In 2015, the decision for most people referred to as “Buharists”, was making a choice between perceived ineptitude and an alternative expected to be firm and unwavering in the face of malfeasance. For emphasis, Muhammadu Buhari was not the favoured candidate for many on the premise of possessing superior intelligence. Also, it was definitely not because he was expected to have a better knowledge or understanding of the Nigerian economy.
Buhari emerged as President because majority (at least as far as election results reflected), were fed up with an administration which appeared neck deep in corruption. And no, the corruption tag is not an exaggeration, but a reality, one which manifested in how the previous administration tolerated individuals accused of financial impropriety and all forms of malfeasance.
The disappointment today, however, is that the administration of Muhamadu Buhari has not done better than the “corrupt government” it claims to have unseated. Allies of the President have several allegations of corruption – the one thing Buhari professes to hate – hanging around the necks, and they have carried on as if those allegations are ornaments adorning them.
“I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”, these words spoken in Buhari’s inaugural speech, gave the impressions that Nigeria finally got it right. In the months following his election, many Nigerians spoke of improved electricity supply, and like every other thing that appeared to be magically ‘turning out well’, all were attributed to the president’s body language.
Three and half years later, and it appears the president’s body has either run out of language styles or those in the corridors of power have simply found it to be all ‘barks and no bite’.
Many of President Buhari’s closest aides and as it were, ‘kitchen cabinet’, have been hiding under the banner of his integrity to commit series of atrocities. Some of these include the Rasheed Maina reinstatement scandal, Ayo Oke, NIA’s former DG and the unexplained cash haul at Ikoyi. There has also been a blatant disregard for the rule of law, defiance of court judgements, and executive rascality such as the barricade of the National Assembly by Lawal Daura, sacked DG of the SSS, who would have kept his job if the act had taken place with Buhari in the country.
Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff has been alleged to receive bribes on at least two publicly reported occasions, but till date, investigations to ascertain his guilt or innocence have either been ‘inconclusive’ or simply never commenced.
In the early months of the Buhari administration, it would have been unheard of that an alleged pension thief will be smuggled into his former office, right under Buhari’s nose. Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, allegedly stole over N2 billion of pensioners funds and since 2013, has been on the run. Interestingly, the saintly government of President Buhari – if accusations and counter accusations in the presidency are anything to go by – saw the Attorney General’s office, writing the Federal Civil Service Commission for Maina’s reinstatement. This is at least according to Winifred Oyo-Ita, Head of Service of the Federation.
Babachir Lawal, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) was initially suspended over alleged violations in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE). The suspension came after months of a baffled public, wondering how the presidency’s ‘coordinating arm’ as it were, had lost the saintly credentials expected of Buhari’s cabinet members. The former SGF is by no means the only member of the Buhari administration who has been ‘found wanting’, he simply got caught, at least by the report which indicted him. The dismissal of Bachir Lawal is one of those decisions President Buhari was obviously forced to make. To emphasise this, Lawal was one of ‘special guests’ at the launch of a campaign group for Buhari’s re-election, at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa. If the President truly believed his former SGF was a thief as indicted by the report of a committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, then he would have maintained a dignified distance. Some of his ministers have also not been without allegations of corruption, despite working for a supposedly corruption intolerant President.
The Buhari that has manifested today is not what many of his followers bargained for. Accepted, he was not expected to have the intellectual prowess to navigate Nigeria’s economy through the recent turbulent periods, but his attitude in condoning corrupt people who surround him has not only been alarming, but very disappointing.