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The herdsmen’s president

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The herdsmen’s president

by Shaka Momodu

Despite the fact that he has broken all his campaign promises, failed the three key pillars the All Progressives Congress (APC) advertised in its mission statement – security, fighting corruption, and rebuilding the economy – and has been unable to defend the abysmal record of his government, President Muhammadu Buhari wants to preside over Nigeria for another term of four years. I am truly alarmed that any right-thinking, sane human being would actually want Buhari to continue to misgovern Nigeria for another four years on the spurious claims that he has integrity and he is fighting corruption.

His deranged apologists have even peddled the insane point that he was sent by God to teach us how to live within our means. Some have even gone to the ridiculous and preposterous extent to say since the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ruled for 16 years which they have tagged as “waste” years, the APC must also rule for 16 years, or even more, irrespective of whether the party has proved to be a complete and unmitigated failure or not. Honestly, I have never seen such warped reasoning before in my life. To this set of people, it doesn’t matter whether “the APC is worse than the PDP”, it must match PDP’s time in the saddle. It just doesn’t matter to these people that under Buhari, the whispers of distress have grown into a loud agonising cry of pain and unbearable hardship.

You could go back in the annals of our political history and you’d be hard-pressed to find a leader more destructive, more callous, more provincial, more insensitive to our national values and the protective mechanisms to promote unity, than their beloved Buhari. You begin to ask yourself what diabolical spell was cast on these people that has turned them into jellies, zombies and prisoners to insanity. You also wonder why anyone sane enough to read, write and with a discerning mind can beat his chest and call himself, a Buharist. What does that even mean? Can anyone tell me? With all the manifest contradictions about him that we see everyday? The double standard in the fight against corruption? The insensitivity to daily bloodletting?  Sometimes, you begin to doubt whether it is you (yourself) who has missed the way.

For years before details of his legendary history of clannishness, nepotism and incompetence became so glaring to even his most ardent supporters, books, newspapers and popular myths had portrayed him as the incorruptible one, the redeemer and messiah, the one who could fix Nigeria. Had he died a long time ago, his place in the hall of legends would have been assured. His story would have been the stuff of folklore for the ages. Today, I am torn between satisfaction and despair. Satisfaction that he will not be listed in the hall of fame among legends, and despair, that it has cost our nation so much to realise that contrary to all his rebranding, he is not the messiah and that he is actually among the litany of problems bedeviling this county. Some of us knew it and shouted ourselves hoarse, warning of the dire consequences and dangers electing Buhari would pose to our unity, but no one listened. And yet again, the merchants of falsehoods and half-truths are in their element, reselling the same counterfeit hero who has already caused much harm to our country. They are telling us that the massive decline we have witnessed under Buhari in nearly four years,  is a mirage staged by his opponents hell-bent on bringing him down,  and that the agony and pain we feel is in fact, perfect  bliss and reason why he should be re-elected.

I have often stated in private discussions with friends that if Buhari was fit to rule and had taken governance seriously, we would have been seeing results by now and his reelection bid would have been a fait accompli on his record of achievements. His campaign team would not have been dissipating so much resources and energy selling an illusion as progress to Nigerians. But in nearly four years of his leadership, we are yet to see any meaningful result that either impresses or fascinates us, despite all the pompous rhetoric of a few dishonest and highly corrupt elements in the ruling APC who have deployed false claims, hyperboles, propaganda, half-truths and outright lies to sell a very bad product. A man whose manner of politics has proved too debilitating and corrosive to our national values and unity  is arrogantly being promoted as the messiah and redeemer of our dear country. A man who on the eve of a presidential election boasted that no one could unseat him. Well, the peoples’ power made you President and that power can unseat you, Mr President.

I can see the brand merchants struggling to put together a coherent narrative to sell the herdsmen’s  president on whose watch Nigeria has become a massive killing field for marauding militia herdsmen of Fulani stock. It may have worked in 2015 when many extremely naïve and gullible supporters, so sold on propaganda, said they didn’t mind whether Buhari presented a NEPA bill or a Dangote invoice in place of his academic qualifications. I doubt if it will work this time around in the face of overwhelming evidence of failure.

I haven’t heard much of the herdsmen’s exploits lately. They seem to have taken a break from their murderous reign of terror on communities. I read some articles praising the lull in the orgy of bloodletting and unmitigated scale of killings across the country by Fulani herdsmen. The articles even threw mocking jabs at critics of Buhari’s poor handling of the herdsmen’s heinous crime. Are we to celebrate this development? The reign of peace is welcome any day. But the lull is not a reign of peace or a sign that our common humanity has suddenly taken a new significance to these killers. No! The relative peace we are witnessing is a realisation that their killing spree of innocent people would badly affect the outcome of the 2019 elections in which their life patron, and chief enabler is likely facing a humiliating defeat. Who says these killers are not astute in the their calculations? Who says these terrorists have no supporters in this government who can tell when to pull back? They are looking at the politics and tailoring their actions to give their patron saint a chance. If not, why the sudden lull so close to the elections? If the election goes the way of Buhari, these killers would resume their nefarious mission of death and destruction on a scale never before seen. There will no longer be any inhibition to their reign of terror, and the ferocity of violence will shock the world. Let no one be fooled by the peace of the graveyard that we are currently witnessing in the North-east and North-central or in other parts of the country. The herdsmen are simply waiting for their patron to win another four years in office and then they would unleash another round of mayhem on the country.

As you prepare to cast your vote on Saturday February 23rd, ask yourself what future you want for Nigeria. What kind of country do you want for your children to live in? Is it a country ruled by a nepotistic, clannish and stone-age leader or one governed by a fair and broad-minded visionary? Is it a country ruled by bullying and an iron fist or one governed by the rule of law and due process? On the basis of what is anyone supporting Buhari?

The evidence of Buhari’s failed leadership and the pain and hopelessness it has engendered among many Nigerians is visible for all to see.  There is a massive migration of young people out of the country.  It is almost unfathomable that he wants another term despite lacking the wherewithal for the job. We cannot reward a man who disdains us or cares less whether the country burns or not, so long he appoints only people he has a close ethnic affinity with to national positions.

His aides once told us that it was better to give up our land to herdsmen than to lose our lives. Well, in a similar vein, is it not better to vote out Buhari and live than to return him and die?

Is this the kind of leader we now crave for? Is this the leader who will make Nigeria great? A leader who rules you and your bloodline out of opportunities this nation provides? A vote for Buhari would be suicidal as the suffering and discrimination that many endure daily are bound to continue for another four years.  Even if you were drunk in 2015, that was four whole years ago, it should have worn off by now.

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