Dear Buharist, wake up to this reality!, by Jaafar Jaafar

The loud-mouth, complacent supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari seem oblivious of the facts on ground. The president’s cyber, run-of-the-mill hero-worshipers appear even more upbeat without taking time to weigh their candidate’s weight on the facts and figures scale.

Many a Buhari supporter in the North hardly sees beyond the North in his political or electoral calculations. They believe votes only count in their turf and nowhere else.

No doubt Buhari will have an edge over Atiku in the North West region, which constitutes 24 percent of the total registered voters and has the highest number of votes (20,158,100) in the country.

Although Atiku hails from North East, which has 11,289,293 registered voters, I predict Buhari will emerge winner but with a narrow margin.

As it stands, Buhari has only clear chances of winning in North West and North East. The total registered voters in these two regions are31,447,393.

As almost always, the South West is the battle-ground. With the indignation that trails Oshiomhole’s sham of a party primaries in the region, particularly in Ogun State, where the governor’s favourite candidate was rejected, it is unlikely for President Buhari to win in some states of the region. There is also likelihood that Osun electorate may express their anger to September 22, 2018 electoral heist at the presidential election.

Atiku on the other hand will have an edge over Buhari in the North Central (13,366,0700votes), South East (10,057,130 votes) and South South (12,841,279 votes).

The total registered voters in Atiku’s three strongholds are 36,264,479, against 31,447,393 registered voters in Buhari’s vote-spinning bloc of North West and North East.

Another factor that may not favour Buhari is the fact that Atiku will split Muslim votes and get at least 90 percent among Christian voting bloc.

But how did the president lose so much goodwill in the North Central and Southern parts of the country? Killings in the North Central have greatly waned down President Muhammadu Buhari’s chances of winning in Plateau and Benue, which constitute nearly 6 million of the 13.3m votes in the region. Remember, Buhari did not win Nasarawa and Taraba in 2015, and I doubt if he did enough to shore up his popularity in these two states.

Now, do you see Lai Mohammed as Bukola Saraki’s match in Kwara or Yahaya Bello as a formidable force that can deliver Kogi to Buhari?

I am not saying Buhari has no chances of winning. At least incumbency factor, state and security apparatus at a president’s beck and call are formidable electoral assets in African democracies.

Nepotism as Buhari’s albatross

The cancer of nepotism has eaten deep into the body system of Buhari administration. It spreads to ministries, departments and agencies. It is everywhere; right, left and centre. It defies all manner of therapies. Nigerians have shouted themselves hoarse when the symptoms began manifesting in the early days of the administration, but the cries fell on the president’s deaf ears.

From secret employment in choice agencies and departments; to lopsided appointments, Buhari’s penchant for nepotism appears irredeemable. Posh agencies like Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are hiring everyday without advertisement or aptitude test. Under Buhari, the federal character principle, which seeks to ensure that appointments reflect our ethnic, religious and geographic diversities is replaced with ethnic character principle.

Despite the approaching season of election, the administration is not learning to correct the imbalance, at least to score a political point. The administration’s daring nepotistic exploits are pitting the South against the North and further distancing the ruling party’s chances of gaining significant electoral fortunes in the South.

Buhari is apparently the first Nigerian president whose political and economic advisers don’t report to him. In October 2016, when Nigeria’s economic woes worsened due to lack of direction, President Buhari succumbed to our pressure to appoint Economic Adviser in person of Dr. Adeyemi Dipeolu and Political Adviser in person of Senator Babafemi Ojudu. But the baffling aspect of the appointment was their posting to the office of the vice president. I believe with a political adviser reporting directly to the president, this level of nepotism would not have reached this disgraceful level.

The replacement of Matthew Saiyefa and ‘resurrection’ of a gerontocrat, Yusuf Magaji Bichi, from retirement to head the nation’s internal security outfit, SSS, fell short of all sense of rectitude. Why must the position be given to the North? The painful part of the appointment is that despite its sensitivity and strategic nature, the head of the agency was not personally grilled by the president. President Buhari had on September 13 appointed Bichi new D-G of SSS but met him for the first time in his life on September 20!

But the sad reality is that despite cornering the security chiefs in favour of the North, insecurity is escalating in the region. Where lies the logic of having Northerners in charge of security agencies when they cannot secure a 200km Abuja-Kaduna expressway from the siege of kidnappers and armed robbers in three years?

To me, execution of meaningful projects that will reduce petro-dollar dependency in the North should have been the rightful agenda of the Buhari administration for the North. Hundreds of human lives would have been saved had Buhari taken his attention away from nepotism and concentrated on the reconstruction of Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road when he assumed office. After all, appointments don’t count as achievements, but projects do. Appointment only builds an individual, while infrastructural development builds the society.

It pains me every time I muse over this issue. I know one day the North will pay the price of Buhari’s chronic clannishness. If there is a section of Nigeria that should respect and uphold the sanctity of federal character principles, it should be North. Every time Buhari flouts this principle, the defense is that the president makes appointments based on competence, experience, bla bla. But if you are talking about experience or competence in say legal profession, medicine, finance, etc, there is, in conservative ratio, at least one competent Northerner to 10 competent Southerners. If Buhari is talking about competence as his criterion for appointment (not quota principles), perhaps he would not have been a commissioned officer in the Nigerian Army let alone rise to become a head of state.

I have on several occasions condemned former President Goodluck Jonathan for “clannishness” but Buhari’s case is hyper-clannishness, which breeds nepotism, cronyism and general mistrust. Former President Goodluck Jonathan appointed a northerner Minister of Defense, a northerner National Security Adviser, a northerner Inspector General of Police, a northerner INEC chairman, etc but Buhari “corrected” his mistake by taking it back — apologies to Omoyele Sowore.

The security architecture of Nigeria under Buhari does not also reflect our diversity as a nation. How could you decapitate a major ethnic group from the security heads of the country? From Minister of Defence, National Security Adviser, Chief of Defense Staff, IG of Police, DG SSS, DG NIA, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, EFCC chairman, ICPC boss, none is Igbo. By this apparent design, no Igbo man attends the nation’s security council meeting! And the trend is the same in paramilitary agencies such as Nigeria Customs Service, Civil Defense Corps, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Prisons Service, Federal Fire Service, Immigration, NDLEA, name it. Do you think this marginalisation is not enough to fan the embers of resentment, erode the spirit of unity and spark Biafra agitation among the South East youths?

In October 2016, I wrote that it saddened me that our president was a puppet, managed by some half-witted puppeteers, who were majorly dexterous at swinging his legs to Europe, America and Asia, stretching his hand to perpetuate nepotism or opening his mouth to goof.

My fear is that after Buhari, one day the Southerners will certainly take the leadership baton, and we (Northerners) will NOT have moral right to complain when we are marginalised.

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