Columnist: Nigeria: A personal encounter (7) — Daily Times Nigeria

Columnist: Nigeria: A personal encounter (7)


By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

So it was that in Buhari’s second term which started in 2019, after an election that he supposedly won by a landslide, where his party controlled the National Assembly and most States of the federation, things started changing.

Change? What kind of change is this? Nigerians looked on as prices galloped, security deteriorated, kidnappings increased, and Fulani herdsmen virtually took over the remote parts of the country, north and south.

Fulani herdsmen? Who are they? Both in the north and the south, there was disenchantment with the state of things. Some people in the south did not know how tough and scary things were in the north. Indeed, the north was as divided as the south in opinions about the efficiency of President Buhari.

He indeed had lost the toga of the messiah of Nigeria after five odd years in office. To show how scary things were, a traditional ruler was kidnapped in the hometown of the president.

Was that not a slap in the face? There was this young man, Omoyele Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters, who felt that Nigeria was ripe for a revolution.

You see, this young man had supported Buhari in the elections against then President Goodluck Jonathan.

By the end of Buhari’s first term, Sowore had become so disenchanted that he contested against Buhari. Of course, he did not go far with votes.

To win an election in Nigeria, you need to go beyond ideas.

The state machinery is often deployed to help the government in power if the incumbent so desires. Indeed, this is one of the reasons we must commend Jonathan.

He could have used muscles to remain in power, ignoring the consequence the way dictators or power-lovers do.

But he did not. He even appointed an INEC Chairman from the north who went ahead to build a structure that helped Buhari win the elections.

That was Nigeria! See me o! I was talking about Sowore and veered off to INEC and Jega and the rest of the shenanigans of the period. Sowore tried to lead a protest march and proclaimed a revolution.

Before he knew it, there was teargas everywhere and he was picked up along with his corevolutionary and locked up.

When he appeared in court, the charge that was made was designed to silence him forever. Treason? That was a serious one.

Hehehehehehehe! But each time he appeared in court the mass of the people also appeared. Prominent people spoke up for him.

He was soon granted bail that restricted his movements. But the message was clear- if you try to stage any protests against the government, you will end up in the hyena’s belly.

That is Nigeria for you! What about the palpable threat that if you criticized the government you would be invited for questioning?

That one was there too. It was not the type of change the people voted for. They got a new type of change.

The type of change that turned Buhari into a clannish leader who gave all the sensitive positions to people from the northern part of the country.

So, when he introduced a scheme called RUGA that would grant land access to cattle herders all over Nigeria, the people shouted ‘foul! What about the Water Resources Bill that aimed to vest control over water resources in the federal government?

The people screamed ‘blue murder! The fear was that he was interested in the bill because he wanted to control water resources to satisfy his Fulani herdsmen-kinsmen.

The division in the country along religious and ethnic lines was too scary for anybody’s liking! That was Nigeria for you! As a candidate, Buhari lampooned the government of Goodluck Jonathan over incessant power failure and pump price of petrol.

In fact, he was part of a protest march that called for a revolution when the Jonathan government raised the price of petrol from N87 per litre to N97 in 2012. But under Buhari the man increased the pump price to N150 per litre.

The people could not even cry out. Civil liberty and human rights organizations which were like lions in the Jonathan days became like lambs, meekly swallowing all the shenanigans of government.

That is Nigeria for you! It was during Buhari’s tenure that one strange virus struck the world. They called coronavirus! COVID-19! It was an invisible virus, a tiny one with a big hammer.

In America, it killed over two hundred thousand people, making the sitting American president tremble before the American people because of the poor way he handled the disease. Nigeria did not fare badly.

The world expected over three hundred thousand people to die from COVID-19. But as at when I wrote this narrative the deaths in Nigeria were under one thousand five hundred.

It was not the fantastic health facilities that saved Nigerians. It was providence. It was a season of wearing masks and doing what they called social distancing. Millions of Nigerians did not believe in any such nonsense as social distancing. Yet, deaths were few.

People died like flies in Italy. You know, those big countries with big names lost human beings like third world countries! That is Nigeria for you! Nigeria is an interesting place to be in. Dynamic. Fluid. Uncertain. Miracles. Lively. Boisterous. Could be risky. But it is home.

Even friends and brothers who live in the luxury of Europe and America never forget home.

When you read them, you get the feeling that if things were different, they would rather be here than there. When you travel outside you miss home, with all the yamayama things that happen here.

Life in Europe is so orderly, so arranged that you feel that they can do with some Nigeriana.

That is Nigeria for you! It is the people who really make Nigeria sweet. Not the governments at any level. Local governments?

There is no governance there. They simply collect allocations and disappear. They are designed to fail. Created by the elite for the elite.

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After an x-ray of Nigeria, my conclusion is that she is currently ungovernable. She is like a big, voluptuous, pliant, and pliable, well-endowed woman who is gullibly available to be repeatedly raped by the leadership, with the silent connivance of the followers.

Until the followers wake up and ask that the resources of the country be evenly shared, the country will be ‘their’ Nigeria, not our Nigeria! A country that we cannot hail but wail.

It is almost sixty years after independence. When will the narrative change? That is Nigeria for you!

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