By Rotimi Fasan
As was the case around this time last year, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah, has issued another scathing scorecard on Muhammadu Buhari’s government. Kukah has become a consistent critic of President Buhari and of the party-led government of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Aside from what has become an annual December ritual to review Buhari’s performance in office, the bishop has also taken advantage of other available, “out of season” opportunities to ask probing and uncomfortable questions of the ruling APC government. That he’s at it again, just two months until the next presidential election and less than five months before Buhari’s second term ends, should be a sufficient measure of his belief that President Buhari has failed as president. This is because of his inability to deliver on his election promises in 2015 through 2019.
In a Christmas Day sermon at St. Mary’s Church of his diocese of Sokoto, Bishop Kukah gave a blunt testimony that, as usual, has both supporters and opponents of the APC and President Buhari debating the pros and cons of his verdict . The specifics of the criticism are not radically different from what many Nigerians already know and have noticed about the Buhari administration.
They are also very similar to the respected cleric’s remarks about the government last December. That is to say, like Buhari himself, the criticism of his government has remained the same for almost a full eight years, certainly in the past seven and a half.
If we have to look further back to 1984, when Wole Soyinka described the military regime led by the duo of Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon as deaf because of their stubborn disregard for the voice of Nigerians, should we look back at this time in Buhari’s book? life, there is no other way to describe Buhari than as a leader unable to feel the pulse of Nigerians.
It was the same reason given for the ousting of Buhari and Idiagbon by Ibrahim Babangida and his fellow coupists who described the Buhari junta as too rigid in 1985. Indeed, there are no new tricks to teach an old dog. Buhari has been in the game too long and is too determined to change.
Now, at the age of 80, anyone harboring hopes that the Daura-born politician can take a different path from the one he’s been on for most of his life, but in a fool’s paradise. I think this rigid tendency that has not necessarily been helpful was the aspect of Buhari’s personality and character that Nigerians advocating for him to run for president misunderstood during his fourth but successful presidential run.
Most Nigerians who supported his ambition to become president must have seen only the apparently tough, austere side that provided a desirable counterbalance to the Goodluck Jonathan government’s frail ways. What they hadn’t considered, perhaps didn’t know, was Buhari’s Achilles’ heel, his general lack of opinion, evidenced by his over-reliance on collaborators and tendency to outsource authority to surrogates who then proceed to use and abuse power. in his name.
Otherwise, the lack of inclusiveness in appointments, the challenge of insecurity (now declining), deepening economic crisis characterized by galloping inflation and mounting debt, and religious insurgency – all criticisms leveled against the government- Buhari from the first few months of her tenure, the same criticisms would still be leveled at her in the last months of her tenure.
For Father Kukah, the deliberate promotion of nepotism and religious intolerance are hallmarks of the Buhari administration. The pain of these twin issues is deep for the respected cleric whose southern Kaduna people have suffered some of the worst attacks in the nearly eight years of Buhari’s presidency.
Such a closely felt wound would take a long time to heal and it is doubtful that the pain will ever be forgotten. Even in Sokoto, where Kukah is a bishop, he has been the target of attacks due to the increasing effect of attacks on Christian churches following the religious murder of Deborah Samuel, a young student who was murdered by none other than her own colleagues. after a disagreement over religious views.
The most disturbing aspect of Kukah’s prognosis of Nigeria’s slide into madhouse during Buhari’s presidency is his identification of a caste system in the immization of Nigerians. This is a two-way system of rich and poor along which Nigerians have long been divided. It now comes with a sinister connotation with its association with castes.
This suggests a rigid, feudal economic system more or less predetermined or determined by the ruling class. Where would such a system take us? What good can come from that? What does it tell the impoverished majority about the way out of their situation? Is a peaceful solution to this potentially explosive situation still possible?
Kukah draws an ironic comparison between Buhari’s newfound health and the ailing state of the Nigerian economy. How is it that a relatively thriving economy would switch positions with and decline almost irreversibly under a physically frail President Buhari who showed all signs of advanced age?
Only in the field of infrastructure is Kukah willing to silence Buhari. This, too, is something to share when it’s not enough to roll out the drums for a grand party. But in any case, the second Niger Bridge, among other projects, is almost one hundred percent complete. Easterners (easily Buhari’s most adamant critics) who traveled home for Christmas and New Year’s celebrations have the option of traveling in less stressful conditions.
Perhaps this could give Buhari a less hostile if not favorable relationship with them. There are a few more pieces of evidence of Buhari’s investment in infrastructure that may not be readily apparent at this point. Some of these, such as a few projects started under Jonathan’s administration, but now being completed by Buhari – a few of these projects may not be available for review until after Buhari is no longer in office.
Kukah now has an obligation to update his current assessment of the government when he goes to visit Buhari in Daura as he has promised. Until then, it is safe to say that he is not yet satisfied with the Buhari government. While he may say this for all of us Nigerians for whom the perceived challenges of the Buhari government are obvious, he also says it for himself and challenges us to do the same for ourselves.
Have a great and prosperous New Year 2023!
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