is securing the lives and protecting the property of the citizens as embedded in section 14(2) (b)of the Nigerian Constitution. So the Presidency has due to incompetence and compromise lost the primacy of governance which is aforementioned in the constitutional citation adumbrated above.
The Guardian,  one of the respected privately owned media in Nigeria, perhaps captured the essence of what it means to live in a Country in which citizens can be abducted by gunmen who will then be left unchallenged for months by the machinery of government for as long as the terrorists desired. But really, do we need political scientists to tell us that the moment any government can’t protect the citizens that the government officials have no business remaining in office? I doubt it. If the primary legal obligation is breached in the most capricious of ways by the government,  what legitimacy do they have to govern? Your guess is as good as mine.

As can be noticed in both the media report of the release if the abducted students in Kaduna and the photograph of the freed students as published on front pages of newspapers all over the World, what messages that have been conveyed is not far from the correct impression that the so-called government in Nigeria either does not exist or is composed of organized bunch of criminals who are in Cohort with the kidnappers and terrorists.
Those who are in government right from the top have so much abdicated their responsibilities to a disgraceful extent that different sets of Fulani gangsters, terrorists and kidnappers took away almost three dozen young students from their schools in Kaduna and then driven and locked away in the forests and for two months, what is called Federal government that controls the Armed Forces of Nigeria, failed to rescue these citizens. But instead, what we heard from these sets of confused politicians is blame shifting rather than carrying out their lawful duties of making Nigeria safe.
And then to realize that it took two private citizens namely former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Kaduna based controversial Islamic cleric Sheikh Gumi to free these first set of abducted Kaduna students, then there is no doubt in any one’s mind that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has failed and has lost legitimacy to exercise authority in Nigeria.
The media reports that respite came for 27 students abducted by bandits from Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna, as they gained their freedom yesterday after 56 days in captivity. The students were released in Kindanda village, Giwa local government area of the state.
The release was reportedly facilitated by the Sheikh Abubakar Gumi dialogue committee with support from former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The students were among the 39 abducted two months ago. After payment of ransom by parents and the school management, the bandits had last month released 10 of the victims while two others escaped from captivity.
Chairman of the parents’ forum, Mallam Abdullahi Usman, in an interview, commended the roles played by Obasanjo, Sheikh Gumi and other stakeholders, saying “their facilitation was very helpful in the release of the students.”
Asked if additional ransom was paid to the bandits before the release, Usman said: “I cannot confirm whether ransom was paid or not. Our main joy and happiness is that our students are back.”
Parents of the kidnapped students had protested the prolonged abduction of their wards at the National Assembly complex. The freed students are separate from the 16 students of Greenfield University, Kaduna, who are yet to be release, with their abductors threatening mass killing if ransom is not paid.
Whereas the facts are clear that President Buhari has abandoned his Constitutional duty of protecting Nigerians, it is ironical that at the same time, President Buhari doubled up on his overwhelming interest to uphold the wellbeing of cows and the herders who it would seem are now migrating into Nigeria from Niger Republic which is a close neighbour of Buhari.

All that matters now to Muhammadu Buhari are the cows and his tribe’s men who are mostly herders and most of these herders are non-Nigerians. These foreigners are allowed by the compromised and Ethnized internal security heads appointed by Muhammadu Buhari to infiltrate and cause maximum discomfort and create wars and conflicts all around Nigeria.  These cattle wars are one step away from Abuja the nation’s capital as just narrated by a media report today.
The media reports that tension enveloped communities in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory as hundreds of nomadic herders crossed Abuja-Kaduna highway into Sabon-Wuse in Niger State to camp there. This development forced some residents of Sabon-Wuse, a few kilometres away from Bwari Area Council, to stay at home in fear of the unknown.
It was gathered that some of the herders, comprising men, women and children, who got to the area around 8:00 am, were from the Niger Republic. They were moving with a large flock of animals, comprising cows, sheep, donkeys and camels.

A local vigilante leader, Hussaini Abubakar, told journalists that on arriving at the highway, the herders made a stopover at Sabon-Wuse due to the gridlock around a military checkpoint between Dikko junction and the town.

“They were able to cross the road after a while, and we met them across the road, which is under Tafa LGA where we operate.
“We engaged some of them to know about their mission. However, from what we gathered, some of them are from the Niger Republic and they said they were heading to Bauchi State,” said the vigilante leader. He added that the herders’ efforts to cross the highway, which had worsened the gridlock, and the fact that some were on motorcycles, made many people among the residents and passersby, to be in a panic.

Also speaking, the Chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders, MACBAN, in the area, Malam Haruna Idris, said there had been a constant movement of nomadic herders for over a month now, with about 500 to 1000 mixed animals. “Every time we asked them about their mission, they answer that they are migrating from either Niger, Kebbi or Zamfara states, heading to Bauchi. And in most cases, they used to pass the night around some nearby Rugas (herders settlement), before proceeding with their journey,” Idris added.

following this sudden migration from Niger Republic of herders and their cows into communities within the Federal Capital territory, schools in Bwari Area Council shut down due to fear of kidnappings.
The Cow situation in Nigeria has become disturbing to an extent that the President now gives more attention to the security of Cows and the herders than to the entirety of the citizenry.

This is because about the time that dozens of students of the college of Forestry and Greenfield University in Kaduna were kidnapped, President Buhari failed to clearly instruct the armed forces to rescue these citizens and not to allow them go through torture, pains pangs of agony.

But special treatment is being giving to cows similarly rustled by armed Fulani herdsmen.
Troops under the auspices of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) reported that two herders were rescued from an attack in Mabuhu village of Zangon Kataf local government area of Kaduna State.

Samuel Aruwan ,Commissioner, Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Kaduna State, said that the herders – Zakariya Ahmadu and Abubakar Kofar – were attacked while grazing their cattle in the village.
The troops in conjunction with the Special Forces of the Nigerian Air Force, responded to a distress call and rescued both herders with their 200 cattle, handing them over to their employer, one Alhaji Alhamdu. No harm came to the herders or cattle.  But the same speed was never apply to rescue human beings abducted in Kaduna by armed Fulani kidnappers and bandits. These are indeed desperate times brought upon us by a rapidly failing Presidency.  Two Political Scientists in Havard University wrote that these scenarios as narrated above tell you that the political elites are about to destroy democracy.  These scholars also graphically painted the impression of how the failed President will seek to exonerate himself from the crises but will shift the blames to all kinds of adversaries. This exact format is being adopted by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The following is how these political philosophers presented it in their researched book: ‘How Democracies Die”.

They wrote: “Although some elected demagogues take office with a blueprint for autocracy, many, such as Fujimori, do not. Democratic breakdown doesn’t need a blueprint. Rather, as Peru’s experience suggests, it can be the result of a sequence of unanticipated events an escalating tit-for-tat between a demagogic, norm- breaking leader and a threatened political establishment.”
The process, they argued, often begins with words. Demagogues attack their critics in harsh and provocative terms as enemies, as subversives, and even as terrorists.

They cited a good example thus:  “When he first ran for president, Hugo Chávez described his opponents as rancid pigs and squalid oligarchs.” As president, he called his critics enemies and “traitors”; Fujimori linked his opponents to terrorism and drug trafficking; and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi attacked judges who ruled against him as “communist”.
“Journalists also become targets. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa called the media a “grave political enemy” that has to be defeated.” Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused journalists of propagating “terrorism”. These attacks can be consequential: If the public comes to share the view that opponents are linked to terrorism and the media are spreading lies, it becomes easier to justify taking actions against them.”

“The assault rarely ends there. Though observers often assure us that demagogues are “all talk” and that their words should not be taken too seriously, a look at demagogic leaders around the world suggests that many of them do eventually cross the line from words to action”.

This is because a demagogue’s initial rise to power tends to polarize society, creating a climate of panic, hostility, and mutual distrust. The new leader’s threatening words often have a boomerang effect. If the media feels threatened, it may abandon restraint and professional standards in a desperate effort to weaken the government. And the opposition may conclude that, for the good of the Country, the government must be removed via extreme measures impeachment, mass, protest, even a coup.” (HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE WHAT HISTORY REVEALS ABOUT OUR FUTURE BY STEVEN LEVITSKY & DANIEL ZIBLATT).

These exact scenarios are playing out perfectly choreographed under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari. Desperate times like this must be matched and met with desperate solution so the nation does not collapse totally. So, Nigerians, what is our last card?

 

EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and was a federal commissioner at the National Human Rights commission of Nigeria.  

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