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Opinion: A captive president, blighted country, docile people

Those Nigerians who once thought that the Buhari presidency would take our country to a destination better than this forlorn outpost of stasis, anarchy and overwhelming misery now know better. They are shaking their heads in utter regret, and sheer bewilderment.

When we warned, even as early as the days before the 2015 presidential vote, that Buhari’s rabid sectionalism and extreme religious proclivities would push Nigeria to a sad precipice, we were excoriated and branded as hateful and irrational peddlers of Islamophobia. But those who pointed accusing fingers at us then are now also crying, painfully – victims of Islamist terrorism, Fulani herdsmen’s terrorism and expansionism, armed banditry, kidnapping for hefty pay-offs and sundry criminalities that have become the chief themes of Buhari’s reign so far.

But, lest we forget, this is the man whom Boko Haram once pencilled down as their spokesman before he became president – based on his strident support for them (once upon a time?) This is a president in whose cabinet a popular and self-confessed Al-Qaeda apologist snugly perches – one of the president’s closest allies.

So what had Nigerians expected? To expect anything other than the prevailing atmosphere of siege and dark clouds hanging all over the country would amount to deluding ourselves, and even Mr Buhari himself. After all, Nigerians are receiving exactly what they bargained for. Moreover, it is said that countries get the kind of leaders they deserve.

In an editorial condemning a gift of one million dollars, President Buhari surreptitiously offered the terrorist government of Afghanistan, that the Nigerian Tribune (April 4, 2022) captured the very flavour of the last seven years. “Nigerians are genuinely fed up with the Buhari administration and cannot wait for it to run down its time and depart,” the newspaper declared.

Then it continued: “Not only is the president incompetent, he has shown time and again that he is also insensitive. The criticisms against the president when he was running for office in 2015 was that he was too sectarian and provincial and that he did not have the imagination to run a local government, let alone a country as complex as Nigeria.”

And with a finality that has a ring of tragedy, tinged with regret, the editorial ended: “Sadly, the time has proved those critics right.”

Terrorists may soon knock on the gates of the presidential villa, Abuja. Bishop Matthew Kukah warned the Buhari administration to guard against insurgency turning the north into another Afghanistan. Recall that on August 15, 2021, Islamist terrorists, the Taliban, took control of Kabul, the Afghanistan capital.

The Daily Post (December 26, 2021) reported the cleric as raising the alarm that “so many communities have been turned into gulags of misery, death, pain and perfidy,” and called out that “we must move quickly before Arewa, our beloved Arewa, descends into ‘Arewanistan’ (coined from Afghanistan).” But, apparently, the Bishop’s warning has not been taken seriously.

Today, not only is the entire north and other parts of the country reeling from wanton acts of terrorism and armed attacks, the possibility of terrorists reenacting the Kabul take-over in our country’s capital is growing by the day. Consider these. On July 5, terrorists attacked the Kuje prison in the federal capital and freed 600 of their compatriots held in the facility.

Then on July 24, two officers and eight soldiers were killed by terrorists during an ambush in Bwari, also the nation’s city. It is worthy of note that the Taliban seized the capital city without firing a shot after waging a 20-year bloody jihad against the Americans and the Afghan administration. The insurgents were aided and abetted by government officials – both within the military and state establishments – who later seamlessly melted into the new Taliban administration.

And in a move that shocked Nigerians and most of the international community, which regards that government as a pariah, it emerged early this year that President Buhari had secretly donated $1 million to the Taliban as so-called humanitarian aid through the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Latest international security reports have revealed that Afghanistan is gradually becoming a safe haven and training ground for Islamist terrorists from all over the world.

And considering the strong links between Nigeria’s Boko Haram, Ansaru and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) and the more formidable and brutal Islamist terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) which have global networks, this should be a source of serious concern to Nigerians and the international community.

What with the puzzling and persistent (some say deliberate) failure of the Buhari government to rein in Nigeria’s terrorists, armed Fulani herdsmen and well-armed bandits and kidnappers, As we have seen above, some of them have become so elusive, powerful and audacious that they have made the nation’s capital city a routine playground under the watch of Mr Buhari – a retired Army General.

To be continued.

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About Chris Gyang

Gyang is the Chairman of the NGO, Journalists Coalition for Citizens’ Rights Initiative (JCCRI).

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