Buhari Presidency: Not yet time for post-mortems
By Sanusi Muhammad
It is yet to be 30 days when he vacated the office he contested most to occupy unsuccessfully three consecutive times, 2003, 2007 and 2011 until 2015 through a mega-merger that he got it right and loved most.
He jetted to his ancestral home of Daura to ‘enjoy’ his final retirement from public service as a self-accomplished person who administered Nigeria thrice. Former President Muhammadu Buhari is now with his cows that are easier to control than Nigerians.
We should therefore not rush to post-mortem his eight-year stint as our 15th president until our security agencies particularly the Department of State Security (DSS) completes investigation into several known and unknown scandals within the last eight years in the Buhari presidency.
Godwin Emefiele, the ‘criminal’ that presided over our Central Bank is already in the net. AbdulRasheed Bawa of the Efcc is there explaining his stewardship. Next should be Sen. Godswill Akpabio, recently elected President of the 10th Senate, who allegedly, as a cabinet minister butchered the Niger Delta Ministry along with his former permanent secretary who stole over N5 billion from the coffers of the ministry, Abubakar Malami of the Ministry for Justice who cleared the coast for corruption to flourish, Sadiya Umar Farouk of the Humanitarian Ministry that was more humane to herself than to humanity while her ancestral home state of Zamfara was under heavy bombardment by bandits, Habiba Muda Lawal of the Ecological Fund fame who facilitated and awarded several fictitious contracts to lawmakers, fronts and some civil servants that operate private companies against civil service rules of engagement etc, Mele Kyari who allegedly turned the NNPCL and its subsidiaries to cesspools of corruption, Hadi Sirika of the Aviation Ministry who squandered over N5 billion to deceive Nigerians with leased aircrafts from Ethiopian Airline fleet as brand new ones for Air Nigeria, Yusuf Sabi’u ‘Tunde’, a onetime roadside recharge cards vendor who served as Personal Assistant to former president Buhari turned overnight billionaire without known investment anywhere before then.
The Managing Director of Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) and several others, who ‘courageously’ and dubiously assisted the Buhari administration to destroy our nation’s fragile economy to their personal advantages, deserve thorough forensic probe including those civil servants that abused their oath of allegiance and trust of Nigerians by venturing into private dubious businesses through haphazardly registered companies with their children, sisters and brothers as shareholders.
So, to those who assigned themselves the task of crafting positive or negative post-mortems of the Buhari model of administration have embarked on a thankless, cathartic exercise. Other than exhaling well, and perhaps regaling themselves in the robust use of phrases and insults, any post-mortem now, will achieve barely nothing meaningful.
Everything that should be said about the Buhari model of administration had been said except the secretive corrupt side of it while he held sway.
Take a cursory look on how the sacked Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai allegedly allocated Nigerian Army property to Buhari’s wife against due process. Who were the beneficiaries of the oil subsidy now scrapped? How did Sadiya Umar Farouk manage the yearly N500billion extended to her ministry for the economic empowerment programme of the administration? Was it not the same Sadiya Umar Farouk that claimed to have fed school children while at home during the corona pandemic lockdown at a whooping amount beyond imagination while the children were actually enjoying their meals at home at the expense of their parents?
Mujahedeen Asari Dukubo of the Niger Delta Volunteers has released another bombshell alleging that lingering illegal oil bunkering dwarfing the national economy is master-minded by top military officers. What of the suspected mess in Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)? Is Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) clean? What of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC)? Are our River Basin Development Authorities operating without several financial scandals especially in their procurement sections? The list is long!
Let the Tinubu administration strive to peruse through the financial books of all ministries, departments and agencies of the federal government to unearth those worms hidden in the cans under lock and key. The recent freezing of their accounts is in the right direction.
Let us get it right that anything extra to be said on Buhari’s achievements and policies while in office will be superfluous. During his years, critics had a field day due to his several lapses and dogmatism, untrammeled by constitutional constrictions and other legal conjurations in most cases.
Critics were so vile and unsparing that the former presidential spokesman Femi Adeshina coined a label for them. Unfazed critics in turn deployed his pejorative phrases against him to maximum effect. The exchanges were hearty, full-throated and riveting.
For the entire eight years, everyone who had something bad to say about Buhari, including cartoonists who drew him spectrally thin and curved with oversized caps, and ethno-religious jingoists the likes of a clown garbed in political attire who misgoverned Benue State for eight years, had the leeway to unleash deprecatory fusillades.
The Benue clown had nothing good to offer for the progress of the agrarian state other than diverting public attention from his failure with insults and bashings of Buhari’s administration as part of his achievements. While Benue was bleeding profusely through corruption and stealing, the rogue governor was smiling to the bank fulfilled.
What else is there to say on the Buhari administration? One may not like the former president’s sense of humor, but he was so self-deprecating that he anticipated the loathsomeness of his compatriots who might wish trouble for him. Neighboring Niger Republic is there ever ready to his defence incase we fight him, he croaked. That is apart from relocating entirely to that country if the bashings become heightened and unbearable.
Critics may now wish to point at his failed economic, social and political policies, but even these, the former president had washed his hands of any responsibility much earlier. The failures starring the face of the administration were the responsibilities of idiot or prehensile appointees.
Are you eager to point at illicit accumulations of public wealth? Why, here again, the former president stole your thunder. Tee hee. As he put it elegantly, unable to mind his private business, his herd of cattle depleted considerably.
And as for houses, he could not care less before he assumed the presidency, during his presidency, and now after. He had only two known houses on mother earth, one in Kaduna and the other in Daura.
He had taken frugality, if not parsimoniousness, to a level never seen before. Indeed, he insinuated that public officials should learn a thing or two from him. But, alas, he is preaching to reprobates who don’t see him as capable of teaching anything.
There are usually strong reasons for post-mortem: to find out what went wrong, when it went wrong, and who was responsible. Flush with purpose, and driven by messianic duty to country and may be, too, the African continent, eulogists gratuitously take upon themselves the dismal task of dissecting a past administration.
When the First Republic failed, eulogists were summoned to concoct panegyrics on those assassinated by the January 15, 1966 coupists.
When Gen. Yakubu Gowon reneged on his handover date and came up an appalling cropper, the eulogists were also on hand. And on and on and on until ex-president Buhari’s first term, a post-mortem once authored by renowned columnist, Idowu Akinlotan also assigned himself, being averse to eulogists.
It is true most post-mortem are often curated as eulogies, but connoisseurs know better when and why not to mix the two. Having erred badly in composing a post-mortem on former President Buhari’s first term, in the false hope it would affect the outcome of the former president’s re-election in 2019, Idowu sensibly tiptoed around committing himself to dissecting the eight-year administration of Buhari too quickly.
But overall, the post-mortems on the Buhari presidency had been less fierce than anticipated. Yes, there had been the occasional play of words and phrases, a few dismissive and brutal putdowns, and some swear words and puns, but beyond these, most essays had been tamed and off-keyed.
There won’t be eulogies of course; but even the post-mortems themselves will lack amperage. As the former president strutted away from the May 29th inauguration of Tinubu, he probably chuckled at how expertly he had anticipated the biliousness of his unrelenting critic. His sixth sense predicted all they might wish to say about him, and he had in some three interviews before his exit tackled their surliness with his customary disdain and abrasiveness.
In any case, he summed up, no one should ever think of asking him questions, for he had traveled out to his far away sleepy town of Daura for a rest. And if he deignes to travel to Kaduna, not too far from Abuja, it would not be for the purpose of indulging their questioning and mortifying inquisitions.
But here is a final proposal for aspiring eulogists of the Buhari administration. Forget the economy in tailspin, forget the coloring of some naira notes and the cruelty and indifference of Godwin Emefiele and forget the lopsidedness of the former president’s appointments. Ignore those bequeathed security challenges and how the psyche of Buhari was battered with concocted palatable security reports by those sacked service chiefs that never wanted to vacate their seats.
Instead, recognize that his presidency demonstrated that his predecessors merely papered over Nigeria’s existential cracks while he indirectly issued an invitation to his would-be successor to do something major about those cracks if he truly and sincerely loves Nigeria.
Recognize also just how down in the doldrums the economy had plunged, thereby necessitating not the amenities of a presidential candidate skilled in delivering Chinese and Singaporean homilies, or the faculty of a presidential candidate adept at cloning Dubai and making implausible promises about rotational presidency.
Whether the country knew it or not, and notwithstanding their bellicose approach to presidential politics last February, eight thunderous and unforgettable years of Buhari instilled in Nigerians the urgency of voting someone into office who knows his onions with determination to serve with passion no matter what.
It is not yet understood how the miracle occurred, but at least, and despite chafing Nigerians and a meddlesome presidency, a miracle did take place on February 25th. There is indeed so much to be said for the Buhari presidency rather than belching hostile at this stage of his exit, unforgiving and premature post-mortems.
Finally, for the Tinubu presidency to succeed, he must assemble the right people for the right job selected across party divide with the zeal and courage to deliver. He must first and foremost, clear the heaped mess starring us on our faces. There must be a thorough probe of the Buhari model of administration that produced several millionaires and billionaires dubiously.
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues