By Yinka Olujimi
A short, but embarrassing, video showing some residents of Maiduguri, Borno State, booing President Muhammadu Buhari and his motorcade on Wednesday this week should serve as a wake-up call to discerning friends of the government: that the ordinary Nigerian is running out of patience with the current holders of power.
It should make the President ask himself some sobering but hard questions. Of course, that will be if his enemies who present themselves to him as his friends will let him face the sad reality.
Apparently recorded on phone by a concerned citizen, the odious video came on a day a so-called Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) issued yet another disgusting, attack-dog, press statement purportedly in defence of the President. The group’s target this time round: Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Hassan Kukah!
Apparently, the BMO which considers itself as a body set up to advance the interest of the President – not necessarily of the country – its nomenclature removes all doubts! – issued the statement that it must have hoped would once again lure Nigerians to sleep and not demand answers to pertinent questions.
Unfortunately for the organization – and Nigeria’s image on the international front – the BMO could not have imagined that the President was being booed in his traditional stronghold by ordinary citizens just about the time its odoriferous statement was landing in newsrooms!
It is not difficult to imagine the fate that could have befallen the President if he had attempted to stop the motorcade to address that volatile crowd as gleaned from the video.
Now that he must have been jolted back to reality, the President should be able to pause and engage himself in critical soul search.
Even his wife, Aisha, has on several occasions spoken publicly about the growing frustration of Nigerians about the state of affairs of the country. One of his daughters, Zahra, once expressed frustration about governance under her father, tweeting that the Aso Rock clinic for which huge sums were being yearly allocated in national budgets lacked basic medical facilities; including syringes!
Buhari should ask himself pertinent questions: how did things get so bad? How on earth could he, whose name evoked extreme passion of love just a few years back, have become so loathed by the very same people? Where did he go wrong? Have things become so bad that those who would willingly lay down their lives for him a few years ago could not even stand his sight today?
Buhari should look inwards, if he truly wants to identify the real enemies of his administration and legacy.
In an opinion published on this page on December 19, 2019, I urged the President to look no further than his close friends and associates if he wished to identify his adversaries. In the opinion, entitled: “Buhari’s real enemies,” I wondered why his administration had stubbornly held activist-journalist Omoyele Sowore in detention, in defiance of court orders,
I therefore urged him to discountenance any security report that identified his political opponents as his enemies, especially former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the veteran presidential aspirant who contested against him in 2019, and challenged the result of the election up to the Supreme Court. No, Atiku was not the enemy to be crushed, I had argued.
I also argued that Sowore, who also contested against Buhari in 2019 and was clamped in detention for being the arrowhead of a planned nationwide protest, was not the foe.
In the same category, I added,were former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, and renowned lawyer Femi Falana SAN, among others, whose only offence was that they condemned the excesses of the Buhari administration.
I specifically advised the President to turn his gaze on those who were telling him only what he wanted to hear, not what he truly ought to be told, while public disenchantment with his policies was growing geometrically.
“If President Buhari truly wants to identify his enemies, and protect himself against them, he should look inwards. The enemies are the automated praise singers, who applaud every move of his, fair or foul,” I had counseled.
I added: “The same people who had little or no voice in support of Buhari prior to the 2015 election when Obasanjo, Soyinka, or Sowore held his banner aloft, became his rabid supporters, barking at anyone who urged caution. The more Buhari took anti-people decisions which were sure to pit him against the international community, the more they hailed him towards perdition.”
What I did not do then was to identify the enemies who were presenting themselves to the President as his friends. By refusing to pause and consider the concerns raised by Kukah, opting to hurl abuses at him in their misguided mission to defend the president, not the country, this BMO has shown itself – in my humble view – as one of Buhari’s arch enemies. The public is far more discerning than the group’s jejune press releases seem to acknowledge. Booing him on the streets is just an expression of the people’s frustration with the government which the BMO and presidential spokespersons had thought that lying through their teeth would suppress.
Bishop Kukah had in a gut-churning homily delivered at the burial of a young seminarian who was murdered by suspected kidnappers, Michael Nnadi, expressed despair at the drift of the nation’s ship on Buhari’s watch. The cold-blooded murder was just one in a long list of criminality by bandits, herdsmen, Boko Haram, and now kidnappers, who have turned the country into a vast killing field. The perpetrators are mostly never apprehended. The ones who against the run of play get arrested – especially killer herdsmen and Boko Haram members – are quickly released by the government on the dismaying ground that they had been deradicalised! So, why prosecute armed robbers if they can be preached to after arrest, and they pledge to turn a new leaf? That is a question agitating the minds of the ordinary Nigerian, and must have, in part, been responsible for the 360 degree turn from mass affection to the mass disgust that was witnessed on Wednesday.
Kukah, who drew attention to the sorry state of national security, and the clannish tendencies of the Buhari administration, spoke the minds of many Nigerians. Buhari’s true friends would have found a way to use their vantage position to properly advise him on the need to allay the fears of the public, especially on the growing insecurity in the land.
Not the elitist BMO!
The group seems to have convinced itself that its objective is to hurl abuses at anybody who questions the President’s bona fides and activities.
Well, is it any surprise that a government that creates a media organization, with no known blueprint on economic direction, medicare, housing and education, among others, is an enabler of existential crises, and is inexorably alienating itself from the citizenry? Any wonder that the head of that administration has moved from hero to zero, just within five years?