Abimbola Adelakun’s piece, “Like Nnamdi Kanu, like Buhari”, published in The PUNCH last week, strikes one as a cold and rabid harangue against the person of the septuagenarian President Muhammadu Buhari. Abimbola’s pen dripped with contempt. She showed no mercy, no charity in her excoriation of Buhari. It was a direct and unabashed disparagement of the President. The heap of insults hurled at an elderly Buhari is galling and patently beyond the pale in a traditional society like ours.
Buhari, like any public official, can be criticised; his actions can be called to question. But his being a public office holder does not, in any way, take away from the fact that he is a Nigerian, an elderly person that should be accorded due regard. The fact that Abimbola is of the African stock, where deference for age is an entrenched culture, her infelicity, nay, indiscretion is reprehensible and calls for an open rebuke. Her tirade is a gross denigration and trampling on a time-honoured and cherished culture (that has endured for centuries). And “for this fault,” to appropriate Shakespeare, Abimbola should Draw to Tiber banks, and weep her tears/ Into the channel, till the lowest stream/ Do kiss the most exalted shores of all.
Hear the columnist: “My feeling is that Buhari’s ‘dis-ease’ with Kanu relates the fact that the latter is a lot like him. Both men are hucksters selling dreams preserved in snake oil to a deluded crowd in search of a messiah.” How can you write this?
And this one: “…They compare him (Buhari) with his former heads of state colleagues living a less pretentious life…” This means the former heads of state are living a pretentious life, Buhari’s being more pronounced! How can you pen this?
Abimbola cannot claim not to know about the assassination of a few selfless leaders across the globe in spite of their popularity among the people. Must Buhari not take measures to protect himself? Can the writer claim ignorance of the fact that the more politically exposed a man is the world over, the more the dangers are likely to their lives by a few deviants in the society?
If President Buhari were to read or listen to every comment made by all the political office holders at the federal level, I suppose he wouldn’t have time to do any other job. Yes, the line may be thin, but it must be recognised that being a government official does not derogate from your constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech, freedom of conscience and thought. Everyone is entitled to their personal opinions provided such do not cross the boundary of social norms and values such as the piece under review, and are not likely to cause a breach of peace, law and order. But greater circumspection is demanded from all public officials in the discharge of their duties.
If anyone has displayed overt propensity to kill or has actually killed, they should be fished out by law enforcement officers and prosecuted. No one, no matter how highly placed, must be allowed to violate the sanctity of life. This, essentially, is the job of the Nigeria Police. They do not need any presidential order to arrest (suspected) criminals and prosecute them. Although President Buhari is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation, he, certainly, has not directed any group of soldiers to invade an NUJ centre, for instance, and violate the rights of journalists, nor has he encouraged any officer to trample on the rights of citizens. The military high command must, therefore, ensure they do not allow anyone to give the Commander-in-Chief a bad name.
Buhari is not Kanu. They are poles apart. You cannot compare apples and oranges. It was Buhari who was elected to govern this country not Nnamdi Kanu. Under no circumstance must this fact be lost on anyone. Agitations, as the President himself said, must be redressed but there cannot be a government within a government.
Abimbola may probably need to read the book, Buhari vs Yar’Adua: Facing The Future, authored by this writer, in order to apprehend the full gamut of the post-election violence of 2011. It suffices to point out that this writer’s column in the Daily Independent of December 19, 2008, aptly titled, “Before The Blackout”, commented on the Supreme Court’s decision on the 2007 election petition of Buhari, which was dismissed by a four to three majority decision the previous week:
“What, therefore, sustains a judicial system is the integrity of its members. Where priests in the Temple of Justice are not found to be above board, self-help becomes the only available alternative. And so Kenya erupted into bloody electoral violence early in the year, killing a couple of thousands and causing social dislocation of tens of thousands- ‘We won’t go to the Kibaki court,’ the short-changed voters vowed… I sincerely hope and pray to be proved wrong; the technical justice in favour of PDP will prove a pyrrhic one come 2011; and the pro ‘substantial non-compliance does not substantially affect the outcome of the election’ justices would wish they never witnessed a fiery day like Friday, December 12, 2008.”
The seed of the 2011 post-election violence was sowed in 2008. When people lose faith in the judicial system, they resort to sel-help, which is fatal to any society.
President Buhari is not and has never described himself as a saint. He is human and has his foibles and failings. But it is an exercise in futility to seek a saint anywhere in this life. Nonetheless, Buhari remains a symbol of integrity and modesty. He has not come to government to steal; even his adversaries will readily testify to this. Ms Adelakun will also need to study parties and elections in other jurisdictions in order to know where to place her moral bar with regard to the political trajectory of President Buhari.
If the success recorded in the war against Boko Haram has not impressed the writer, if the moderate progress pulled off on the economic front despite the monument of rot inherited from the previous government is not worthy enough to attract her attention, our dear columnist should at least ask why the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board under President Muhammadu Buhari is able to remit N8bn to the Federation Account without an increase in fees payable by candidates, whereas the highest the exam body ever paid under the previous administration to the central purse was a paltry N3m! It should interest her why the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency remitted only a meagre N4.95bn to the Federation Account in 2015 and the figure suddenly rose to a whopping N24bn in 2016! The case of the $15bn anti-insurgency funds diverted into private pockets of military and civilians officials of the immediate past administration is still fresh in our memories. And more shocking discoveries and recoveries are being made in Nigeria and abroad on the loot of a former minister, now at large! Perhaps, Abimbola might wish to award some pass mark to the Buhari administration’s fight against graft.
And if on account of these daily, mind-boggling revelations of the treasury looting that took place in the last dispensation, one wrote that all officials of the past administration should be arrested, locked up in a single cell and the keys thrown into the bush, would that amount to speaking on behalf of any paymaster or anyone for that matter other than a mere hyperbolic expression?
Finally, the government and the media are partners in progress. Our ultimate goal is to see a better Nigeria. The President appears to be fully committed to that goal.
Soyombo, a journalist, sent this piece from Abeokuta via firstname.lastname@example.org
Culled from punchng.com