In recent times, individuals who criticize President Muhammdu Buhari are being attacked on social media and called unprintable names. It is even worse if the criticism is coming from someone from the president’s immediate constituency in Northern Nigeria.
Senator Shehu Sani from Kaduna state met with the members of the Arewa Consultative Council recently where he was reported to have told the group that Northerners must help the president succeed by not supporting him blindly. This simply means they should engage in constructive criticism all the time regardless of the fact that he is one of them from the North. To any reasonable person, this is a patriotic advice coming from a fellow Northerner who wants Buhari to succeed.
However, before one could say Jack Robinson, some unofficial spokespersons of President Buhari on social media took the Senator to the cleaners accusing him of undermining the president. They went further to allude to the fact that he has not learnt from his suspension by the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Kaduna state few months ago.
Before Sani, it was the turn of Nura Alkali, a Neurologist at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital,Bauchi who I think is Fulani like President Buhari, who has a cult like following on Social media because of incisive commentaries on public Affairs. Alkali has times without number raised issues about the economy, attendant suffering in the land and the need for Buhari to act fast and fulfill his campaign promises. Just few weeks ago, he criticized the President for his large presidential fleet. These sympathizers who cried louder than the bereaved tagged Alkali as a ‘’sell out’’ in the Fulani race and an enemy of Buhari.
Next was Farooq Kperogi, a columnist with Daily Trust and lecturer at Kennesaw University in the United States. He had his own share of the vituperations from these Baba’s die hard supporters over Aishari Buhari’s United States Institute of Peace(USIP) speech full of grammatical infelicities and his comments over the cost of President Buhari’s ear treatment in London. Like Sani and Alkali,they accuse Kperogi of looking for a job and also fighting a proxy war on behalf of a colleague whose request to write the President’s biography was turned down.
The way and manner these ‘’Die Hard’’ supporters of President Buhari descend on his critics like locusts ravaging a farm calls for concern. A critical analysis of the comments attributed to the trio does not reveal any form of malice or bad faith. Then, why the noise? Criticism is a basic ingredient of democracy and a gateway to good governance. This is why the American people value the ‘’First Amendment’’ like their third eye. ‘’The congress shall make no law that abridges freedom of speech’’. The First Amendment has remained a catalyst for United States democracy for many years.
This trend is a sad commentary for President Buhari’s administration because this was how Goodluck Jonathan’s Ijaw kinsmen destroyed him in the eyes of Nigerians and the international community for four years. He is today licking his wounds in Otuoke, because his people branded him as an Ijaw president and not a president of Nigeria. The rest is history. Why then should Muhammadu Buhari toe the same path where his predecessor failed.
While, it is an undisputed fact that Buhari means well for Nigeria, some of his policies run contrary to his desire for a better Nigeria. The same cannot be said of the people around him and some of his governors whose actions has portrayed them as ‘’anti-people”. This is because the APC is not a political party, but, it is a conglomeration of strange bed fellows united by the quest to wrestle power from the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP). I had confronted Rauf Aregbesola at the ‘’Nigeria in the World Series’’ lecture organized by Harvard University, Cambridge,Massachusetts in 2013 at the formative stages of the party, but he ignored the question. Aregbesola has today turned out to be one of the greatest disappointments among APC governors in the South West.
However, if good intentions are not matched with clearly thought policies and programmes, the dream of a better Nigeria may be stillborn. His inability to provide leadership at the party level leaving it at the mercy of power mongers like Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar is another challenge. The recent altercation between the National chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC)Odigie Oyegun and Bola Tinubu over the Ondo governorship primaries underscores the fear of many that the party may not remain intact in the countdown for the 2019 battle. Tinubu’s letter portrayed him as been above the party and President Buhari did not see reason to call him to order. Had Buhari provided leadership for the party, things would have been different. Hence, some individuals will not see themselves as animals that are more equal than others in the APC farm. President Buhari’s unofficial spokespersons’ will have none of that, because’’Baba Buhari’’ is angel who does everything right and should not be criticized.
The future of All Progressive Congress (APC) as a political party depends on his ability to provide political leadership. Otherwise, individuals leading the various cleavages within the party will just decimate it and decamp to float a new party. Had President Buhari shown interest in those who will lead the upper and lower chamber of the National Assembly, the country will not be dealing with the current ‘’two for one dollar’’ leadership seen as the worst legislature in sixteen years. He should remember that Babatunde Raji Fashola paid dearly for leaving politicking to Bola Tinubu and concentrating on governance when he was Governor of Lagos state between 2007-2015.
It is sad that after almost two years in office President Buhari is yet to make board appointments. There is nowhere in the world where people are not rewarded for helping a party to capture power, then why should Buhari’s be different. The thing here is from day one, you make it clear to all those appointed that just you have the powers to appoint them, you also will not hesitate to make them face the full wrath of the law if they decide to steal public funds. John Kerry was appointed Secretary of State in 2012 by President Barrack Obama for his support in making his re-election possible. If President Buhari continues to close his eyes because he does not want to see bad people, before he opens his eyes, good people will have passed him. Nigerian politicians can be worse than Boko Haram if not compensated. This is why some people within his party are sabotaging him. By then, four years would have run out without anything to show and his unofficial spokespersons on social media will have done enough damage to him by their utterances that he may end up like Jonathan.
President Buhari is no doubt their Baba and a Northerner, but as from May 29,2015 to May 29,2019 he is the President of 180 million Nigerians and not a hero of some ethnic champions who believe he is always right. Every Nigerian has a right to criticize him based on freedom of speech enshrined in the 1999 constitution. Criticism has always been a lubricant for democracy, President Buhari call your ‘’Die hard’’ supporters to order. You are their Baba, but the President of the federal republic of Nigeria and the country is his constituency.
Lawal, can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter:AbdulRafiu19.