President Muhammadu Buhari announced yesterday that he is seeking re-election in 2019. If anyone was in any doubt about his lack of emotional intelligence (constitutional expert Ben Nwabueze also claimed that he lacked the intellectual capacity to rule Nigeria) and his insensitivity, the president’s bid to continue in office was made public as he left Nigeria for London.
Buhari campaigned to end medical tourism, but last year he spent over 100 days being treated for a mystery illness in London. His current trip is also expected to take in a “medical vacation”. His son, Yusuf, who was involved in a motorbike crash, was also flown to Germany for treatment and returned to Nigeria early last month. Buhari’s wife complained in October last year about the presidential clinic’s inability to provide even painkillers despite a budget of about $8.3m.No other public hospital in Nigeria, including in the president’s hometown Daura and in his home state Katsina, operates with anything near that amount of money.
Buhari’s inability and apparent lack of interest to improve conditions even in the presidential clinic in his three years in power because he has access to UK healthcare, demonstrate not only the fact that he is unfit for public office, but that he is crippled by the chronic selfishness that afflicts Nigeria’s ruling elite.
Last week alone, armed bandits attacked a village in Zamfara State killing up to 30 people, 24 people were killed in fresh attacks by Fulani herdsmen in Benue State, up to 32 people were reportedly killed as armed robbers raided banks in Offa, Kwara State. There was not a word from the president about these dire circumstances, even though his job description makes the security and welfare of Nigerians his top priority. US president Donald Trump has just cancelled a first official trip to Latin America to focus on dealing with the suspected chemical attack in Syria. But Buhari has never cancelled a foreign trip or even any engagement because of the loss of any Nigerian lives.
He came to power promising to sort out insecurity, fight corruption and improve the economy. He has failed on all three counts. He and his spokesmen started claiming that Boko Haram were “technically defeated” in 2016. But research by the BBC in January this year showed that the militants had killed more people in 2017 than in 2016 – following their alleged “technical defeat”.
An even deadlier strain of violence has grown legs under Buhari – this time from Fulani herdsmen. To call his response to that violence “lukewarm” would be an understatement. He has repeatedly failed to act decisively on the crisis, continuously framed the conflict as “clashes between farmers and herdsmen” and shown morbid insensitivity by “joking” about the issue when he met the governor of Benue State, which has borne the brunt of the massacres by herdsmen.
Despite bogus claims about diversification, there is little evidence that Nigeria’s economy is headed in the right direction or being weaned off its dependence on oil. There is very little hope for millions of unemployed Nigerians and no significant improvement in electricity supply, which is a major driver for economic growth.
As the Buhari regime’s sinking ship staggers from one iceberg to the next, some of its significant backers have been quick to desert like the rats they are. Ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo called Buhari “ineffective, incompetent and a failure” a few weeks ago. While those remarks could be seen in the context of Obasanjo’s usual self-interest, it is pertinent to note that in March 2015, when Buhari was running for president against incumbent Goodluck Jonathan and the latter was also at the wrong end of an Obasanjo letter slamming his governance, Buhari reacted with: “Former president Obasanjo is a courageous patriot and statesman who tells the truth to power when he is convinced that leaders are going wrong”. Ignoring the nauseating flattery about patriotism and statesmanship, it is safe to conclude that Obasanjo was telling the truth about the Jonathan regime and it is also the truth that Buhari is “ineffective, incompetent and a failure”.
There is very little evidence to challenge Obasanjo’s conclusion. In fact, the best way to prove Obasanjo right is applying the old Ronald Reagan test. While running for president in 1980 against incumbent Jimmy Carter, Reagan asked Americans the following questions: “Are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores? Is there more or less unemployment?”
No Nigerian, apart from those in the corridors of power or close to those corridors, would answer these questions in the affirmative. From petrol to food, the prices of essentials have skyrocketed beyond the reach of most Nigerians. So just like Americans refused to renew Carter’s mandate 38 years ago after Reagan posed those questions, Nigerians should send Buhari back to Daura because there is no logical basis to justify his re-election.