President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday left Nigeria for the United States of America on an official visit. The US State Department said that the visit was on the invitation of President Barack Obama, Buhari’s American counterpart.
During the visit, President Muhammadu Buhari and President Barack Obama will meet in Washington DC on July 20th, in an encounter designed to enhance the existing cordial relationship between Nigeria and the United States of America.
As with most African leaders, it has become the usual practice to abandon pressing national issues at home and waltz around the globe on a window-dressing tour where they rub shoulders with world leaders while their countries burn to ashes.
Nigeria has just emerged from a testy democratic transition that could have left the nation at the brink of social political apocalypse. The biggest beneficiary of the smooth transition of power from a ruling party to an opposition party is President Muhammadu Buhari. His election was heralded by a blistering campaign anchored on change – a new order of things. Particularly, he was packaged as the Messiah who would save Nigeria from the scourge of Boko Haram and generally, deliver the nation from decades of systemic corruption under corrupt military regimes and their civilian cronies.
Inability to form a government
Over 50 days after his inauguration as President, Buhari has been unable to constitute a government to run the country. The pattern of governance in Nigeria’s democracy today is largely one of a Sole Administrator administering governance without a Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and cabinet ministers. After dissolving the Governing Boards of all Federal Government agencies and parastatals last week, Buhari is now running a one-man government at the expense of the fate of over 170 million Nigerians. Whereas Presidency propaganda has struggled to weave the corruption narrative as the reason for the delay in Buhari’s appointment of ministers, this narrative has failed to explain some of the hurried appointments of President Buhari, for instance the appointment of his ‘family member’ Mrs. Amina Zakari as Acting Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The Nigerian opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has since rejected her appointment citing claims of her tainted involvement in the just concluded general elections and allegations that she is President Buhari’s ‘daughter.’
Also, Buhari’s newly appointed National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno (rtd), according to media reports was responsible for the systemic rot that crippled Nigeria’s Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) while serving as Director of the Agency.
Buhari’s relative from his hometown of Daura has also been appointed the Head of Nigeria’s secret police, the State Security Services (SSS). From all indications, only President Buhari knows anything about his anti-corruption credentials.
Boko Haram attacks on the rise
Boko Haram attacks have increased as Buhari’s government continues to wobble from one media crisis to another. In spite of seeming efforts at curtailing Boko Haram, it appears Buhari has called off the offensive against Boko Haram. The President had reportedly given an order for all military checkpoints in Nigeria to be dismantled. It took over 450 lives lost to Boko Haram in 40 days for the Nigerian Presidency to reverse that order. No one is really sure what is going on as Nigerian citizens continue to die like flies at the mercy of Boko Haram terrorists.
Clamdown on opposition figures and perceived enemies of government
As a leading light amongst democratic societies in the world, President Obama as President of the United States of America should seize the occasion of his meeting with President Buhari to caution the Nigerian President on his overbearing stance towards opposition figures and perceived enemies of his government. Within the last one week, the National Security Adviser under former President Jonathan, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) was fired by Buhari and within a few days, operatives of Nigeria’s secret police invaded his residence, impounded his vehicles, seized his travel documents and brazenly placed him under house arrest without any charge. Within the past 48 hours, Mr. Gordon Obua, the Chief Security Officer to former President Jonathan was arrested by Nigeria’s secret police on trumped up charges and detained without access to his lawyers. This is to say the least, barbaric, uncivil, undemocratic and reminiscent of Stone Age authoritarian rule.
The US gay rights advocacy
As President Buhari meets President Obama this week, one thing is sure from all indications. If ever the issue of same sex relations comes up in their discussion, the gay rights law will never be repealed in Nigeria under Buhari. Buhari will reject anything about repealing the anti gay law in Nigeria not for any moralist or cultural considerations, but for his unapologetically fundamentalist approach to such issues. The American government may well kiss such optimism goodbye. Buhari will never do it.
Conclusively, Nigeria believes a lot in the United States of America and the leadership of President Barack Obama. Nigerians are hoping to see a changed President Buhari when he returns from his US visit. Nigerians are hoping to see a new President and a true democrat who believes in the workings of a democratic society and this will depend largely on how President Obama is able to influence and manage the outcomes of his July 20th meeting with the President of the world’s largest black democracy. There is more than politics at stake. The soul of an entire nation is what is at stake.
BT Editorial, July 19th, 2015