“If you speak you die, if you are silent you will die; so speak so that you don’t die with the speech inside you” – Anonymous
In the euphoria following the discovery and looting of various warehouses loaded with COVID-19 palliatives in many states of the country, Mrs. Zahra Buhari-Indimi was quoted by various media outlets as enthusing that her father is not the problem of Nigeria.
For the avoidance of doubt, Zahra Buhari-Indimi is the daughter of General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, the sitting president, that is, a man who first by dint of military tactics burst his way into national political reckoning by toppling a legitimate government in 1983 and becoming the Head of State.
The election that saw Alhaji Shehu Shagari go into office as the President of Nigeria for a second four-year term in 1983 was to all intents and purposes, fatally flawed. However, President Shehu Shagari had hardly settled down into office before a martial music on December 31st, 1983 announced that the government had been toppled and Muhammadu Buhari was announced as the Head of State.
I don’t know much about your history, Zahra, because I don’t know when you were born, but it was jubilation that greeted the palace coup that saw the toppling of your father as the Head of State as announced by General Sanni Abacha sometime in August of 1985 because his stone-faced approach to governance did not go down well with the mood of the country at the time.
Besides, his iron-fisted leadership style which birthed Decree 4 that nearly drove all media houses into comatose and Decree 20 that gave him the impetus to publicly execute Nigerian youths over drug peddling charges were too much to be condoned by a miffed world.
Your father’s desperation to get the top job in Nigeria under a democratic dispensation left a lot of people in a demented mood. Some viewed it as if there was something left in Aso Rock that he wanted to reclaim, or at best, since Aso Rock was not built when he was Head of State, he had to have a feel of the Villa, afterall, Olusegun Obasanjo, another beneficiary of opportunistic military adventurism in the past has had his fair share of the Aso Rock largesse.
It was easy to fool Nigerians with a CHANGE mantra during the 2014/2015 electioneering period and yours truly was among the victims. We have had to give up intimate friends and close family relationships because we decided to stand up to those who dared to think that General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) was not the best material for the presidential slot at the time, in 2015, I mean.
However, as the saying goes, you can fool all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.
Your father is a president who was elected into office overwhelmingly, after gunning for the top job four times yet could not form a cabined in six months because he did not know the people that he was supposed to work with.
By the time he has presided over the country for four years and Nigerians expected that he has known everybody and was now ready for a cabinet with some enthusiasm, zest and bite, what did they get? Spent political forces and self-serving irredentists. Was it any surprise that the nation nearly went up in flames a few weeks ago that made you to make that comment that necessitated this reaction?
If you were born in 1983 when the government of President Shehu Shagari was toppled, which is most unlikely, please be informed that queuing for the basic essentials of life started then. As a student at a College of Education then, it was the first time that I got to know that milk is an essential commodity as well as sugar, toothpaste, tomato puree, margarine, and the like. Prior to that period, we just walked into the stores to buy such items.
Fast forward to 2015, Zahra and your father became the president of Nigeria. The blood of Nigerians that had been spilled prior to his becoming the president and the looming doom and the anticipated ocean of blood that was to be unleashed on Nigerians made a sitting president to proclaim that his political ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian.
That election could have been contested at the law courts and the evidences would have presented an awe-inspiring outcome but the sitting president had to concede defeat so that “dogs and baboons” do not get soaked in blood.
That Nigeria got swallowed up in the orgy of destructions occasioned by #ENDSARS protests leaves much to be desired but the buck stops on the desk of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to gauge the mood of the country and know when to step in and like a father to all, say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
It is obvious that if the president of Nigeria had known what to say and had spoken earlier, the orgy of destructions and the attendant calamities would have been averted, at least to a reasonable extent.
Zahra, consider that in your home, you are engaged in an altercation with your siblings and your father, apparently with a toothpick between his lips with a newspaper in his hands, has both his feet on the table pays a deaf ear to the crisis behind him. Your mother, Aisha, would probably shout blue murder and at the slightest provocation, snatch the newspaper from your father’s hands and accuse him of enjoying the brewing crisis. That was the desperate situation Nigeria found herself while the peaceful protests lasted before hoodlums were unleashed on the protesters that generated the national mayhem.
You might want to think again, Zahra, that even the National Assembly in a resolution demanded that your father, President Muhammadu Buhari, should address the nation while other well-meaning individuals and corporates both at home and in the diaspora also screamed their throats hoarse in calling on your father to address the nation.
When the address eventually was made, you were probably elated because your father had spoken but to put it bluntly, I, and many others like me were gravely disappointed by what sounded like a coup statement that brought your father to power in 1983!
You don’t belong to this generation of Nigerians, because you have the privilege of being the daughter of a sitting president. You probably have never known hunger because since you were born, your father has been enjoying the perquisites of public office; you did not attend a public school in Nigeria, so you will not appreciate the implications of disruption of academic calendar that has become the lot of our teeming youth population; you have never lacked a decent job, so you cannot empathize with those who wake up daily not knowing where to go or where the next meal will come from. These were some of the frustrations that captivated the hoodlums into seizing the nation by the jugulars that climaxed in the national frenzy of the past few weeks.
It is common wisdom to carefully read a situation and know when silence should be golden. Speaking when you should be quiet speaks volume to your either being a spoilt child or lacking in basic wisdom.
This was not the time to educate a nation whose nerves were jagged that your father is not the problem with the country apparently because palliatives meant for hungry Nigerians buffeted by the pangs of the coronavirus pandemic were looted in the warehouses where the various state governments had horded them.
If the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria claims not to know that the palliatives were horded and not distributed to hungry Nigerians, then we need to know who is governing our country. This is important because all we here daily is the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. Even when History as a subject has been thrashed into the recycle bin of our academic curriculum, children that will be born tomorrow, fifty years’ time and beyond will get to know that between 2015 and 2023, there was a president in Nigeria called Muhammadu Buhari when some youths were killed by soldiers for protesting to demand an end to police brutality. During that time, neither you nor your father might be around to defend yourselves before the ultimate and impartial judge which History is.
Here are some teasers for you, Mrs. Zahra Buhari-Indimi: when last did you ply a major Nigerian highway apart from those in Abuja and maybe the Abuja – Kaduna highway?
Can you boldly tell Nigerians that there has been less disruptions in the nation’s academic calendar in your father’s administration than there has been in other administrations before him?
Can you look at Nigerians on the face and proclaim to them that they are feeding better at a cheaper rate during this administration than any other in the past?
Can you boldly state without fear of contradiction that Nigeria’s resources are being better utilized for the betterment of Nigerians now than in the past?
Will you tell Nigerians and nay the world at large how many interviews your father, as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has granted to Nigerian media organizations, including the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) which parrots his every deed to answer questions bothering on how their country is being governed?
Can you rightly claim that the gaping man-made hole between the North and South is today better healed than before your father became the president of Nigeria?
At a time the other worlds have moved on thinking and planning for Generation next, we are here promoting the excision of some swathe of our land as grazing routes because the British created such.
Have we bothered to ask ourselves if we have more cows than the USA, UAE and the United Kingdom? Is it on record that we have more cows than those countries or are we having more meat in our diets than they have? At a time that science and technology have modernized lifestyles, we want to remain in the Old Stone Age and we want to compete with and in the world that has advanced?
Things don’t work that way, madam.
It is possible that because of the circumstances of your birth, you attended the best schools in the world. That automatically comes with the office in Nigeria. If you did not, however, that is another problem: that you have a father who had the privilege of sending you to the best schools in the world where you could have been taught that there is a time not to waste media space making spurious statements when the mood of the nation demands sober reflection.
The buck stops on your father’s table.
Since he took over the reins of governance, we have been paying more and getting less and enduring the pangs of such executive imposed burdens with convoluted equanimity, yet you tell us that your father is not the problem of Nigeria.
Your father in one of the responses to the COVID-19 pandemic ordered the employment of 1,000 youths from each of the 774 local governments in Nigeria. The modalities for such exercise became a matter of intense debate and bickering between the National Assembly and the Ministry of Labour.
Today, those youths are yet to be engaged and your father, the initiator of the programme sits aloof while the helpless and hapless youths continue to wait in vain for the elusive jobs.
Zahra, be informed that never in the history of Nigeria has there been a president so wilfully, deliberately or fortuitously detached from developments in Nigeria as has been since 2015 when Nigerians overwhelmingly voted for CHANGE. That change was represented and characterized body, soul and spirit by Muhammadu Buhari. If that is not enough of a problem, then you need to tell us where to look for the problem of Nigeria, but for me and my family, we have nowhere to look to, but the chief occupant of Aso Rock Villa, the seat of the Nigerian government!