Again, why TINUBU must rescue Nigerians from BUHARI, Africa's new Niccolo Machiavelli
There is no denying the fact that bad economic and foreign policies can precipitate serious crises like such we experience today in Nigeria capable of sparking off dangerous political consequences thus making politicians demand arbitrary power to deal with emergency situations caused by bad government policies. When times are bad many people have no option but are often too willing to go along and support terrible things that would be unthinkable in good times. In Nigeria, for instance, we have had dictators in military garbs and it took us years of dogged fighting, dingdong struggles, and battles to return the country from military dictatorship to constitutional democracy like such Nigerians enjoyed in the past one and half decades ago.
Prior to the freedom that held sway in the past 16 years of Nigeria's civil democratic rule, Nigerians languished under the jackboot of the military that saw the emergence of many pro-democracy groups, the most vibrant of all being the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). Many of the NADECO chieftains who stood toe-to-toe with the military had their lives cut down by state agents calling to mind the sensational murder of Pa Alfred Rewane and others.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, one of the vocal voices of the pro-democracy struggle was left with no option but to flee Nigeria at the period under sad review when it became clear his life was on the line. As the threat to lives hung over our heads like the ancient sword of Damocles, this writer climbed in on the bandwagon to this part of the Old World where he has been to this day watching behind the scenes in open-mouthed astonishment.
Tinubu represented and spoke for the voiceless in the Nigerian society, otherwise, he as one who is well-off could have decided not to confront the military authorities who ruled Nigeria then with a caprice. He saw the evil of the day and decided to join forces with other dissident voices to overthrow tyranny and as luck would have it, tyranny died with his boots on June 8, 1988!
Nigeria began another military adventure under the leadership of Abdulsalami Abubakar who by a twist of fate returned Nigeria to a civil democratic rule in 1997. After a hotly contested presidential election, Obasanjo a retired General and military Head of State emerged the winner and was sworn in as a democratically elected civilian president who ruled the country for eight calendar years under the platform of the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP).
However, the ideals which Tinubu joined forces with other pro-democracy fighters to fight that Nigerians enjoyed through to 2015 is fast being eroded from Nigeria's political firmament while tyranny has staged a come-back and rearing its ugly head on the ascending order of magnitude and this, I dare say, cuts across every facet of our national life.
For starters, it is not in dispute that aspiring dictators give away their intentions by an evident desire to destroy opponents with hate concealed in their hearts, they move on to destroy every perceived opponent and we see this at play in President Buhari whose ways and actions reek of disdain for a particular tribe in our geo-polity. He has demonstrated this in so many ways during his first appearance on the Nigeria's political scene that saw the inceration of many politicians of southern extraction while their counterparts of northern extraction were detained in cosy house arrest calling to mind the detention of Alex Ekweme in Kiriki Maximum Security Prisons while President Shehu Shagari was detained in a cosy apartment in highbrow Ikoyi area of Lagos. Even when others were released they never stayed alive healthy before going the way of all flesh. Prof. Alli went blind in prison and died afterward after his release.
With Buhari's obnoxious Decree Number 4 at the period under sad review, many people were detained without trial with trumped up charges, some of them developed ailments while in detention which some of them later succumbed to in the long run. Today, however, we see a similar scenario unfolding with flagrant abuse of court order that is again attracting the attention of the international community.
The detention of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is a case in point. The UN and AU Chater allows for self-determination when an ethnic nationality no longer feels comfortable within a union or when it has become an endangered species within a polity. As things stand, there is every pointer to that fact that the Igbos who are the second largest ethnic group in Nigeria are increasingly becoming an endangered species which informed the interest and desire for the ongoing separatist feelings and aspirations.
Buhari has gravely erred by his refusal to heed the voice of reason and release the illegally detained IPOB leader whose international profile keeps rising astronomically. Nnamdi Kanu was hitherto unknown until his arrest and detention thereby making him not only the Moses but the Biblical Joshua of our time. The Rubicon is crossed, and there is no turning back!
Buhari's boundless ambition to bestride Nigerian political world like a colossus has been demonstrated in so many ways. In the gubernatorial elections that saw the emergence of Edo and Ondo States' Governor and Governor-elect respectively, he played a major role to ensure his party's victory by a stand-by electoral umpire doing his bidding. It is a thousand wonder that in spite of the gross electoral malpractices and injustice against other parties' flagbearers, we saw him on TV celebrating their 'victory' when the process that saw their emergence is highly questionable. His burning desire is to impose a one-party rule upon the country to enable him rule Nigeria with a caprice and many of his uninformed apologists appeared to have lost sight of the dangers inherent in the absence of a robust opposition in place.
A similar scenario is again unfolding in Rivers days after the legislative rerun elections through the instrumentality of his Transportation Minister - a surrogate for federal authority - who says it is either his will to forcefully impose his wish on the state prevails or there will be no Rivers State.
As it is today, the economy is not showing any clinical sign of recovery, far from that it has remained comatose and when you demand explanation, you are told, it was destroyed 16 years ago but when the party that allegedly destroyed it held sway, Nigerians were still able to feed amidst a great deal of mirco-economic stability. But today the ineptitude brazenly displayed by the regime in Abuja has changed the tide.
Nigeria has never been this polarized along ethnic and religious lines while Buhari's predecessors were in charge. Today, some tribes or ethnic groups have marvelously become endangered species with an unprecedented rise in killings and extra-judicial murders by a Nazified Nigerian army and police, calling to mind the extra-judicial killing of over 150 pro-Biafran agitators by the Nigerian army in Aba, Abia State, and others. Armed banditry orchestrated by his kinsmen killing Nigerians in hundreds is another serious issue to contend with.
The courts receive superior orders from Aso Rock and any defiance is treated as insubordination amid the quest for emergency powers that was turned down a couple of months ago by the upper legislative chamber.
Only yesterday, the Vice President made a U-turn and for the first time ever, spoke the truth Nigerians ever longed to hear. He said 'No quick fix to economic recession' but a day before Buhari lied to Nigerians that the current recession will be over in the ensuing year. Goodness knows how feasible is this under the existing circumstances because in this part of the Old World where I am -which is a member of the prestigious G-7 and the third biggest and advanced economy in the EU has been battling their economic problem for over a decade now after initially setting a 5-year recovery plan which, however, suffered setbacks. They had to extend it by another 5 years. So I wonder where the healing mechanisms are to revitalize the ailing economy - he probably hopes to source the therapy from his mine of inexhaustible lies.
The reason readily adduced by Buhari is the dwindling revenue from oil sales and disruptions by militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Be that as it may, Nigeria has never produced less than one million barrels per day and oil has never sold for less than $20 since he took over the reins of power from former President Jonathan.
In a recent video footage that went viral a few months ago, I was stunned in no small measure by Al Mustapha's revelations that oil sold for $7 per barrel when Abacha was Nigeria's Head of State. In a similar vein, Prof. Charles Soludo, former Governor of Central Bank told a beleaguered nation a few months ago in a piece published by the Nigerian Tribune that oil sold for $30 while he was in charge of the nation's apex bank and at that price, with Obasanjo's economic team, they were able to pay off Nigeria's foreign debts and saved well over 60 billion dollars. Oil has never sold for less than 20 dollars and Nigeria's production output has never fallen below one million in spite of the militancy. So what is he telling Nigerians especially his apologists and the gullible ones amongst them? Former President Olusegun Obasanjo reminded him the other day of the dire need to assemble a good economic team irrespective of where they come from Nigeria so also did the erudite Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi but this advice has again fallen on deaf ears.
Buhari readily tells everyone he is fighting corruption but does fighting corruption means extending a death warrant to the citizenry? Advanced nations here in this part of the Old World where I have sojourned for over 2 decades still fight corruption to this day but that does not deny its nationals and non-nationals alike the basic necessities of life. No wealth has been created since he assumed power but what we have been seeing is a massive depletion of Nigeria's foreign reserves from over $40bn handed him by the immediate past administration to $26bn which has immeasurably reduced Nigeria to a beggarly existence. So where has over $14bn disappeared to in less than 19 calendar months?
With these problems staring Nigerians ominously in the face, no one will ever think of voting for any of the party's candidates but we hear them 'winning' elections, a pointer to fact that the incompetent governing party will 'lead' Nigeria beyond 2019 so long as Buhari is in charge calling Edo and Ondo States' gubernatorial elections to mind. Defection to the governing party has become the other of the day for fear of being prosecuted and persecuted which is typical of totalitarian regimes. The message to all is clear, like in Nazi Germany, it is you either do Buhari's bidding or face persecution and this places Nigeria's nascent democracy in a grave danger.
In the not too distant past, I read a piece in one of the Nigerian dailies that Tinubu should be paid off in order to make Nigeria's seat of power a northern presidency. I was stunned in no small measure and events playing out today speak volumes for why his candidates were edged out on the scheme of things and filled with a cast of neophyte actors.
I am very sure what Nigerians pass through today - frustration, hunger, suicides and others - is not the change Tinubu fought for when he consented to a merger that removed the PDP from power. Other states fell for that plan having seen the developmental strides in Lagos which they wish to see replicated in their states but the men that would have transformed or done the job to improve on where the former party left Nigeria where thrown out in ministerial selection thus making Tinubu fly like an ordinary pitch.
The resultant effect of all that today is frustration in the land thus making the citizenry to long for a return to PDP days when they had food to eat aplenty. Buhari boundless ambition to dominate Nigeria's political scene has divided Nigeria along religious and ethnic lines. He has long commenced Tinubu's replacement. That is why he is retaining the services of surrogates like Fashola, Fayemi and others to wind his way into the southwest and fondly enough these men who were hitherto unknown think they could step into Tinubu's shoes, take political control of the southwest and deliver the votes to Buhari in 2019. There is no denying the fact these men and their political associates are morally bound to fail.
Among the cheap lies that he has often told is about Nigeria's counter-insurgency operations in the northeast. He did tell the whole world that the immediate past administration did not buy any weapon. Could Nigerians ask him who and from where he got the weapons that are being used to prosecute the ongoing war against the insurgents? Because you know as well as I know that no weapon has been bought since he came to power about two years ago. Can anyone contest this? Again, this is another lie from the fiery pit of hell!
Nigerians have now made a swift volte face as his policies continue to fail woefully and marvelously yet you see him still tapping from his mine of inexhaustible lies by promising the moon. The hunger and starvation in the land have beclouded Nigerians' sense of reasoning so much so that they exchange their voting power for paltry sums of money. This is a crying shame! And this is what they still hope to do to in 2019 because nothing will change but more hardship and the infamous tradition of vote-buying that has become institutionalized will return Buhari to power in 2019 while dissenting voices will be ruthlessly crushed. This is as sure as fate except Tinubu says 'No' in his capacity as the beautiful bride considering his firm grip on the southwest.
Tinubu has no option but to heed the agonizing cries of millions of Nigerians by casting partisanship overboard, come to their rescue like he did in the NADECO days as Nigeria has again been entangled in another web of a despot. He has, doubtless, become the most important political figure in the whole of southern Nigeria with the wherewithal to effect the true change of which Nigerians urgently stand in need.
*Iyoha John Darlington, a social activist, political analysts, political analyst and public commentator on national and global issues wrote from Turin, Italy.