• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

A litany of indiscretions

As Buhari returns to Abuja

Coming to power on the heels of promises of change, and a new way of doing things, President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight years in office which comes to an end later this month has been one heavily characterised by the indiscretions of the past and more.

It has also been one characterised by the novelty of thick-headed nepotism and unrestrained bigotry yet unseen in the history of executive governance in the country; one of family first and Nigeria last.

Short on nationalism and big on tribalism and religion, Mr. Buhari turned bigotry into an art form in his hiring in to public office.

“Ninety percent of President Buhari’s key political appointees are from his part of the country, and he refused to alter this imbalance in conformity with the pluralistic and multi-ethnic nature of Nigerian society and the Federal Character principle as enshrined in section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution,” Commentator, Sonnie Ekwowusi noted.

For the outgoing president, natal relationships and the economic empowerment of family members is of prime importance to him and so, he has run his regime by hiring close and distant family members to serve as gatekeepers of his government.

His older nephew, Mamman Daura, is regarded as the major power broker in the administration – the ‘Capo’ of the President’s kitchen cabinet.

In September 2022, Ahmed Halilu, older brother to Aisha Buhari, the wife of the President, was appointed as managing director of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company, the state-owned firm responsible for printing the nation’s banknotes and minting coins.

Sabiu “Tunde” Yusuf, a nephew serves as a domestic but highly influential aide to the president. Regarded as one of the wealthiest men in power today, he was reputed to be a retail trader in mobile phone recharge cards before his uncle assumed office as president in 2015.

Junaid Mohammed, a second republic lawmaker warned in 2016 about the infusive nepotism and unbridled cronyism that has since crystallised within Buhari’s administration.

“Whatever you say it is, it is a lot worse. First, the most influential person in the Presidency today is one Mamman Daura, whom as you know, is a nephew of the President. His father was Buhari’s elder brother. In addition, Mamman Daura was the one who single-handedly brought up Abba Kyari, the current [now late] Chief of Staff to the President. In fact, Abba Kyari knows Mamman Daura more than he knows his own father. Next, the Personal Assistant to Buhari himself is the son of Mamman Daura, next is what they call SCOP, State Chief of Protocol, and is also a son-in-law to Mamman Daura because he is married to Mamman Daura’s daughter.

“Next, the minister they unilaterally chose, against the interest of the party and against the wishes of Sokoto people, happens to be the daughter of the younger sister of Mamman Daura’s wife. Both of them are daughters of Sultan Dasuki, who was sacked by General Abacha. We have the Aide De Camp to Buhari himself, Colonel Abubakar. He is married to the granddaughter of one of Buhari’s elder sisters.

“Next, we have the woman who represents Kaduna in the Federal Executive Council; she is a cousin to Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai. It is well known that el-Rufai is one of the closest governors to Muhammadu Buhari. Next, we have the Minister for the Federal Capital Territory. The Minister of the FCT is the man called Musa Bello, who used to be the managing director of the Northern Nigeria Development Corporation, which used to be the biggest holding company that belonged to all the northern states. His only qualification to be FCT minister is the fact that his father has been Buhari’s friend over the years.

“Now, there is a young man called Sabiu Yusuf, nicknamed Tunde – probably because of late General Tunde Idiagbon. He is another PA to President Buhari. He is also a grandson of another sister of Buhari.

“This is enough to prove to you that this is shamelessly the worst form of nepotism in the history of government in Nigeria. In fact, in the history of Africa, let me make bold to assert that I have never seen any level of nepotism that has equalled or surpassed this in my entire life.”

It has not just been nepotism and bigotry that have been the failings of the out-going Nigerian leader. For a man who while campaigning for office in 2015, vowed to brutally fight corruption, in eight years, the outcome of his contest against corruption has been remarkably dismal.
In a 2020 report, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), noted that Mr. Buhari’s anti-corruption track record was set to go down in history as one characterised by missed opportunities and, in some respects, outright hypocrisy.

The CDD explained that President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2015 promise to demonstrate zero tolerance for corrupt practices remains largely unmet, noting that some of the shortcomings of the administration included Buhari’s willingness to appoint individuals of questionable integrity to key positions, his tendency to shield political allies from investigation and prosecution, his disinterest in how the ruling party funds its election campaigns, his failure to make key petroleum sector reforms, and his corruption-prone economic and fiscal policies.

Many of these challenges, remain largely unaddressed as he leaves office at the end of May.
In April, Mr. Buhari’s minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika told the nation that he bought 10 firefighting trucks for a kingly NGN12 billion, a sum many Nigerians have described an indefensible and highly dubious.
In April, his Labour minister, Festus Keyamo accepted that he bought three homes in the U.S, claiming he’d bought them from proceeds from his law practice.

Many of the ministers and agents of the president’s government have been caught in one form of financial misdeed, with little to nothing done by the president to bring them to justice.

The CDD report posited that the president was turning a blind eye to corruption within his government.
Consequently, the assessment knocked the President, “for his tendency to condone corruption within his own administration and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party. In this regard, President Buhari gets the flak over accusations that he consistently turned a blind eye to malfeasance by some of his own appointees and resisted independent oversight of Nigeria’s most scandal-ridden agencies,” the report noted, further positing that Mr. Buhari has failed to curb defence and security corruption.

Read also: Reps approve Buhari’s N22.7trn CBN loan restructure request

Perhaps, Buhari’s greatest indiscretion is his accentuation of the many divides in the nation, the president rather than heal these divides, further expanded them through his policies, appointments and statements.

His subtle support for Fulani extremists has seen attacks on communities across the country but especially in the middle-belt region by Fulani terrorists.

“Vile, evil and satanic attacks by Fulani, now outnumber Boko Haram, one of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups,” Christianity Today, noted in 2018.

Fulani herdsman are believed to be responsible for thousands of deaths in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, mostly in terror attacks committed against Christian farming communities, The Pillar, a Catholic investigative media project noted in June 2022.
According to Statista report, “between 2015 and 2020, Fulani herdsmen murdered over seven thousand Christians.”

Many bandit groups, noted the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, are comprised of ethnic Fulani and prey on settled farming communities. According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), armed bandit groups killed more than 2,600 civilians in 2021, an increase of over 250 percent compared with 2020.

Mr. Buhari has largely been silent on these attacks, proffering weak condolences when they occur and warning against reprisals by aggrieved communities.