Nobody can love Nigeria like President Buhari, By Ikeddy ISIGUZO

NIGERIANS are grossly unfair to President Muhammadu Buhari. Whatever he does, we criticise him. If he decides to do nothing – take a vacation – we criticise him too. Even on his 78th birthday, people criticised him, as if he chose when to be born.

How can it be his fault that some school boys were kidnapped? Did they think that studying science in a government school exempted them from roving ambitions of marauders?

They must have assumed that since they were neither rice farmers, nor in the North East, they were safe. Kankara is in the North West.

Buhari has been attacked in the media for paying more attention to his cherished cows than the plight of the kidnapped 600 students, later 333, after some of them escaped. What an uncharitable comment!

The President is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. A firm believer in due process and constitutionality, he would not assume the role of Governor of Katsina State, Katsina’s Chief Security Officer, who controls the purse for negotiating with armed criminals in deep forests that stretch from Katsina to Zamfara State.

It was wrong then to compare the Chibok Girls with the Kankara Boys. Buhari is not Goodluck Jonathan. The release of the Kankara Boys at once, with dispatch, proves it.

Jonathan did not know that it was the Governor of Borno State who should have gone after the 276 Chibok Girls, track them to Sambisa Forest, and provide vehicles to ferry them back to Chibok. Instead, he jumped into the matter with belated enthusiasm.

We may not blame Jonathan so much. He had no cows to tend. It is doubtful if he had a fish pond and he was not holidaying in Borno when Boko Haram struck Chibok.

On 19 February 2018, gunmen kidnapped 110 school girls in Dapchi, a Yobe State settlement that is 75 kilometres from the border with Niger Republic. By 22 March 2018, 101 of them were returned, according to Minister of Information Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who claimed no ransom was paid, but that friends of Nigeria negotiated the release.

The Federal Government brought the girls to Abuja, holding them up as trophies from the battles in the North East. Being a year away from elections, Dapchi was seen mostly as a gimmick for political gains.

If Kankara is a gimmick, it would be on another level entirely. The incident was frightening enough for northern state governments to announce closing of schools. Nobody wanted to take chances.

Governor Aminu Bello Masari just harvested the fruits of meetings he has been holding with criminals. While at a time he paid them to turn in their guns, on Thursday the criminals returned the favour by releasing their captives – without ransom, Masari said.

Did anyone notice Masari’s confidence that all the boys would return unhurt? Who missed recounts of his contacts with the criminals and his knowledge of their locations?

Masari did not mention efforts to arrest the criminals. We should also note that the boys were “released” not “rescued”. The complications of the insecurity cauldron lie in the difference between releasing the boys and rescuing them.

Back in Daura, Buhari deserves commendations for taking time off his earned holiday to give Masari tips on how to go about the release of the boys. Buhari loves Nigeria, is patriotic, and deploys his capacities to serve Nigerians. Nobody else can. He possesses uncommon qualities.

Yekini Nabena, All Progressives Congress (APC), acting Deputy National Publicity Secretary commenting on the Kankara Boys, suggested he now speaks for the security agencies.

“Our security agencies have intelligence reports linking one of the North West governors of colluding with bandits to sponsor violent and criminal activities in the zone.

“I won’t give details because of the sensitive and security nature of issue,” Nabena said in Abuja on Thursday, hours before the boys were released.

Nabena means that the matter had ended. Governors have immunity so the sensitive nature of the matter means nothing would be done, hence a political party is issuing a statement, not the security agencies.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that wanted to make headlines off an internal APC affair with bandits has been checkmated with the release of the boys, a befitting birthday gift for the President!

Nothing will distract Buhari. He is Nigeria’s redeemer. Whether we admit that he has changed Nigeria completely or not is of no consequence. Only the corrupt, remnants of the immediate decadent past, the real enemies of Nigeria, deny Buhari’s role in pulling Nigeria from the brink.

A defining landmark of the Buhari administration is its pernicious determination not to admit it is fallible. Again, it is for Nigeria’s good.

Buhari told Nigerians in South Africa on Monday 15 June 2015, “I wish I became Head of State (President) when I was a Governor, just a few years as a young man. Now at 72, there is a limit to what I can do.”

At 78, is it still Buhari’s fault that he was re-elected? What sense did it make for a man that made such confession to be handed another tenure? Why then are we complaining?

Buhari came into his first term limited by his age. He has other limitations, among them; he is averse to inclusiveness in the affairs of Nigeria.

He is also aloof. He is tired. He runs Nigeria as if he is punishing the majority for the corruption of a few. Yet the corrupt have amassed (and are amassing more) for themselves.

The race to elevate Buhari to Nigeria’s best President is unstoppable. The remaining days of his tenure will be invested in convincing posterity that Buhari never happened in the ways we know.

However, Buhari should not be our long-term worry. We should be very concerned about those priming themselves to succeed Buhari. Most of them spin Buhari panegyric as proof of their loyalty and commitment to the evaporating ideals on which the Buhari presidency was erected.

It is when Buhari leaves in 2023 that we would have a fuller view of what he has done to Nigeria. The picture is already dreary. There are no indications it would be better by 2023.


Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues

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