By Muyiwa Olayinka
“Let the will of God prevail over our land”This is Nigerians’ prayer. Nigerians are deeply religious. God does not make mistakes, it is the people that make mistakes. God gave us the power to choose our leaders. Diid we make a blunder in voting Mr President in 2015, with present state of things in Nigeria? Nigeria remains more divisive since independence in 1960.
The government derives its authority from the sovereignty given by Nigerians.
The sovereignty lies with the people, it can be exercised constitutionally, if President Buhari fails to fulfill his campaign promises.
There had been calls for restructuring and federalism. Unfortunately, the President has been adamant and resistance to the call. He refused to set the machineries in motion to adhere to the wishes of the people. He has repeatedly spurned the demand. The President is so brazen in his hard stance because there is no provision, within the constitution to force him to do the needful.
By being rigid, the President has polarized the nation along ethnic and religious lines. There are discordant tunes among the different ethnic groups. He has not helped matters with his body language and his actions in office
Through his pronouncements and appointments into political offices, he has either consciously and unconsciously, put the interest of his ethnic group over others.
His party, APC, in its manifesto, made restructuring one of the cardinal pillars of the party, but as the political leader of the party, he has consistently jettisoned it.
The party lacks mechanism to force the President to implement it. The party is so fractious that the Board of Trustee, meant to be advisory organ, is yet to be inaugurated two years after it forms the government.
One needs to understand President Buhari’s political evolution in order to understand his political philosophy. He represents the core conservative northern Nigeria that wants to maintain the status quo. What is the status quo?
The Hausa Fulanis of the northern region had always believe the nation belongs to them and others regions are seen as appendages of Nigeria. The northern region were given more representatives, at the Federal level, as a result of its land mass. This lopsided arrangement was initiated by the colonial leaders before independence. Currently, the northern region has more states, collects more revenue from the Federation account. It has more representatives at the federal parliament than the southern region.
This has been sustained over a long period of time through dubious and acrimonious national census figures. In addition, the election that brought Buhari to power was based on sectional sentiments. It was not out of place when Buhari maintained he would consider the 97% of people that voted for him against the 5% that voted against him.
Instructively, the northern part of Nigeria voted for him massively in the 2015 general elections against his opponent from the southern part of Nigeria.
His predecessor and opponent in 2015 election, Dr Goodluck Jonathan conducted a national conference in 2014 in an attempt to solve some of the nagging national problems.
The conference paraded a broad spectrum of brightest Nigerians that cut across all spheres of human endeavor. The document was submitted but was not implemented before the general elections of 2015. I questioned the sincerity of Jonathan in organizing the conference. Jonathan’s sincerity was in doubt because he did not make any attempt to implement any of the recommendations before he lost his reelection.
Nevertheless, the document made far reaching recommendations. Many Nigerians have called for the implementation of the draft document but President Buhari has vehemently refused. Sadly the document is gathering dust at the national archives.
He came to government with a mindset to maintain the stronghold of power for the north. He has never hidden the desire of making up for times lost by the north, as a result of the untimely death of his brother and kinsman, former President, Umaru Musa Yar’adua.
Unfortunately, Buhari has been bedeviled of an undisclosed illness.. He had been receiving treatments in a London hospital.
He practically relocated abroad to attend to his failing health. The consequence of not tackling perceived marginalization and restructuring has made the Igbos (from the south east), consistently calling for secession from the federation.
In the north, the Arewa Youth Vanguard in Kaduna, gave the Igbo residents a terminal date of October 1 to exit. Some sections of the Yorubas (from south west) are calling for Oduduwa nation, and sadly too, the Niger Deltans (from the south south) were asking all non indigenes to leave their region. All these agitations were mounting when Mr President was receiving medical treatment abroad.
President Buhari eventually spent 104 days in London before returning . When he came back, many were relieved, expectant that their leader would have a change of heart, be able to heal wounds and mend broken fences. Many lined the streets of Abuja, Kano, Bauchi, and Katsina (his home state) to celebrate his return and welcome him back.
The rejuvenated Mr President, as the father of the nation, should have closed ranks, acts like an elder statesman and reconcile all warring factions.
Instead he made a national broadcast, giving orders to heads of security agencies to ensure security and enforce the unity of the nation at all costs
In his words, he said “Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable. We shall not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble and when things get bad they run away and saddle others with the responsibility of bringing back order, if necessary with their blood. The National Assembly and the National Council of State are the legitimate and appropriate bodies for national discourse.
The national consensus is that, it is better to live together than to live apart. I am charging the Security Agencies not to let the successes achieved in the last 18 months be a sign to relax”.
Many felt that the speech was vague and somewhat arrogant.
They were disappointed with the broadcast because it fell short of the expectations of many Nigerians. The expectation is that the President would use his authority and his experience to address the challenge thrown up by a quit notice given to the people belonging to a particular ethnic group in a section of the country. They thought he could have called to order the purveyors of hate speech, not only in a particular section but across board.
It was offensive to the sensibilities of Nigerians because it failed to address national discourse during his long sojourn abroad. Such vexed issues such as worsening separatists agitations, federalism and restructuring, security and national cohesion.
With his address he failed to gauge the mood of the nation and lost the opportunity to redeem the autocratic image of his government.
Former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili tweeted the President missed a golden opportunity to address the national question. The leader of foremost Yoruba leader and a member of Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo said the President did not gauge the mood of the nation before making that address.
The truth is that we can not be living a lie in Nigeria. The hardline posture of Mr President will inadvertently drive the agitators of secession and separation underground and the consequence may be catastrophic. Mr President ought to learn from countries like Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, that are fighting internal wars.
Since the inception of the fourth republic that started on May 29th 1999, successive governments have failed to address the fundamental issues. Issues like devolution of powers to the federating states, resource control, empowering the local government units and expunging obnoxious laws that negate the principles of federalism from our constitution have been on the front burner.
Past governments have persistently avoided all these contentious issues by paying lip service and applying cosmetic approach. Buhari made it worse by foreclosing the discussion of these issues.
Nigeria cannot run away from these problems. We must create a conducive atmosphere to sit down to discuss them. No amount of military might, martial laws or issuance of decrees will subjugate the will of the people. The earlier we know this, the better. It is better to jaw jaw than to war war.
No matter how highly placed such individual could be, including Mr President, he cannot have the monopoly of knowledge, or wiser than majority of Nigerians. Defending the interest of his ethnic stock against the interest of rest of the nation will boomerang. I hope this resistances do persistent cries of marginalization will not push this country to the brink of precipice.
The northern resistance will bow to the general will of the people. Even President Buhari’s stubborn posture cannot stop the will of the people.
The will of the people shall prevail, it is only a matter of time.