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Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The ‘Boss’ Assumes Office By Emmanuel Onwubiko

Hameed Ali, is a retired colonel of the Nigerian Army and was at a time the military governor of Kaduna State. 
He can be said to be a very experienced Nigerian.
For nearly two years since his bosom friend Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Major General and former military head of State, became the democratically elected and inaugurated president of Nigeria, Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd) has presided over one of the most influential and juicy political offices as the comptroller General of the Nigeria customs.

The Nigerian Customs Service should be considered as about number three largest revenue earner for the Nigerian state outside of crude oil and Agriculture.

This very powerful member of President Muhammadu Buhari’s kitchen cabinet has just made an explosive remark to the effect that the current administration in which he is a pivotal member has derailed.

The sum total of the words of the true confession expressed by this controversial ex-soldier is to the effect that the president Buhari’s government has not faithfully implemented the agenda and ideology which the team used to convince majority of the voters totaling fifteen million to elect this government into public office for a term of four years. 

Apparently, this former combatant was afraid that the majority of Nigerians will likely 'stone' them should they not keep to their terms of contesting and winning the hotly contested poll. By the way, the former PDP governor of Rivers State Mr. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi who was pivotal to the formation of the then newly merged All Progressives Congress had told Nigerians to stone the federal officials if the current administration fails to deliver on her solemn electoral pledges. So, the verdict by Colonel Hameed Ali coming at the second half of this government may have set tongues wagging whether this isn't an invitation for the public stoning of the failed public officials. 

We will quote the exact words used by Colonel Hameed Ali to convey a much more details of what he has just told Nigerians in black and white.

Hear him: “Let me say here without fear of being contradicted that I think half way through the journey, we are losing our core values. We are losing our vision and mission and I think that the idea of our being here today is to look critically at what we need to do to get back on track."

“There is no doubt that we have derailed because we are not doing what we say we want to do. Why is it so? We need to find an answer to that. If we do not find answer, then what should we do to get us all back on track? We owe this great nation and the 180 million Nigerians the duty to give good governance, good governance is what they voted for and good governance is what they expect and deserve. We therefore as Buhari Support Organizations, have a great task ahead of us. Our battle starts now.”

Hameed Ali’s alarm bell which rang to symbolize the near absolute loss of confidence in the ability of the two year old administration to deliver the objectives for which it was elected, was coming almost a year after the wife of the president Mrs. Aisha Buhari protested vehemently that a certain cabal within the presidency has hijacked the administration.

Soon after, the then holder of the office of secretary to the government of the Federation and a key member of president Buhari’s kitchen cabinet and a member of the so called cabal which Aisha spoke about, was suspended from office over allegations of theft of over N300 million from the North East development fund. 

The suspension meant that his office was then occupied on temporary basis by a career permanent secretary in the person of Dr. Habibat Lawal.

She acted as secretary to the government of the federation for nearly a year.
This Acting secretary to the government of the Federation could not have exercised her duties and functions in such a way that a substantive secretary of the Federal administration could have done basically because as a serving civil servant in the position of a permanent secretary, key members of the All progressive Congress viewed her as someone who has sat on a very strategic position that ought to be occupied by a politician.

Basically, Dr. Lawal who took over in acting capacity from the other Lawal implicated in an alleged financial scam, operated quietly from the background even as so much of the duties and functions that millions of Nigerians looked up to the Federal government to implement were on autopilot. This wasn't helped by the 103 days medical leave of President Muhammadu Buhari which he spent in the United Kingdom.

This is however not to say that the Acting secretary to the government at the center was totally inactive but it would seem that most Nigerians who are at the receiving end of the slow pace of governance immediately pointed to that office as one of the fundamental reasons why the affairs of governance have taken the back bench and in its place what millions of Nigerians kept reading on the pages of newspapers and hearing/seeing on electronic media were some unproductive and malicious verbal exchanges between the spokesmen and women of the presidency and some key opposition politicians.

Although the nearly one year and some fractions of months that the then suspended SGF spent in office was also dull, inactive, and totally lacking in substance, Nigerians in their millions became disillusioned when they waited for two years for the federal government to ensure that the collapsing sectors of the economy are revamped without ever witnessing any major turnaround, then they began expressing loud doubts that the government at the center was incapable of achieving meaningful impacts in reviving the educational, health, road networks and power sectors that have virtually collapsed.

It was therefore heartwarming that a top insider such as Colonel Hameed Ali could no longer keep silent to such an extent that he voiced his feelings out even though he missed the mark when he wrongly transferred his indignation and anger to a wrong place.

 Ali could have simply ended his blame game by recognizing that responsibility for either success or failure of the administration resides squarely with the president.

Well, President Buhari, seems to have woken up from a very long period of inaction on the pending matter of alleged fraud involving his then suspended Secretary Mr. Babachir Lawal when he dusted up the recommendations of the investigative panel led by his vice president professor Yemi Osinbanjo (SAN) to dismiss Mr. Babachir Lawal and the second top official who before his latest dismissal was the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency Mr. Ayodele Oke. 

He was implicated in the discovery of humongous amount somewhere in a residential area of Lagos running into several millions of foreign denominated currencies which he claimed to belong to his office.

In what seemed like a direct response to the loud protests from across board that his government is not working, president Buhari has just recruited a very senior lawyer and someone identified as a veteran of board room politics Mr. Boss Gida Mustapha to take charge of the high office of the secretary to the government of the Federation.

Boss Mustapha has come to his new office with the frame of mind of someone who is not a novice in politics and so the general expectations of the people is that the middle aged lawyer would bring his vast experiences to bear in trying to restart the dead engine of governance at the center in Nigeria.

This boss who has been told by his boss to resume office with immediate effect should hit the ground running and spend no valuable time on political frivolities.
The Adamawa state born – cousin of the dismissed erstwhile SGF must deliver professionally thorough and dedicated services to the oppressed people of Nigeria who have suffered years of mis-governance.

As the man who should assist his leader the president of Nigeria to practically deliver the dividends of democracy, he must have it at the back of his mind that he is coming into office at a time that two years have gone out of only four years of the administration without much developmental impacts. He has no time for congratulatory messages from contractors and he needs to operate a very lean office made up of core technocrats and bureaucrats who would provide the technical knowhow for him to re-engineer the broken down governmental engine back to speed. 

The new secretary to the government of the Federation should play less of politics and offer top flight and qualitative services to the people of Nigeria within a limited time frame so Nigerians would begin to have fresh breath of good governance.

There are too many government agencies that are headed by persons in acting capacities and those critical agencies have no governing boards, the new scribe of federal government must within few weeks bring this governmental lethargy and inertia to an end by ensuring that the agencies are headed by tested and trusted technocrats and that the bureaucracy of government works optimally.

One of the key agencies that the Federal government must make hay whilst the sun shines in reconstituting the governing board is the National Human Rights Commission.

The National Human Rights Commission has been without a board since over a year. That agency is an institution for persons with the expertise, the zeal and passion to surmount the near insurmountable human right challenges confronting Nigerians on daily basis. The Human Rights commission is not a place to give jobs to political loyalists. 

The assumption of office of a senior lawyer connected with the human rights institute of the Nigerian Bar Association should motivate the new boss at the office of the secretary to the government of the Federation to provide compelling reasons for the immediate reconstitution of the board and many other critical boards. He must be aware that his main boss President Muhammadu Buhari has poor antecedent on issues of respect for human rights of Nigerians. 

Boss Mustapha should also find ways and means to implement all the necessary recommendations on how to cut down on the cost of running government.

This writer would also like the new chief scribe of president Buhari’s administration to use his nearness to the president to ensure that president Buhari becomes truly the president of all Nigerians so the perception that he favours the North is eliminated. Let him read the beautiful book written by Dr Tunji Abayomi titled: "Constitutional powers and duties of the President" so this government can navigate away from the widely held perception that President Muhammadu Buhari in words and actions favours the core Moslem North. 

Dr. Tunji Abayomi had asked thus: "Does the President owe equal duty to those who vote for him as well as those who vote against him? The question can easily be answered when we understand that the President is elected by the negative as well as the positive votes within the national constituency that elects him". 

Dr. Abayomi submitted further that: "A candidate for the election into the office of the President cannot be deemed to have been duly elected until he has more positive votes than negative votes cast at the election for the President. It is doubtful if he can be deemed duly elected under Section 133 and 134 if he has no negative votes cast against him". 

"The effect of the provision is that negative votes against the President are recognized and validated as necessary by the Decree in the election of the President and are thus protected, any prejudice or penalty against them will clearly be inconsistent with the exercise of executive powers of the Federation", says Dr. Abayomi. 

This legal luminary offered scholarly words of wisdom thus: "It is not just that the nation is recognized as one constituency for the election of the President under Section 132(4), but the President’s responsibility to all the members of that constituency is by the provision of the section not only inherent, but also required."

If Boss Gida Mustapha can achieve these noble goals then he will enter the national hall of fame as a tested and trusted administrator. He already knows that allegations of corruption and greed are the two banana peels that swept off his predecessor so he must set his mind towards doing only those duties which will preserve his good name.   

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and


Following the termination of the appointment of the indicted erstwhile secretary to the government of the federation Mr. Babachir Lawal and his replacement with Boss Mustapha, the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked that the duo of Babachir Lawal and Oke, erstwhile Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) be arrested and prosecuted by both ICPC and EFCC.

In a statement jointly endorsed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA also criticized President Muhammadu Buhari for failing to use the sacking of the erstwhile SGF to balance the clear lopsidedness in the composition of his kitchen cabinet dominated exclusively by Northern Hausa/Fulani Moslems and completely alienated the South East of Nigeria.

The rights group which however said the belated sack of the duo of Lawal and Oke was a step in the right direction stated that the directive from president Buhari stopped short of ordering the immediate arrest of both former top shots of his government by all the relevant anti-graft institutions.

HURIWA said it is however the general expectations of most Nigerians and observers the world over, that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Offences Commission (ICPC) will not behave like zombies and fail to activate effective mechanisms for the immediate arrest and prosecution in the competent courts of law of the indicted top federal government political and security officials.

Besides, the Rights group has also tasked all credible civil rights bodies to monitor closely the actions of both the EFCC and ICPC in the eventual arrest and prosecution of the duo because both men had overwhelming influences within the corridors of power.

“Let all the credible Non-governmental bodies come together as a coalition of patriots to set up effective monitoring mechanisms to ensure that all the relevant law enforcement institutions are compelled to do the needful in this instance and not be allowed to deliberately undermine or destroy the prosecution of these two powerful former presidency officials. 

"The erstwhile SGF is alleged to be very close to the acting chairman of EFCC because the EFCC acting Chairman has been sighted in the Maitama residence of the now sacked SGF Babachir Lawa.”

Speaking on the failure of president Buhari to respect federal character principle in the replacement of the now dismissed SGF, the Rights group said this continuous pattern of gross disrespect to the constitution is disastrous.”

 HURIWA recalled that a statement from the Presidency said the President Muhammadu Buhari has studied the report of the panel headed by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, which investigated allegations against the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir David Lawal, and the Director General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayo Oke.

HURIWA said the official presidential statement affirmed that the President accepted the recommendation of the panel to terminate the appointment of Mr. Lawal, and has appointed Mr. Boss Mustapha as the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation. The appointment takes immediate effect.
Also, President Buhari also approved the recommendation to terminate the appointment of Ambassador Oke, and has further approved the setting up of a three-member panel to, among other things, look into the operational, technical and administrative structure of the Agency and make appropriate recommendations.

Monday, 30 October 2017


Nigeria’s new found democracy is approximately twenty years old but the same issues that afflicted the polity when the political process was hijacked by the military dictators for many years are still very much around.
One of those disturbing social ills that afflicted the society in times past when such dictators held powers in the 1980’s is the widespread use of torture as the method of interrogation by operatives of the armed security forces in Nigeria.

The use of torture by operatives and officers of the armed security forces in Nigeria has gained global notoriety leading to several reports by internationally respected bodies including but not limited to Amnesty international of the United Kingdom; Human Rights Watch of New York, United states of America and office of the special rapporteur on torture to the United Nations. 
These reports of widespread use of torture is extensively damaging even as observers expect all the top Generals heading the various branches of the military to view the need to eradicate torture as a legacy they must bequeath to their successors. 

This task must be done clinically given that all tge current hierarchies of the military are reputable officers who are said to be top military professionals.
Sadly, even with the leadership of these reportedly excellent military professionals, apart from the fact that torture is still being widely used by the Nigeria Police Force all over the federation as once documented by a special rapporteur on torture to the United Nations Secretary General who toured some police detention facilities across Nigeria some few years back, the Nigeria Army has been singled out as a notorious user of this grotesque, illegal and inhuman/inhumane method of interrogation of civilians allegedly in conflict with the law.

The Nigeria Army has come under the search light of many local and international groups who raised serious concerning on how the security institution has handled protests by the indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) prior to its controversial proscription through an exparte order of a federal high court.

Conversely, the Nigeria Army has faced criticisms for the use of torture against members of the Islamic movement of Nigeria or shiites – a group that reportedly lost hundreds of members through alleged extralegal executions by the Army few months back in Zaria, Kaduna State. 

The Department of State services has been accused too for the use of torture against detainees who are kept in some underground cells for many months before been brought for prosecution. 

Phenomenally, the Nigeria Army has come under fresh rounds of criticisms over the conducts of some of its personnel during the just ended operation python dance II in the South East of Nigeria. It is sad that the officials have yet to come to terms with the historical needs to realistically investigate these allegations and apportion appropriate sanctions on their men and operatives caught on the wrong side of global human rights laws. 

The undeniable fact is that lots of civilians were subjected to cocktails of physical, emotional and psychological torture by the Army – a fact that even the usually conservative Abia State governor Mr. Okezie Ikpeazu was compelled to issue a public rebuke of these misconducts by the military during the python dance II.

Unfortunately, the hierarchy of the Nigeria Army does not seem to be predisposed towards eradication of the widespread use of torture by their operatives during internal military operations. These military officials are unfortunately living in denials even when these disgraceful tendencies of their misbehaving troops have already been recorded and are being circulated globally. 

This is because the media Centre of the military have often engaged in the use of propaganda to say that the use of torture does not constitute a major setback. 

But this is a fallacy because the more the public relations' directorate of the various segments of the armed forces and police are denying the existence of these issues; the more photographic evidences are circulated courtesy of the new inventions in the social media.

For instance, there are several recorded evidences of the widespread use of torture by the Nigeria Army during the just ended operation python dance II.
It is imperative that the Army’s hierarchy makes up their mind to tackle the challenge posed by the widespread use of torture by their operatives and deploy legal mechanisms to sanction indicted operatives. These cases of torture must not be swept under the carpets of impunity. 

The Army must of necessity end the use of torture if it must make the claim that it is a professional institution. As a human rights advocacy group that has consistently supported the military whenever visible efforts are made to advance respect for the human rights of Nigerians, this platform will not hesitate to use this medium to inform the military chiefs that there is the urgency of the now to do the needful by weeding off all undesirable elements and brutes who are tarnishing the professional image of the military institutions by the use of torture. Torture is evil and it must not be associated with the military institutions created by law. 

In the book “The Soldier and the State”, published in 1970 by the Havard University press, Huntington .S. made the far reaching claims about the military as a professional body.

Hear him: “The military profession like other professions has the major characteristics of expertise, responsibility and corporateness”.
Janowits M, in his own book titled “The professional soldier:A social and political portrait” stated that: "the military has the responsibility to ensure compliance to prescribed ethics and standards of discipline which members of that profession must maintain and prescribed sanctions for their breach."

The late Major General T.E.C. Chiefe, one of the finest legal minds to have adorned the Nigeria Army's uniform, also affirmed that every nation usually prescribes a code of conduct for its military, which in totality constitutes military law for members of the armed forces of that nation. 

This refined gentleman who at the time he authored his classical law book was the Army's Director of legal services was quick to add that all military laws in operation in Nigeria must comply with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended).

Besides, Aycock, William B. and Wartel Seymon W., in their book titled: “Military law under the uniform code of milital justice",  Connecticut: Greenwood press, 1972,” stated that: “Military law as of necessity is to promote good order, high morale and discipline in the military for the accomplishment of the military mission.”

A meticulous examination of the extant rules of engagement for the Nigeria military during internal security operations tells you that the use of torture is not tolerated in compliance to section 34 (1) (a) of the Nigerian constitution which provides that: “No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment.”

It is noteworthy that the four Geneva Conventions and the two additional Protocols of 1977 have been formally given effect in Nigeria by the enactment of Federation of Nigeria 2004. 

"In sum, the Conventions and Protocols which are now an Act of the National Assembly, elaborately spell out the laws of armed conflicts on the use of force and the legal implication of disregarding rules regulating the means and methods of warfare, among other things. Specifically, section 3 of the Act provides for trial and punishment for breach of the Geneva Conventions as follows:(a)       Incase of grave breach involving willful killing of a person protected by the Convention, sentence of death.   (b)    In any other such grave breach, imprisonment for 14 years",(military law in Nigeria- under democratic Rule, by Major General T.E.C. Chiefe(rtd)Ph.D).

As far back as June 1987, the United Nations convention against torture and other Cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment came into force. Nigeria is a signatory to it. 

In the part 1, Article 1 of the aforementioned convention, torture was defined thus: “For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”

Interestingly, Article 4 of this convention states thus: “Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture. 2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.”

The question that comes to mind is why the Nigerian Criminal or penal code or indeed the 2015 Administration of Criminal Justice Act do not seem to have sufficient and unambiguous provisions on this very disturbing social phenomenon of torture even when the Constitution absolutely criminalizes it.
Since it is a notorious reality that torture is widely applied by members of the armed security forces on civilians, why then is there no national commitment on the part of administrators of criminal justice to sanction indicted abusers of this anti-torture international law?

The British Broadcasting corporation did a research on torture and made far reaching findings including arriving at concrete response on why torture is wrong.

The reasons why torture is wrong can be divided into reasons of pure principle and reasons based on the bad consequences of torture.
The reasons why torture is wrong can be divided into reasons of pure principle and reasons based on the bad consequences of torture. Both sorts of reason are valid. Torture treats the victim as a means to an end and not an end in themselves·        It treats the victim as a ‘thing’, not as a person with all the value that we associated with persons·        Torturers often explicitly dehumanize their victims to make it easier to torture them·        It uses the physical body of the victim not as a component part of a person of value, but as a tool to achieve the aims of the torturer(Torture) dehumanizes people by treating them as pawns to be manipulated through their pain.

Kenneth Roth, Getting Away with Torture, Global Governance, 2005 found out the following; Torture is sometimes used to destroy the autonomy of the victim;·        Some societies have used torture to suppress independent thought and convert people to ‘right-thinking’. The individual is tortured until they abandon their own views and beliefs and adopt those of the torturers. The victim ceases to be an ‘end in themselves’ but becomes just another means to support the regime of the torturer·        Torture violates the rights and human dignity of the victim, including the legal right to remain silent when questioned. 
Consequentially,   Torture is a slippery slope – each act of torture makes it easier to accept the use of torture in the future;Torture is an ineffective interrogation tool·        It may well produce false information because under torture a prisoner will eventually say anything to stop the pain- regardless of whether it is true·        Because of this the interrogator can never be ‘sure’ that they are getting the truth and will never know when to stop;·        More effective methods of interrogation that don’t involve torture are available·        If a suspect is tortured it may be impossible to prosecute them successfully – British common law excludes involuntary statements or confessions on the ground that such evidence is inherently unreliable. Torture damanges the human dignity.·        Those who carry out torture are likely to become brutalized by their acts, and desensitized to humanity·        The more acts of torture a person carries out, the more likely they are to carry out torture; Torture damages the institution that carries it out·        It damages the reputation and moral authority of the institution;·        Its use is likely to produce internal dissent and so damage the integrity of the institution·        Using torture provides ‘the enemy’ with something they can exploit for propaganda

 History, according to those who should know,  offers no modern examples of the strategic effectiveness of harsh interrogation techniques, but it is replete with examples of the negative strategic effects such techniques have on the counterinsurgency force.Lord Hoffmann, British judge said that:"When the state itself beats and exhorts, it can no longer be said to rest on foundations of morality and justice, but rather on force." For Mordecai Kremnitzer quoted in Marcy Strauss, Torture, New York Law School Law Review, 2004:"While the rest of the world is expected to abide by the UN Convention against Torture, for example, the Americans evaluate international law on the basis of whether it serves their interests.

It bears no repeating to call on the Chief of Defence staff; the Chief of Army staff and all other military chiefs to make hay whilst the sun shines by introducing effective study modules to educate their troops on global best practices that absolutely makes the use of torture unacceptable and unlawful. 

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria(HURIWA) and blogs@;


“I pledge myself and the government to the rule of law, in which none shall be so above the law that they are not subject to its dictates, and none shall be so below it that they are not availed of its protection. You shall be able to go to bed knowing that you are safe and that your constitutional rights remain in safe hands.” 
– Muhammadu Buhari, acceptance speech as president-elect, April 1, 2015.

I wish President Buhari could read these words contained in his acceptance speech when he received his certificate of return as president-elect on April 1, 2015. If for no other reason he would discover that he has not lived up to his own part of the covenant with the Nigerian people. Under his watch, godfathers and untouchables taunt Nigerians with their invincibility and superiority over the laws of our nation. Under his watch poor and hapless citizens are slaughtered on a daily basis by a bunch of serial murderers, with nothing happening to the criminals. Those Nigerians who go to bed with the assurances that their rights and their lives are in safe hands do not wake up. They are murdered in their sleep.

As I have recently stated elsewhere, a quiet civil war is underway. Again and again, Southern Kaduna has emerged as a metaphor for a nation that watches helplessly and unperturbed while an amorphous and clandestine league of death merchants amuse themselves with the blood of innocent citizens. When we are beginning to think that one spasmodic deluge of blood has finally come to an end, we suddenly find ourselves in the throes of another scene of mayhem and mass murder. As things presently stand, we seem to have collectively resigned ourselves to fate while a rampaging squad of psychopaths freely fulfils its mission of creating a lake of blood in the very heart of our nation. Everywhere you turn to today, from North to South and from East to West, Nigeria is heating beyond boiling point temperature. Agents of the state and criminal elements are now in a fierce competition for who can kill the most number of people.

In the East, armed policemen descend ruthlessly on unarmed IPOB protesters and discharge their bullets on them. In the North and Middle Belt, suspected herdsmen and their mercenaries trained in the art of systematic liquidation of human lives continue to wreck havoc of untold magnitude. As environmental degradation and backwardness cast a dark pall over the lives of citizens in the Niger Delta region, militants have taken to incessant destruction of oil and gas installations, albeit the hazards to their own lives and those of their people. We see hypocrisy on the part of our political leaders in their persistent failure to address the root causes of the Niger Delta crisis. All the stopgap measures over the past two decades have yielded nothing but further violence and destruction. This year 2017 will mark 22 years since the gruesome execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni sons on account of their struggle for the emancipation of their people. Yet the circumstances that gave rise to that dark chapter of our national history still hangs ominously over this nation. Environmental degradation continues to cast a death spell over the lives of our citizens in that part of the country. A region that has given birth to Nigeria’s prosperity still finds its people living in abysmally subhuman conditions.

In the South West, armed policemen rain their bullets and teargas on hapless university students for daring to protest the indiscriminate killing of their colleagues. As we struggle to grapple with the aftermath of the atrocities wrecked by Boko Haram on the psyche of our nation, we suddenly hear of an accidental bombing of IDPs camp in Rann, Borno State, by a Nigerian Air Force fighter jet, which has left over 200 persons dead and over a hundred injured. A surgeon with the International Committee of the Red Cross, who narrated his experience to a national newspaper reporter, spoke of medical workers of international aid organisations conducting no fewer than 68 surgeries in 48 hours, mostly on women and children. 

What about the casualties arising from the recent collapsed church building in Uyo and the collapsed building in a Lagos police barracks? A few months ago, a detachment of soldiers from the Nigerian Army descended on a procession of Shiites in Kaduna and liquidated over 300 human lives. Nothing has happened. No one has been brought to book. Impunity is the answer! Today, it would seem that all sectors of our national life have been dangerously positioned to spew out blood and tears. What sane nation is there on earth that can cope with such wanton destruction of human lives? What further evidence do we need to know that the whole of Nigeria today has come under demonic and evil forces?

Under President Muhammadu Buhari, the architecture of governance has practically collapsed, leaving yawning gaps to be exploited by criminal elements. To show how indifferent and undisturbed our president is by the recurring decimals of mayhem all over the country, he jetted out of Nigeria to Britain some days ago for medical vacation, all at Nigeria’s expense. If he could do this when his country is on fire, it only shows how far removed he is from the reality of what is happening. This was the same man who during the election campaigns promised to end medical tourism in Nigeria. Today he has become the best advertisement for all that is wrong with our national healthcare system. Four months ago, he was in London to take care of an ear infection, and he ended up spending ‘only’ £50,000 of Nigerian taxpayers money. The embarrassing joke of Buhari’s media henchmen was that his acceptance to spend ‘only’ a paltry sum for his medical safari was a mark of his austerity, accountability and desire to curb waste. How much insult to our collective Nigerian sensibility!

Yet in America, we are reportedly told that Joe Biden who had served for 35 years as a senator and 8 years as vice president was unable to raise enough money to pay for his son’s cancer treatment. His son was an Iraqi war veteran before be became attorney general of Delaware State. Yet both father and son could not meet the financial obligation for the son’s treatment. It was in Biden’s bid to sell his house to assist his son that President Barack Obama volunteered to write off the medical bill at his own expense. Any patriotic Nigerian who reads this must stop to think about our country and about how our transparency and accountability aptitude for leadership has reached its lowest ebb. 

Nearly six decades after independence, Nigeria has no world-class university, hospital or even tourist attraction. Thieves and rogues continue to fester around the corridors of power for their own selfish interests like maggots around excreta. The whole idea of leadership as an avenue to serve the public good has been totally lost on us. Politics is largely seen today as a means of making quick money. One who enters politics today and does not dip his hands in the public till is often considered a fool; and not many Nigerians want to be fools. Many of us thought that things would change drastically with President Buhari. On the contrary things have turned out far worse that we imagined.

With Buhari and under Buhari, a government that rode to power on the crest of banishing corruption and impunity in the land now carries and openly celebrates the virus of its own infection. But beyond the hypocrisy of the Buhari administration in the fight against corruption, we see how President Buhari’s majestic silence in matters of serious national importance has become one of our biggest national leadership catastrophes. Even when he chooses to speak, there is an unusual fondness for drag and delay. This tendency to respond to everyday governance issues after maximal delay has now turned out to be a contagion that afflicts both the president and his entire administration. Unlike other world leaders in civilised climes, President Buhari cannot draw up a list of three trouble spots that he has personally visited since he became president. And there are many of such places from the North East to the Niger Delta, to Ukpabi Nimbo and to Agatu among others. Carnage of monumental proportion takes place in this country every other time and the grieving citizens hardly find their leader on their side. Does this not say something about the president’s perception of the value of the life of his fellow citizens?

When we criticise President Muhammadu Buhari on account of his abysmally poor leadership and governance aptitude, our criticism is not borne out of hatred for the president, but out of love for our fatherland. We know the great potentials and possibilities that abound for this nation and her people if we have the right kind of leaders: courageous leaders who can take on vested interests, visionary leaders who can build a policy for governance marked by an extraordinary combination of grit and persistence, morally upright leaders whose attitude portrays zero-tolerance for corruption and impunity. That is the kind of leader that Nigeria desperately needs. We need a leader who embodies compassion and sensitivity: a man who can cry with those who weep and can laugh with those who are happy.

Emmanuel Ojeifo is a Catholic  Priest..