Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s President since May 29, 2015 is still his old pre-Babangida coup self. Before the IBB coup, Buhari ousted the Shehu Shagari administration on the eve of 1984, and by implications, aborted the country’s Second Republic. Buhari was dictatorial in his approach to governance. In the process, he jailed many politicians for ridiculous number of years.
Afro-beat king, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who sought to be Nigeria’s President on the platform of Movement of the People (MOP), the party he founded, was jailed by the unrepentant military dictator for five years. As Fela said, I no do nothing.
When the Maradonic IBB struck, among many other political prisoners, he released the legendary Fela, and ripped open the underbelly of the Buhari Gestapo, the then Nigeria Security Organisation (NSO), that was later repackaged into State Security Service (SSS) and National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
When Fela got out of prison, his fans pressed him to sing about prison life. Hear Fela: The time I dey prison, I call am inside world. For this enigmatic being, the outside world is a ”craze world” because that is where Buhari dey. Major General Buhari, who held sway then as Head of State, for Fela was a ”craze man”. After listening again to that Fela lyrics so many years after, I am persuaded to regard the Afro-beat king as a prophet. Undoubtedly, in the pantheon of Afro-beat, Fela is a prophet.
It is however, worrisome that since 2003 when Buhari jumped into partisan politics, he is yet to imbibe the virtue of democracy. He has not been able to transform himself into a democrat. He is still in an enduring romance with dictatorship. In his national broadcast to commemorate Democracy Day on Saturday, June 12, Buhari spoke as a dictator, not a democrat.
While he was equivocally assuring the unbelieving citizenry of containing the security mess and the challenges crippling the country, the Nigeria Police was busy that Saturday morning thwarting a June 12 protest in the Gudu area of the Federal Capital Territory. When they stormed the area, the police started firing teargas canisters. Democracy is tolerant of protests by dissatisfied citizens. Sadly, Buhari has a near zero-tolerance for protest and contrary viewpoint.
The protest began around 08:30 am and was going on smoothly with the protesters, mostly youths, expressing their dissatisfaction with the state of the nation. The protesters, who chanted “Buhari must go”, “Say no to injustice”, amongst other solidarity phrases, took to their heels and scampered for safety when the security operatives started shooting.
Lagos State Police Command on that Saturday morning also fired tear gas canisters at the protesters who gathered at the Gani Fawehinmi Park in Lagos, venue of the June 12 Democracy Day protest. The protesters were demanding an end to bad governance when they were tear-gassed by the security operatives.
Several digital flyers, widely circulated on social media on Friday, publicising meeting points in Lagos, Gombe, Calabar (Cross River), Yola (Adamawa), Bauchi, Abeokuta (Ogun), Yenagoa (Bayelsa), Port Harcourt (Rivers), Ibadan (Oyo), Ilorin (Kwara), Enugu, Akure (Ondo), Yobe, and Zaria (Kaduna).
One poster by #RevolutionNow read, “Join the June 12 protest. No more poverty, hunger and insecurity in Nigeria… Enough Is Enough! Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come.” Another poster for a protest in Kaiserslautern, Germany read, “Buhari must go! Let’s come together to say no to government funding terrorism: Boko Haram terrorism and banditry, one litre of petrol equals N165, bad roads, poor hospitals, kidnapping, economic recession, police brutality, disregard for the rule of law, poor health sector, poor education.”
Similar flyers targeted at protesters in New York, USA, Kaduna State and Abuja listed the same points but added, “N30,000 minimum wage, N13.5 million senators’ salary, Nigeria is over N35 trillion in debt.”
Former Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) President, Cardinal Anthony Okogie, has lashed out on the Buhari administration for making the situation of the country worse than he met it in 2015. The former Catholic Archbishop of the Lagos Diocese noted that the regime met some of the crises while taking over power in 2015, adding that the country seemed to have “worsened economically and politically.”
Okogie said after failing and refusing to accept responsibility, the Federal Government was clamping down on Twitter and Nigerians using the micro-blogging site. The vocal cleric in a statement on Monday says ”few days ago, on the occasion of the 6th anniversary of this administration, given the severity of the status quo of our socio-economic and political situation, it was shocking that the government claimed that the Nigerian people never had it so good and Nigerians would have reason to praise this government at the end of their tenure. As they say, the matter speaks for itself, as it is evident that Nigeria has practically become a failed state.
”A country fails when it is no longer able to protect its citizens from harm and secure their welfare. A country fails when, instead of being a harbour of refuge for its citizens, it turns out to be a cauldron of fire and sorrow that consumes its citizens. A country fails when instead of reassuring its citizens by actions and policies that the future is secure, it becomes a case of most people planning to flee the country to other climes where their governments are truly functioning. Such is practically our case today. One whose house is on fire should not take to the streets dancing.
”While it is true that our problems did not start under this administration, they seem to have worsened economically and politically in these past six years. The sad part is that there is no articulate coordinated response from the government to stem these downward trends, apart from the usual ‘playing the ostrich’ and throwing tantrums when they are criticised, like the rather hasty suspension of Twitter. The political class, in spite of all their protestations to the contrary, seems unable to stay the course and prevent this slide of this greatly endowed country into this sad quagmire. As they say, ‘truth is bitter.”
Okogie states that the “need for us to retrace our steps has never been so urgent,” adding that “starring us in the face are prospects of anarchy.” The retired archbishop is also stressing the need to build a prosperous nation “where there are no second-class citizens.”
Truth is no matter how laudable Buhari’s achievements since 2015 have been, and are, his administration has badly polarised the country, and encouraged Fulani terrorism via the instrumentality of the herders. Rather than his security approach to issues of self-determination, he should demonstrate overt willingness to be chronicled by history as a democrat by initiating the necessary process for a referendum for groups pushing for autonomy.
Failing to do that, the iconic Fela must have had Buhari in mind when he referred to Nigeria’s democracy as ”crazy demo” or demonstration of craze. After all, for Fela na craze man be that. He was referring to Buhari.