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Opinions of Thursday, 1 July 2021

Columnist: Prof. John Egbeazien Oshodi

Our crisis President is wrestling with self

President Muhammadu Buhari President Muhammadu Buhari

Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)’s Presidency is sinking deeper into crisis daily. He appears not to be effectively governing but now only about control and power. The President and his advisers seem to have only one goal, making things difficult for the people to act and live freely in this democratic era. His principal goal is acquiring more power and maintaining it. It is all about pursuing ideological and political goals, whatever that means; it is now just about holding on to power. He appears to be spending more time with those who think like him, thereby inflaming the nation more and more. Buhari and his circle appear to have abounded expert advice, so they are no longer showing interest in all-round policies, thus no need arguing policies with him. And even if he is pursuing any policy, it is all driven by crisis behaviour on his part.

Buhari is in crisis in all directions, he is now seen as a man who is all about ethnic rhetoric and religious mission. Even if he is seeking some type of understanding because no non-Fulani ethnic groups believe him any longer, he is further pushed into crisis, which makes it more difficult for him to operate and govern the nation positively. Due to his heated approach to governance, it is now between him as a Fulani national leader versus all the rest, Hausa-Igbo-Yoruba-Ijaw-Itsekiri-Urhobo-Tiv and all others.

Buhari stubbornly continues to deny the sense of unfairness, inequity and injustice which prevail in the manner he is handling political appointments into vital and sensitive areas such as the military and police and other top positions thereby further drawing himself into crisis. The issues of women, people with disabilities and youths appear not to be part of his top agenda, further incurring the curses from this group, thereby worsening his crisis. Nigerians are afraid to walk at night; many students can no longer go to school out of fear. Panic is spreading everywhere as police admittedly are now shooting indiscriminately and killing citizens just because of their reactive approach to killings by unknown persons. Nigeria has become ethnically infected.

Because Buhari is in crisis, he no longer knows how to make Nigeria safe, so the crisis continues. He is now viewed rightly or wrongly as in league with political thugs who are all about anti-civil liberties. Under the atmosphere of mounting crisis, Buhari is in an ideological war with almost all religious and regional leaderships like CAN, Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum, and Pan-Niger Delta Forum, further deepening his crisis.

As a majority of people around the country speak against open grazing due to its damage to private citizens’ resources and privacy, Buhari is fighting to continue the archaic system thereby raising more crises for him and the country invariably.

Buhari is now turning to dictatorship nations like Russia and China for all kind of support, as democratic economies like the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Ireland, Norway France, and Britain are questioning Buhari’s intimidation and silencing of the people. Now, the community court of justice, under the Economic Community of West African States is on Buhari for threatening to harass, intimidate, arrest or prosecute Nigerians over freedom of expression. On the issue of restructuring or true federalism, after he noted that these are matters for the National Assembly to resolve, he is now foreclosing on the call for restructuring and saying that the 1999 Constitution does not recognise such agitation which includes call for national reformation and self-determination. By way of this shifting thinking, Buhari deepens his crisis by relying on a 1999 Constitution that is highly deformed as it was enacted by military decree. And lack the people’s input.

While nearly the entire nation is on the side of restructuring through local policing, and allowing states to have control of their resources as well as the decentralisation of federal powers, Buhari is now highlighting the powers of the police and military to keep the people together.

The social media, a product of American-European technology, has to some extent affected our moral African traditions with disinformation but for Buhari to bar the people from any informative aspects of the social media due to his emotions makes him dig deeper into crisis. Buhari is now forcing the Nigerian telecommunications operators to shut down links to Twitter, threatening to withdraw media houses’ licence if they do not comply with his ban of social media.

Buhari is now seen by many as enabling an environment with markers of poverty, tyranny, evil, ethnic cleansing, genocide and mass murder of the people especially in the South-East. Buhari’s crisis continues to mount and that is not good for his personal health and the nation’s wellbeing.

History tells us that King George 111 of Great Britain, who presided over the American Revolution but lost the colonies to freedom, and became mad, was once deposed for “disobeying God”. Benjamin Franklin one of the Founding Fathers of America, once said, “rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” As a crisis battered President, Buhari must open his mind more for diverse interests to come inside if he is to save himself and the nation from a complete fall.