By Professor Abdussamad Umar Jibia
As the campaign for the continuity of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 begin to take shape, observers like me are dismayed at the dimension it is taking.
Let us recall that since Buhari joined partisan politics in 2003 his support base has been the ordinary people, especially those of Northern extraction. Northerners, and indeed Nigerians supported Buhari for a number of reasons. One, he was once a head of state and his no-nonsense leadership style of those days is highly needed now that indiscipline is even more entrenched in our public life. Second, Buhari has never been associated with corruption. Thirdly, my dear, Buhari won the support of Nigerians because of his truthfulness. Buhari is not hypocritical when it comes to issues.
These qualities were all that Buhari needed to get the support of Northerners whose love for justice is due to their religious belief. Even when in 2015 Obasanjo and his friends wanted to unseat Jonathan they did not go for Buhari because he was a nationalist. He, everyone knew, was the only politician who had the massive grassroots support needed to unseat a sitting president. As a matter of fact, it is well known that Buhari was not declared a winner in 2003, 2007 and 2011 due to PDP rigging but not because he lost those elections.
Buhari has now been the president for three years and although there have been some disenchantments, the love Buhari enjoys among his people is still there. What is needed is explanation on why things did not happen as expected. Why, for instance, are the south-westerners said to be the people benefitting more from the programmes of this administration even though the number of votes they gave is nothing compared to what he got from us? Apart from the improvement in power supply (we must give that credit to Buhari) which is benefitted by all Nigerians, what else do Buhari’s people (I mean the people of Katsina state) have to show in terms of development for these three years? Why are Buhari’s people (North-westerners) being killed, day in day out, by bandits and other criminals with no solution in sight from the Government they religiously voted? What is Mr. President doing about the problem of begging in Northern Nigeria? Why is Buhari not even mentioning almajirai when his predecessor who is not a Muslim built schools for them? Many thought that a Buhari regime will improve on those schools and establish more. There are many more questions in need of answers.
As the rest of us are waiting for explanation or at worst a mum, I m particularly disappointed at the kind of things coming from the Government and her social media campaigners. Last week, for example, many newspapers bore various headlines like, ‘Good News: FG Declares Tuition FREE At All Federal Universities In Nigeria’, ‘Beware that tuition fee is now illegal in Federal Universities’, etc.
My God! As someone who has been in a Federal University for almost a half of my short life I know that tuition has been free in Federal universities from the beginning. My parents did not pay for me and I m not paying for my children. My students are not paying. Why then present the issue as if tuition fees were being paid and the Government of the day is now banning it? This is exactly the picture given by one of my Facebook pals and I quickly keyed in a comment telling him that tuition has always been free for Nigerians in Federal Universities. Instead of this propaganda what we expect from the Government is an explanation on why this year’s budgetary allocation to Education is one of the lowest. What is the Government doing to improve primary education and make it qualitative and affordable to all Nigerians? Why are our polytechnics and colleges of education no longer attractive and what is the Government doing about it? There is a lot of work to do in the education sector for any Government that is serious.
Of course, not all the lies being spread to sell our beloved president are coming from the Government. A lot of lies are circulated in the social media in the name of campaign for PMB. Last week, after travelling from Kano to Jibia and back, covering a little more than 400 kilometers (note that Jibia is farther from Kano than Katsina) I opened my Facebook account only to see a post being circulated that work on the 250 km Katsina to Kano expressway is now more than 60 %. I was shocked. The distance between the Kano and Katsina ends (Dawanau and Dandagoro) of the road is only about 160 km and of that the work has covered only about 22 km. The level of falsehood in that post is better imagined and it is meant to promote PMB, a man we supported and campaigned for free of charge because of truth and trust.
As politicking for various offices continue, I would like to call on PMB to stop the lies as they cannot give what truth has not achieved. Whether he spends four or eight years in office he will one day leave it somehow and eventually stand before his creator who will ask him about his responsibilities as the Nigerian President, especially the primary one of protecting lives and property.
Professor Jibia is of Department of Mechatronics Engineering Bayero University Kano