After the assault on the rule of law at the federal high court last week and the statement by the Chief Justice of Nigeria that Islamic law should be taught in Arabic in Nigerian universities, I stumbled into this article I first wrote On 4 August 2016.
Once upon a time, there was a Nigerian dream. This idea of Nigeria and dream was reflected in the first and last stanzas of former National Anthem, which I had the privilege to learn and sang at school.
‘Nigeria we hail thee,
Our own dear native land,
Though tribe and tongue may differ,
In brotherhood we stand,
Nigerians all, and proud to serve
Our sovereign Motherland.
O God of all creation,
Grant this our one request,
Help us to build a nation
Where no man is oppressed,
And so with peace and plenty
Nigeria may be blessed.’
Sadly, Nigeria has become everything we prayed and sang that it should not become. It has become a land that consumes its inhabitants, where the president, governors, senators, legislators, soldiers policemen and women and anybody in position of power are a law unto themselves, employs whoever they like, sacks whoever they wish and tells the police and army to arrest, intimidate or execute extrajudicially whoever they wish.
It has become a land, where people are oppressed, bombed by their own army, harassed by their own police, robbed by their elected leaders, live in fear and their lives do not matter. Unless of course, they are Sunni Muslims, from the north, Fulanis, Fulani herdsmen, politicians or members of their families.
All thanks to Buhari, who has been busy undermining democratic and civil values and dismantling whatever consideration and rights that are due to other ethnic groups and religions, all in the name of fighting terrorism and corruption.
At the same time, Buhari is growing in autocracy and cronyism. The official language of Aso Rock is Hausa, as the president surrounds himself with his kins and kitten.
Buhari has taken autocracy and nepotism to new heights. By treating the Nigerian presidency like an ethnic or family business, where who you are and not what you know, is the most important thing.
Buhari’s cronyism is on a new scale. It is nepotism on steroid.
I cry out because the implication of the burning fire of values Buhari has started in the name of fighting corruption is huge.
It is even scarier than he is bent on continuing with Islamic thinking and values that have destroyed many Islamic countries by causing intractable conflicts and made unity and development impossible.
Enlightened people understand the divisive nature of ethnicity and religion and often focus on reducing and undermining their ability to tear people apart and sow the seeds of conflict.
It is also a truism that no multi-ethnic country can forge unity if it does not overcome the sectarian mindedness and division both engender.
Building a country that is united in diversity, seems to have been the dream of many previous Nigerian governments, until the last one year, when Buhari turned the Nigerian dream into a nightmare.
Within one year, Buhari has set Nigeria back another 100 years and, there is no evidence that after him, anybody from the south or holds religious beliefs different from Sunni Islam, will ever trust someone like Buhari to exercise power over then.
Since Mohammadu Buhari became Nigerian president, there has been unprecedented bloodshed, and deterioration in security, economy and polity.
Many people in Benue state, Christian minorities in the north, northeast, communities in the south have been living a nightmare as he unleashed Fulani herdsmen on them, in attempt to force them to give up their land for Fulani settlement program.
He has taken complete control of the army and put it in hands of Islamist, whose only aim is to impose sharia in Nigeria. The army recently declared that the Nigerian army is loyal Buhari. Nigerian judiciary, police, customs, political power, etc., are now firmly in the hands of Islamists from northern Nigeria.
Nigeria as we once knew it has been put to death by Buhari and a more sinister, extreme and autocratic Nigeria, where his word and body language are laws is emerging.
The Nigerian dream, if it ever really existed, seems to have become a nightmare from which no one knows, when it would be over.
Within 14 months, Buhari’s pursuit of sectarian agenda has turned Nigeria into a basket case and a country divided along ethnic and religious fault lines. His pursuit of northern domination and Islamic agenda has become an article of faith.
Buhari has not shown that he is inclined to fight corruption by empowering institutions and decentralizing power.
29 May 2015 has come and gone and Muhammadu Buhari one time coup plotter and deposed military head of state has been sworn in as president of Nigeria.
Like his predecessor, he takes office with a lot of goodwill. One only hopes that unlike his predecessor, he will be courageous and rise above the prejudices of religion and ethnicity to provide the visionary and honest leadership Nigeria desperately needs at this time.
Should he succumb to ethnic nationalism and Islamic solidarity, he will be doing irreversible harm that will lead to the demise of Nigeria as we know it today.
Buhari has demonstrated that he is not the most qualified to be president at this time. For all the hype about his candidacy, he is part of the generation that rapped Nigeria and institutionalized corruption by destroying institution with their autocratic rules, nepotism and greed.
However, now that he has gained power, I can only hope that he does well for the country and continue to focus on what is best for Nigeria.
As president of Nigeria, it is now his responsibility to provide purposeful, honest and visionary leadership that has eluded Nigeria and as a Nigeria citizen, I will not relent in supporting him, if he is minded to lead without prejudice and honesty.
It is therefore important to say that it would be impossible to fight corruption in Nigeria without empowering institutions and safeguarding the power of individuals to discharge their constitutional duties without intimidation from politicians.
No government can fight corruption in Nigeria, if the civil and public service remain under the control of politicians and continue to serve them, instead of the state.
Institutional reforms like the reintroduction of permanent secretaries and ending the right of politicians to appoint them would seem to be the most important step that should be taken if the government is sincere with its claims to address corruption in Nigeria.
De-politicisation of the civil service should be the first shot in the fight against corruption.
No government can convince the people of the genuineness of its anti-corruption policy if it fails to restructure and empower institutions to make it difficult if not impossible for politicians who are minded to be corrupt to succeed.
When we were little, my mother used to tell us a story about which title is a question. How many times should something happen to you before you learn?
In that story, a sheep with seven lambs asked them how many times something will happen to each before they learn. Six gave different times, but only the last one got it right. The little lamb said once.
From early in life I learnt that wise people do not need to lookup more than once to read the face of the sky and that they usually learn from their first mistake.
This brings me to Nigeria, where since 1966, military men have been rapping the country, spearheading its corruption and now worsening it ethnic divide by fanning the amber of ethnicity and religious differences.
For all the hype about his candidacy, Buhari is part of the generation that rapped Nigeria and institutionalized corruption by destroying institution with their autocratic rules, nepotism and greed.
Buhari was marketed as Saint, not because he is, but because it was the only way to con the people. He is a man who has committed enough breaches of the constitution to be in jail. He committed a treasonable felony when he overthrew the government of Shehu Shagari.
He mismanaged 2.2billion Naira belonging to NNPC. He could not account for more than 250 to 500 million dollars of PTF fund when he was chairman. For several years he declared that he has only 150 cows as if he put them on contraceptives and, when he became president he refused to publicly declare his assets as he proved.
Yet he claims to be poor, but able to train his daughters in a 26 thousand pounds (£26,000.00) a year private school in England.
My take is that as a democracy, the fate of Nigerian must not depend on the decision and choice of one man. Nigeria is a democracy and not the private estate of Buhari and Buhari must bow to the will of the people or be impeached if only the other arms of government will find the courage to assert their constitutional powers and serve the people who elected them.
By E O Eke
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