A democracy is guided by the rule of law and not the impulsiveness and arbitrariness of a retired army general. The legal process is usually slow and painstaking. Buhari is impetuous; he does not have the patience and tolerance for the measured pace of the law. He wants, at his whims and caprices, to jail southern politicians and his enemies of northern extraction such as Col. Sambo Dasuki for corruption. He wants to rearrange the judiciary, and reconstruct and expand Kirikiri Prison. He will then fill the prison with his political enemies, as all those he fingered for corruption will automatically be arrested by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and jailed for one hundred years or more by a compliant judiciary, dominated by northern judges.
Is Buhari’s hypocrisy not conspicuously obvious? To tackle corruption, he must first purge himself of his excess baggage. He must approach equity with clean hands. How on earth can he fight corruption when the likes of Tinubu, Okorocha and former governor, Amaechi are his political allies? Please explain it to me! Amaechi is the man that funded Buhari’s campaign with the money he stole from the coffers of the government of Rivers State. Buhari, of course, knew that the funds were stolen and laundered by the former governor. At the time he was splurging stolen money on the Buhari Presidential Campaign, he was a sitting governor. He was not a multibillionaire in the mold of Dangote. So, the source of the money was obvious to Buhari.
It is understandable that a president appoints people that he is comfortable with to work with him. But to appoint only his friends and relatives to pivotal positions as the Director Generals of the Directorate of State Security (DSS), Customs and Immigrations and the Chairman of the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) is nepotism. Nepotism is corruption. And he insulted the sensibilities of Nigerians by justifying the appointments on the grounds that the appointees are loyal to him as friends and relatives. It is wrong for him to give the impression that only his friends, relatives and others from the northern part of Nigeria are competent, and committed to his vision. In addition, his punishing of those regions of the country that did not vote for him in the presidential election is grossly unfair. It is not only setting a dangerous precedent but inflames ethnic fury.
My honest advice to Buhari is to first of all stabilize the economy and embark on institutional reforms that will strengthen the judiciary and the legislature before delving into other major divisive issues. However, he is neither reforming nor strengthening our national institutions. Actually, he is weakening them; he meddles in the judiciary and remote-controls the Senate and the House; thus, undermining the separation of powers. This is posing a serious problem for Nigerian democracy because these branches of government need to operate independently.
What we are experiencing today is a military regime masquerading as a democracy. Buhari’s hounding of his political enemies with Gestapo-styled DSS raids on state government houses, private homes, etc attests to this reality. The lopsidedness of his administration’s actions is causing some silent but powerful and dangerous ripple. Nigeria is boiling. I see 1966 coming full cycle. And if this continues, Nigeria will break up.
Lloyd Ukwu, an international lawyer writes from Washington, D.C. USA.