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Martins Oloja

I would like to return to my September, 2019 piece titled, ‘Why Buhari is Man of the Decade’ to strengthen my argument today that our President, Muhammadu Buhari deserves more respect than we have accorded him so far. I think the legend from Daura deserves to be publicly acknowledged and respected, especially by garrulous politicians and dealers from the southern parts who call themselves leaders.

Specifically, the taciturn and lanky General should be honoured and enrolled in a ‘Hall of Fame’ as a ‘Significant Servant of His People’. In contrast, all the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the Office of the Citizen should at the same time honour and enroll all southern politicians, notably the federal legislators from the South, in a ‘Hall of Shame’ for ‘Sleeping on Duty, Absenteeism, Gross Dereliction of Responsibility to their people’.

Before the young ones start asking about the context of the south, I mean all national assembly representatives from southwest, south-south, southeast states who didn’t know when the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) was re-drafted to contain what the organic oil-bearing communities from the south are angry about.

There are some basic questions they need to answer to their people. The first question is: how many of them actually participated in drafting the toxic PIB? How many of them indeed read through the draft before the passage? Did they see the obnoxious insertions and keep quiet? Why did they (all southern legislators) wait till the vote on passage before raising their unclean hands for division? Let’s keep other questions so that we can discuss the expediency of giving honour to whom honour is due: our president who told us on May 29, 2015: ‘I belong to nobody…’

You will recall my serial titled, ‘Why Buhari Is Man of the Decade’ beginning from September 15, 2018, in which I had then stated clearly that most of us denied our president, Buhari some credit he richly deserved. I wrote partly then:

‘…I mean that the taciturn, lanky General and President of the most populous black nation on earth at this time deserves some respect even as some of us wailers keep saying he didn’t go to school. Buhari just like Winston Churchill, who was to be later recognised as an incomparable, world-class orator, didn’t go far in acquiring many higher certificates of knowledge. But I think our leader should be respected as an oracle at this juncture. As I was saying here, orators speak the minds of the people while oracles speak the minds of the gods and when they say to even the orators, ‘do this’, it is done…

It seems to me here that most of all educated people, especially in the southern parts of the country assume we are very educated as professors and members of the power elite. We are orators. We are wealthy and loquacious professionals. We are senior advocates, veteran journalists, erudite analysts, world-class scholars and all. But it now seems to me that we actually lack understanding of the times. It appears to me that despite our scholarship, we lack wisdom to frame winning strategy (I didn’t say development strategy). You have to win first to do that.
In our crass ignorance, we went to town and court to proclaim everywhere that ‘Buhari is clueless. Buhari is uneducated. Buhari has fake school certificates. Buhari is braindead. Buhari can’t speak good English clearly….’

I had then added this construct: As I make progress in my pilgrimage (apology to John Bunyan) to meet with my creator someday, I have been making inquiries on how to finish well and strong. So, I am beginning to understand that the best (spiritual) gift a man can get from the God of all grace is discernment. And that is why it has been revealed to mankind that ‘where there is no vision, the people perish’. And this background has shaped my conviction that most of us have perished in our expectations for lack of understanding of the man Buhari who can vaunt today that: ‘I came to Nigeria’s political beat, saw and conquered while even the most educated citizens dozed off’. Are we awake?

In Buhari-APC’s Nigeria, despite the complex and delicate diversity, the heads of all the three arms of government hail from the North East and North West and they are all Muslims. Where were the APC leaders from the South when the powers in Abuja moved against the only Christian, the then CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen and removed him without recourse to constitutional provisions on how he could be removed? Before the 2019 presidential election, what did the vice president, (Chrsitian) from the South, and a professor of law of evidence tell the president and his men, notably, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau, Code of Conduct Tribunal, the prosecutor from Kano and indeed APC leaders about the implications of removing the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the only Christian in the three arms of government through an Administrative Tribunal headed by a non-judicial officer who is also from the north and a Muslim? What effort can we recall that the APC leaders from the South intensify to forestall the grave implications of the perception that will drive power sharing politics/#project 2023 that there is a northern hidden plan nurtured by Islamisation, which is already threatening peace and stability of Nigeria?

More important, we need to ask APC and PDP leaders from the South some questions – on the consequences of their politicking since Buhari assumed office in 2015. We need some introspection too on where the rains began to beat us. What we now see didn’t begin yesterday. First, where were the APC politicians from the south when our leader we call ‘clueless’ Buhari began to implement what we now see as ‘northernisation and Islamisation strategy? I don’t believe in Fulanisation conspiracy theory as Farooq Kperogi already addressed the fallacy of that classification (most of the appointees we call Fulani are not, after all). Where were our representatives from the South on the platform of APC hibernating when the ‘uneducated’ Buhari’ filled all the security, intelligence and defence positions with officers mostly from the core north, (West and East)? Have the APC party chiefs from the South ever asked the president and his men why the National Security Adviser, (NSA), the Defence Minister, the DG, DSS, DG, NIA, IGP, Police Affairs Minister, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, are all from the North East and North West and none from the North Central where Christians are dominant?

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Do the southern leaders on the platform of the APC ever ask the presidency why the heads of ministries and agencies of most critical sectors such as Education, Aviation, Ports/Maritime agencies, EFCC, NFIU, hail from the North and are all Muslims? Have they ever considered the implications of the fact that all heads of Customs, Immigration and Prisons (Correctional Centres) hail from far North and are all Muslims? Where were the leaders of the APC from the South when the Senate President who hails from Yobe State nominated another Yobe citizen to head the National Assembly Service Commission? Why didn’t members of the same Assembly from the South shout, Mr. President of the Senate, there is a federal character in the constitution? Why didn’t they ask for the portion for their people? When the Attorney General of the Federation who hails from Kebbi state nominated an officer from Kebbi state to be EFCC Chairman recently, how many senators from the South raised questions that apart from ICPC, all other anti-corruption agencies, Code of Conduct Bureau, Code of Conduct Tribunal, EFCC, NFIU are all headed by officers from the North West and North East alone and they are all Muslims? How many representatives from the three regions of the South have asked questions about the implications of excluding Christians, specifically from most critical institutions in Nigeria? Why haven’t the APC leaders from the South asked some party leaders who are close to the president to inform him that he (the president) has remarkably alienated the South and Christians from the government of Nigeria and thus driven the country to the brink? Do these leaders know that no matter how good some officers have been, the circumstances of their appointments will continue to be a source of alienation and feeling of self-determination?

Where are the original leaders of APC from the South who threw their weight behind the victory of President Buhari in 2015? Why haven’t they met our leader quietly about the implications of Citizen Leah Sharibu’s continued suffering in the custody of the wicked ones in an unknown forest- for the fourth year running?

What about the remaining Chibok girls? Besides, did anyone ever remind our leaders that people are also whispering about the fact that the two Nigerian principal diplomats at the United Nations, the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations and Nigeria’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations hail from the same core North and are Muslims? Here is the thing, it is bad that the Buhari presidency has driven even some Muslims from the North including Dangiwa Umar, former Governor of Kaduna state (from the Caliphate) to be talking of how our president has mismanaged our delicate but beautiful diversity. But then, we are in a democracy, where the right to express our dissatisfaction can’t be legislated against. Yes, it is good that we are making some noise about what the National Assembly and the presidency have made of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). It also makes a good reading to complain about how Buhari has mismanaged our diversity and all that. But it is quite relevant too to ask our leaders from the South efforts they have made to prevent the clear and present danger all of us are facing. For me, I would like to leave president Buhari alone. He will be hailed in the end by his own people as a ‘Man of the Century’. I want to ask our representatives from the South in Abuja where they were when things began to fall apart. Again, where were they when the PIB was being tampered with? The answers to these vital questions should not blow in the wind.

*First published by in The Guardian, Sunday, July 11, 2021