By Jude Eze
After his austerity ridden regime was toppled on August 27 1985, Muhammadu Buhari saw his 2015 emergence as President as vendetta opportunity to revenge his adversaries and reward his cronies. This was why he balefully incarcerated the poster boy of that coupe — Col. Sambo Dasuki (Rtd) in jail, while his right-hand men like Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) was rewarded with appointment as Director General of lucrative organisations for eight uninterrupted years without auditing. He led the most warped regime (especially in terms of appointments into government offices) ever in the history of the nation. He spitefully took a Maritime Academy of Nigeria to an arid desert region, and built infrastructures in neighbouring Niger Republic just to favour his kinsmen.
In May 2023, he handed over to Asiwaju BolaTinubu (Jagaban), another discontented political personage whose bitter experience with the military juntas at the June 12 agitation kept him disenchanted, and who emerged as President through a universally acclaimed flawed February 25 2023 election.
Since he assumed office, Tinubu has been finding it difficult to hide his compensatory appetite in uncharitable show of ethnic chauvinism.
All the blue chip Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) such as FIRS, CBN, COAS etc are headed by his own kinsmen.
Last week he masterminded the relocation of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and core units of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC) to Lagos. Perhaps, he was not comfortable with the February 3, 1976 declaration, by which then Head of the Federal Military Government, Murtala Mohammed in a nationwide broadcast, announced the creation of Abuja as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). This is because after seeing the meticulous job done by the committee set up by General Murtala on August 1975 to choose the best site for the FCT after it became imperative that Lagos can no longer continue to function in the three capacities as a sub-national state, Federal Capital Capital Territory and commercial capital of Nigeria, no right-thinking man will pull back and indirectly choose to drag the country’s administrative head offices back to the same city again.
I have seen those who defended Mr. Tinubu on the grounds that the said relocation of offices or their specific units was due to congestion of Abuja spaces. But they failed to tell why he chose faraway Lagos as alternative relief space when neighbouring states like Nasarawa, Plateau and Kogi etc. easily offer a better alternative.
I am making this dispassionate advocacy as a non-interested party, coming from the South-East who are the perceived ‘black sheep’ in corporate Nigeria.
The fact is that Mr. President is aware of what he is doing. Buhari “fulanised/Hausanised” Nigeria for eight years, the renewed hope mantra of Tinubu when he said: “Emi lokan” represents the ongoing “Yorubanisation” of what is left of the country. This was why former President Jonathan was considered a political simp because he focused on even distribution of democracy dividends across the whole country. He built Almajiri schools up North, and his new universities were sited across all geopolitical zones of the the nation.
From the foregoing, Emi lokan mantra pointed to unbridled hypocrisy in multi-ethnic Nigerian politics where Mr. President and his party claim to promote unity and inclusivity across ethnic lines but engage in divisive and discriminatory practices for their own political gain. Such attitude in government undermines social cohesion, hampers development, and perpetuates divisions among different ethnic groups. It fosters a climate of mistrust and suspicion, hindering the emergence of policies and initiatives that genuinely address the needs of all citizens, regardless of their ethnic background.
But in all honesty, we must admit that this sort of leadership mentality which is in-congruent with the ideals of democracy, is not exclusive to government at the centre. It has become an unwritten law that whoever attains the highest office in the national or sub-national levels will tilt his administration towards his own people, while the rest groan in wait for their own time. In Enugu, a derogatory cliche was formalised by then Governor Chimaroke Nnamani (1999 — 2007) that Nsukka and Udi zones should wait for their turns while he made his eight years on the saddle an Nkanu affairs. Egghead leaders like Barr. Sullivan Chime would take over from him and prove that one can actually be a Governor simultaneously, for the entire 17 Local Government Areas of the State. Incidentally, as you read this, there are still some disgruntled persons from Enugu North who begrudge ex-Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for not toeing the Nnamani path. To these class of citizens, his administration is considered a “failure” for, in their judgement, he did not show preference in favour of Nsukka zone in his infrastructural development strides.
It reflects the selfishness of purpose nursed in the hearts of debased men. Unsurprisingly, the system is judged bad insofar as it does not favour one’s desires (no matter how parochial), whereas it is welcomed as long as it serves one’s interest. Democracy, in contemporary Africa, therefore, becomes the usurpation of whatever is in the best interest of the majority to satiate the privileged few who wield power as the highest bidder, to the detriment of the masses.
Another sad index which his “Emi lokan” mantra resonates is sustenance of the prevailing old order that perpetuated the woes of maladministration. King Charles of England had prostatitis that is due for surgery the same week that Tinubu reportedly left for France on what was officially called “private visit” which was later revealed to be a medical trip for an undisclosed illness. In the words of Rev. Fr. Dr. Ernest Makata: “King Charles goes to hospital for prostrate treatment and he announces to the whole kingdom because he is a public figure fed by the kingdom.”
Our own President calls his international hospital recharge visit “personal visit” while spending millions of tax payers’ money. He does not think the people should know he is sick. Why should he? He recently spent over 1 billion to equip his personal clinic at the Villa, but must go to France for “personal visit.” Scores of people are dying daily from terrorist attacks. The Naira is falling like ash paper, but personal visit must happen…”
It is “Emi lokan,” in that after Buhari spent more days and resources of his two-tenure regime in medical tourism, Jagaban is here to continue it. As he stepped into his presidential jet that morning, the culture of death was sailing high in the sea of blood of those who voted him into power, as they were being massacred around the country. Buhari exhibited similar brazen insensitivity to the woes of his subjects for eight years too.
In the bible book of Hebrews 3:7-11, the holy writ admonished its readers thus: “today, if you will hear God’s voice, do not harden your hearts as in rebellion.” In sharp contrast, this essay is raising analogous verdict: “today as you understand the meaning of Emi lokan, tighten your will power and brace yourselves for more hardships.”
The questions still remain: when will we have a president who will empathise with the sore mood of the nation in deed not just in rhetoric of press statements?
However, to highlight few positives from Tinubu’s nine months old regime so far, Dr. Osmund Agbo of Ikenga Media pointed out how his administration so far has shown some signs that it will reduce graft in public offices with corruption cases of 13 former governors and two former Ministers being reopened by EFCC.
He wrote: “despite President Tinubu’s rise to power through a corrupt and dysfunctional system, Nigerians would still commend him if his government genuinely and transparently prosecutes those individuals, refraining from using the investigation as an albatross to sway favor. Figures like Chimaroke Nnamani, Kayode Fayemi, and Bello Matawale, known supporters of his emergence, being prosecuted would send a strong signal. However, given the prevalent smoke-without-fire scenario, I’m cautious not to raise my hopes too high, despite the desire to be proven wrong.”
Jude Eze sent this piece via email@example.com