Buhari and the Politics of Fear Mongering
By Sufuyan Ojeifo
Former military dictator and presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, is continuing his trademark politics of bitterness, blackmail and fear mongering. At a Northern stakeholders' meeting of the APC, held on Saturday, October 18, 2014, in Kaduna, Buhari once again threw caution, which is expected of an elder, to the winds and launched a subtle jibe at the judges of the country's apex court. He said, 'I tried to be a President three times; three times I failed. I challenged the election up to the Supreme Court. Who were the judges of the Supreme Court? What were their decisions? The most interesting one was in 2007 where three of the seven-man panel of judges said the election was not done according to the law….'
It is worrisome that an elder of Buhari's standing will make utterances which insinuate that judges of the Supreme Court were compromised or suborned to arrive at a verdict not favourable to him, an indication that he has no respect for the judiciary. If, as Buhari said, 'three of the seven-man panel of judges said the election was not done according to the law' in 2007, does it not follow that the remaining four judges were of the legal opinion that the election satisfied the requirements of the law? Or, would Buhari have preferred to be handed a victory on the basis of the three judges who were ostensibly in support of his case against the four judges who were not?
Moreover, that Buhari, in 2014, is still talking about his 2007 loss at the Supreme Court is a pointer to just how unsportsmanlike he can be and how long his bitterness can last. It also brings to the fore the fear mongering with which Buhari has often laced his public statements, some of which, if one is to be kind, can only, at best, be described as not statesmanlike.
Lest Nigerians forget, it was Buhari who once told the world during a BBC Hausa Service interview that, 'If what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood.' And if we are to follow Buhari's example and go back to the past, let every well-meaning Nigerian challenge Buhari to search his conscience whether his utterances before and after the 2011 Presidential Election did not stoke and encourage the violence in some parts of the north that led to the loss of many Nigerians after the election.
Coming back to the Saturday, October 18, 2014 event in Kaduna, Buhari further scored a new low in fear mongering while reinforcing the APC policy of demonizing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He said: 'another four years of PDP will send this country down the drain.' This is a classic example of Buhari's brand of politicking, which is to mix fear with blackmail and intimidation in the hope that voters will be cowed into supporting him. It is simply incredible that after three failed attempts at winning the presidency through the ballot box, instead of the military coup that he once used, Buhari's handlers cannot advise him to change his flawed tactics.
In reality, what does Buhari's 'another four years of PDP will send this country down the drain' mean? Nigerians are intelligent beings and can fact-check things for themselves. Yes, the PDP has been in power for 15 years, in which time the country has witnessed many positive changes. To be clear, nobody is saying Nigeria has reached the state of Utopia; but then, again, which country can be said to have reached Utopia? However, the many positive changes that Nigeria has witnessed under the PDP include tremendous growth in the areas of telecommunications, agriculture, women empowerment and, perhaps, most importantly, freedom of democratic expression.
It is this freedom of democratic expression that allows Buhari to go around making unguarded statements aimed at stoking anger against the government of the day, something which Buhari, the military dictator, would never have tolerated.
For those who may have short memories, let us recall that Buhari is one of the very few Nigerians who have had the privilege of ruling Nigeria in the past. Let us recall specifically that Buhari is, indeed, a former military dictator who truncated the democratically elected government of President Shehu Shagari in 1983. Let us remember that Buhari's Decree No.4 remains one of the most draconian laws against press freedom that the entire world has ever seen. And let us never forget that Buhari's regime incarcerated many Nigerians, including former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, for long periods of time without trial.
So if today, as is the case, retired General Muhammadu Buhari, a man who appears negatively rigid and incapable of putting on a democratic temperament, offers himself for service as Nigeria's democratically elected president, and he seeks to achieve this feat through the misguided politics of fear mongering, intimidation and outright blackmail, Nigerians have the right to look him in the face and say, 'Thanks, but no thanks, General! We've seen your style before. It did us no good then and it would do us no good now.'
Mr Ojeifo contributed this piece from Abuja.
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