On the 31st of March 2015, the then president Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat in advance of the final declaration of results. It was an unprecedented act of good faith in a continent packed with sit tight leaders. Indeed, it was also an unprecedented election being as it was the first time an incumbent had suffered electoral defeat in Nigeria’s chequered history. Running on a campaign of change, vile propaganda, a manifesto loaded with stunningly ambitious promises and aided by a coalition of opportunistic Southern leaders—Muhammadu Buhari the presidential candidate of the APC emerged victorious after three previous attempts. But there the crisis begins. It soon turned out that for all the deafening noise of change, the enthusiasm and the messianic halo woven around his head, Buhari was looking back not forward. He had neither a great vision nor agenda for Nigeria.
His presidency was only articulated on reinforcement of northern domination/bigotry, propaganda, a dictatorial disregard for the constitution, an unwillingness to listen to anyone, a plot to decimate the opposition and a disposition to be vindictive; to punish past and present foes. Undeniably, these strategies have been at play in the last 16 months and the result is a paralysing recession, insecurity, ethnic divisions, mounting unemployment, abject poverty and total lack of direction in what is now the worst government in the history of the nation. Evidently, Buhari has been more a victim of his bogus promises, hate/bigotry, propaganda, unwillingness to listen to counsel and sheer incompetence than anything else as outlined hereunder.
Tribalism and bigotry are fault lines that have dogged us through our history and in no small measure arrested our development. The world has also noticed. Whether from Encyclopaedia, CIA world fact book, the United Nations or any other relevant agency; Nigeria is always introduced as a nation with deep ethno-religious divisions. As proof, these divisions have led to Africa’s first pogrom/genocide being pioneered in our clime, a needless civil war, Sharia riots, Maitsatsine riots, Boko Haram terrorism, Fulani herdsmen terrorism, Niger Delta/IPOB militancy and routine ethno-religious conflicts. Against this backdrop of historical and ever widening ethno-religious cleavages the first test of a Nigerian leader is how well he navigates and manages these existential fault lines and in this critical test Buhari is the worst president in the nation’s history.
He took the unprecedented step of opting for an Apartheid style government of exclusion. Almost exclusively packing his cabinet with his northern kinsmen in total disregard of the nation’s delicate diversity. He is by consequence the most tribal, insensitive, parochial, nepotistic and bigoted president that ever walked our shores. It’s no surprise that universal outcries and condemnations have trailed his appointments and self determination groups are proliferating by the day. It’s also no surprise that the 2016 Failed States Index lists Nigeria the 13th most failed state in the world and the 8th most failed state in Africa. This is a decline from previous years, and a clear indication that state failure has intensified under Buhari’s Apartheid administration. It’s important to note that some of the most important reasons for which a state becomes classified a failed state are group grievances or disharmony within a state. More broadly, group dissent, uneven development and or marginalisation constitute fundamental markers or pointers to a failed state.
Thus, not only did Buhari’s obnoxious policies of exclusion violate the constitution; it further deepened Nigeria’s ethnic divisions. For a fragile nation desperately in need of a de-tribalised nation builder, Buhari dealt the greatest rebuke to the very idea of change that had animated his campaign when he resorted to pursue an Apartheid style government in total disregard of the nation’s diversity and as it were opting for exclusion and nepotism rather than inclusion and nation building. This is today one of the undeniable reasons why he is the worst president in our history. .
(2) Economic Mismanagement And Recession
Nigerians are now reeling in an unparalleled recession, but how did we get here? Economies like markets are run on confidence. Once a new president is elected the markets watch nervously for the policy direction of the new government. The friendliness or unfriendliness of the policy to a large extent dictates the stability, growth or recession of the economy. Buhari started failing in this regard by refusing against all expert advice to constitute his cabinet quickly. It eventually took a record 7 months to appoint his ministers. This misstep created uncertainty, confusion and then panic. Since markets hate uncertainty, foreign investors in anticipation of an unfriendly and or uncertain economic environment started fleeing and in doing so took their money with them.
This was not helped by the decision of the dictatorial Buhari administration to override the autonomy of the CBN and resort to a command economy by amongst many things banning the operation of domiciliary accounts, refusing to devalue the Naira, rationing of foreign currencies, banning the importation of several items and reducing agencies allowed to transfer money to Nigeria to a motley few. By the time some of these archaic anti-market policies were changed, it was too late. The Cat was already out of the bag and investors had blacklisted the nation. This bad situation was also not helped by the reckless disregard for the rule of law and frequent bad-mouthing/de-marketing of the nation by a president who frequently informed foreign audiences that his nation is literarily packed with criminals.
No sane investor would want to stay in a lawless environment where policies are not only confusing and uncertain but decidedly anti-market, nor would any new investor venture into such a place; especially when having been informed by no other than the president that the country is packed with criminals. Taken together, these missteps created the failure and economic recession that is now evident and Buhari has the unenviable record of being the only president to have occasioned a recession twice through the same missteps—the first being on his first coming as a military head of state in 1984. He of course also has the record of being the only president to have occasioned the single highest fall in the value of the Naira. During the Abacha years (1993-1998) a dollar exchanged for about 88 Naira. By the time Jonathan left power in 2015 a dollar exchanged for 197 Naira. The period from the Abacha era to the Jonathan era spans more than 20 years. But under Buhari the Naira exchange rate to a dollar has crashed from 197 to 420 in just 15 months. This is the worst record of any president in our history and proof that Buhari is pathologically incapable of managing the economy.
(3) Fulani Herdsmen terrorism
The protection of life and property is the premier constitutional responsibility of a president. This incidentally was one of the strongest points of Buhari’s campaign—a solemn promise to provide security, but ironically insecurity has increased under his watch and most of it through deliberate acts of conspiracy and omission. While the intensity of Boko Haram attacks in the northeast has reduced somewhat for now, it has been replaced with more alacrity by Fulani herdsmen terrorists who are on rampage across the north central and southern parts of the country. In recent times, community after community have come under attack by these herdsmen who openly wield AK 47 assault rifles. Thousands have been slaughtered, countless others maimed and communities totally destroyed in these attacks, but not a single herdsman has been arrested or prosecuted by the Buhari administration.
In places like Nimbo Enugu state where security agencies were notified in advance of imminent Fulani herdsmen attacks, nothing was done to forestall it due to Buhari’s overt support for the herdsmen, resulting in hundreds of dead and maimed. As the scale and scope of these attacks have increased, Buhari has done nothing other than to visit Zamfara state and commission military brigades created to fight “Cattle rustling” (Cattle thieves) while refusing to take any action against Fulani herdsmen engaged in mass killings in communities across Nigeria because they are his kinsmen. The implication is that Buhari places more premium on protecting Fulani Cattle from theft than on protecting human lives. This is would be the greatest constitutional abdication to protect life and property on tribal grounds by any president since the pogrom of the 60’s.
(4) Flawed Corruption War And Selective Victimisation Of Opponents
Tackling corruption was a major component of the Buhari campaign, but much of what has passed for it has been the selective hounding of opposition party members and critics of the administration while well known corrupt government and party officials are shielded from any probe or prosecution. Indeed the government has gone out of its way to severally defend such corrupt officials—General Buratai, Dambazzau, Amaechi, Tinubu and others easily come to mind. Those implicated in the budget padding scam were never punished, nor was there any action against those who employed family members of top government officials in the CBN and other federal agencies. The discredited minister of sports Solomon Dalung who looted funds meant for Nigeria’s Rio 2016 Olympic contingent and ridiculed the nation before a global audience to the extent that our football contingent was first stranded in America and then Mikel Obi had to pay hotel fees for them from his own pocket, yet this disastrous sports minister remains in Buhari’s cabinet savouring his loot.
Public extortion by the police, customs and others are more prevalent now than ever before. Nepotism nko? It happens to be one of the worst forms of corruption and Buhari is the greatest culprit of nepotism in our nation’s history. On the whole there is more corruption now than ever before.
(5) Refusal To Implement Confab Reports And Absence Of Nation Building
Buhari came to power in a nation confronted with deadly Islamic terrorism by Boko Haram in pursuit of self determination for the purposes of creating an Islamic State, and others such as IPOB, MASSOB, SNC conveners group, OPC and others all clamouring for self determination. One would have expected that confronted with such existential threats Buhari would have as a priority established a committee on “Nation Building” and looked into the implementation of at least aspects of the 2014 National Conference Reports that will enhance national unity. Rather than embark on any of such necessary initiatives Buhari has toed the line of Northern conservatives by refusing to implement any aspect of the confab report or take any initiative on nation building.
He prefers the conflict ridden and failing status quo to nation building. His idea of Nigeria is one where the rights of others are trampled; where internal colonialism by him and his northern cohorts is foisted on other Nigerians; where bigotry, hate, marginalisation, nepotism, misrule and human rights violations are the order of the day. Buhari represents the greatest danger to Nigerian unity.
(6) Refusal To Host/Encourage Footballers Who Won Bronze In Rio Olympics
After the ordeal and terrible humiliation our footballers passed through in the Rio Olympics courtesy of a corrupt and incompetent sports minister, they managed against all odds to win bronze. And what do they get as thank you from Buhari? A lukewarm attitude and refusal to host, encourage and thank them for being worthy ambassadors. Buhari would be the first president in our history to snub and disregard our valiant footballers who have helped in no small measure to mend our deficit global image. Nations celebrate their sportsmen and women not only for their talent but also for the wide ranging benefits that accrues to their respective nations from it. Unfortunately Nigeria now has a president who because of tribalism has chosen to snub footballers who are no doubt amongst our greatest national icons.
Ultimately Buhari is the most sectional, bigoted, hateful, dictatorial, undemocratic, hypocritical, insensitive and primitive leader ever to lead this nation. He lacks the temperament and is ill suited to the leadership demands of a diverse nation. His unsuitability for office is vindicated by his resort to banal sectionalism, bigotry and nepotism in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious environment. His other sins, border on unfulfilled promises, absence of nation building, fake and hypocritical war on corruption, government by excuses/propaganda, economic mismanagement and monumental incompetence which together has doomed his administration to failure. He is the worst president in the nation’s history!
Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu