When a man, instead of removing his khaki, wears Agbada on top, many say it is ‘change.’ But I don’t agree with that. It’s simply ‘disguise.’ Please make no mistakes about it. It is ‘disguise’ because he can easily remove it when the heat is much, or when he feels uncomfortable.
Muhammadu Buhari rose to power in 2015, on the campaign slogan of, ‘change.’ He promised change in the ailing economy that eventually plunged into recession shortly after he assumed office. He promised change to end the cancerous tumor called corruption. And he vowed to end the palpable insecurity situation at the time.
Buhari’s ‘change’ mantra at the time garnered massive supporters, especially in the north and southwest regions. Southwest, because his vice, Prof Yemi Osibanjo, is from that region.
Wherever one went at the time, especially in the north, it was the praise slogan of, “Sai Baba!”
Many saw Buhari, a retired Major General, and former Head of State (given his records of a no-nonsense man) as the messiah that would end the scourge of Boko Haram, which had graduated from the nursery to primary stage.
If there was any reason to doubt Buhari’s campaign slogan, ending insecurity certainly wasn’t it; since, based on his antecedent as a military ruler, he dealt a severe blow to the Chadians during their invasion of Nigerian territory in 1982. Another essential point of reference was his legendary War Against Indiscipline.
However, his teaming supporters forgot the untold economic hardships his rule brought upon Nigerians. Those that remembered, however, saw him as a changed man. For them, change is the only constant reality. In the midst of it all, the man in question saw himself as a reformed democrat. Can one teach an old dog new tricks?
With his ‘change’ mantra, many voted for him. And for the first time, the opposition party unseated the ruling party, thereby ending the latter’s 16yrs of power.
In his inaugural speech, on May 29th, 2015, Buhari, among other things, gave a marching order to the Armed Forces to relocate their operational headquarters to the theatre of war at Baga, Bornu State, which at the time was under siege by Boko Haram. He equally sought a legislative waiver to pursue speedy weapons to fight Boko Haram (cf. THISDAY Newspaper, March 19th, 2020).
According to THISDAY editorial of March 19th, 2020, “Between 2015 and 2020, the Nigerian government had expended 3billion USD in the prosecution of
war and other security challenges.”
Five years after Buhari took over the mantle of leadership, the gradual insecurity turmoil since the emergence of Boko Haram in the northeast of the country in 2009, has today metamorphosed into a fully grown chaos.
Today, Boko Haram is arguably the most dangerous terror group in the world based on the number of those the group has killed. But besides the Boko Haram terror group, the rates of kidnapping, banditry, cow rustling, armed robbery, human trafficking, etc., have all gone haywire. Yet, 3billion USD has been expended in the last five years to wage war against insecurity.
The problem of insecurity has equally posed a severe challenge to local investors and has discouraged foreign investors from investing in Nigeria.
Since the assumption of office in 2015, president Buhari has retained some of his service chiefs despite the clarion calls both locally and internationally to change them, even after the expiration of their tenures. Sadly, so many Nigerians, including some armed personnel, have lost their lives to insecurity and unrest in Nigeria. Some security personnel have also been compromised and have equally contributed to Nigeria’s insecurity through human rights violations, ranging from brutality, extortion, and gruesome killings of innocent Nigerians.
Now that it has become a pain in his neck, Buhari, whom every call to change his service chiefs fell on deaf ears, finally said to them in a meeting on June 18th, “Your best is not good enough… No more excuses on insecurity.”
He has suddenly realised that their best is not good enough, because his home State of Katsina is now under siege. He has suddenly realised that their best is not good enough, because his position is under threat by his people, who once celebrated him as their hero.
When some northern youths, and elders who could no longer swallow their anger, recently took to the streets to protest the failure of their hero, whom they celebrated in the last five years, Buhari drew his Khaki out from underneath his Agbada and had the leader of the protests arrested. More so, according to Lasisi Olagunju, “The government felt it was wrong for children of the north to protest their hero” (“OSHIOMHOLE AND THE NORTH,” Nigerian Tribune, June 22nd, 2020).
Now that the people have realised the failure of their hero will the long-awaited change still come? Will the real culprits be identified? Believe me or not, Boko Haram members are not from the south or west, but from the north. Bandits and cattle rustlers are not from the east or south but the north.
Sadly, the 3billion USD spent so far in the last five years did not come from the north, but the south. The south is generating the money, while the north is wasting it. What kind of marriage is that?
Please, when next you go to the market, be careful not to throw a stone because it may likely hit your brother. Let us hope that someday, the real stone-throwers will be identified, and an end put to this naked dance in public.
But this can never be achieved if northern elites remain indifferent to the increasing rate of illiteracy in the north.
Finally, if northern elites do not tell themselves this truth and begin to lead the very young future of the north from the dark hell of illiteracy, the nearest future may be uglier than the ugly drama the world is currently watching.
Northern elites, your best is not good enough. Look yourselves in the face, and tell yourselves the truth. Is this the best you have to offer Nigerians? If it is, then you have all failed us.
© Israel GodsPower ANAWEOKHAI, MSP. July 2020.
Israel GodsPower ANAWEOKHAI is a Catholic Priest of the Missionary Society of St Paul. He is currently on a mission in the Archdiocese of Douala, Cameroon.