The Buhari presidency may not receive the accolades it deserves for its performances in infrastructure development, because of the faulty passes, which casts his team in negative light. For reasons, which historians may eventually unravel, his presidency sometimes behaves as if it doesn’t give a hoot about its place in history. The latest of such own goal, is the retention of a statutorily retired police officer as the Inspector General of Police (IGP), when he has no need to disobey the law.
Of course, some of his predecessors behaved dictatorially, but at least the reasons for their actions can be dressed in expediency. Take the gale of unlawful impeachments under President Olusegun Obasanjo. In trying to unravel Obasanjo’s motive, there are many who will argue that he was fighting corruption, even when the impeachment could be a weapon to fight political battles. The same split decision may apply to Obasanjo’s military invasion of Odi, after some security men were allegedly killed.
In the matter of extorting corporate Nigeria to build his presidential library, his supporters would defend his action, for the uniqueness and worthiness of the project. During the Umaru Yar’Adua’s presidency, he did not engage in much braggadocio, as the president was hobbled by ailment. President Jonathan who took over from him was calmer, except when he bullied Governor Murtala Nyako for calling out his failure in the war against Boko Haram. Also, when he ambushed the former Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi following his false accusation in that particular instance about some debilitating corrupt practices.
But the significant thing about the examples of constitutional infractions by the predecessors of President Buhari is that the consequences of their action are somewhat localised and not far reaching. So while their actions are condemnable, the consequences are limited. But under Buhari’s presidency which has carried out some far reaching infrastructure development, for which it ought to be celebrated, some of his actions have significantly alienated many citizens of the country.
Take the decision to retain the service chiefs well past their usefulness. While by convention and tradition, military postings to the theatre of war do not last for more than two years to eschew fatigue and loss of concentration, yet for no just cause, indeed regardless of glaring diminishing performance, the Buhari presidency stubbornly kept the service chiefs well beyond their prime. Even when the people of the northeast who bear the brunt of the war and are his ardent supporters asked for change, the president ignored them.
So, when the history of the war is written, historians may ignore his achievements in the war front, and focus on his poor decision to retain the service chiefs as the reason for the failures of his effort. Yet, perhaps a fairer analysis may show that the war efforts of his regime is not as useless as many now believe, principally because of his stubborn refusal to change the service chiefs. No doubt, that avoidable debacle over the service chiefs did a lot of damage to the integrity of the war effort.
But the most far reaching act that has marred the reputation of his regime is the seeming condoning of the criminal activities of the armed herdsmen. It is difficult to understand the perverse indifference of the Buhari’s presidency to the cries of nearly all parts of Nigeria, over the atrocities being perpetrated by the armed Fulani herdsmen. From the north-west to the north-central to the southeast to the south-south and the southwest, the nation has been tottering on the edge of civil disobedience because of the criminal activities of the armed herdsmen.
Yet in the face of these grave attacks on the security and welfare of the citizens the president swore to protect, the impression created is that because President Buhari is of the Fulani stock, his body language depicts an ‘I don’t care attitude’. Well, while clearly the president feels more comfortable having those who speak the same language with him and who practice the same religion with him as the members of the inner circle of his government, I do not believe that he doesn’t care, when people are killed by herdsmen.
What is strange is why he has failed to publicly and stringently condemn the atrocious activities of these criminals who masquerade as herdsmen, and give the Fulani a bad name. Because of his so called body language, the security agencies treat the criminals as untouchables. Recently, it was reported that those who chased the herdsmen away from their community in Ogun State were flogged by the army, perhaps to please the body language of the president.
The tragedy is that while this lethargy festers, the fabrics that hold our nation together is turning to tatters. Indeed, many Nigerians who started off as die-hard supporters of the president have now openly accused him of being a sectional leader. Some have even gone ahead to rue their initial support, as if the entire presidency has not brought any value to the country. Yet as some have correctly argued, it is not only Fulani herdsmen that are engaged in kidnapping for ransom.
But the problem is that unlike how other groups troubling the peace of the nation are treated, the long arm of the law have treated the armed Fulani herdsmen with kid gloves. Even when the president has confirmed that armed criminal marauders from the Maghreb area are troubling our country, he is hesitant to declare itinerant foreign Fulani herdsmen, enemy of our country. A pragmatic president would have declared their specie a terrorist organisation, and banned them from crisscrossing our nation and causing harm and destruction on their trail.
So when in the face of these faulty passes, the president against the express provision of a law he signed into existence, chooses to once more act in flagrant disobedience of the constitution, one wonders his motive. The Nigerian Police Act 2020 unequivocally and mandatorily states in section 18(8) that a policeman shall retire after 35 years in service or on the attainment of 65 years. Since IGP Mohammed Adamu has served for 35 years, it is preposterous for the president to be asking for three months to organise a handover.
If truly the Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammadu Dingayi, stood idly by, while the tenure of the IGP expired without alerting the president and helping him to plan a handover, it is enough reason to sack him. After all, he is supposed to be the eye and ear of the president in that department. Again, if the president is not his own problem, he must begin to hold his appointees who cause him the numerous embarrassments befuddling his presidency accountable.