If the 2019 presidential election is going to be a referendum on the Muhammadu Buhari presidency using good governance as a yardstick, then APC maybe headed for an electoral defeat. Having seemingly failed to fulfil his three pronged campaign promises of fixing the economy, tackle corruption and ensure security of lives and property, President Buhari may not get a second term. The bad economy inherited by the Buhari administration has been made worse, no thanks to his apparent lack of knowledge to manage a modern economy. Under Buhari’s watch, a combination of galloping double digit inflation, a disgraced national currency, high unemployment rate, stagnant wages all leading to a depressed economy has resulted into Nigeria overtaking India as the poverty capital of the world. In Buhari’s Nigeria over 80 million people are desperately poor and starving.
Buhari’s pre-2015 reputation for integrity has given way to a rare form of personality disorder, which can best be described as dishonest integrity. His double standards, elevation of falsehood to presidential pronouncements, affinity for corrupt association disguised as loyalists and opaque style of leadership through corrupt proxies has seen the famous Mai Gaskiya degenerate to Mai Kariya. Buhari’s elevation of unprecedented levels of sectionalism to a near state policy has deepened the roots of corruption into a ravaging scourge, which is sprouting monstrous branches in all facets of Nigeria’s body polity. His selective war on corruption, which mainly targets his political opponents both within and outside his party has resulted into the perpetuation of the vicious cycle of corruption as all that is required to escape justice is to become a chorister singing his songs of praise to high heaven.
It is a fact that the Buhari administration has not initiated the prosecution of any high profile political associate including his chief of staff, Abba Kyari, who has been severally fingered in scandalous corrupt dealings, his disgraced former SGF Babachir Lawal, who was indicted for mismanaging funds meant for relief for IDPs in the north east and his former finance minister Kemi Adeosun who was caught in the criminal act of certificate forgery. That Nigeria slipped 12 steps in the Transparency International corruption perception from 136 out of 175 countries surveyed in 2014 to 148 in 2017 is a clear indication that Nigeria is more corrupt now than in the previous administration.
In addition to his inability to rein in Boko Haram insurgency group whose activities have undergone a deadlier metamorphoses, his mischaracterisation of the scourge of marauding killer herdsmen as ‘’farmers/herders clashes’’ combined to make Nigeria the third most terrorized country behind Iraq and Afghanistan but ahead of war torn Syria. Nigeria is now a killing field spanning the Benue valley, the Plateau and the Mambilla highlands as far as the Adamawa mountains.
Unfortunately, in a less developing country like Nigeria where democracy is hinged on a political culture that is largely driven by primordial sentiments of ethnicity, religion and region rather than pragmatic socioeconomic factors of nation building, elections are not always a referendum on good governance. As Nigeria goes into the next election cycle in 2019 the conservative north seems poised to stick with the Buhari candidacy. Buhari’s rise to power has been occasioned by a disruptive wave of ethno-geographic and religious populism in Northern Nigeria. For northern conservative elements, Buhari’s provincial proclivities that is clearly manifest in the elevation of his own section of the country over and above all others as visible in the manner his government is constituted, which tacitly implies ethno-geographic supremacy of the northern region is the ultimate altar ego of those who covet power for just the sake of power. Notwithstanding the fact that Buhari’s sectionalism has not benefitted the northern region but just a few privileged families and friends, conservative elements in northern Nigeria are satisfied just seeing people of shared ethno-geographic and religious identity dominate government in the most covetous manner. Buoyed by their advantageous democratic demography, Buhari’s conservative base in the north west of Nigeria is determined to reinforce Buhari’s reign beyond 2019.
As the poorest part of the contemporary world, northern Nigeria is the major reason Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world today. Similarly, the intractable Boko Haram insurgency, the deadly activities of killer herdsmen and cross border bandits that are ravaging the fringes of Nigeria’s north west is also responsible for the designation of Nigeria as the third most terrorised country in the world today. In over three years into his administration, President Buhari hasn’t been able to solve any of the major problems of insecurity, poverty, illiteracy and disease facing northern Nigeria. In addition to the fact that the other constituent parts of the Nigerian state are collectively bearing the burden of insecurity, poverty, illiteracy and disease, the Buhari administration has added salt to injury as its sectionalist tendency has created a feeling of non-inclusivity leaving Nigeria sharply divided along ethno-geographic as well as religious fault lines.
The heightened clamour for the restructuring of Nigeria by four out of the six geo-political zones is an expression of deep seated feelings of loss of confidence on the non-inclusive leadership style of President Buhari. As the 2019 presidential election approaches, it has become clear that four out of six geo-political zones of the Nigerian federation are not ready to go with incumbent president. Whereas President Buhari appears to enjoy the firm support of the largest democratic demography in his native northwest and sister north east, former vice president and presidential candidate of the opposition PDP, Atiku Abubakar, appears to enjoy more support among the other four constituent geo-political zones [north central, south west, south south and south central] of Nigeria. Under this circumstance the north has an opportunity to take advantage of the Atiku unifying alternative, which is backed by a broader plurality of the constituent geo-political zones of Nigeria. To insist on the Buhari option by the north will be to take the rest of the Nigerian federation for granted.
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