Bukar Abba Ibrahim: My grouse with Buhari’s presidency
Men with military backgrounds use military solutions
A former governor of Yobe State and senator representing Yobe East district, Dr. Bukar Abba Ibrahim, says his disappointment with President Muhammadu Buhari was that he did not include education among the major thrusts of his administration. The senator stressed that with the parlous state of the country, security, education and enterprises remain the main drivers to see the country to a glorious future just as he regretted the internal strife and insecurity ravaging the country.
Bukar, who bared his mind in his book Poorlitics, recalled that the day Buhari was sworn in as President was a great one for progressives, stressing that “we had amassed the arsenal that the conservatives had always thrown at us, with deadly propaganda, and an array of strange bedfellows, and threw them out of power.” He asserted: “We did things that were not normal with the usual ethical sensitivities of progressives, and that was where General Buhari’s military ruthlessness and stratagem came to our aid. Whatever else he achieved, one thing can never be taken away from him, he brought the progressives to power.
“It was Buhari’s twelve million voters in the north and (Bola) Tinubu’s political sagacity, brilliant publicity machinery and mobilization of the South, not just the Southwest, that ensured victory.”Shedding more light on the early days of the Buhari presidency, the senator lamented: “Boko Haram’s control of territory, which started diminishing in the blitzkrieg ordered by President (Goodluck) Jonathan in the dying days of his tenure, almost came to an end, but there has been continuing explosions in various towns as they adopted their old hit-and-run tactics.
“Unfortunately, breakaway movements and agitators started to emerge. Agitations for Biafra, Niger Delta militancy and the Shiite Muslims began to resurface. The Biafra agitation was a disappointment, because I would love the Igbo people to remain in Nigeria with us as they contribute so much to the nation.“However, their agitation at this time is understandable. In terms of resources, after the Northeast geopolitical zone, the next geopolitical zone that is marginalised is the Southeast. The worst hit was always the Northeast, until the coming of Buhari, under whom more resources were voted to revamp the Northeast. But with the damage caused by the insurgency, this was a drop in the ocean.
“There were some agitations for appointments and infrastructure for the Southeast, which were not put in place, so they were disappointed. The Biafra thing is an idea, an ideology, and ideas are not easily defeated. It would go on for some time, but I have prayed that the country remains one and never descend into conflict with loss of lives.”The former governor stated that solving such problems entails people sitting down with those agitating to find out if there are genuine solutions, stressing that the “problems of the Southeast or any part of Nigeria, should never be allowed to deteriorate so much, as it could lead to a break-up of the country.”
He went on: “However, if such situations became irreparable then people should separate in peace by referendum and not by violence. The civil war was the worst crisis we saw in this country; millions of people were killed. That should never happen again. “As for the Niger Delta, the region was violent under President (Olusegun) Obasanjo, but became peaceful under President (Umaru Musa) Yar’Adua and President Jonathan. They took actions that quelled the previous militant activity and made everywhere peaceful.”
Contrasting the leadership styles of Yar’Adua and Jonathan with that of Buhari in response to internal frictions, Bukar noted that the current responded with military assault, stressing: “Men with military backgrounds are trained to use military solutions, so it should not surprise us when such solutions are brought to bear. “Sometimes, military solutions work for some problems, sometimes they make them worse. We should apply wisdom in deciding what to use at what time, and if we act with wisdom we may save our country from breaking up.
“When I was governor of Yobe State, whenever there was a threat of agitation and violence, I would go straight to those people; I would not summon them and wait. I would sit down with them and hammer out what I could do to stop anger. “Every leader acts in a way their character, wisdom and propensity leads them. If I was president today and had to deal with agitations in the Niger Delta, I will not sit at Aso Rock and wait for them; I will go straight to the Niger Delta, straight into the creeks, find them, sit with them and thoroughly thrash out their problems with genuine intention to solve them.”
Although Bukar maintains that there is no way a country with a huge population like Nigeria’s will remain without problems, he said the greatest thing is that “its population provides a huge market that could be a springboard to establish great Nigeria multinational companies.” “However, despite the economic sense in staying together, if we cannot manage ourselves politically and instead allow religion and ethnicity to suffocate us and break us up, then it is a great loss to Africa and the black race,” he stated.
The senator said Nigeria must use security, education and entrepreneurship for all, to build a country in which no one feels marginalized, but choose to stay together because they want to stay together, not because they are forced to stay together. While stressing that force is a recipe for unimaginable disaster, and never works in the long run, he said at inception he hoped that President Buhari would incorporate free and compulsory education nationwide as the fourth issue of his programme to make the nation truly great in the foreseeable future.
“There is no country I know that achieved greatness without introducing free and compulsory education,” the former governor declared, stressing that he authored the book to teach young people that they can make it in politics without amassing great wealth. He explained: “I would dedicate my future years to teaching younger politicians how to use the principles of progressive political leadership to become politicians that succeed, no matter how poor they are. With the people behind you, you do not need much money, thugs or godfathers.”