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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Are Nigerians Truly ‘Clamouring' For Buhari To Contest In 2019?

Although people had speculated widely that President Muhammadu Buhari through his body language, would seek re-election in 2019, the President had kept mute on the matter till the early hours of Monday, April 9, 2018 when he reportedly made known his intention to seek re-election at the National Executive Committee meeting of the All Progressives Congress. 
 
There is nothing wrong, I dare say, with the President’s declaration as it is his constitutional right to do so. What I find repugnant to my feeling, however, is his claim that he is seeking re-election because of the clamour of Nigerians for him to return.

I want to challenge the handlers of Mr. President to engage in an opinion poll in order to substantiate this claim they made to their principal. I am directing this challenge to the aides to President Buhari because I am confident that they are the ones who misled him with the purported clamour by Nigerians. The President wouldn’t have been able to know whether or not Nigerians were clamouring for his return if his trusted aides hadn’t told him so.

On what basis were Nigerians clamouring for the return of President Buhari? Was it on the basis of the untruth he told during his inaugural speech when he declared, “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”? Although this statement was greatly applauded, and raised the hopes of Nigerians, it wasn’t too far into his administration that it dawned on Nigerians that the President was economical with the truth. We have witnessed a high level of nepotism and ethnocentricity from the Buhari government, ranging from his appointments to his responses to the “ethnic cleansing” being carried out by Fulani herdsmen across the nation, according to Lt Gen TY Danjuma. Are we still wondering why the Independent Peoples of Biafra was proscribed, while Benue people are advised to accommodate their “brothers” – armed herdsmen who kill their people with impunity almost on a daily basis?

Are Nigerians clamouring for the return of President Buhari based on the economic hardship his administration has brought upon our dear nation? Bill Gates recently bared the truth about our economy before our President; has anything been done since then? We don’t need a Bill Gates to tell us that our economy is in trouble. The untold hardship in the land is enough to prove to us that another four-year term of this government will be a nightmare.

I am not unaware that the vocal supporters of Mr. President would start shouting that he is fighting corruption. Well, if that is the basis upon which Nigerians are clamouring for his re-election, I think it is all a hoax. What shall we say about “Mainagate”? How about President Buhari’s dead appointees as federal board members and chairmen? Has anyone been able to tell us how many people have been convicted since the President began to fight corruption?

The primary responsibility of every government is to protect the lives and property of the citizens. If we wouldn’t deceive ourselves, the Buhari-led administration has woefully failed in this regard. How would Nigerians clamour for the return of a government that does not place much premium on the lives of Nigerians who have been under siege of sorts from herdsmen attacks in recent months? How would we want the return of a government whose “body language” appears to encourage the slaughter of other citizens without caution, from Taraba to Benue, Adamawa to Asaba? How would we want to allow someone who is not really in charge of his government to return to governance? What does a man who prefers to attend wedding parties rather than visit and condole with victims of herdsmen killings have to offer us again?

We can go on and on.

Truth be told, those clamouring for the return of Mr. President are his “sacred cows” – those who enjoy his protection because of their closeness to him.

If the Buhari-led government has achieved anything tangible that would make the President deserve a second term, let his handlers educate us on such things and show us how their “paperworks” have translated to the comfort of the average Nigerian.

It is obvious from the reactions of Nigerians to the tweet that informed us of President Buhari’s intention to seek re-election that Nigerians do not want him again! If President Buhari never returned to rule us as a civilian president, we would think that our Messiah was being prevented from ruling us. Now he has, and we have seen that he is no Messiah. What else can our dear President offer?

My take is that it would be honourable for President Muhammadu Buhari to take a bow and join the association of ex-presidents as an elder statesman, and from there offer his counsel to the younger generation who should come on board as is being experienced in Austria, Canada and France currently. Also, as an old man that our President is, he should retire and look after his health so that he can live longer to enjoy the fruits of his labour.

If the handlers of Mr. President truly love him, they should stop misleading him. They should ask him to retire and rest. He has done his bit; he should let others try. Nigerians deserve better. Nigerians aren’t clamouring for his return.

by Sam Bolaji
Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos

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