By Tola Sarumi
Let me start off by saying I am under no illusion about Buhari being a saint. But, one thing remains clear; when asked, even those who suspect him of indeterminate offences will admit to the man’s unimpeachable personal integrity. The staggering levels of corruption plaguing Nigeria have already been addressed by FeyiFawenhimi, so there’s no need to go over it again. I do not trust Goodluck Jonathan. That is essentially what it comes down to for me. Right now, times are hard, with terrorists laying claim to a sizeable chunk of Nigerian territory, oil prices crashing and amnesty payments expiring next year. I cannot say that any of the hard and necessary decisions that need to be taken will be done with the Nigerian people in mind. Every time the president has been presented with the choice of standing with the people or vested interests, he has without fail chosen the latter.
I do not trust that president Jonathan is interested in doing all that can be done in the North-East corridor beyond safeguarding his current position. We are not the first country to be plagued by insurgency but the president’s body language suggests that he is not particularly concerned. BuniYadi, where 50 innocent boys were slaughtered warranted no special acknowledgement from the president. Again, radio silence from Aso Rock for 21 days was what the nation got when the Chibok girls were kidnapped. The president set up a committee to examine the veracity of the kidnap as opposed to taking decisive action. The girls, I fear, may never be found, as a result. Sure, the insurgency is partially a result of a cocktail of neglect, mismanagement and a dereliction of duties by the Northern elite but, here we are.
We cannot undo the past. We have needed, since GEJ became the president, a sense of urgency in arresting the decline of the North-East into Bokostan, we have needed a president who could act like the lives of 50 children in Buni-Yadi mean the same to him as 50 children in Auchi. Instead, his mien has been that of a man who is content to surrender Nigerian territory to marauding murderers so long as it didn’t hurt his chances of reelection. His inaction would be the height of it, were it not for the deliberate charge by the PDP and the presidency’s officers in painting the opposition as being behind Boko Haram, yet till date no arrest has been made. The one individual to whom the stench of BH financing has clung to, the president freely fraternises with. It’s almost a finger in the eye of Nigerians. It sums up everything that has completely turned me against this presidency: his utter tone-deafness to the mood of the country.
The Abuja bombing at Emab plaza occurred, the FCT minister went in front of the world and promised that CCTV pictures would be examined to help with identifying the culprits. Unfortunately for Nigerians, the CCTV scheme has never worked and its dedicated frequency is being reserved for a PDP financier. The matter has been hushed, never to be heard of again. Perhaps most painful to me was the casualness with which the president handled the NIS recruitment scam. The victims’ families were promised jobs and compensation that never materialised and the minister who presided over the disaster is still in his job because he is David Mark’s nominee. Can any Nigerian honestly point to something this president has done to indicate that he is on the side of the ordinary Nigerian, sans his ostentatious humility?
From his folly of pardoning convicted criminals, to his weakening of the EFCC, to his dismissal of anti-subsidy protesters as being hungry for indomie and pure water. This is a man who has, time and again, shown at best a reserved coldness towards ordinary Nigerians and, at worst, a disdain. The Ebola crisis happened, we had his government jockeying with Lagos State for credit. The president was in Lagos shortly after the virus was contained but a visit to First Consultant Hospital could not be made nor could a photo-op with the survivors be planned. Compare that with Obama’s public embrace of America’s first Ebola survivor. Prior to the virus landing in Nigeria, the Information Minister declared on television that Nigeria has some vaccines to combat the disease, a blatant lie he told casually because he knows, as most of us do by now, bare-faced lying to the Nigerian people will warrant no sanctions. All this speaks to a severe weakness at the centre.
The impunity with which all and sundry take the wrong decisions which lead to untold suffering shows that Goodluck Jonathan is incapable of leading. Why Buhari then? Because Jonathan has failed to provide the leadership Nigeria needs to progress, he has chosen blatant politicking over taking actions that further the nation’s unity. We need someone with the chutzpah and integrity to lead from the front. We need a president who is not afraid to show and prove. The military is in tatters, ill equipped despite billions of dollars in allocation. Unemployment is seen by government officials as a means to raise money from the already impoverished population. The nation is heading in the wrong direction and nothing Goodluck has shown us thus far suggests that he’s the man to steer the ship back on course. So, given the choice before us, Buhari is undoubtedly the man.
TolaSarumi is reachable at www.opinions.ng