2019: The Odds against Buhari

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By Abba Muttaka
The next presidential election will no doubt be decisive in the political history of Nigeria. It would have been an easy ride for the ruling APC to come back in 2019 if the government that popularly dethroned a seating government in 2015 has been ruling without controversy, scandals and performance far below the expectation of the loyal electorate that overwhelmingly voted it into office. The odds against President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC are many even though the president despite the unprecedented hunger that has ravaged particularly the north under his watch, still commands considerable amount of support amongst his cult like followers.

Certainly, the emergence of former vice president, Atiku Abubakar and the crisis that nearly overwhelmed the APC after series of controversial primary elections will be a major setback for the party to retain the leadership of Africa’s most populous nation. Already, there are visible threats that many top political gladiators of the APC including some aggrieved governors who chose to remain in the party for political expediency will abandon the president even underground when the chips are down. And the ultimate beneficiary if that happens, which is very likely, is the presidential candidate of the opposition PDP, Mr. Atiku as the aggrieved persons will want to remained relevant or at worse be protected under a possible PDP presidency hence the need for a truce that may see them deploying resources and support for Mr. Atiku.

The political baggage and failure to fulfil critical campaign promises no doubt threaten Buhari’s desperate second term ambition. More than three years at the helm of affairs and after spending billions of naira, the country is still producing between 2600 to maximum of 3800 of electricity megawatts, a figure that is not anything better than what the country was generating under the previous administration. And after conservatively spending over N368 billion in the war against insurgency notably Boko Haram alone there is no end in sight and it is becoming clearer by the day that the use of force by an army with very limited sophistication, intelligence and low morale will never defeat an army-like insurgency reminiscent of how the United States failed to achieve in its 17 years war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Going by the recent painful revelation of a top United States army Commander, Gen. Austin Scott Miller that “the war against insurgency going by US experience in Afghanistan cannot be won militarily and peace will only be achieved through a political resolution with the Taliban”. Gen. Miller who is the newly-appointed American general in charge of US and NATO operations conceded last week. Miller said war against an enemy that has sacrificed his life, an enemy you hardly see which is very similar to that of Boko Haram will continue to be unending. He candidly said, “this is not going to be won militarily. This is going to a political solution if we must end it. Remember we started this war since October 2001 and we are still not yet done with it. How much billion dollars have we spent so far?,” Miller said. Miller lamented that casualties among Afghan government forces have skyrocketed in recent months. Afghan security forces suffered 1,000 fatalities in August and September. If the revelation of a top Commander of the most advanced and sophisticated military in the world, Gen. Miller is anything to go by one wonders the magic President Buhari will do to end Boko Haram insurgency or to eliminate it in Nigeria with a military that are being allegedly shortchange at the highest level and with less technology, intelligence and sophistication.

DESERT HERALD reports that while the president continues to ignore issues of extreme poverty, youth restiveness and the general deterioration of the educational sector which are largely responsible for easy recruitment into Boko Haram, kidnapping etc, insecurity including abductions and indiscriminate killings by notorious gun men have consumed higher casualties under Buhari than during previous administrations. Corruption under the APC contrary to government propaganda has become alarming and unprecedented.

Buhari came with tremendous goodwill as he is arguably regarded as the most popular politician and president Nigeria has ever had. He got in with an unprecedented support – a reverence never seen even during the Late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Sir Ahmadu Bello’s era. To say President Buhari had never spent a kobo of his own as a politician on key campaign matters, even though he claimed to have bought the APC presidential nomination form in 2015 with a bank loan is an understatement.

As a shrewd politician, many have immensely benefited and hinged on his popularity to get elected into various political offices since 2003. Even when he could not make it to the presidency on three attempts, he secured more than enough votes, despite instances of electoral irregularities and rigging to convince anyone that his popularity is not only intimidating but capable of unseating an incumbent president, which he eventually did under a coalition of strange bed fellows in 2015.

There is nothing Nigerians have not done including trekking from Lagos to Abuja – Adamawa to Abuja, contributing their hard-earned money, coming together as pressure groups and endangering their lives to ensure that President Buhari, whom they so much believed was voted as a civilian president in 2015, even though most of the youths that made the ultimate sacrifice for that were either too young or were not even born to witness his reign as a military Head of State.

Having suffered from corrupt and insensitive leadership over the years, with all sectors of the economy deteriorating, Nigerians justifiably saw a messiah in Buhari. However, with just a few months to the end of his four years mandate, there is a general disappointment on the state of the nation – with killings by Boko Haram, armed bandits and kidnappings gradually on the increase, while huge military spending has not been commensurate with what is actually on ground since May 2015 when the president promised to destroy the dreaded Boko Haram and insisted that time that the failure of the Goodluck Jonathan administration to defeat and eradicate the terrorists group was due to corruption and lack of political will.

Insiders believe that because of unbridled corruption in the system, Nigeria under President Buhari and his apathetic Service Chiefs is now confronted with more security challenges, perhaps never seen in the history of the country. The North, Buhari’s constituency is ironically the most affected and also records the highest casualties of the security challenges the nation is facing today. As a nation, Nigeria is faced with daily cases of kidnapping and ransom demands like a script in a Latin American Hollywood movie while the security agencies stand aside to mourn with the rest of us.

Communal crises, Herders/Farmers clashes, armed criminal activities particularly in Zamfara State and environs have taken more lives since 2015 than the collective casualties of Boko Haram terror during the same period. Highly alarming poverty, unemployment, youths restiveness etc., have increased to an frightening and deadly rate.

It is an established fact that the APC government under President Buhari has failed to meet the basic requirements of leadership as well as the yearnings of the people, particularly in the critical areas of human development and security. It is even more worrying that the President has done virtually nothing in checking the excesses of the powerful cabal, whose capitalist activities has undermined his administration in no small measure.

It is unthinkable that a large percentage of the masses, who are the worst affected by President Buhari’s perceived outdated economic policies and glaring administrative ineptitude and instances of corrupt activities, are by all indications determined to overlook his shortcomings and weaknesses as a president, to re-elect him for a second and final term.

There is no doubt that the support President Buhari still enjoys particularly amongst the masses is cult-like and one that can intimidate any opposition party or opposition candidate. Perhaps that is why the opposition PDP and their presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar are not taking it lightly. With the incumbency advantage on his side, the APC governors that are truly loyal and other rich appointees that are ready to use the resources of their ministries, agencies and parastatals to ensure his return for their own interest is no doubt a big yardstick for a return come 2019.

In Nigeria today, it is a well known fact with those close to the masses (who constitute the largest number of voters) that as long as President Buhari will contest perhaps even on a sick bed, they are ready and prepared to use their blood, if that is what it takes, to ensure his re-election. While it is true, that his popularity has drastically reduced in view of the seeming failure of his administration; its selective war on corruption, failed economic policies that have crippled businesses especially in Northern Nigeria as well as the misdemeanors of the cabal that surround him to mention a few – these and more his die-hard supporters are too blind and subjective to accept.

Political observers sympathetic to Buhari believe that the number of those that withdrew support for Buhari and opted not to vote for him is so negligible and that despite the gale of defections that almost consumed the APC, it is still not enough to stop him from a second term, even though they acknowledged that because of the failure of the party to deliver its campaign promises in most of the APC States, it will be difficult in a free and fair election for most of the Party’s Governors and Lawmakers to retain their seats in 2019.

An open and elaborate survey conducted by DESERT HERALD, revealed that despite the recent defections of political heavyweights like Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Former Kano State Governor, Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso and Governors Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, AbdulFatah Ahmed and Samuel Ortom to PDP – President Buhari still remains the candidate to beat.

Even though majority of the voters in Nigeria, despite their hardship, are not enlightened enough to appreciate the movement to boot out a government that has so many skeletons in its closet or support the emergence of a more younger leaders with fresh ideas, it is worthy of note that the opposition especially the PDP also seems not to be doing much to investigate and bring out the many excesses and failures of Buhari’s administration for the purpose of convincing voters for the need of a more vibrant, incisive, innovative and healthy leadership come 2019.

In the view of Buhari’s critics, his health is still very fragile. They averred that Nigeria or the North needs not to engage in such an unnecessary gamble in Buhari. “Those that are close to the President certainly have a lot to benefit from his ill-health as they have done many times in the past. Having known the fragility of his health, I can confirmed to you that some notable world leaders had expected before his official pronouncement for a second term that he will instead be patriotic to support a much healthier northerner in the interest of the nation but the cabal that inflicted so much harm to the country and its economy under his rule won’t allow that”, leader of the R-APC and critic of Buhari’s style of governance, Engr. Buba Galadima lamented.
It is reliably touted that President Buhari has been hypnotized by the cabal with some spiritual black magic by a group of sorcerers contracted to impede his reasoning, therefore making him absentminded to check the cabal’s moral baggages. If President Buhari fails to overcome such damaging shortcomings making the cabal more and more powerful by the day to the full glare of the world in his foreseeable second term (that is if the PDP fails to put its house in order), this will certainly damage whatever integrity or good image he has left by then.

Such abuse of power by the cabal is not the only source of concern for a dent on President Buhari’s integrity, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), under Goodwin Emefiele for example, has made the cabal billionaires overnight through fraudulent allocation of forex. The cabal have sufficiently used and abused their influence, using all forms of blackmail against Emefiele at the inception of the administration and at a time when the CBN boss was not only desperate to retain his position but willing to do anything including harming the nation’s economy as it was done during the Goodluck Jonathan era if that will save him from possible prosecution from the Buhari they hitherto fear. It doesn’t take much time considering the corrupt tendencies characterized by consistent demands of the cabal through the CBN for the then frightened and demoralized Mr. Emefiele to realize and become relaxed that it is after all a business as usual under the Buhari he (Emefiele) was not expecting to survive the next 24 hours as the CBN governor.

While he believes Buhari is not corrupt, Emefiele found weakness to explore in those controlling the conscience and reasoning of the president. He took maximum advantage in the Nigeria’s spirit of give and take. That was how Emefiele despite the glaring atrocities of the past miraculously survived Buhari’s hammer. At the heat of the recession, which many believe became worse due to such fraudulent activities of the Cabals, some of them, including another bankrupt old man from Funtua were getting as much as N5 billion a week through such dirty allocation of forex from the CBN.

Certainly, the shrewd Emefiele wouldn’t have retained his coveted seat of CBN Governor in view of the many scandals of the bank under former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Interestingly, Emefiele did not only manage to retain his coveted seat of the CBN Governor but had so far escaped the fate of the likes of Col Sambo Dasuki were subjected to, for similar or even worse financial crimes. The same ‘arms fund’ Dasuki is being incarcerated for, Emefiele – a man who effected the payments through the vault of the CBN in the most fraudulent manner is today not only free but still retains his job because of the influence of the cabal and his sheepish obedience to them.

Such grotty show of influence by the cabal was also evident when the recruitment scandal that favours only the cabal and their friends in a supposed government of CHANGE hit the CBN, the President couldn’t do anything about it despite the prolonged outcry from the public until the matter died a natural death like many other scandals that have rocked this administration including the recent embarrassing case of forgery against the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun. By maintaining his usual silence and demonstrating the highest form of executive rascality like in many other cases involving the untouchables, the president clearly did not want Adeosun to be prosecuted for a clear case of forgery but is willing to prosecute the likes of Sen. Ademola for lesser act of alleged forgery. Such cases that gave undue advantage to those that are close to the president including cases of corruption like the one involving the billionaire Director of Finance in the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Ibrahim Tumsa are many.

Furthermore, the NNPC today is also under the grip of the cabal. It’s an indisputable fact that the GMD, Maikanti Baru, is not an appointee of the President but a defacto appointee of the cabal. DESERT HERALD can authoritatively reveal with empirical evidence that today’s NNPC is perhaps the most corrupt and non-transparent government institution in Nigeria. The Corporation under Baru has introduced a more sophisticated method of shortchanging the collective patrimony of Nigerians. Apart from the official figures, which is hugely misleading and untrue, nobody except the ‘owners’ of today’s NNPC knows exactly the total amount of crude being exported and how much it is generating.

Another fraud at the NNPC that made many including the influential members of the cabal billionaires is the Corporation’s highly fraudulent franchise of exporting crude for refining. That is why after over three years and despite many promises by the President, our refineries are still either under-performing or not performing at all. In Nigeria today, and never seen even during the infamous regime of Diezani Allison Madueke as the minister, certain powerful groups notably the cabal allegedly have a share in each supply of crude oil.

The corruption galore of the Buhari administration doesn’t stop at the CBN and the NNPC alone, another front runner to the disturbing scenario of looting in the country is the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) under Prof Umar Garba Danbatta. The NCC is another parastatal under the grip of the cabal, who have turned it into their cash cow, asserting their influence, demonstrating their greed and insatiable appetite to amass wealth even to the detriment of the much talk about integrity of the President.

The initial $5.2 billion (over N1.6 trillion) fine enforced on MTN Nigeria, a subsidiary of a major multi-national telecomm company based in Johannesburg, South Africa by Danbatta’s NCC at the instance of President Buhari was reduced to a ridiculous sum of N300 billion which is less than $1 billion of the initial fine of $5.2 billion. DESERT HERALD can reveal that there is massive fraud in the questionable negotiations and approval of the negligible sum which was spearheaded by Danbatta, a minister, Adebayo Shittu and another overbearing member of the Cabal, the man with the red cap at the Presidency, whose duty is to convince the president to give approval, which he did with so much ease.

An online medium had reported how the man with the red cap benefited from an initial gratification of a whooping N500 million from MTN for an approval job well done. The scandals at NCC with the cabal playing a major part remains the same till date.

The biggest problem of the Buhari’s administration is his seeming failure to control or at best limit the manipulative influence of the cabal. They include a select group of family members under the old man from Daura, a retired ambassador from Borno, an ailing old man from Adamawa, the Funtua born billionaire, another billionaire old man from Zangon Daura and a host of others.

DESERT HERALD is also fully aware that apart from benefiting from a highly inflated contract for the building of 500 units of houses for the IDPs in Borno and Yobe States (to the leader of the Cabal from Daura), all his children are now employed in ‘lucrative’ public offices. One of his children is the PA to the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, one is a PA to the Minister of Finance and another is attached to CBN Governor, Goodwin Emefiele as his PA. What a shame!

The man with the red cap at the Presidency on his part has bought a house for his unmarried daughter in Abuja, secured a lucrative job for her at the Power Holdings Company, and despite her truant behaviour, he bought a car of N50 million for her. Such are the characters that surrounds the president today, preventing even his own immediate family to properly advise him. This is the only fear of the many learned supporters of Buhari and his possible second term presidency.

With the growing public disenchantment about the administration across the nation particularly in the South East, South South, North Central, some parts of South West and even in some North East and North Western coupled with the growing popularity of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, incumbency advantage and the support Mr. Buhari still enjoys may hardly work for him in a free and fair election particularly if the international community focuses on Nigeria and insist on transparent election like they did in 2015, as a result of which rigging became virtually impossible for the then President Goodluck Jonathan and his men.

Already, a New York-based analysis firm, Teneo Intelligence and several other international bodies, says the Osun state governorship election has shown that President Muhammadu Buhari could lose in 2019.

In a report obtained by Bloomberg , the intelligence firm said if the opposition manages to unite, February election would be a tough one for the ruling party.

“There is already a clear message sent from Osun State: provided the PDP remains united, and the vote is reasonably free and fair, Buhari and his APC are likely to lose the general election,” Malte Liewerscheidt, an analyst at Teneo, said.

This is the latest blow to the Buhari reelection campaign.

In its report titled: “Nigeria: Papering Over The Cracks”, HSBC Bank, a global financial organisation, said the economy will suffer setback if Buhari wins in 2019.

The institution, however, added that the chances of Buhari winning another term were slim.

“A second term for Mr Buhari however raises the risk of limited economic progress and further fiscal deterioration, prolonging the stagnation of his first term, particularly if there is no move towards completing reform of the exchange rate system or fiscal adjustments that diversify government revenues away from oil,” the report read.

“In the near term, however, the election impact is likely to be negative as increased political uncertainty precludes policy reforms, weighs on confidence, deters investment spending and restrains the growth outlook.”

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A look at Buhari’s Corrupt and Incorrigible Acolyte

By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú

When will Buhari touch his roguish anointeds? When will these charades stop? Abba Kyari poses a direct challenge to Nigeria’s democracy, because he embodies the empty promise of Buhari’s anti-corruption fight. For a man whose animating ideology is money by any means and whose power relations can be charitably characterised as arrogant, Nigeria is indeed in trouble!

Chief of staff to the president, Abba Kyari is a malignant force in the Buhari administration. Behind his smile is a transparent gossamer of contrived ability that has immunised him from his failures. He is the egotistical face of the presidential triumvirate and unholy trinity created by Buhari, as a protective cocoon of the familiar and trusted. Abba Kyari is the powerful devil-may-care point man of the committee of “public safety”, along with Babagana Kingibe and Mamman Daura. The bloodless coup leading to President Buhari’s abdication is akin to the Coup of 18 Brumaire in which Napoleon Bonaparte overthrew himself by staging a coup within a coup, to become the first consul of France, thus setting the stage for the end of the French revolution. Has Buhari created his own failure by creating this tribal conclave of far right corrupt conservatives who love money and power in equal measure, without any tempering influence of morality?

Bit by bit, Abba Kyari’s brawling, blustery moves, chip away at Buhari’s credibility and he seems helpless, as if Kyari has something on him. Below is a catalogue of Abba Kyari’s scandal in 2016 alone:

…Evidence was reportedly presented to President Buhari that Abba Kyari collected N500 million from the South African telecommunications company, MTN to help reduce the fine imposed on them by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)…

June 16, 2016: Kyari and Mamman Daura were accused of blocking an investigation being carried out by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) into Sahara Energy, which was alleged to have received the sum of $400 million from former petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke as a conduit to funnel funds to third parties;

June 22, 2016: Kyari, Abubakar Malami, the attorney general of the federation and Nduka Obaigbena, ThisDay publisher were alleged to be masterminds of the plot to oust Ibrahim Magu, the EFCC acting chairman, from office. The AGF subsequently delayed Magu’s letter of nomination to the Senate for confirmation, aided by the chief of staff;

August 16, 2016: The chief of staff, in apparent abuse of his office, was alleged to have mounted pressure on the Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) to absolve Seawolf Limited, of its debts. Seawolf owes First Bank of Nigeria a whooping one hundred and sixty billion naira (N160 billion).

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September 20, 2016: Evidence was reportedly presented to President Buhari that Abba Kyari collected N500 million from the South African telecommunications company, MTN to help reduce the fine imposed on them by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC);

In all the drama that unfolded on Bẹ̀rẹ̀kẹ̀tẹ̀, one thing stood out: Abba Kyari was quoted as saying, “if Buhari cannot be caught, neither can I.” With that quote, the immortal words of Karl Marx came to life again! “History repeats itself twice, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce”.

October 21, 2016: Following reports that Kyari received the MTN bribe, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the inspector general of Police, Ibrahim Idris to investigate the allegation. The investigation went no where. It died!

Another explosive allegation was served hot to us over Bẹ̀rẹ̀kẹ̀tẹ̀ Radio on September 2, 2018, involving Abba Kyari in a Hilux truck scam. In an apparent abuse of office, bribery, intimidation, unjust imprisonment, influence peddling, fraud, and violation of procurement guidelines, the chief of staff, gave his nephew Bako Kyari a contract to supply Hilux trucks. Bako Kyari sold family properties to fund the contract, and Abba Kyari, using an intermediary, Ado Sani, appropriated the proceeds. He not only deprived his nephew of N30 million, he used the DSS under Lawal Daura to lock up Bako and the police officer – DSP Lawal – who Bako complained to. DSP Lawal was inconsolable as he recounted his ordeal at the hands of the DSS.

When will Buhari touch his roguish anointeds? When will these charades stop? Abba Kyari poses a direct challenge to Nigeria’s democracy, because he embodies the empty promise of Buhari’s anti-corruption fight. For a man whose animating ideology is money by any means and whose power relations can be charitably characterised as arrogant, Nigeria is indeed in trouble! In all the drama that unfolded on Bẹ̀rẹ̀kẹ̀tẹ̀, one thing stood out: Abba Kyari was quoted as saying, “if Buhari cannot be caught, neither can I.” With that quote, the immortal words of Karl Marx came to life again! “History repeats itself twice, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce”.

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