• July 24, 2021

Buhari’s Nigeria Is Not My Nigeria


By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

Things have fallen apart completely in Nigeria. Nothing has made many Nigerians lose faith in Nigeria more than the impunity reigning in Nigeria since General Muhammadu Buhari ascended to power as a supposed civilian president in 2015.The nepotism has been grossly embarrassing. Insecurity is overwhelming the entire country.  Corruption has gone into the stratosphere but the president’s toadies would rather have us believe that it’s Nigerians that are corrupt, not Buhari or the government that he runs. There is war raging in literally all the geo-political zones of the country, and no less a personage than General T.Y. Danjuma has openly stressed: “The Nigerian Army is not neutral!”

The continued existence of Nigeria is now being put to question by Nigerians who used to be unstinted patriots. Something must give for Nigeria to ever come bank from the brink. .

Going back to the roots, Lord Frederick Lugard’s amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914 is today more than ever being challenged. There is the crying need to ask very hard questions about the country for Nigerians to attain a measure of nationhood. In handling Nigerian affairs, Buhari has shown he pays no heed to Chinua Achebe who once said that Nigeria is neither our father nor our mother, but a child who needs to be nurtured and brought up properly.

Nigeria is being manhandled by the Buhari government in very dangerous ways. It is as though the rampaging Fulani herdsmen are a government unto themselves. They cannot be called to order nor be arrested by the central government. The other nationality groups cannot but resort to self-help. Anarchy looms.

With the divisions being created by the current government, it is now a matter of regret in many quarters that Nigeria’s first President, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, exulted that the country won independence in 1960 “on a platter of gold.” Maybe a dogged fight for independence may have helped to settle some issues.

Nigerians are not forgetting in any hurry that Chief Obafemi Awolowo, first Premier of the Western Region, did raise the crucial issue of Nigeria being “a mere geographical expression.”

Against Zik’s charge that the many nationalities of Nigeria should forget their differences to forge ahead, the then Northern Premier Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, countered by asserting that what was needed was for the different nationalities to understand the differences of the diverse peoples. The government of the day is wantonly showing that there is no use of forgetting the differences or understanding them.

No other regime in the history of Nigeria has so blatantly promoted the differences of diverse Nigerians than the Buhari government. Nigerians have never ever been this divided, even during the so-called civil war.

In this day and age of the social media, it is becoming clear with the rage various Nigerians are openly airing their opinions that they want to go their separate ways. The centre can no longer hold.

Many commentators cite with anger that the colonizing British masters did not hide the fact that amalgamation was effected to get the Southern “lady of means” to keep alive the arid North that was being maintained through the treasury of the colonizers.

The return to democracy in 1999 was touted as the balm that would help heal the wounds of Nigeria’s many years of military rule. The powers-that-be in the Nigerian scheme of things ensured that a former military Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo, was taken from prison and perforce elected as a civilian president. Obasanjo may have had his faults, especially the Third Term gambit, but he was definitely pan-Nigerian in outlook. He never promoted his Yoruba clansmen over others as is the blatant policy of the state in Nigeria as I write.

President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua could not outlive his poor health, but he never displayed crude polarization of the country, and he truly put to play consummate statesmanship in the way he solved the Niger Delta militancy with his amnesty programme.

It is a mark of how things have gone terribly wrong under Buhari that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who was pilloried as being clueless is now being publicly courted to come back to power!

The campaigners that shouted everybody down in the drive for their chosen messiah to come to power in the heady days of 2015 are today looking shamefully out of sorts. In the house of Nigerian power, shamelessness reigns supreme.

A religious zealot is like a bull in a china shop. The prebendalism that Professor Richard Joseph cited as the ruin of Nigeria is now in overdrive. Herdsmen protected in high quarters are at liberty to take people’s ancestral lands, highways and forests while wielding guns and suchlike weapons. Many Nigerians now say it is better to be born in Nigeria as a cow instead of as a human being!

This country teeters on the brink of disaster. Killings, banditry, kidnaps, abductions and assassinations are daily and nightly rituals of current Nigerian life. And nothing is being done to stem the hideous tide.

Every nation in history must confront and master its own road to Damascus. Nigeria is today poised on the threshold of monumental historical contradictions. The heart of the matter is that a country cannot forever exist in suspended animation. Something must definitely give. Can the country be reclaimed from the vile forces of anomie?

I have come to the sad conclusion that Buhari’s Nigeria is not my Nigeria.

— Uzor Maxim Uzoatu is the author of God of Poetry, Satan’s Story, A Play of Ghosts and The Missing Link. A 2008 Caine Prize for African Writing nominee, he wrote the text for Scottish photographer Owen Logan’s caricature of Michael Jackson’s visit to Nigeria entitled Masquerade. He lives in Lagos and is married with children.


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