• Friday, September 29, 2023
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How bloodshed, nepotism tainted Buhari’s legacy

Ministers to remain in office till May 29, says FG

Human mind is wired to forget certain experiences with the passage of time. But there are experiences that remain ingrained in the mind all through life. For instance, families that had their members murdered in cold blood by rampaging herdsmen will never forget. Communities that were sacked by invading killers and have continued to live in fear of imminent invasion cannot forget.

Innocent Nigerians living in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) homes when there is no known civil war, they will never forget. Men whose wives and daughters were openly violated and killed cannot forget the outgoing administration.

Farmers who were chased out of their farms and they became beggars after losing their source of livelihood (farming) will not forget. Nigerians who were kidnapped along highways and hefty ransom paid for their release, will not forget.

In fact, some Nigerians have been kidnapped more than once. Those who had tasted the brutality of Boko Haram insurgents, bandits and of the Unknown Gunmen across the country will never forget the Muhammadu Buhari administration the remaining days of their lives.

Sometime last year, Theophilus Danjuma, a former Minister of Defence, reiterated his calls on Nigerians to acquire arms and defend themselves and their territories against bandits.

That was not the first time the retired lieutenant general was making such calls, especially to residents of Taraba State, his state of origin.

Governors such as Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State and Aminu Massari of Katsina State have made several of such calls.

The calls and instructions to the citizens to bear arms to defend themselves were made despite the embargo on the issuance of firearm licences by the government.

Of course, the calls were in response to the high level of insecurity under Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Moreover, the urging of the citizens to defend themselves exposed the lack of capacity of the government to protect the citizens it swore the oath of office to protect.

As well, the daily killings made a mockery of the sincerity of Mr. President to fight insecurity and corruption as the billions of Naira budgeted to fighting insecurity, yielded little or no result, with many allegedly making daily kills from the budget.

Facts, they say, don’t lie.

According to data from Nigerian Security Tracker, a project of the Council on Foreign Relations of the United States of America, about 53,418 Nigerians lost their lives to non-state actors between May 29, 2015 and October 15, 2022.

Many have fallen victim since then, particularly in the Zamfara-Sokoto axis of the North-West region, where banditry and sustained fighting between the Hausa and Fulani tribes claims victims daily.

The victims across the country, excluding the wounded, were sent to their early graves most from attacks by terrorists, bandits and kidnappers.

About 23,106 out of the 53,418 deaths were recorded in the North-East region, caused by Boko Haram and ISWAP insurgency, terrorist groups. The government for eight years has been bragging of ‘technically’ defeating terrorists at any attack in that region.

The helplessness of the situation is the fact that terrorists also dared the president by killing a total of 13,590 persons in the North-West region, with 2,037 lives lost in Katsina State, the president’s home state.

Then, the AK-47-bearing herdsmen are still killing and the government keep looking elsewhere, tagging them as a cultural group instead of terrorists, which they are. There have been increasing reports of herders sacking a whole village with guns, yet there is an embargo on gun license, so how did the Russian-made AK-47 get into their hands? Many have been asking.

With all these killings, pundits are saying that the Muhammadu Buhari administration would go down in history as being the worst in terms of protection of lives and property of Nigerians.

Trying hard to point to a possible legacy of the outgoing president, Bulus Danjuma, a Plateau State-born retired senior security officer, said insecurity is the “only legacy” he sees as many of his people were part of the victims of terrorist attacks.

“Anytime there is a terrorist attack, the president will regret the loss of lives and assure Nigerians of overcoming these terrorists and nothing has happened for eight years now.

“They even killed in his home town and nothing happened. It is a very bad legacy he is leaving for Nigerians,” Danjuma lamented.

The retired security officer also lamented that a serious fight against corruption would have been a lasting legacy for Nigerians by Buhari, instead, the ugly trend got worst in the eight years of his administration.

According to him, the rising level of insecurity had led to an increase in budgetary allocations for defence, which became a cash cow for those in charge of defence and the fight against insurgency.

“Under Buhari, the level of insecurity rose to an unimaginable height, requiring an increase in the budget to buy more equipment to fight insurgency, yet we did not get commensurable result from the huge funds spent on defence. It means the funds were not well utilised and nobody has been charged for corruption. It is sad. Some of us regret that we are not in the system now because there is so much money to eat and people are eating it not minding Mr. President,” he said.

According to a February 2021 report by Dataphyte, an information and intelligence platform, Buhari spent ₦8 trillion on security from 2015 to 2022, yet could not quell Boko Haram or bandits, and worse still, he couldn’t query the need to increase budgetary allocation for every year when little or no result is achieved with previous allocations.

The corruption in Buhari administration, for Onike Anjorin, a company lawyer, stinks.

“In my opinion, the Buhari government did things that would have warranted the military to take over power from his first term, but the military boys were happy making cool money from the defence allocation for insecurity. The sharing is still ongoing, and that is why there is no weapon or moral to fight where there is money to eat.

“Have you considered the attack on the Nigerian Defence Academy, military facilities and killing of more soldiers in the country as if we are in a war time?

“The big boys are enjoying defence allocation, sadly under Buhari, the corruption fighter and ex-general. It is a bad legacy he is about to leave for us,” the lawyer and former student union president said.

According to him, while many are citing the case of Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairperson of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), who is serving an eight-year jail term at Kuje Prison in Abuja for pension fraud to the tune of N2 billion, Anjorin, decried that it was a one-off, as Maina may have fallen out of favour.

“What about corrupt politicians, especially governors who emptied their state’s treasury? “During the term of Adams Oshiomhole as the APC chairman, the ruling party asked all corrupt politicians, no matter the party or amount stolen, to come under its shield and that they will not be prosecuted and that was what the likes of Godswill Akpabio, Orji Kalu, Ben Ayade, among others did and today they are going freely and even eyeing juicier political positions,” the lawyer said, asking if this is a legacy to bequeath to Nigerians.

Moreover, President Buhari, according to many, is leaving a legacy of high level nepotism, amid huge criticism on his lopsided appointments for eight years in power.

According to a report by International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), the Federal Character clause in Section 14 (3) of the Constitution states as follows: “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.”

But the Act, according to ICIR, has been observed in breach under Buhari, and with a detached temperament, with the Southeast and South-south having marginal representation in the Buhari government, while the North takes majority appointments.

At the peak of the lopsided appointments, in June 2020, some Southern leaders dragged President Buhari before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court over alleged marginalisation in appointments made by his administration since 2015.

As well, in 2017 BusineessDay’s report titled: ’81 of Buhari’s 100 appointees are Northerners’ showed 81 of Buhari’s appointments are either from the north-east, north-west or north-central since he became president.

When Kemi Adeosun, former, Finance Minister, left on scandal issue, Buhari replaced her with a northerner, recently the chief executive of the Nigerian Printing and Minting Company left and someone from Bayelsa was in there shortly in an acting position, before a northerner was appointed new chief executive.

All the efforts by Femi Adesina, the presidential spokesman, to clear the air, even publishing a list of the appointments by the president, did not hold water as many errors trailed it, amid replacement of retiring or sacked appointees from the southern part of the country with northerners.

The irony of the situation, according to Chjioke Umelahi, a former Abia lawmaker and an Abuja-based lawyer, is that the more you criticise Buhari, the more he appoints more northerners in his government.

Apart from high level nepotism, Umelahi said that Buhari is leaving Nigerians poorer than he met them in 2015.

Under Buhari’s administration, Nigeria was declared the world’s capital of poverty as hyper inflation, high unemployment rate, exodus of manufacturing companies to more friendly economies such as Ghana, unimaginable exchange rate, high bank interest rate, low productivity occasioned by insecurity, all combined to impoverish Nigerians, retuning the middle class to struggling again to catch up with the rich.

Moreover, the African Development Bank (ADB) Nigeria Economic Outlook, revealed that about 152 million Nigerians live on less than $2 a day, representing approximately 80 percent of the country’s estimated population of 190 million.

“Nigerians are generally regarded as poor now by the world. If you think you are rich, inflation will humble you.

“There is no middle class or rich again, what we have is super rich and that is the class every Nigerian wants to belong and that is why embezzlement is now in billions and politics is the surest way to being super rich today,” Umelahi said, blaming the situation on Buhari’s lack of commitment to the project called Nigeria.

“If you deny a-year-old baby good food, the growth will be stunted and that is what has happened to Nigeria for eight years of malnutrition under less caring father,” he further noted.

Samuel Onikoyi, a Nigerian academia in Brussels, Belgium, thinks that the exodus of Nigerian doctors, IT and technology experts abroad for greener pastures is a bad legacy the outgoing president is leaving behind.

Angry that he did not leave Nigeria 15 years ago to Europe because of hardship in the country, Onikoyi lamented that seven out of every 10 Nigerian that land in Europe today, left the motherland because of hardship or insecurity.

“What will a president say when under him, Nigeria witnessed the worst brain drain? The movement abroad in the 80s was nothing when you consider the numbers leaving every day since eight years of this administration. “Sometimes, I wonder if the government is heartless because they have not done anything to address the situation,” he said.

However, the worst legacy of Buhari, according to Onikoyi, is institutionlisation of rigging and electoral fraud in Nigeria, which he described as rape of democracy.

“If Buhari had insisted on free and fair elections, Nigeria would have had a different result at the February 25th polls.

“We monitored the election from here and the process was a fraud.

“What happened to the new Electoral Act, why the BVAS machine, why the currency redesign, yet the old order returned.

“I think rigging will continue even on a higher scale in the next election and voter apathy will triple because the votes did not count. The world is laughing at us and that will also affect some of us that still carry Nigerian passports. Many here are changing their citizenship fast. It is sad and no legacy for me for the eight years in power because there was much expectation from Sai Baba in 2015 and 2019,” he said in disappointment.

In their views, the pundits are saying that Buhari will be remembered for his inability to fight corruption and insecurity, for institutionalising election rigging by his actions and inactions, for championing high level nepotism, hyper inflation, high rate of unemployment, encouraging brain drain, collapse of manufacturing sector with his policies and suffering Nigerians for eight years.

“Like Covid-19, the impact of the sufferings under Buhari will linger for years and Nigerians will not forgive him, not yet, because of his involvement in the truncating of the mandate of the masses in the 2023 general election,” a sufficiently angry pundit said.

In 2021 when the killings and abductions became daily occurrences, many Nigerians had expressed concern over the strategies of government that were not working.

Hassan Stan-Labo, a retired Army colonel, had said that there may be need for mercenaries to help the country since it seemed that government was overwhelmed.

“We are overwhelmed. We seem not to fix the problem on our own. Our military needs some fixing. I know what the Nigerian military is capable of, but a lot has gone wrong that needs to be fixed,” he said.

Stan-Labo decried the worsening insecurity, lamenting that “We are losing Nigerians on a daily basis. We can’t keep on going this way. I come from Zagon-Kataf, I know what happened last Sunday. We need to get certain things right. Mercenaries are needed the way things are now.”

The retired colonel expressed doubt over implementation of the recommendations arising from the House of Representatives’ Security Summit, saying, “If we are determined, things can change, but unfortunately, we seem to be like people who like talking. We talk and move on. With some determination things can be achieved. We need to change our attitude. There had been similar recommendations in the past, where are we with the implementation? That is the question.”

He believed that except the Federal Government takes a bold step to punish those who have confessed their terrorist activities, yet remain in the cabinet, Nigeria will not make any headway in the fight against insecurity.

“To start with, let us do something about those in government, but are known terrorists. Rather than punish such persons, we are making excuses for them and cover up their crimes,” he said.

Accusing government of complicity, Stan-Labo said: “If you behave in a manner that seems to give impression that you are complicit, then you are complicit.”

He also scoffed at the claim by some state actors that “repentant bandits” should be pardoned and re-integrated into society. He said that such attempt in Zamfara and Katsina states failed as the supposedly repented bandits have since moved back to the bush.

It was against this backdrop that criticism has continued to trail a report that over 2000 ex-Boko Haram insurgents who claimed to have repented were released released back into society.

Observers say if Buhari’s eight years in the saddle benefitted any person or group of persons, it is the nomadic Fulani, mostly from Niger and Chad.

Buhari’s rise to power saw the herders pouring into the country and amassing never-before-known powers to obliterate whole communities and be protected for doing this.

In most instances, Aso Rock offered only verbal condemnations of their blood spills and intensified its protection over them. While farming communities are disarmed, the herders are armed and rearmed.

On Wednesday, March 4, 2023, Umuogidi community in Otukpo Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue State was attacked and 46 persons, including a policeman, were killed.

Three persons were killed in the same community the previous day, which was Tuesday, March 3.

Thus, the community lost 49 persons within 24 hours. A source from the community told journalists that while the villagers were burying the three persons killed earlier, gunmen invaded the village again and started shooting.

So far, the death toll from those two attacks has hit 51, excluding earlier pogroms in the last few months.

“It has been the same story over the last eight years, i particularly think, he as not done enough to improve security across Nigeria.

“The Middle Belt of Nigeria, once the food basket of the nation, is now the Blood Belt of Nigeria. Today, even on the eve of Buhari’s exit from power, communities in Benue and parts of Kaduna are being razed with sworn consistency. Ditto for Zamfara and Niger states.

“The herders have, perhaps, carried out more savagery in the North than the Boko Haram terrorist group has done, especially since March, this year, but Aso Rock has been caught flat-footed each time horrendous attacks are launched against farming communities,“ Austin Oboh, current affairs analyst, said.

Read also: Tired of stomach infrastructure, Nigerians want more from their new leaders

Under the outgoing administration, bloodshed was a daily occurrence with the government feigning helplessness.

Tragically, nepotism in Buhari’s key appointments has worsened with the working of government agencies at cross purposes to fuel corruption.

Last year, a House of Representatives ad-hoc committee conducted a probe into the controversial fuel subsidy regime, which has had the national treasury haemorrhage for years.

No public entity, including the President, as the substantive minister of Petroleum Resources, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning or the National Assembly, with oversight powers over public expenditure, can state with certainty the quantity of fuel consumed daily in Nigeria. And hence the rightful amount of subsidy payment required for this volume.

Observers say Buhari has allowed close friends of his to accumulate public resources.

“One embarrassing episode is that of the Minister of Justice, who the Nigerian Governors Forum accused of fraud for insisting on paying $418 million to private consultants as a percentage of Paris Club refunds from funds belonging to the states some months back.

“I think the government would go down in history as one of the worst in all sectors. The last eight years have been disastrous for Nigerians and Nigeria. Everything have turned upside down.

“Ironically, there was so much support for him when he was coming and he promised to do a good job.

“I think part of Buhari’s greatest undoing his appointing people refusing to supervise them or measure their performance.

“If you look at his cabinet, there are a lot of deadwood Ministers who have no business remaining in office, they are doing nothing, but he keep retaining them.

“There is little or no legacy that Buhari would be remembered for, he as done well in the area of infrastructure, but over all, his administration has been a total disaster,” Tope Musowo, public affairs analyst and academic, said.