This is an opinion piece by Azuka Onwuka.
Only those who love self-deceit still say or think that things are alright in Nigeria. For those who are realistic, it is scary to move around, as nobody knows where danger lurks. Then, there is the fear for the future of Nigeria. In addition to the widespread insecurity in all zones of the country, there are signs that Nigeria may be engulfed in an amorphous internecine war.
Over the weekend, there were reports that bandits killed about 88 people in Kebbi State, while herdsmen killed between 11 and 20 in Igangan, Oyo State. In the South-East, the number of people killed in the different cities by unknown gunmen as well as the police and soldiers is unknown. According to the police, the Kebbi killing took place in Koro, Kimpi, Gaya, Dimi, Zutu, Rafin Gora and Iguenge villages, all in Danko/Wasagu LGA of the state.
News of killings has become a daily affair. It no longer sounds as if the released figures are those of human beings.
Sadly, the actions and utterances of the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (Retd.), do not show that he has the capacity to stop these killings or is interested in stopping them. On the contrary, his actions and utterances help to exacerbate them. For example, despite the complaints about his near exclusion of other zones from his governance, recently when the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, retired, Buhari quickly replaced him with another northerner, Usman Baba.
When Buhari came into office in 2015, he met Solomon Arase as the IGP. Arase is from Edo State in South-South Nigeria. He worked with Arase for one year before replacing him with Ibrahim Idris. Since the era of Idris, Buhari has appointed three IGPs from the North back-to back.
Similarly, a couple of weeks ago, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, died in a plane crash. Buhari promptly replaced him with a much junior Northerner, Major General Farouk Yahaya, from Regular Course 37, bypassing those from Regular Course 35 and Regular Course 36. Consequently, all those from Course 35 and Course 36 will have to retire prematurely, because they would not serve under their junior. It is estimated that about 45 generals will be affected in this premature retirement. But Buhari would rather please his kinsmen than please Nigeria.
In addition, since the weekend, there has been a Twitter crisis in Nigeria over Buhari’s comment, which was seen as a wish to engage in ethnic cleansing of the people of the South-East. The tweet was massively reported, leading to it being deleted. But rather than engage in damage control of trying to calm the nation down that his tweet was completely misconstrued, he went into muscle-flexing with Twitter, ordering that the operation of the microblogging site be suspended from Nigeria and threatening to arrest any Nigerian who circumvents the Twitter ban. According to NetBlocks Cost of Shutdown Tool, if Nigeria shuts down Twitter for one year, it will cost the nation $2.19 billion. But Buhari would rather make Nigeria lose money even when the country has the highest number of poor people in the world.
What exactly did Buhari have that made him contest presidential elections four times in his bid to rule Nigeria? What did he have to offer when he shed tears after losing the presidential election the third time in 2011? Is what he is offering today all that he was fighting tooth and nail to offer all those years he was contesting to be president?
Regularly, Buhari and his aides warn against those trying to create crises in Nigeria. He threatens to deal decisively with them. His current conflict with the owners of Twitter is as a result of a similar warning laced with a threat. Sadly, his threats have not led to a de-escalation of tension in Nigeria. On the contrary, there have been clear signs that tension has been rising as a result of Buhari’s actions and utterances. Zones that were never in any conflict have become embroiled in crises.
Given the peculiar attitude of Nigerians to political power, I have argued in the past that Buhari should be allowed to complete his second tenure, so as not to give the North, especially North-West, the opportunity to complain that its turn was not allowed to play out in full. However, Buhari does not bother to take advantage of the remaining part of his tenure to attempt to heal the country and rekindle some hope in his compatriots. He simply continues to act in a way that shows that he does not care about the fate of Nigeria. It seems that he is gladly pushing Nigeria towards its doom.
Interestingly, Buhari assumes that the people trying to destroy Nigeria are those agitating for one thing or the other. However, the different agitators in Nigeria are merely offshoots of Buhari’s actions of tribal exclusion and tacit support for the herdsmen that have been engaging in ethnic cleansing in different parts of Nigeria. Different sections of Nigeria are increasingly feeling that they are not safe in Nigeria, since those that attempt to wipe them out seem to have official backing, as was alleged by a former Chief of Army Staff and Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), in 2017.
Therefore, the agitators are arguing that as long as their security is in the hands of Buhari, who has chosen virtually only his kinsmen as the heads of different security organs of Nigeria, their lives are not safe, but if they pull out of Nigeria, they can be in charge of securing their land against the current killings that have gone out of hand.
Buhari is, therefore, perceived as directly and indirectly stoking the fire of agitations going on in Nigeria. Sadly, he has two more years in office, which is such a long time to do incalculable harm to Nigeria.