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The legacy of a Jeroboam

Two years to the expiration of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, many Nigerians have continued to ask one question: what legacy does the President want to leave behind in 2023?

History books are awash with activities of kings, presidents and prime ministers who either left worthy footprints on the sands of time or otherwise.

Several years after they have gone, they are still being remembered based on the kind of footprint they left behind. Their contributions to the good of humanity or lack of it speak for them.

Many Nigerians believe that unless Buhari changes tactics, he would likely leave a Jeroboam-legacy.

An understanding of the man, Jeroboam, is germane here to put things in proper perspective.

Jeroboam was the son of Nebat, a member of the Tribe of Ephraim of Zereda. While still a young man, King Solomon made him superintendent over his tribesmen in the building of the fortress Millo in Jerusalem and of other public works, and he naturally became conversant with the widespread discontent caused by the extravagances which marked King Solomon’s reign.

Influenced by the words of Prophet Ahijah, he began to form conspiracies with the view of becoming king of the ten northern tribes; but these were discovered, and he fled to Egypt, where he remained under the protection of Pharaoh Shishak until the death of Solomon.

After this event, he returned and participated in a delegation sent to ask the new king, Rehoboam to reduce taxes and the suffering in the land. After Rehoboam rejected their petition, ten of the tribes withdrew their allegiance to the house of David and proclaimed Jeroboam their king, forming the northern kingdom of Israel (Samaria). Initially, only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained to form the new kingdom of Judah, loyal to Rehoboam.

Jeroboam rebuilt and fortified Shechem as the capital of the northern kingdom, and fearing that pilgrimages to the temple in Jerusalem prescribed by the Law might be an occasion for his people to go back to their old allegiance, he built two state temples with golden calves, one in Bethel and the other in Dan. This became his undoing. This idolatry is often referred to as “the sins of Jeroboam”.

The sins were so grievous that anywhere his name was mentioned all through the scriptures, it has always ended with the phrase “…who made Israel to sin.”

Come back home. President Muhammadu Buhari is one of the few lucky men on the planet earth. In a highly populated country, full of brilliant and well-endowed citizens (in every respect), he had the rare privilege to rule the nation twice in his lifetime.

After his first coming as Head of State leading a military junta that overthrew a democratic government in 1983, fate still smiled at Buhari, giving him the opportunity to sit on that seat as a civilian president. He sought for it for many years but got it at last.

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A lot was expected of him. Many thought that he would use the opportunity to serve God and humanity. But not many Nigerians can say plainly he has acquitted himself well in his six years in the saddle.

What presidents and kings do while on power stool matters a lot. The question of the manner of legacy Buhari would leave behind has become pertinent because of the degeneration of Nigeria under his watch.

Those who have objectively followed events in Nigeria in the last six years believe that things have changed negatively. Topmost among other ills that have bedeviled the country under Buhari’s watch is the high level of poverty, corruption and insecurity, which are incidentally the major focus of his administration.

Buhari’s failure to address any of these issues that form the cardinal objectives of his campaign and eventually his party’s government speaks to the ineptitude of a leader totally disconnected with reality.

Today, various global rating institutions speak in tandem that the country is not well run. At over 33 percent unemployment rate, the country’s institutions of higher learning are just churning out graduates whose future is so bleak that the dream of most youths is to leave the country at the slightest opportunity.

Under Buhari’s watch, life has lost its meaning. Herdsmen, whose pattern of attack and audacity seem to suggest they have the backing of state, have made some parts of the country a living hell and a killing field for the murderous nomads. They kill, maim, rape, and destroy like thieves in the night.

These days, they do not operate under the cover of the night, they carry out their dastardly act in broad day light, yet, the nation’s security agencies appear to be helpless.

Although the killer Fulani herdsmen seem to be the major security risks in the country, leveraging the constitutional provision of freedom of movement, the government of the day has done little or nothing to check their murderous activities.

In his Arise TV interview, last week, Buhari declared strong support for the anachronistic open cattle grazing that has been banned by the 17 southern governors.

In his seeming “I-don’t- care” declaration, he said he was going to dust up a gazette of the First Republic that supports open grazing. He argued that ‘nomadism’ is the culture of the Fulani, not minding the current grave and wider implications of that primitive practice.

But Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State and other well-informed political leaders in the south have told Abuja that there was nothing like grazing routes in the south.

A concerned pundit said: “Buhari’s position is provocative and could further embolden the killer herders. It pitches the President in direct conflict with the people in the South and their governors, where farming is a major occupation. Already, large swathes of the North-Central have become killing fields as herdsmen, claiming a right to unfettered grazing everywhere, are violently destroying lives, farms, and settlements.”

In fact, a document dug up by some researchers, which has flooded the social media, has clarified that it was only two grazing routes that existed in the whole of Southern Nigeria, and that both of them were in Oyo State.

There is no doubting the fact that within the maze of apparent hopelessness in the country, the administration has done one or two things right.

But when viewed from the scriptural definition of wealth, it means that all the wealth of the whole world put together cannot equate the worth of a single soul. “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” the scripture queries.

It therefore, goes without saying that even if the present government and Buhari administration had made Nigeria a mini heaven in terms of infrastructure, economy and other indices of a well-run country, they still pale into insignificance in the sight of God with the spate of bloodletting that goes on in the country.

Someone posted on his Facebook wall recently, saying, “Thank you President Muhammadu Buhari for this beautiful addition to our infrastructures; this is laudable and commendable and I say thank you. I similarly passed through the Lagos-Ibadan expressway recently and cannot but be grateful for the good job going on there. The nation needs more of such.”

On the flipside, however, the writer noted that “To enjoy all these infrastructures, it is important to scale up security across the nation, knowing that series of insecurity problems in the country have diminished the little or much that have been achieved so far. Only the living can enjoy these facilities.”

Despite the overwhelming evidence of lopsidedness in appointments and the nepotistic tendencies of the administration, President Buhari, a few days ago, insisted there was nothing like marginalisation or favouritism. In a rather curious way, the president explained that his overtly lopsided appointments are based on merit. Ever since, Nigerians have been searching for the real definition of ‘merit’, placing that side by side with the horde of non-performing elements in government.

Although it is evident that the President has continued to look the other way as the Fulani herdsmen carry out their bloody campaign across the country, particularly in the North West, South East, South-South and South West, the president said he had been fair to all and didn’t tolerate bloodletting or support violence against farmers in their ancestral homes.

Despite the dust raised by his genocidal comment, President Buhari, during his well-publicised interview on Arise TV, did not sound conciliatory or soothing. His words were caustic and reeked with bile. His open admittance of being a herder must have justified the allegation that he is well disposed to the Fulanis and panders to their whim.

A report on Al Jazeera said: “A few days ago, militants killed at least 25 and razed houses, shops and a palace in a town in Nigeria’s South West, but they are not yet terrorists because of Buhari’s apparent bias for herders, being one himself.

Bandits are terrorising Nigeria’s North, since December they have abducted close to a thousand people and their unofficial spokesman, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, often burnishes their image in the media. Still, to the Nigerian government, killers and kidnappers are no terrorists.”

The other day, Governor Aminu Masari of Kaduna State, during the North West Security meeting, lamented the spate of criminality in that geopolitical zone. He said it was unheard of that people of same culture, race, language and religion are destroying one another, raping, killing and maiming one another in the zone.

What would the people of Benue, Plateau, Zamfara, Ebonyi, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Delta, Edo, Kaduna, Niger, Imo, among others, whose communities have been ravaged by killer herdsmen or bandits, remember the current administration for?

What would families that have lost one, two, three or more members to killer herdsmen remember the Buhari administration for?

Or what would families whose ancestral lands have been forcefully taken over by herdsmen, or whose houses and other properties have been burnt down by bandits and herdsmen, and they have become refugees in their own land, remember the current administration for?

Under the present administration, Nigerians say openly that the country is now more divided than at any other time in her history. The ethnic and religious consciousness that now pervades the nation is so high that even the policies of government of the day appear to be tailored along those lines.

In his comment that has gone viral on social media, titled: ‘Interviewing President Buhari’, Reuben Abati pointedly said:

“The Buhari interview has further revealed how divided we are as a nation, and the crisis of social cohesion that we face. Nigeria is more divided today than at any other time in our history. And certainly, the President’s responses reinforce this conclusion because his main constituencies and supporters see nothing fundamentally wrong with his media statements in the last few days. With his responses, Buhari chose his audience tactically. People should stop saying he did not understand the questions. He did, and he made his point…”

According to the Al Jazeera report earlier quoted, it also recalled that “In 2017, the Buhari government had the army declare IPOB a ‘militant terrorist group’ in violation of the country’s Terrorism Act which stipulates that only a judge can make that declaration, before subsequently acting in accordance with the law.”

The report also noted that “Four years later, it still has not mustered the courage to so declare militants from herder communities as terrorist groups, despite their designation in 2015 by the Global Terrorism Index as fourth deadliest terror group in the world after Boko Haram, ISIS, and al-Shabab.”

The President is said to have created hatred for the Fulani nation, that for many years to come, they will no longer be accepted to live with people peacefully the way they used to.

Since General Yakubu Gowon left office as head of state, he is still being remembered as the man that supervised the slaughtering of many Nigerians in a needless and fruitless civil war.

Today, Gowon appears to be regretting those infantile decisions of yesteryear. He now criss-crosses the length and breadth of Nigeria sowing seed of reconciliation.

It is strongly believed that many years after President Buhari must have left office, he will surely be remembered. But, don’t ask me what he would be remembered for. Power is ephemeral.

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