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CENTRAL LINE WITH WEST-IDAHOSA;

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PATRIOTIC THOUGHTS (Part 2)

The Nigerian political class is a peculiar one. There are more politicians in the country than industrialists, small business owners and professionals put together. Many who have failed in other endeavors hurry into the political class which has no entry qualifications, with little or no preparedness for the serious business of managing national resources, promoting internal cohesion, guaranteeing citizens welfare, protecting lives and property or defending our territorial integrity.

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The political parties are very preoccupied in their campaign rallies with screaming their slogans, hailing their leaders and showing off the dance steps characteristic of the same young people whose growth they have stifled with mindless incompetence and corrupt practices. Instead of using their rallies as avenues to break down their action plan for the understanding of the nigerian people and the rest of the world, if voted into power, they prefer to assume that the size of the crowd at such rallies is the yard stick for measuring public acceptability of such political parties. This is a huge fallacy.

Ironically, many of the politicians in the country are not even familiar with their party’s constitution and manifesto, not to talk about the nation’s constitution. For them, politics is about bringing the mass of poor people prepared to attend any rally for reward together for no discernible reason other than to lure them into voting them to power. We all know what happens after that.

But why is it so easy for politicians to dribble the electorate so frequently? The answer is straightforward. It is functional poverty foisted on the majority of ordinary Nigerians over a protracted period of time.

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Over 133 million of our country men and women, if not more, are living in multidimensional poverty. The naira has lost a very significant value as a medium of exchange leading people to desire more naira to meet their basic needs. Hunger is at boiling point from a combination of huge unemployment, insecurity, food scarcity, inflation and elite exploitation of the situation.

It is alleged that poeple get paid about two to three thousand naira for attending political rallies in some parts of Nigeria. It may be less in other parts where poverty and illiteracy are much higher. These ancient campaign methods merely mean that we are digging deeper while in a hole. We are doing the same thing over again. Deliberate poverty is used to render the people helpless, while using peanuts to attract their presence at these meaningless rallies. The magnitude of the crowd is often used to unscientifically validate claims that people are happy enough to support and vote for candidates of these political parties regardless of who such candidates may be during periodic elections.

The last eight years have arguably witnessed the darkest era of our national life. All sorts of inequities have been foisted on the public. A harsh forex parallel regime with which those at the corridors of government can become billionaires overnight and the real users of forex subjected to needless scarcity of same and consequential collapse of businesses; a blatantly nepotistic environment which has opened the floodgates for the unprecedented exodus of citizens of Nigeria; irrational government loans from Central Bank to fund consumption of luxury goods and life style; uncommon leakages in public revenue and over bloated public expenditure profiles; helpless state of insecurity leading to the daily deaths of citizens never before experienced in our country.

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In the midst of all these, our political class appear to have nothing new to offer. They have learnt no lessons. Some States are still appointing sole administrators for local government councils inspite of the provisions of the constitution and several court judgements. This class is simply unrepentant. The desire of many of them is to simply occupy public offices and further plunder our very lean public purse. Nothing more pretentious.

How long will it take the public to realize that only the Nigerian people can check the political class and call them to order with their votes. The public must learn to vote for candidates who are perceived to have the right qualifications and pedigree to hold certain public offices. Similarly, such elected officers must be voted out when they fail to deliver on their promises or meet public expectations.

One major flaw with the Nigerian voting public is that they are too tied to the political parties. They should bother less with the individuals that make up the membership of these political parties and focus on their manifestos and the quality of available man power. In that way the voting public would become the masters of the politicians. They would set the rules of the game and not the other way round.

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Anyway, February 2023 is very near, let’s pray that the public has learnt something new since the politicians hardly do in this clime.

Goodluck to all of us this new year.

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Opinion

READINGS OF THE “CITY BOY” ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

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*By Tunde Olusunle*

With the manner in which the current electioneering campaign season is unravelling, it may yet be the most interesting, most suspenseful and most revealing, of the nation’s fourth republic. My mind goes back to the popular, dancefloor funk tune, popular in my generation, “Sixty thrills a minute.” It was produced by the New York-based music group which goes by the name *Mystic Merlin,* over four decades ago. The very title of the song suggests that every second of the 60 which make up a minute, throws up novelties. It speaks to the infinite possibilities, realisable within the blink of an eye. This exactly is what the ongoing campaigns are throwing up in parts. You switch on your television set or follow real-time coverage of campaigns on social media, never sure what to expect. The general elections scheduled for later this February and early March, will produce new leaders and representatives for Nigerians, from the bottom, to the top of the representational political pyramid. And every single day of the ongoing exercise throws up brand new scenarios.

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Campaign gears such as customised shirts, vests, caps, bowler hats, wristbands, broches, even footwear, have collectively added colour and pizzaz to electioneering across the country. The carnivalesque air, the boisterous ambience, the music, singing, gyrations, characteristic of road shows and campaign grounds, have remained constants across the national landscape. Popular rule, which is in its third decade in Nigeria, is probably here to stay despite its multiple imperfections, afterall. Nigeria will not be going in the direction of Burkina Faso, Guinea or Mali, its neighbours on the west coast of the African continent, anytime soon, going by the convictions and reassurances of the military. Democratic governance in the countries we alluded to above, have been torpedoed by military adventurists in recent years, arresting the evolution of popular rule.

Expectedly, the campaigns have thrown up a kaleidoscope of high dramas and novelties. While these continue to be rib-crackers on one hand, they are, on the other, sober exposes on our seriousness as a people and a country in today’s global community. In the south west of the country, indigenous Yoruba musical instruments like the *gangan,* *omele* and *bata,* regularly echo that famous campaign chant: *Ipade di ojo ibo/Ipade di ojo ibo/B’awa le ju wa lo/B’eyin le ju wa lo/Ipade di ojo ibo.* In English, this means “We shall meet on election day/If you have more followers than we do/Or we have more supporters than you do/The election day will be the decider.”

The Hausa/Fulani, the Igbo, and other sociocultural strands of the Nigerian behemoth, also have campaign chants and choruses, peculiar to their environments. Elsewhere, I have remarked about the enchanting musicality and compelling dance essence of Tiv songs and poetry, including political compositions. They are usually accompanied by *gida,* *kwen,* *gbande,* among other indigenous instruments. Dino Melaye, campaign moderator of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), has been a multitasking raconteur, singer, bandleader and performing artist on the campaign wagon. He never misses any opportunity to take digs at opponents of his party and its presidential flagbearer, Atiku Abubakar. Such has been the entertainment component of the current political season.

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Instructively, the presidential
campaign endeavours of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), singularly, seem to have thrown up more preposterous foibles, comic substance and theatrics, than all the other parties put together. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, also known by a variety of aliases, including *Asiwaju,* *Jagaban,* *Olowo Eko,* *City Boy* and *National Leader,* Emeritus governor of Lagos State, is the presidential candidate of the APC. Alone, he has generated much more comic content, may tragicomic substance, than all the other parties put together. He has unwittingly gifted Nigeria’s burgeoning film industry, better known as *Nolloywood,* such an abundance of sumptuous meat which will sustain the sector for seasons to come. Skit makers are savouring the prospects already.

Keen political enthusiasts are indeed keeping tabs on Tinubu’s various gaffes and goofs. The other day, I dabbled into a YouTube documentary of 20, yes twenty most recent and indefensible Tinubu verbal *faux pas* on the campaign train. This is just as a rostrum has been invented for him on campaign dais to help him maintain some physical stability and balance. Please observe the unease of the APC leaders, usually his running mate, Kashim Shettima; the national chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Adamu; the host governor and similar leaders of the party, whenever Tinubu grabs the microphone. There is that discernible edginess that Tinubu might just drop another uncoordinated gibberish, another headless missile. This is even as party leaders almost ever serve as his prompters, whispering into his ears and slipping *aide memoires* to him, to guide his thread of thought.

Tinubu has graduated from his days of “a church rat eating a poisoned holy communion.” He has gravitated from his struggles with the pronunciation of very simple words like “umbrella” and “technological.” In Akwa Ibom State the other day, Nigerians watched with consternation as Tinubu described his PDP opponent as the “former Senate President” who he produced. Tinubu’s words: “They don’t have mandate. What they have is ice cream. It melt quick. They are yeye people. Atiku when we made am Senate President, abba…” Tinubu at the same outing, profiled Udom Emmanuel, governor of the state, as “that boy who used to stay in my boy’s quarters in Lagos.”

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Curiously, Tinubu in some of his outings, has turned the revolver to his own chest, literally, by throwing his own party and the platform of his presidential quest, under the rail lines. In Abeokuta, Tinubu took a swipe at the Buhari government, for attempting to sabotage his election, by its currency change policy. He equally tackled the Buhari government for the lingering fuel crisis in the country. He retorted to chanting: *A ma dibo, a ma wole,* which means “we will vote and we will win.” Tinubu continued along the lines of poking his hands into the eyes of his party during his rally in Cross River State, by describing the Buhari-led government as a band of economic neophytes. According to him, the outgoing government so badly mismanaged the economy, that the currency exchange rate spiralled from N200 to the USD in 2015, to nearly N800 to the USD, in 2023.

More and more, it is obvious that Tinubu’s handlers neither like him, nor have any considerations for this country. They cannot harbour any affections for him and allow him continue to subject himself to the kind of repeated embarrassment we have watched with our hearts in our mouths on his do-or-die presidential aspiration. Each time I watch Tinubu’s performance on the campaign stage, remembrances of *Klint da Drunk,* the popular comedian whose real name is Afamefuna Klint Igwemba, come flooding through my heart. Have we noticed the human pillar mounted directly behind in his recent appearances, to prevent him from tripping? That tells us how bad Tinubu’s situation is.

From the bit Nigerians have seen of Tinubu on the campaign routes, he does not represent the potential successor to a Buhari who has roundly and holistically unmade this country, by the way. His carriage and lexicon are too globally unpresidential for Nigerians to take a chance with installing him president. Whatever residual goodwill he would have garnered in places have been willfully frittered by his regular verbal indiscretions like someone under a spell, the type Yoruba people describe as *edi,* which alludes to someone cursed to commit blunders. Imagine Tinubu threatening to send reptiles to invade the Akwa Ibom State Governor’s Lodge in Lagos with reptiles, and subsequently appropriating it! This validates the voracious acquisitiveness of a man who has allegedly taken over several choice land assets of his home state across the country, and made them his personal estate. *MC Oluomo,* Tinubu’s famous Lagos-based mentee, will probably do better than his principal, in comportment and rendition.

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Tinubu’s presumably multilegged and worrying medical status report, indeed, is further cause for national trepidation. There are suspicions among others, that he may be manifesting progressive decline in cognitive function due to damage or disease in the brain, beyond what might be expected from a normal ageing process. This situation impairs memory, attention, judgement and language. There are also suggestions that he is afflicted by “delirium tremens,” a delusion, the tendency for hallucination, a wandering of the mind, culminating in repeated blunderings and errors. Tinubu’s promoters know a lot more about his situation but keep egging him on clearly, because of what they stand to benefit from his reportedly infinite war-chest. Their dream is to constitute a cabal around him if he ever wins, so they can run Nigeria from their cellphones and state-owned jets. Shettima as presumed vice president will be busied with reading newspapers and blaring sirens about town. Tinubu’s family if they love him, must step in and rescue him from his sworn agenda for self-destruction, in their collective and enlightened interests.

*Tunde Olusunle, PhD, is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, GCON.*

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Opinion

IN ORTOM’S BENUE, POLITICKING IS CARNIVAL

Ortom
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*By Tunde Olusunle*

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom is not taking his incumbency for granted. Yes, he has been helmsman of his state for nearly eight years now and won the hearts of admirers, while also courting the bile of critics. There are two sides of a coin and both reactions are to be expected of every public office holder. Beyond his subsisting brief as chief executive of his state, Ortom has participated in politics for over three decades now, a resume which privileges him, relative to many latter day entrants into the political fray in his state. For starters, he had been chairman of his local government area, Guma, between 1992 and 1993, when Nigeria’s former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, repeatedly tinkered with the nation’s political transition. The Catholic priest, Moses Orshio Adasu was the democratically elected governor at the time.

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He would later serve as Benue State Publicity Secretary of the defunct National Centre Party of Nigeria, (NCPN). The party was one of the five political parties established by former military head of state, Sani Abacha, to anchor the transition programme of his government. With the enthronement of three political parties by Abacha’s successor, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Ortom became Treasurer of the All Peoples’ Party, (APP), which name was later tweaked to become All Nigeria Peoples’ Party, (ANPP). He would thereafter function as Deputy State Chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP) and Director of Administration of the Benue State PDP, for the gubernatorial campaign in 2007. That campaign produced Ortom’s predecessor, Gabriel Suswam.

Ortom’s aggregate experiences and good work, recommended him for higher responsibilities at the national secretariat of the PDP, where he was hoisted as National Auditor. He was concurrently, Member of the National Working Committee, (NWC). While on this schedule, Ortom was drafted to serve as the Director of Administration and Logistics of the Goodluck Jonathan/Namadi Sambo presidential campaign in 2011. His hardwork and visibility during the process, earned him ministerial nomination when the Jonathan/Sambo federal executive council was being constituted. In football, Ortom will be described as a player who has earned his medals and trophies. Better still, he could be festooned with the badge of a *FIFA- recognised player!*

His services to political parties and governments at various times in various ways, have accorded him *shon-of-the-shoil* acquaintance with every hamlet, village, community and town in his state, through several decades. Across the Tiv, Idoma, Igede, Agatu homelands, he has built contacts and comrades across time and is at home everywhere. But Ortom is not resting pretty, reclining in the padded, wood-panelled, air-chilled comfort of his office, belching instructions to “field commanders and officers.” No. Since the flag-off of the PDP state campaigns in November 2022, Ortom has been on the road. True he is running for the senatorial office to represent Benue North West, (or Benue Zone B) as it is known in the political lexicon of the state. Ortom, however, is leading a broad-based, statewide campaign for his party in general.

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At the November commencement of the Benue PDP campaigns, Ortom had pronounced that the PDP will adopt a “bottom to top” electioneering mantra in pursuit of its electioneering process. To this extent, the PDP is interested in producing all the members of the state house of assembly; federal house of representatives, senate and governor. He has not reneged. He has rather, braved the dust, haze and dryness of the harmattan season, to literally lead the troops to the battlefield, in the ongoing political evangelism in Benue State. Short of hurling a caravan around American-style, Ortom encamps for the night wherever dusk falls and continues the PDP advocacy the next morning. Ever cognisant of his roots, he remains down-to-earth and relatable, ever generous with his “paddy-paddy style” handshakes.

Everywhere the campaign team has visited, they have been very well received by ecstatic crowds in typical *carnivalesque* fashion. Benue is the state to beat in the art of “politicking as celebration.” Music, dancing, singing and gyrating have characterised these engagements. In some way, this could be symbolic of genuine affection for a party and leadership which has impacted the people in specific developmental departments, despite obvious constraints. The visibly below par performance of the Muhammadu Buhari administration at the centre, has also bolstered mass resentment for the All Progressives Congress, (APC). The security conundrum in Benue, characterised by the relentless infiltration of Fulani herdsmen into the agrarian state, routinely killing and maiming innocent people in staggering numbers without chastisement by the federal government, has engendered mass dislike for the APC. Camps for internally displaced persons, (IDPs), have become synonymous with the landscape of the state.

The APC itself is engulfed in a flurry of litigations, with a plethora of claimants to the gubernatorial ticket of the party. Hyacinth Iormem Alia, a Catholic priest; Barnabas Gemade, a former national Chairman of the PDP, and Terhemba Shija, a university professor, are locked in battle over who the actual governorship candidate of the party is. Curiously, Bola Tinubu, presidential flagbearer of the APC at the Benue State rally, Thursday January 26, 2023, raised the hand of Barnabas Gemade as governorship candidate of the Benue APC! This action is considered a breach of a subsisting court ruling. Such is the present confusedness in the affairs of the APC in Benue State.

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While the APC grapples with its internal problems, Ortom, leaders and members of the PDP, have toured and campaigned in all 23 LGAs, which constitute the 10 federal constituencies and three senatorial zones in the state. From Benue North East comprised of Logo, Ukum, Katsina Ala, Kwande, Ushongo, Vandeikya and Konshisha, the PDP has also toured Benue North West. This is made up of Buruku, Gboko, Tarka, Guma, Makurdi, Gwer East and Gwer West. Benue South, where we have Oju, Obi, Otukpo, Ado, Okpokwu, Ogbadibo, Ohimini, Apa and Agatu LGAs, have also been covered. It is a measure of the seriousness Ortom attaches to the campaigns, that he spent two nights on the road in the senatorial segment of the state known as “Zone C.”

Specifically, Ortom encamped in a private hospitality facility in Otukpo, in the course of the campaign tour of the area. He defied the ever recurring ethnocultural suspicions, even superstitions, between the disparate cultures and tongues in the state. There have always been fissions between the Tiv, Idoma, Igede and Agatu ethnicities in the state, which Ortom moved briskly to mitigate beginning from the earliest days of his government. His trademark *Benue unity* multicoloured headgear which bears the representative colours of each culture and ethnic group in the state, was introduced to reassure all sections of the state that they see themselves as one. Today, Ortom holds the record of prosecuting the most thorough, most enervating political campaigns in Benue State, compared to his predecessors!

On the dais each time he led the campaigns at the senatorial headquarters of the various zones, he was flanked by senators representing the zone. To this extent, Emmanuel Orker Jev, Gabriel Suswam and Abba Moro, took turns to accord desired backup to Ortom in their respective senatorial districts. Each time he mounted the soapbox, the messaging was the same: Except for the circumstances which bred his ascent to office on the vehicle of the APC, Benue State had remained steadfast as a PDP state. With all three Senators representing the state and the preponderance of members of the House of Representatives being members of the PDP, the political lifeblood of the state remains essentially PDP. To this extent, it would be wise politics to sustain allegiance for the PDP, from the very taproots of the political pyramid.

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An interesting dimension to the 2023 political campaigns in Benue State, is the total involvement of the wife of the governor in the ongoing process. Away from her usual chores as first lady, Eunice Erdoo Ortom, has put together a backup campaign team to reinforce the precedence of her husband and his predominantly male campaign cast. She is typically kitted in jeans trousers, sneakers, customised tops and bowler hats, to underscore the seriousness of the electioneering. Her focus is the women and youths, who she engages at the level of the 11 federal constituencies in the state. These are: Makurdi/Guma; Gwer East/Gwer West; Gboko/Tarka; Logo/Katsina-Ala/Ukum; Kwande/Ushongo; Vandeikya/Konshisha; Oju/Obi; Otukpo/Ohimini; Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo and Apa/Agatu. She is thus ensuring deeper permeation of the overall campaign epistolary.

The political mood of the PDP in Benue State is upbeat. At intervals, automobiles with mounted heavy-duty musical equipment drive through the streets of Makurdi, Gboko, Otukpo, Katsina-Ala, dishing out music in loud decibels. This is as an integral part of the political sensitisation process. Speaker of the State House of Assembly and gubernatorial candidate of the PDP, Titus Tyoapine Uba is back from his foreign medical trip, after a health scare late last year. With his running mate, John Mgbede, a former state chairman of the PDP, Uba went through the campaign grills, from A to Z. While not leaving anything to chance, Ortom is confident that the track record of the PDP over the years will see the party through. Having dominated the leadership of the state for the better part of the 24 years of the fourth republic, Ortom declares the PDP is the party to beat. This is as he enjoined his people to collect their permanent voter’s cards, (PVCs) unfailingly and to make their votes count on election day.

 

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*Tunde Olusunle, PhD, poet, journalist, scholar and author is a Member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, (NGE).*

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Opinion

Buhari’s Katsina Foretaste Of His “Street Credibility”

Buhari, Credibility
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By Tunde Olusunle

Alexander Abolore Adegbola Akande, better known by the stage name 9ice it was, who produced and popularised the song “Street Credibility,” as one of his famous offerings in the early years of his two-decade career.

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It was his message to critics and doubters of the genuineness of his artistic talent. It was signal of his preparedness to carve a niche for himself on the star-studded entertainment scene. He dared dissenters to “check my fans,” to interrogate his file of followers, his street credibility, as it were and be convinced he was on the social scene for good and would distinguish himself.

Gongo aso, (something momentous will be), was the first hit from the album, which received global airplay. 9ice has gone ahead to entrench himself on the artistic scene as one of the nation’s renowned musical artistes.

Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president, on Thursday January 26, 2023, began a two-day official visit to his home state, Katsina. Aminu Masari his host and chief executive of the state, lined up one dozen projects for commissioning and inspection by his guest.

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Just before Buhari’s coming, Masari had approved a whopping N500 million, shared evenly among the local government areas in the state, for the mobilisation of their constituents.

They were needed to accord rousing welcome to their special guest and homeboy, Buhari. People actually had to receive fiscal inducement and be herded into all manner of vehicular contraptions, to enable them receive their president, a son-of-the-soil for that matter.

With a fair idea of government expenditure spreadsheet for events such as the coming of an August guest like the president or a high profile foreign dignitary, government spending would easily be more.

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Government facilities would be freshly lacquered and adorned with new furnishings. There would be durbars, state banquets and souvenirs for the big masquerade and his entourage, among other subheadings.

With Buhari’s continuing flirtation with his kinsmen in Niger and Chad republics, there could be high level representation from both countries, of course at the expense of the host entity.

This is not precluding the quantum guzzle of premium motor spirit, (PMS) by the hundreds of automobiles involved in the visit, ever racing at demon-crazed velocities, as though there will be no tomorrow. When the figures are tallied, Buhari’s official visit could easily outstrip the billion naira mark!

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The commissioning and inspection of projects such as flyovers, roads, healthcare facilities, educational infrastructure, manufacturing concerns among others, featured on Buhari’s itinerary during the visit.
Masari earned profuse plaudits from his special guest for the tangible and visible investments of his administration in his state and the citizenry.

Katsina seems to have been privileged since the outset of the fourth republic, with visionary and committed leaders. Umaru Yar’Adua who was a two-term governor before his shortlived stint as president, set the pace in visionary governance.

I was on the entourage of former president Olusegun Obasanjo on a state visit in 2002, and was impressed by what I saw, especially in the area of the provision of road infrastructure across the state.

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Yar’Adua equally earned adulation from Obasanjo for his remarkable frugality, which fits into Obasanjo’s principal mantra for leadership recruitment.

Yar’Adua’s thrifty approach to administration, was one of the attributes which earned him consideration by Obasanjo as successor. A few other very competent, committed alternatives, were bypassed by Obasanjo in the process.

Atiku Abubakar, Obasanjo’s deputy, and Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, a heavily decorated former army general, were possibilities. Ibrahim Shema, Yar’Adua’s successor in Katsina, progressed the state from that point, from the bit I glimpsed in 2014 when I attended the annual conference of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, (NGE), hosted by the Katsina State Government. Reports about Buhari’s most recent visit, seem to lend credence to the continuing endowment of the state with performing leaderships.

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In some of the public functions he attended in recent weeks and months, Buhari has alluded to three principal issues, as his administration winds down in four months, inevitably.

First, he believes he has done his very best serving Nigeria since he was inaugurated May 29, 2015. I imagine he probably wants us to be grateful to him for offering us his “very best services.”

Secondly, he wants to stay as far as possible from the seat of government, Abuja, so as not be construed as meddling with the successor administration.

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Third, he desires that history be kind to him, when stock is taken of his eight year regime, vis-a-vis the achievements of his predecessors.

Last July, daredevil terrorists ambushed Buhari’s advance party convoy in Dutsinma, en route the president’s country home in Daura. A few members of the president’s entourage received bullet wounds and were treated in a hospital.

On the very day of Buhari’s most recent visit to his home state, rampaging youths pelted his convoy of vehicles with stones and satchet water. They made bonfires on the streets, chanting bamuyi, bamuyi in Hausa, meaning “we are not interested.”

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Shouts of “we no go do, we are tired of you…no jobs, no life,” equally enveloped the air at various points navigated by Buhari and his voyeurs in the cause of that visit.

If Buhari needed a foretaste of the manner of reception he would be accorded by Nigerians upon the completion of his eight year tour of duty, his kinsmen gave him one last week.

Life has not been any less excruciatingly difficult, practically unbearable, thoroughly despairing and mortally despondent as has been witnessed under Buhari’s watch.

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Interior minister, Rauf Aregbesola missed the joke when he presented the scoresheet of his ministry, recently.

The renunciation of Nigerian citizenship by 150 Nigerians in 2022 alone, relative to the tally in preceding years, is very eloquent testimony to the grand failure of the Buhari government.

Renunciation of country of birth is evidence of the crass failure of such a country, to fulfil its basic obligations to its citizenry, and earn the respect of their roots. Such a situation has compelled them to seek shelter and livelihood in other lands.

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An entity has lost capacity in various ways, the ability to sustain the minimum regards and respect of its people for their springs of origin, is that which is so repudiated.

There are of course nationals with dual nationalities, who have unconditionally retained affiliations to the land of their birth. Renunciation, however, is total severance of every cord of relationship with one’s primordial fountains.

Under President Buhari, Nigeria has revolved full circle, to the better forgotten days of Major General Muhammadu Buhari as military head of state.

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The queues of Buhari’s essenco days between 1984 and 1985, when Nigerians lined up in the blistering sun and pouring rains to buy “essential commodities” so abbreviated, are back for good.

Nigerians queued for measures of rice, bottles of cooking oil, sachets of salt, loaves of bread, packets of sugar, and tablets of soap.

Under the same Buhari today, snaky queues for petrol, kerosene and diesel, spiralling lines at automated teller machines, (ATMs) and collection points of permanent voter’s cards, (PVCs), are the sustained contemporary decors on the nation’s streets.

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Young Nigerian job seekers respond in millions to every advertisement for a handful jobs. Higher degree holders contest for menial jobs with their less qualified applicants, just to keep body and soul together.
Young people take forever to get married and raise families these days, principally because of the lack of sustainable means of socioeconomic survival.

This has fuelled increased emigration by Nigerians across generations to foreign lands. Aregbesola confirms this when he alludes to the issuance in 2022 alone, almost two million international passports to Nigerians.

The japa syndrome has been accentuated under Buhari, with Nigerians seeking refuge and sustenance in some of the most impossible destinations. It would not be out of place to find Nigerians in a place like Iceland!

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Buhari’s most recent missile-and-pebble trailed visit to Katsina State, is a foretaste of what he may yet encounter after his disengagement from office.

Irrespective of whatever name they may be called, the protesters echoed the voices of several millions of Nigerians, weeping, hissing, shaking their heads in despair in the recesses of their rooms.

He is a man who promised so much to Nigerians after being eventually voted into office, after three failed attempts. He is a president in who so much hope was invested.

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Except for identifiable bright spots in the provision of road infrastructure, Buhari’s reincarnation in civilian garbs, could well pass for a better forgotten interregnum in the nation’s sociopolitics.
Nigerians can barely wait to see his back and welcome a genuinely humanist leadership. Atiku Abubakar represents that possibility even on the strength of what he has continued to do in his capacity as a private citizen.

Tunde Olusunle, PhD, is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, GCON

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