• Friday, June 14, 2024
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Buhari can’t wait to return to his farm, but how would he leave Nigeria?

Buhari can’t wait to return to his farm, but how would he leave Nigeria?

President Buhari recently said, on his 79th birthday, that he couldn’t wait to return to his farm. “I look forward to 2023 when I finish my tenure,” Buhari said, adding: “to go home to take charge of my farm.” I congratulate General Buhari on his 79th birthday but must say that his eagerness to return to his farm is just as well. For, truth be told, over the past six-and-a-half years, President Buhari has been utterly lackadaisical in running Nigeria’s affairs. Although this country has given Buhari so much, he has given so little back.

Think about it. Here’s a man who became president after three failed attempts and succeeded in his fourth attempt only after a political alchemy bringing together strangebed fellows. And since 2015, Nigeria has treated Buhari well, including looking after his health. What’s more, Buhari has unashamedly enjoyed the trappings of power and, with a sense of entitlement, lavishly used the spoils system to benefit his family and acolytes.

But what has he given back? Little. Very little. Buhari has misruled Nigeria, handling its affairs with lethargy and aloofness. Indeed, he is an absentee president!

Truth is: President Buhari is more at ease abroad than at home. In fact, for him, home is away! Indeed, Buhari marked his 79th birthday far away in Turkey, where he spent three days “attending” the so-called “Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit.” Where is Nigeria’s national pride? Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and Singapore won’t play second fiddle to Turkey. But, alas, Nigeria, the so-called giant of Africa, is so diminished that it is riding on Turkey’s coattails. Leaving that aside, Buhari went to the “summit” because he rarely misses opportunities to attend foreign events that other presidents would readily delegate to ministers.

Buhari has misruled Nigeria, handling its affairs with lethargy and aloofness. Indeed, he is an absentee president!

In a recent editorial, Daily Trust wrote: “In all, of the six years that he has been in office so far, President Buhari has travelled 130 times to 36 countries altogether, spending about 308 days.” The paper argued that some of these trips, which included attending an exhibition, “did not necessarily require his physical presence.”

The presidency would say the trips were intended to attract foreign investment. But Buhari’s six-and-a-half years of globetrotting has yielded miniscule foreign direct investment – in fact, foreign investors are deserting and shunning Nigeria. And the trips haven’t addressed the acute security challenges on the ground. Notwithstanding, Buhari always jets out of the country for the flimsiest of pretexts.

Yet, here’s a president who recently suspended a trip to Ogun State “indefinitely.” Here’s a president who, apart from during his presidential election campaigns, has, in the past six years, visited states and communities across Nigeria only a few dozen times. What’s more, Buhari deliberately avoids trouble spots in the North, provoking recent protests under the banner: #NorthernNigeriaIsBleeding, #BuhariIsSleeping! Truth is: Buhari finds running Nigeria a drudgery. He enjoys the perks of the office, but not the hard graft, not the toil.

So, just as well that he said on his 79th birthday that he can’t wait to return to his farm in 2023. Of course, he can’t wait. Why would he? He has wasted the past six-and-a-half years, and, going by his record, is likely to waste the remaining one-and-a-half years. That’s not being cynical. The reality is that Buhari lacks what it takes to run Nigeria and looks likely to leave the country worse than he met it on assuming office in 2015.

Look at the problems: insecurity, poverty, corruption, cost of governance, debt, etc. Buhari is unlikely to leave any of these better than he met it in 2015. And because he lacks the zeal for big, nation-transforming ideas, he would also leave Nigeria’s deeply-flawed politico-governance structure more skewed, and Nigeria’s unity and stability more fragile.

Of course, Buhari’s acolytes won’t see things that way. In a country where myopic and vested interests override the national interest, and where mediocrity is tolerated and celebrated, Buhari’s supporters are praising him to high heaven!

Take Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He is the Svengali who helped Buhari become president. He has never criticised Buhari’s appalling performance for fear that the president and his allies would torpedo his presidential ambition. Rather, Tinubu has chosen to ingratiate himself with Buhari by pouring undeserved encomiums on the president.

In his congratulatory message on Buhari’s 79th birthday, Tinubu said: “I appreciate the unseen work that you have done and continue to do to guide Nigeria ever nearer to its manifest destiny.” Really? What a grovelling flattery!

If Buhari’s “work” to guide Nigeria to its “manifest destiny” is “unseen” after nearly seven years in power, isn’t it insulting the intelligence of Nigerians to say such “work” exists? Of course, it doesn’t, and Tinubu knows it. If he ever became president, Tinubu would, in no time, blame Buhari for the “mess” he inherited. For now, though, he must play safe and ingratiate himself with the president to avoid aborting his ambition to succeed Buhari.

Read also: Enough of talk, solve problems, NLC tells Buhari

Take another acolyte: Yusuf Zailani, speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly. In his own congratulatory message, he described Buhari as the “father of modern Nigeria.” How ridiculous! Where’s the “modern Nigeria”? Is it the one with the acute problem of ungoverned spaces, where organised non-state violence holds sway? Is it the one that lacks the capacity for essential functions, and can’t deliver basic services to its citizens? Or is it the one that’s the poverty capital of the world? Buhari’s acolytes take Nigerians for fools.

To put it bluntly, President Buhari lacks the grand vision, the great idea, the great inspiration to transform Nigeria into a modern state.

Consider the clamour for restructuring. Buhari could be the “father of modern Nigeria” by leading the process of restructuring Nigeria into a genuine federation. But, at every turn, he rejects the idea. He won’t convene a political and constitutional conference; he won’t touch the report of the Jonathan administration’s national conference with a barge pole, and he won’t even consider the report of the El-Rufai committee on restructuring set up by his own party. So, what legacy does Buhari really want to leave behind?

Well, in a hagiographic piece to mark Buhari’s 79th birthday, Garba Shehu, the president’s spokesman, regurgitated the usual banalities. He described Buhari as “infrastructure president”, saying he reduced Boko Haram to “a shell of its former self” and “abolished grand corruption.”

The last two claims merit no response because the facts on the ground put the lie to them. And on infrastructure, no president can claim credit for building infrastructure projects with unsustainable debt and unbearable debt-servicing costs. Despite the much-vaunted promise to implement the Oronsaye report on streamlining federal agencies, the Buhari has done absolutely nothing to tackle the cost of governance, which has skyrocketed under his administration.

Shehu also wrote that President Buhari has taken “historical decisions which have changed the country”, citing the signing into law of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, CAMA, 2020, the Petroleum Industries Act, PIA, 2021, and the Climate Change Act, CCA, 2021. True, these are significant laws, although implementation remains their Achilles heel. But the same president who signed these legislations into law has just vetoed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, as he did before the 2019 general elections, for partisan reasons. Yet, a credible electoral law, a credible electoral system, is a critical nation-transforming reform.

The purpose of any government is to protect lives and property, improve the wellbeing of the people and ensure the stability and progress of the nation. These are the basis of the social contract. But Buhari has violated this contract. As such, when he returns to his farm in 2023, he’s likely to leave the country worse than the one he took over in 2015. A terrible legacy!

Season’s greetings everyone!