Will Nigeria Survive Muhammadu Buhari’s Government?
The 9-month span of Mr. Muhammadu Buhari's presidency is not long enough to pass final judgements on his stewardship but long enough to predict the future of Nigeria. Nigerians should start thinking whether the president has the right temperament to govern a complex country like Nigeria; whether he understands convoluted relationships between the federal government and states, between the government and citizens, between dictatorships and democracies, etc. The country should consider if the president understands the differences in the last sentence; does he have the nuances necessary to maneuver though these intricate relationships; does he have the judgement to implement his understanding; and most importantly, is he capable of carrying the whole country with him
A few examples would illustrate the fear for Nigeria after PMB's administration. It is reported that last week members of the Department of state Security Services (DSS) invaded Ekiti House of Assembly and kidnapped four legislators who were in the peoples' house doing peoples' business ( http://metrowatchonline.com/fayoses-criticism-buhari-dss-military-style-invades-ekiti-assembly-abducts-4-lawmakers/ ) If the report is correct there cannot be any more impunity than this. How can a federal force invade a state legislative body and forcibly remove state law makers? In Nigeria there is defined state boundaries and federal boundaries of authority. Each, sacred and sacrosanct. If some Ekiti legislators violated federal laws, they should be apprehended outside the state legislative building. I am aware that the people of Ekiti like their counterparts in Anambra have well-educated and bold citizenry who publicly express their views no matter the circumstances but that does not give DSS any right to violet the protection that their membership in the state legislature provides them. They are immune from harassment inside the building doing state duties. Anambra and Ekiti stand as the last bulwark against dictatorship from federal authorities. Anambra stood against Obasanjo's regime just as Ekiti is standing against PMB's.
If the alleged incidence in Ekiti is not frightening enough, consider the reported interview that Mr. President gave to Al Jazeera television. It was reported as follows
Responding to question about how he plans to deal with the issue of Biafra, Buhari said, Biafra quest is a joke he added “At least two millions Nigerians were killed in the Biafra war. And for somebody to wake up, may be they weren't born. Looking for Biafra after two millions people were killed, they are joking with the security and Nigeria won't tolerate Biafra.”
This is the most undiplomatic and unrefined way to handle a delicate political situation involving human rights, freedom of speech and international laws. It is not within his powers to not tolerate different opinions. He must indeed tolerate different opinions about Nigeria's future so long as the views are expressed in words. Even if otherwise all he can do/should do is to bring the matter to the courts. Nowhere in the constitution is he the arbiter of disagreements of opinions and views. These types of statements call into quest PMB's judgement. If a people suffered loss to the tune of 2 million lives and are still pursuing the same goals, does that not say something? The Igbo say that ebe nwata n'ebe akwa aru aka; nne ya anohia nna ya anoria, where a baby is crying and pointing to must hold his father or mother.
But if the Biafrans statement is reason to question PMB's judgement, his insinuation that he has a saboteur/s in his administration drives home the question. Nigeria waited for six months to know who would help run the country, PMB's spokesmen said that he was ensuring that he has the right people who are, above everything else, trustworthy and are not corrupt. To imply that he has within his carefully selected team one who is not trustworthy after a mere three months makes one wonder. Was his judgement of these people wrong after so much care had been taken? How reliable will it be in the heat of battle?
There are other things that give room for worry in this administration; it is the fact that no segment of the population is gong-ho about the direction of the country. Take the case of the skirmish (is it still a skirmish if 10 dead people are counted) in Lagos this past week. It is being billed as a Yoruba/Hausa conflict. Whatever it is called and however it started and no matter who is to blame, the important lesson is that the nation is sitting on a tender box. Any little thing can ignite it and if it is not properly handled it could spin out of control. The incidence in the outskirts of Lagos was not properly handled. The security operatives came late and left too early making it possible for each side to regroup and come back the next day for vengeance. And because of the distrust of the security agencies some people saw support of SS for one side which may or may not be true. But perception is the reality for the perceivers. It is what led to the brief shout of “we want Oduduwa Republic.
Another minor incident that creates anxiety over Nigeria's survival after this administration is what ought to minor incidents. It is the assertiveness of cattle farmers who violently enter into other farmers land and with AK47 rifles intimidate the land owners. It has happened often in NC, SW, and SE. There are two concerns with this: one is how these herders carry weapons can so openly when guns are banned for all civilians? And march from Kano to Lagos without interruption, no arrests even when they have used the guns to kill and no questions asked by the government? The other issue is where did they get these guns and bullets? The protests of land owners do not seem to matter leaving the impression that the cattle men have a god father above.
The points made above serve as the tip of the iceberg. If Nigeria is to survive PMB, there should be evidence of understanding or societal relationships: relationship between the FG and the state governments; between government and individuals, between one citizen and another. There ought to be a belief that our government is for all of us and not for s a segment; there must be respect for all human rights and the right to a free expression of unpleasant thoughts; the understanding of which matters belong to the executive and which is for courts and legislatures to handle
Our government must understand how things are handled in a democracy as distinct from how it is handled in a military dictatorship and which is now in effect in 2016 Nigeria.
*** Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba writes from Boston, Massachusetts.