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President Buhari, Nigeria is at tipping point

President Buhari, Nigeria is at tipping point
February 20
13:41 2020
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In many ways the massacre of scores of persons and abduction of many more by Boko Haram insurgents at a checkpoint in the town of Auno, some 25 kilometres to Maiduguri the capital city of Borno state represents a turning point not just in president Buhari’s war against insecurity, but more significantly on the direction that the administration is taking the country. We can assess this through a sequence of events and pronouncements that followed the unfortunate incident.

Firstly, the president was pointedly heckled by some residents of Maiduguri as he drove into the city on a stop over from a visit to Ethiopia to condole with the government and people of the state. In a state where he garnered the highest percentage votes of 94 and 95 in the 2015 and 2019 elections respectively, this certainly says a lot about how the president is being perceived even in his stronghold.

Perhaps taken aback by this hostile reception by some people in Maiduguri and the fact that the Boko Haram insurgents have repeatedly struck at will defying the best efforts by the administration to see them off president Buhari reportedly blamed the people of the state for not doing enough themselves to help root out Boko Haram from among them. This statement to a grieving people who had just lost their loved ones in such a brutal manner through what has now been established as a case of negligence on the part of the military rings loudly not just of insensitivity but also is the clearest demonstration yet that the president is beginning to lose his marbles under the weight of seemingly intractable issues confronting him in the country. Where was the empathy expected of a leader and father to a people mourning such a tragic occurence?

Thirdly, what must be the most unfortunate of the sequence of happenings was the pathetic, agricultural response by presidential spokesman Garba Shehu on the protests by some of the residents of Borno. Shehu was at his disingenuous best when he was reported to have said that those who booed president Buhari in Maiduguri were paid to do so by the opposition. It did not occur to him that for the opposition to within a short time mobilize people to heckle the president in a state where he has such massive support shows that there is a disconnect somewhere. Garba Shehu certainly believes that one of the perks of his being a top official in the presidency is to be rude and arrogant to the people who elected the administration that employed him to serve them. This again is a clear testimony to the overwhelming view that president Buhari is surrounded by some people who do not mean well for him and the country.

That the Buhari administration is oblivious to the strong coffee of disappointment and disenchantment brewing in the country is obvious. A few weeks back the president was reported to have claimed ignorance of the incidence of banditry in Niger state. We can admire the president for his honesty in admitting this, but we certainly cannot forget that all around us as the country is literarily falling apart the president is either passing the buck as in Borno state with the insurgents or unbelievably and unpardonably ignorant of the banditry going on in Niger state.

Disturbingly, we read from president Buhari’s body language that he is exasperated by the humongous differences between what he perceived as the problems bedevilling the country prior to his becoming president and what he actually met upon taking over the mantle. It is also becoming quite clear that the president is overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of righting the identified wrongs in such a complex country as this which he had pledged to do.

It is certainly not heart- warming that while the president is seemingly stuck in this state of inertial rut, the integrity and credibility of the country he swore to protect and defend as its president and commander-in-chief is being seriously challenged. Nowadays it has become customary for persons and groups to not just idly denigrate the country calling it all sorts of derogatory names but it is also normal to flippantly call for break-up of the country and even outline steps in that direction with impunity.

Taken together this portrays a dangerous, disturbing signpost of a parting of ways between an administration that is increasingly perceived as losing its wits and a people that have grown weary of it over the years.

There is growing apprehension that if things continue the way they are presently, the country may not survive the expected political and social convulsions that will surely accompany the next political succession on the road to 2023. This is despite president Buharis pronouncements that he will deliver a successful transition. All around, the signs are quite clear that Nigeria is drifting like a listing ship dangerously towards the tipping point.

To halt the drift and restore confidence and hope in Nigerians, president Buhari needs to take some very significant steps urgently. On insecurity the president must ask the service chiefs to walk the plank and replace them with new ones. No two ways about it. Down the line he must consider declaring a state of emergency in Borno state and possibly Yobe so as to allow the military face the insurgents squarely. There must be a one stop address post for the fight against insurgency there. The military is president Buhari’s primary constituency and comfort zone. Borno, apart from being where he served as military governor is also a place where he has filial connections.

And then he must drastically cut on his frequent foreign travels if it is not absolutely necessary. It creates the impression that he is conveniently evading his responsibilities to Nigerians. Was he not the one who once said we must all stay back and salvage Nigeria together?

 

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