By Isaac Ikpa
Unarguably, a few Nigerians take President Muhammadu Buhari for granted, especially, the frustrated elites and their acolytes who are also ignorantly recruited to hate Mr. President. But there is nothing extreme about it. All over the world, leaders are hated by some and loved by others.
To this clan of haters of Buhari, they think in their narrow and shallow minds of being more Nigerian than President Buhari and so, he ought not to be Nigeria’s democratic leader. But since they are not God, Buhari is today Nigeria’s President and shall serve in that capacity until 2023, unless the King of Kings decides otherwise.
Therefore, the wailers and haters decorate him with funny epaulets such as “Baba Go Slow,” “civilian dictator,” “Jubril of Sudan,” “Mr. clueless,” and many others. But these people hardly pay attention to President Buhari’s positive sobriquets such as “Mai Geskiya” or “anti-corruption campaigner” or “Mr. Integrity.” It pains some souls that Buhari is associated with a positive virtue. But it came naturally from Buhari years of expression, strength of character and values of integrity.
Engage these anti-Buhari apostles on social media and take the position of defending President Buhari, his government and populist policies, even the beneficiaries spew terrible insults on your person. An axiom says, God protects the innocent. So, He has never abandoned Buhari for the ravenous wolves to devour. He emerges after every evil plot against him stronger and undistracted.
President Buhari addressed the nation on the aimless and continuing #EndSARS protests, which have turned violent and bloody in some states. He was not only articulate, but exuded wisdom and savvy as a leader. He spoke plainly and bluntly, but told Nigerians the gospel truth. He condemned the beastly actions of the protesters and called a spade, a spade.
The President acknowledged the democratic and constitutional rights of Nigerians to peaceful protests; but strongly abhorred the influenced violence and bloodshed trailing the demonstrations now. Of course, the reported sexual abuses of women, which has also featured in the #EndSARS protests can never qualify as genuine expression of grievances against government. The protests now reek with preconceived and executed criminalities. Mr. President is aware and such insanity cannot be condoned by any responsible government.
Mr. President was firm and resolute that national security cannot be compromised and the demonstrators must also respect the rights of other citizens to go about their legitimate businesses, while they protest peacefully. His message was clear and strong by his assertion that Government’s quick response to the five-point demands of the #EndSARS protesters should not be misconstrued as sign of weakness. Sometimes, a leader must be firm in his decisions.
But perhaps, the perpetrators and sponsors of the violence and bloodbath in the guise of #EndSARS protests may not decode the President properly because they have a devilish agenda, which must be executed by all means. But they are not men enough. They would have rather faced Mr. President directly instead of hiding under a phony protest. That’s a sign of cowardice!
But Buhari’s speech, stunned, amazed and pained his haters. The demonstrators accused President Buhari of a plethora of wrongdoings and neglect of Nigerians. The accusations were further amplified by their elite sponsors very incitingly. But the President’s speech prima facie elucidated, brought to limelight and weakened the arguments of his traducers and haters.
When he reeled out what his administration has done and is still doing for the welfare of Nigerians, particularly youths, women and most vulnerable groups, it shocks many to chilliness.
There have been subsisting unhealthy arguments and quarrels with President Buhari by political elites, the moment he declared that Nigeria’s wealth must be enjoyed by all citizens, especially the majority poor. It raised tantrums and darts were hurled at Buhari by the few elites sitting on a large chunk of Nigeria’s commonwealth. The current violent agitations by some influenced youths you in the name of #EndSARS protests stems from this background. There is an awkward mentality in Nigeria. Once a few wealthy elites are bruised, they feel their anger is representative of every Nigerian.
However, by the revelations in Buhari’s address, most of the proponents and promoters of the violent protests are already aware of the President’s overriding concerns on the empowerment of the citizens and the actions taken; but others are genuinely ignorant of it. But sometimes, its difficult to change the perception and skewed judgment of a foe against you. It is also one of the burdens of leadership.
But which former President of Nigeria can sincerely boast that while in office, and within five years, he launched Farmerman; Tradermoni; Marketmoni; N-Power; N-Tech and N-Agro? These are welfare schemes that have gulped trillions of naira. These are not tales and good-hearted and unbiased Nigerians have attested to it at various times. Some of the #EndSARS protesters are also beneficiaries.
And in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic and despite shrinking national revenues, President Buhari launched palliatives. Every state of the federation got Covid-19 palliatives. Some State Governments never bothered about it.
Currently, the Buhari administration is vigorously pursuing a broad-based plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within a span of 10 years; the establishment of N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund to provide opportunities for the youths and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund. And to support it government is paying three months salaries of the staff of 100,000 micro, small and medium enterprises; payment for the registration of 250,000 businesses at the Corporate Affairs Commission,(CAC); a sumptuous grant of funds to N30,000 to 100,000 artisans; and guarantee of market for the products of traders. Which previous administration in Nigeria can beat this record?
Having been stunned and speechless by the President’s address, the haters and wailers resorted to launch diatribes and upbraids on the President’s manner of presentation. Some claimed, he addressed the nation belatedly; others said, his pronunciation was corrupted. Yet, others said, it was not a live broadcast, but pre-recorded speech. How these arguments are more important than the contents of the message beat the imagination.
And very funnily, some Nigerians said, he delivered the speech while sitting, instead of standing and there were those who said Buhari didn’t speak like America’s President Donald Trump. All manner of trivial things have been conjured and today, it is the main subject of discussion on social media. That’s how unserious a people could become with themselves.
But good enough, President Buhari appealed to the protesters to stage their act peacefully and respect the rights of other citizens. Unlike the unmerited badge that Buhari is dictator, he neither ordered the military to stop the protest nor frowned at the youths on genuine protests; “… but this right to protest also imposes on the demonstrators the responsibility to respect the rights of other citizens, and the necessity to operate within the law. Therefore, it is wishful thinking to abuse the law and seek protection from the same law. That is the meat of the matter.
Ikpa wrote this piece from Abuja.