IYKE IBEH-SLEDGEHAMMER (07030605544)
Did I hear you say President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government of Nigeria, has been forced to bow to pressure, thus suspending Ruga initiative for National Livestock Transformation Plan? Perish the thought. It is a sheer decoy for some swindle. The President is acting for Muhammadu in the interest of Buhari at the expense of the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria (MBSN).
Let me have your consent and solidarity on my conviction which I have already appropriated even without your input. In my positive pursuit of academic excellence, I did stumble upon a slim little booklet entitled “The protocols of the Elders of Zion”, the document was said to have been discovered in pre-revolutionary Tsarist Russia. The protocols seemed eerily fresh. It spoke volumes on theories of conspiracy. I shall be x-raying its import and impact in my next outing, if God does not violate His nature.
Get me straight. Let me place my cards on the table. I am inherently a believer in conspiracy theories. By implication, I subscribe to the view of those philosophers of history who believe no perfidy or ignoring occurs in our world without one form of conspiracy or the other. The so called Ruga initiative is born out of conspiracy that has conditioned us into trusting and even loving the slave master, President Buhari himself, even while he is scheming how to make those not from the North to remain subservient by thwarting our rise and resistance at every turn.
Let us travel in thought and consult our memory, the very salt of remembrance. Records are not kept simply to assist the weakness of memory, but to operate as guides to the future. Talking about change, I interrogate a rigorous inspection of evidence and not wishful speculation or behind-the-scenes assurances. I contend that public offence, crimes against a polity must be answered in the public space not in caucuses of bargaining. In President Buhari we have been offered no evidence of the sheerest prospect of change. Here are some explanations that explain.
President Buhari it was, like other ex-generals in the persons of IBB and Abdusalami who treated a commission of Enquiry, the Oputa panel, with unconcealed disdain. He was summoned but never turned up. Assuming our sensibilities have not become blunted by succeeding seasons of cruelty and brutality of Nigeria governance, recall Buhari hammered down the freedom of expression in general terms-Draconian Decree 4. The media never knuckled down. We dared him through cartoons and oblique and elliptical references and yet he remained unfazed.
We cannot but salute Tai Solarin of the blessed memory, the bastion of our then struggle. Buhari, staged a coup in 1983 against late Shehu Shagari’s government of profligacy and rabid fascism. He kept ex-president Shagari on whom the primary responsibility laid in cozy house detention in Ikoyi Lagos but kept late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Shagari’s powerless deputy in Kiri-kiri prisons. Flood of deadly late against the Igbo. YEP!!! (Yes please)
Enter the cascade of escapes of the wanted and culpable politicians and his guilty by association syndromes. What of the Manhunts across the length and breadth of the nation, roadblocks everywhere and borders tight as steel zip locks? Recall if you please, chief Akinloye, the then chairman of NPN upon that, strolled out coolly across the border. Richard Akinjide, legal protector (NPN), slipped out with equal ease. The Rice minister, late Umaro Dikko, escaped through the same airtight dragnet. Buhari ventured putting him in a crate; Nigeria bound, from London but failed due to Buhari’s clumsiness.
Shall I remind Nigerians of Buhari’s deliberate humiliating treatment of the Emir of Kano and that of the Oni of Ife over their visit to the state of Israel in 1983? I hold no brief for traditional rulers and their relationship with government, but insist on regarding them as entitled to all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of any Nigerian citizen. This royal duo went to Israel on their private steam and private business. Simply because the Buhari regime was pursuing some antagonistic foreign policy towards Israel, a policy of which these traditional rulers were not a part, they were subjected on their return to a treatment that could only be described as a head masterly chastisement of errant pupils. That was and that is Buhari for you.
Wherever the truth lies, it does not redound to the credibility of a man of Buhari who feels his word is law but allegiances negotiable to seemingly uphold discipline as the shining jewel in his scrap-iron crown and yet would not lead by example, by obeying laws set down as guides to public probity. Here, some unavoidable mentions are necessary. What transpired on the thirty something if not closed to fifty suitcases for the exercise of a changeover of the national currency? President Buhari was then the military head of state. The Nigerian borders air, sea and land were closed, so to speak.
Yet a prominent camel was allowed through that needless eye. Buhari aide-de-camp (ADC) then, Jokolo who later on, became an Emir, facilitated the entry of those cases. Abubakar Atiku, the then custom officer, now PDP Presidential candidate who stood firmly then against the entry of those contravening baggage was redeployed. Truth be told. My memory, the very salt of remembrance, serves me right. I remember, I believe.
Yet another. The notorious case of Triple Alhaji Alhaji Alhaji, then permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance, he was caught, literally, with his pants down in distant Austria, rocking and rolling with his mistress, who later on pulled a fast one on Alhaji’s money, as deregulated bedroom charges. That was not the crime however, as private conduct should always remain restricted to the domain of private censure. Alhaji kept several undeclared foreign accounts when there was a clear decree against the keeping of foreign accounts. But Buhari turned deaf ear, he nailed up his ears when the media screamed for an even application of law.
By contrast, the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti languished in goal for years, sentenced under that very draconian decree. His crime was being in possession of foreign exchange that he had legitimately received for the immediate upkeep of his band as they set off for an international engagement. Bu…what? Buhari!!! Then director of an International Communication Agency, an affiliate of UNESCO, Akin Fatoyinbo suffered the same traumatic experience like Fela Ransom Kuti. These were not exceptional but mere sample cases from among hundreds of others, victims of a decree that was selectively applied, a decree that routinely penalized innocents and ruined the careers and businesses of many.
What else? What does one choose to include or leave? What precisely was Ebenezer crime that he should have spent the entire tenure of then General Buhari in detention? Nothing beyond the fact that he once warned in the media that Buhari was an ambitious soldier who would bear watching through the lenses of a coup-detat. What of Tunde Thompson and Nduka trabor both of whom, faithful to their journalistic calling, published nothing but the truth, yet ended up sentenced under Buhari’s pointless insensitivity of a decree?
I have travelled in thought to highlight that a load of vindictiveness that smothered all traces of basic human compassion deserves no further comment in a nation that values its traditions. Yet, we are contending with the chronic menace of the Ruga initiative where behind the mask, the President is clearly acting for Muhammadu in the interest of Buhari at the expense of the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria, turning victors to victims.
How could the herdsmen be growing in strength and audacity if they are not being backed up by a medieval despot who inflexibly believes in the Divine Right of Presidents? Empirical evidence in political science shows that the most dangerous time for a reforming statesman not a despot is not when society is at point zero but when, ironically, things are looking up. Implementing reforms when things are getting better is like opening the lid on a pressure cooker. I have never been fascinated by Nigerian history and civilization under Buhari both as a soldier and civilian. In Nigeria, under President Buhari, we are only slightly better than barbarians by comparison. I mean no disrespect. We establish liberty with difficulty, in this 21st century. This is sickening, horrible and most harrowing.
Recently, he admitted to Nigerians through his conversation with the Oba of Benin, Omo N’oba N’Edo, Ewuare II that the performance of his administration in the power sector was not “good enough”. In a very rare moment of courage and candour, he accepted the challenges ranged against him by reason of ineptitude and naivety. True confession, very good for the soul. But he misses the critical gaze. In almost all the other areas, his administration is hobbled by similar deficiencies.
Should he jog his memory, he cannot but concede that the three-pronged manifesto which spurred his ascendency into office, namely addressing insecurity, revamping the economy and fighting corruption, all encapsulated in the change mantra are all falling apart and short of that desired. The herdsmen terrorism (Ruga), is aggravated, upping the death toll in unprecedented number. That Nigeria in the global economy is the world’s poverty headquarters and the 16th most dangerous country out of the 163 sampled countries of the world remain certainly downers in every respect.
The ignoble positions give the lie to the much touted potential in human and natural resources. The recent dropping of corruption charges by the Economic and Financial crimes Commission (EFCC) against certain politicians perceived to have done the administration’s bidding during the election in the National Assembly is hypocritical and selective. In a manner of reasoning and speaking, one is bound to infer that even the fight against corruption is itself frighteningly corrupt. Paradox of realism!!!
Back to the basic. The Ruga initiative! We welcome the recent ultimatum by a sectarian order to the President of Nigeria to set up the so called Ruga cattle settlements across the entire country within their stipulated 30 days as their entitlement under the bounty of freedom of expression. The President, should also welcome our clarion call to Nigerians across state demarcations to defend the sanctity of their ancestral lands.
Mr. President, sectarian domination is never a key to social existence. It is rather a belief that despises peaceful cohabitation. It is an antiquated belief. It shall never stand in modern Nigeria. The so called National Livestock Transformation Plan is seen as a decoy to launch new offensive against those opposed to Ruga. Tell your coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) that their ultimatum is banza from the shashasha’a. It shall be measure for measure. The war they ordered is here.
It is disheartening and mind-blowing, the alarming drift of the Nigerian nation into a dysfunctional state on multiple levels, under you, Mr. President. Outright cancellation of Ruga initiative not its suspension or any decoy, remains the only roadmap to douse socio-political flare-ups that could advance the cause of any conflict no matter how reduced in scale. The suspension of Ruga initiative is not yet uhuru.
Stop all insurrectional movements derived from religious fanaticism and intolerance exemplified by Boko Haram and their allied tendencies and destructive forms of social transactions that characterize groups such as nomadic cattle herdsmen and their umbrella groupings in the nature of Miyetti Allah. Save Nigeria now or never. The world is watching.
If you can’t, let there be decentralized governance akin to regionalism that shall allow the federating units to develop at their individual pace. This is your chance. The choice is yours.