Sharing my thoughts and putting my message accross
By Frisky Larr
Since the birth of the Nigerian nation to the late nineteen eighties, current political events in the country would have constituted a fertile breeding ground for a guaranteed military coup d’etat. Never has a power vacuum at the center of governance been so glaring as it is today. If the saying that “governance is on autopilot” has any iota of truth in it, it has never been as accurate as it describes the Nigerian context here and now. How did we get here and how do we get out?
First, I will like to commiserate with the family of the late Chief of Staff to the President on his untimely demise and pray his soul will rest in perfect peace. For those who take delight in schadenfreude, I will honestly and urgently advise to quit the mood since this is not the time for inanities.
Nigeria was never held captive at any point in time and in any way imaginable, by late Abba Kyari. He was a vicarious agent at the services of powers that pulled the strings from far beyond. Abba Kyari was a political lightweight that never, at any time in the history of Nigeria, called the shots at the highest political level until the present dispensation. The engine that drives this power behind the scene, is just one resilient and painful liability – Muhammadu Buhari.
Without tracing our steps back to all the antecedents that shaped President Buhari’s fortunes and misfortunes in the Nigerian political space, it will suffice to point out once again that the retired Major-General is a reluctant athlete on a second lap to serve the vested interest of power-hungry parasites. It is no longer in doubt that the untimely demise of former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and the doctrine of necessity that it triggered under the guidance of western powers, dealt a serious blow to the informal arrangement of power rotation at the time. Those powers that pulled the strings took it personally and felt the pains deep down within them for reasons that are not necessarily in the overall interest of Nigeria. Till the present moment, they have not forgiven their imaginary enemies in the South for this supposed constitutionally mandated “betrayal”.
It was, therefore, in the interest of national unity and peace to succumb to the consensus of fielding only northern presidential candidates in the 2019 general elections. By all accounts, the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, was not prepared to go for a second lap. We have all, so far played the guessing game of what truly transpired behind closed doors to have him change his mind for a plot that bears such far-reaching implications. Subsequent events made us wiser.
That the President paid sufficient attention to his health and maybe, had the interest of the nation at the front or back row of his heart, is today, simply irrelevant. He had decided to shun the call for a second term. Even without knowing what he passed through on his hospital bed in London, many agree as a matter of fact that his demise at the time would have unleashed serious political turbulence on the Nigerian political space. The assumption of power by his very assertive deputy, who was widely seen as competent, would have made many in the northern establishment very jittery and go haywires for a variety of reasons. Some would have feared being held accountable for one deed or the other. Some would simply have dreaded the notion of yet another northern death and the presidency through the backdoor for an unknown southern quantity. Many in the South would have found this untenable too given the previous drama on the brink that no one really bargained for.
The President survived and felt he would be doing the nation a grievous disservice to continue as President in a second lap in a quasi-vegetative condition. The string-pullers won’t have it though. Rather than shopping for a credible replacement and allowing the ailing gallant soldier retreat to a deserved rest, they, apparently, struck a diabolical deal to misuse the name of the President with all the false labels attached to it (integrity, etc.) and keep him as a figurehead. An arrangement that was devised under Yar’Adua was now perfected under the co-production of Mamman Daura and Abba Kyari and many other names behind the scene. It didn’t matter to them that this was all foreign to the constitution on which the system was built.
Now, with an opposition party that sabotaged the interest of the nation by picking the most unacceptable of all potential northern candidates after falling victim to the power of cash ’n carry, Nigerians could tolerate the barefaced and brazen bastardization of the presidential election in 2019. It was a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea as many popularly said. The string-pullers ensured the election was stolen for the retired General at all costs and against all consequences.
In one fell swoop, a Chief of Staff to the President, who was not elected to any office whatsoever, became the most important figure in a Punch and Judy presidency. Nothing could be more hilarious. The President ordered all his aides including Ministers to henceforth, channel all inquiries through his Chief of Staff before getting to him. But the Chief-of-Staff could, invariably, make all the decisions to make a laughing stock of a serious governmental institutioin.
The Vice President was demobilized. A hitherto, agile, erudite and smart substitute leader-in-waiting suddenly became a shadow of himself, gagged, muzzled and humiliated before the gaze of the whole wild world amid rumors of a search for a replacement. He was surrounded by a cloud of smoke, whose fire was hidden beyond our gaze. He seemed held by the groins and could neither cry out nor run away to save his face. He had to wear a brave face to a strongly demeaning and humiliating episode of shame. Whatever his sins are that were not filed before any court of law and can, therefore, not be invoked to identify a murky pit on his reputation, we are left to hazard a guess and keep speculating on contemptuous probabilities.
In the end, the reality was plain. The de facto President was someone else. The failings of the President and pointers to his incapacitation were already glaring in the middle of electioneering. There was no missing the fact that the President had egregious cognitive challenges. In spite of all photo ops depicting a President in teleconferencing and all pre-recorded presidential addresses, the leadership vacuum in Aso Rock was too palpable and pervasive to paper over in the absence of the de facto President.
There was no leader to coordinate actions with State Governors and Health Ministers in what should have been a fundamental preliminary action to confront the COVID-19 menace in the very early days. The seed of chaos that was sowed at the center of power blossomed into infantile recriminations and a battle of wit between the center and the periphery each struggling to outdo each other in uncoordinated lockdowns and imposition of hardship. Yet, the official Vice President could not seize the occasion in courageous gallantry, to usher in a semblance of sanity and humane social order. He kept his cool and watched the murky waters flow by while his own moment of redemption was seized by invisible hands to hold the nation to ransom.
Now that fate has struck, this has become irrelevant. Allowing the Vice President to exercise more independent presidential powers is the last thing the string-pullers currently desire in what they strongly treasure as a northern presidency. From all available indications, President Buhari is the President only in name and nothing else.
This leaves the power vacuum on course and the entire nation at the mercy of an unpatriotic group of individuals, whose selfish interests supersede their regional interest before the nation in its entirety.
Now that the international community has successfully obliterated the instrument of coup d’etat as a means of remedial intervention, Nigeria stands at the mercy of mean and ruthless fighters in a selfish crusade that spits the bile on national interest. There is a wide consensus that the North should complete its turn in the central government in an unbroken gentleman’s agreement. The current price of wanton retrogression in, basically, all facets of nation-building and development is, however, turning out to be a huge and unsustainable price to pay.
Tribalism, corruption, nepotism have all, arguably, fallen back to levels that equal the regime that “change” sought to displace and replace for good in 2015. Debt is mounting in all dimensions. Poverty is growing across the board. Healthcare and other infrastructures have been left unattended to with very little to point to as dividends of the vicious battle to usher in “change”. Time to engineer a national agenda was wasted on trivialities entrenching regional interests and fighting perceived enemies.
No doubt a healthy Buhari would have done much better and not overseen this deepening decay.
Since the pillar of his surrogate Presidency has now gone to rest, will they be wise enough to recalibrate fundamentally and free Nigeria from their unsolicited bondage? Will other silent powers in the region and beyond now prevail on them to devise a formula to bring the northern tenure to an end without keeping Nigeria further under the stench and yoke of Buharinomic captivity?
These extremely difficult and volatile times are the right moment to seize and save the country from imminent and fatal collapse. The suffering folk is edging towards a deadly uprising by the day in the aftermath of the uncoordinated lockdown and skewed distribution of palliatives. If it comes, and come it will, if and when present conditions prevail, how many citizens can soldiers and policemen kill before the power of the people descends on Aso Rock and other seats of power? Can patriots among the elders rise now and speak up without fear and bias? A stitch in time saves nine.