Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Dr Kelechi Udeogu: Will we ever recover from Buhari?

Do we start from insecurity and talk about how insecure the country became under his watch?

• October 21, 2023
Kelechi Udeogu
Kelechi Udeogu(Credit: Lady B. X account)

Eight long years and everything that could go wrong in that period went wrong. Where do we start when discussing the horrors of the Buhari years? What atrocities do we begin with? Do we start from insecurity and talk about how insecure the country became under his watch? Especially when you consider that he ran as a former general who had the antidote to cure our problems with insecurity, but he ended up bringing his own type of poison. Do we talk about the ethnic cleansing and land grabbing that went on unabated in the middle belt, the active gangs that his kinsmen allegedly formed, how they went from being called herders to bandits that were actively involved in ransacking villages, land grabbing, genocide, killing indiscriminately and kidnap for ransom. How things got so bad these bandits started to kidnap children from primary schools to secondary schools and students in university, many of whom are yet to regain their freedom after months and some years in captivity?

Under Buhari’s watch, Nigerians started crowdfunding to pay for ransom. People came to public places like social media to raise money to pay for the freedom of their kidnapped loved ones, and the government never seemed bothered that Nigerians had to resort to public begging for ransom payment.

Do we talk about the Unknown Gunmen phenomenon in the Southeast or how the Indigenous People of Biafra went from being a group that wore outfits made of Biafran flags and protested occasionally to a group that became militarised and actively engaged the Nigerian state? Do you understand the depth of the problem in a region where every Monday, citizens are forced to stay at home as a form of protest, and the federal government never tried to intervene, to connect with the citizens? The President never made a substantial comment? Even when he occasionally went to the region and the citizens protested by staying at home, Mr Buhari, as president, was never bothered by this and did not care. Do you understand how inhumane and insensitive you must seem as president not to be moved by this? To not ask, “Where are the people of this state? Why are they not going about their normal business”? These are the things we experienced under Buhari.

Do we talk about the agitators for Oduduwa Country in the South West region? How Buhari made Nigerians violently not want to be a part of the Nigerian state anymore? Do we talk about the Nigerians who fled the hardship and insecurity in the country? The Nigerians who fled the country for their safety? The Nigerians who criticised government and disappeared? The hashtags we created every day to bring attention to our people who were at the mercy of the state. How #EndSARS came, and the government sent soldiers and thugs to violently suppress the citizens’ rights to protest against police brutality, killed protesters, murdered young people and lied that no one was killed.

Where do we start to discuss the economic horrors? How Nigerians woke up poorer every day, how the country became so hard, everything became so tough. Nigerians could barely afford to eat while Mr President and his associates partied and wore expensive shoes. The naira exchange rate tragedies and the horrors of the unemployment data the National Bureau of Statistics kept churning out. There was not a single coherent policy direction. As usual, the president was not affected, showed complete disregard, a president who did not care about the sufferings of his people, a president who was entirely unperturbed.

In February 2023, Nigeria was ground to a halt on an ill-advised Naira redesign policy. The horrors of what we experienced, and Mr Aloof, as usual, did not care. How do we explain the atrocities in the healthcare system? With doctors abandoning their country in numbers, leaving their profession (with Minister for Health under Buhari encouraging them to become tailors or learn a trade), the country barely has enough doctors to care for its citizens. But how does it bother Mr Unperturbed if he can get on a private jet and move to a London hospital for six months without bothering to explain to Nigerians where he is, what he has been up to or what ails him? Why bother when you have the best doctors in the world at your beck and call? Do we even remember that our president went missing for about six months, and we continued like it was normal? He had a habit of disappearing on Nigerians without explanation — zero accountability.

What a man! What a president! Do we talk about what happened with the judiciary? A president, that under his leadership, operatives of State Security Service were sent to kidnap Supreme Court justices in the dead of the night. Do we remember how the Chief Justice of the federation was unceremoniously removed from office over false and manufactured allegations? Do we remember the abuse of power and the reign of terror in Nigeria? How do we as a people move on from those eight years of horror? How do we as a people recover from those years? Eight years is such a long time to inflict this much horror on a people. The list of horrors is inexhaustible. Buhari has laid the foundation for every single terrible thing that will befall Nigeria in the next couple of years. Will we ever be able to recover? Where will the recovery start from?

Kelechi Belinda Udeogu has a PhD in development and political communication.

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