Special to USAfrica magazine (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com, first Africa-owned, US-based newspaper published on the Internet
Attorney Ken Okorie is an Editorial Board member of USAfrica
Nigeria is awakening and bristling as the February 2023 presidential election approaches. Clearly, the Buhari experience left no corner unspoiled. None faired well hence there is widespread apprehension and hope in the land. One side is clearly more of what the country has seen for decades, only worsened under Buhari. The other offers hope and opportunity for redirection, for real change. Which camp will prevail remains a matter of anticipation, of hope.
Regardless who emerges, the worst mistake of Nigerians will be to pin all hope or focus on just the President. No man, however good, can handle the challenge to deconstruct and reconstruct Nigeria alone. He will need help, especially from a legislature that is alive to its responsibilities.
The rot has gone on too far too long. The executive, legislative, and juridical branches jointly bear responsibility both for how we got to the mess and how it is fixed. The failings of the presidency are so evident, even Buhari knows them, even if he will not admit. To him it does not matter because he did not seek power to move Nigeria forward. Buhari went into office singularly focused on picking from where Uthman Dan Fodio stopped. He embarked on the mission long before he was sworn in. Indicators were recently confirmed that bandits were imported to destabilize Nigeria and ensure Buhari’s ascendency. That was the essence of Buhari’s threat during the 2015 campaign about “baboons soaked in blood”; it hounded Jonathan out of office. This was no surprise because Boko Haram had hitherto designated Buhari their spokesman. Jonathan understood the message and took a pacifist route hence he conceded.
Buhari did not fail by himself. The legislative and judicial arms contributed in no small measure to every bit of his incompetence, indiscretion or deliberate mischief. Lawmakers slept on the job or willfully acquiesced to the whims of a capricious executive.
Buhari violated every tenet of the constitution and severed every thread that holds the country together. For nepotism, sectionalism, extremism, corruption and much more, Buhari could have been impeached dozens of times. Some of his transgressions border on treason.
But the legislature did nothing, simply watched as Buhari converted Nigeria to his Fulani family estate, flung open our borders to his Fulani brethren from far and near no questions asked, armed and spread them across the land, while he also disarmed citizens to prevent resistance. As some wondered or fictionalized about it, Fulanization was already work in progress actively engaged by Buhari and his henchmen.
Having slept as the country drifted, one can only see the Senate’s recent threat of impeachment as perhaps the joke of the century! Were these Senators living on Mars during the seven years Buhari Fulanized and Islamized with no finger lifted?
For its part the judicial arm, which should regulate and balance these excesses, unabashedly joined the fray. Rather than checkmate the Executive and the shameful indifference of the Legislative, judges took to appointing governors, sometimes over the express will of the electorate. The judiciary became the seal that validated injustice, dereliction, and other treasonable violations spread across the land.
Thus, all the branches of government contributed to the rot by a combination of overt affirmative acts or willful indifference. But responsibility is not just of elected or appointed officials in government. The larger society also contributed either by simply watching and murmuring or by acting helpless. The media sang redundant tunes on insecurity and corruption, but not much more. The professions (Legal in particular) seemed dazed. The vacuum from Gani Fawehinmi gaped for he would have seen Buhari in court on several instances. The security apparatus (police, military and intelligence) responsible to secure the peace and protect lives shirked from their responsibility often being willing tools that coerced citizens, whose only crime was speaking out over the rot that abounds.
A saying in my neighborhood is that the spot where the land is desecrated is where the gods must be appeased. Destruction of Nigeria was the joint action and/or inaction of leadership in all spheres of governance. To repair the damage, all angles must also be changed.
It would be foolish to expect one good man at the presidency to alone salvage the country. The rot is too deep, the stench too suffocating. But 2023 is an opportunity. That opportunity can be adequately seized only if all the contributing sectors are touched. A president, however good or capable, must have a sensible cadre of legislators and judiciary to achieve citizens’ aspiration for good governance. Absent that, the president, however good, will be frustrated out of his clear mind and Nigeria will be back in the woods.
Therefore, while focused on candidates for president in 2023, Nigerians must not forget about also sanitizing the chambers that make law. Candidates for House or Senate should have qualities, attributes and tendencies comparable to the president’s. There must not be room for greedy, corrupt, extravagant, unresponsive lazies. If this is done, the Judiciary will fall in place.
A Peter Obi with Senators and Representatives of the texture under Buhari is prescription for more disaster, more horror. I opine that Nigerians must be “Obidient” about the legislature same as the presidency. Peter will set the cue, but the rest of us must follow for results to flow.