“Fellow countrymen and women…You are all living witnesses to the great economic predicament and uncertainty, which an inept and corrupt leadership has imposed on our beloved nation for the past four years. I am referring to the harsh, intolerable conditions under which we are now living. Our economy has been hopelessly mismanaged. We have become a debtor and beggar nation.”
Fellow Nigerians, the above quotation is culled from the coup speech which Major-General Muhammadu Buhari and his military colleagues used to overthrow a democratically elected government in 1984.
TODAY, the current situation in our country is far worse than what were referred to as “intolerable condition” in 1984. We are no longer talking about the condition of the economy which has since gone comatose under President Buhari. The battle cry is no longer about corruption, where many surveys find Nigeria as the worst offender. The current situation is so intolerable that no one is talking about the condition where a sitting president and his family brandish ostentatious wealth looted from public treasury while the moping masses continue wallow in abject poverty and despair. Nobody is even talking about the fact that the country has become the poverty capital of the world under the same man.
Today, the “intolerable condition” is about something far more consequential: Insecurity. It is about human life. It is about the fact that nobody and nowhere is safe.
Today, “foreign” Fulani Herdsmen are maiming and killing the people of the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria with impunity. The situation in Buhari’s region of the core North is even worse: While Boko Haram terrorism reigns in the Northeast, bandits and brigands have continued to terrorize the Northwest with reckless abandon, as citizens flee to the neighboring countries in fear of their dear lives. What is more? The President and Commander-in-Chief of Nigerian Armed Forces is known to be aiding and abetting these terrorist acts against his own people. Worse still, critics with mass appeal are commonly hounded and incarcerated.
Fellow Countrymen and women,
Enough is enough! We must not wait forever before demonstrating serious consequences for Buhari’s history of treasonable felony, including his ongoing reign of terror. Where there are no consequences for bad behavior, the bad behavior is bound to worsen. The gist is that President Muhammadu Buhari has ruined Nigeria down to its lowest ebb and any failure to dethrone him before 2023 is to set a very dangerous precedent for the country.
The delay to dethrone the dictator is because the Nigerian Legislature has failed to act in line with the Constitution. The reason for this failure is plain: The federal lawmakers and the president are partners in crime. They are united by a common bond of state corruption anchored with pagan impunity. These leaders also assume immunity to the incessant terrorism, as their families and estates are fully guarded by state security network.
Yet, a common excuse being bandied in the land is that the lawmakers from Northern Nigeria will not be in haste to impeach Buhari since his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, a southerner, would automatically inherit the presidency. The proponents claim it is better to allow the president to serve out his two terms so that the process of power rotation can be preserved.
But such reasons are pure baloney. In fact, common sense is clear on this matter: Dictators who commit the level of atrocities being witnessed under General Muhammadu Buhari would never hand over power through a true democratic process. Even if such dictators would entertain any form of transition, they are bound to handpick clones of themselves who can deepen their evil policies.
Moreover, the Buhari leadership crisis knows no boundaries. Thus, the Nigerian masses—north and south—now care less about the tribe, religion, or the political shade of Buhari’s successor insofar the Nigeria’s worst president in history becomes history. Put it this way: the dethronement of Muhammadu Buhari is no longer a question of WHY; it is now a question of HOW.
The first order of business is for the suffering masses to recognize their true enemies. Instead of Muhammadu Buhari, who is shamelessly irredeemable, the resentment should be directed towards the legislators who have the constitutional obligation to remove the dreadful leader from office.
This is where a sincere opposition matters most. The opposition leaders are making efforts vocalizing the crisis, quite alright, but they are not leading. Effective leadership demands uniting people towards a common purpose.
As the Minority Leader in the Senate, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe should—without further delay—craft step-by-step action plans for the dethronement of Muhammadu Buhari, including any of the regime’s henchmen, who may constitute an impediment to the success of post-impeachment power play.
An objective approach is a combination of geographic and political incrementalism, where broad support at the National Assembly is attained in segments, staking both political and regional interests. Importantly, the names of the lawmakers who oppose the impeachment must be made public.
The lobbying should start from the caucus of South-East and South-South zones in the National Assembly. Impeaching Buhari is a ‘Christmas in June’ for the people of this region. This is the stronghold of the opposition by virtue of political affiliation. Further, the region is the ground zero of Buhari’s vendetta politics.
The next is the Southwest caucus. Any motion seeking the dethronement of a dictator will always sail through in this zone. Besides being the natural bastion of opposition movement in the country, Western Nigeria boasts of the crème de la crème of pro-democracy activists, the media, and a balanced civil society.
In short, the whole South is certain. The bipartisan unity among the Southern governors to oppose Buhari’s open grazing policy is a profound testimony.
Enter the North. Demonstrate that the region is not monolithic, after all.
The Middle Belt is a huge opening. This zone is the epicenter of the state-sponsored terrorism. There is no better opportunity to test the much-touted Southern Nigeria-Middle Belt alliance than through the impeachment of the terrorist leader.
Cracking the core North is actually not as difficult as being bandied. Stake social, as well as political interests. Highlight the fact that the people of Northwest and Northeast are the worst victims of the Buhari policies. Target the Fulani elites whose brand has been badly damaged worldwide because of the foolishness of one man. Follow with the fact that Buhari’s reign of terror has become the biggest threat to the very idea of “one Nigeria”, which the North now holds so dear.
The order above is futile without sustained pressure by the masses. Nigerians can take a page from the various revolutionary scripts General Buhari promoted before he gained power in 2015. Of particular attention is when he challenged fellow citizens to emulate the Arab Spring where “a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions” were used to dethrone corrupt regimes in North Africa. However, instead of “armed rebellions” as then advanced by citizen Buhari, it is imperative that the Nigerian model is peaceful.
Yet, a major factor in the success of the Arab Spring is that it embodied serious consequences against politicians opposed to the sweeping changes. The Nigerian legislators cannot continue to hide behind the Buhari baggage to absolve blame. Therefore, rather than gathering at public squares, where armed security can easily disperse them, the protesters should target the various country homes in the different constituencies of the specific legislators who oppose the impeachment of Buhari.
Again, the protests should be nonviolent, but it must be sufficiently far-reaching to alert these legislators that it is no longer business as usual. This thinking mirrors an admonition from Buhari’s Minister of Transport, Chubuike Amaechi, that Nigerian politicians have continued to misbehave because the followers do not “stone” them. The Nigerian armed forces should equally refuse “to be used to attack the forces of change” in line with Buhari’s directive as stated in one of his various calls for revolution during the Jonathan era.
To reclaim our country from the terrorist regime requires active participation of every patriot, no matter the religion, political party, tribe, or the location in the globe. The Nigerians in the Diaspora, most of whom are victims of the gross injustice at home, have important role to play. They have every reason to harken to Buhari’s very idea of Arab Spring by maximizing their influence at every opportunity, including the ongoing protests at the United Nations in New York, to garner the desired support from foreign governments. There is also the need to heighten the current efforts to ensure that the foreign land is no longer a safe haven for the corrupt leaders from the homeland.
*Dr. SKC Ogbonnia, 2019 APC Presidential Aspirant, writes from New York, New York.