Buhari The Democrat Or Buhari The Dictator, by Farouk Martins Aresa

General Muhammadu Buhari

Farouk Martins Aresa

It has been over six week since Buhari took over the new Government in Nigeria but looking at the criticism he has received, one would think he has been there for a year. Comparing this to the last time he took over as a dictator, when the impact was immediate after initial celebration that welcomed him and Idiagbon. What he lacks now is ruling by decree or fiat. While his voters may be patient for the next 100 days, the criticism by those that voted against him is startling.

All of us have to decide which Buhari we want. It has to be one that will let some criminals go scot free to our dismay, so that the right of most innocent people is not jeopardized or punish a few innocent people so that every previous government must be held accountable. It is easy to probe into ages in a kleptomaniac society as Nigeria but impractical even in western democracy.

Expecting Buhari to hit the ground running might have been easier under dictatorship. This time he has to prove that he is a true democrat willing to achieve his goals in a “civilized” manner by due process. He has made some appointments all right but they are heavily from his side of the North, which other Nigerians see as common flaw of Northern leaders. The same Nigerians see   Governor of Kaduna State, El Rufai appointments fairly accommodative of Nigerians in his State.

It may be unfair to estimate Buhari’s disposition when he has more appointments and ministers to select. Northwest is not amongst Service Chiefs. Unlike OBJ’s initial appointments when the Northern constituencies cried marginalization, Northwest is quiet. Some opinions are harder to dispel after first impression. Buhari is in politics now and he should have mixed up his initial appointments because he must have known that skeptics are watching every move he makes.

Time will tell in hundred days or more how Buhari will solve the mess. The Yoruba felt they have lost the Speakership twice in a row with the opposition of Igbo in PDP that were against Ms. Akande with the support of Tinubu’s ACN during the reign of Jonathan. Now Igbo PDP are against Gbajabiamila with the support of Saraki against Tinubu’s APC (their old ally). All the Hausa have to do is nothing, but watch the two brothers go after one another.

Moreover, APC alliance is under fire, revolt and subterfuge. Most of the inside fire is coming from the likely source. They are members of PDP, his main opponent during the election, that were enticed to undermine their leaders and former President Ebele in collaboration with the new crossovers from the same party. Instead of following the terms of their new party, they have decided on the minds of their own, with different agenda and goal. It may sink APC.

Ethnic rivalry will always have a place in the politics of Nigeria. The Hausa do not have to get involved in this. Igbo and Yoruba are playing politics of elimination as usual depending on which of them successfully form alliance with the North. The Igbo gave their loyalty to Jonathan the defeated President that Yoruba found wanting. Sadly, most Nigerians had elected the defeated President, from North and South of the Country. Obama pledged USA support for accountability.

Since the Yoruba backed the elected new President, the Igbo are having the greatest fun of their life asking what Yoruba has gained from their endeavor with the North in view of the entire problem in APC between PDP crossover and Tinubu leadership in the APC alliance.

There is also a saying in Nigeria that too many heavyweights will sink the boat. Nevertheless, we thought Buhari and Tinubu worked their differences out. What they didn’t take into account was their differences with members switching from the opponent’s party. Even more disturbing is the caliber of Buhari’s partner: Tinubu and those of PDP crossovers, especially Bukola Saraki. Tinubu and Saraki are far from change Nigerians desired from Buhari’s anticorruption image.

There is nothing new here. Nigerians have a history of taking over parties that they were not foundation members of. Indeed, it has created problems for the leadership and Presidents of the parties. What is surprising here is that they would plan and carry out the plot under Buhari, the well-known former dictator. We are now under democratic disposition, he does not count?

Unfortunately, speculations are rife that Buhari had some insight into how to prevent what may later be his waterloo. Some claim PDP renegades want to make sure Buhari cannot probe PDP. Others claimed he curtailed exaggerated influence of Tinubu and his loyalists’ claim of victory. So if he has to probe PDP, he must start from Tinubu. Past Buhari would probe PDP and APC!

APC may have brought in their own Trojan horses from PDP getting criticism and sabotage from outside and within their Party. As it is, the number of PDP crossovers can easily ally with their present PDP members to initiate their agenda APC loyalists find repulsive. APC can be reduced to a minority if push comes to shove. Nigeria has never been an easy Country to rule. We have more than 250 ethnic groups that are very vocal with a very vigorous press than many countries.

The notion of Senate President as APC and his Vice as PDP is a reflection of the disarray faced by Buhari; unless we want a unity government. There are some speculations that Buhari may include some members of defeated PDP in his cabinet. Whether this will fracture his power further or infuriate members of his Party is yet to be seen. But a unity government is usually reached after some consensus within the dominant Party, far from the grumbling we hear now.

Inadvertently, all these scenarios may draw out the real dictator in Buhari. We seem to forget what we hated so much about Obasanjo under his civilian rule. Buhari may come out the same way or even worse if he cannot get his way. Nigerians want a decisive leader because that is what we need to set wayward and erring criminals that are willing to take advantage of every situation. In the process, innocent people may pay a price.