Now that the wise, prudent, babes and suckling have come to the gruelling realisation that Nigeria is gradually coming to a deadly repose under President Muhammadu Buhari; it is nice seeing everyone in frenzied scampering. Legislators in Abuja, like vipers stirred off their places of comfort, are spitting venom. The political elite, seeing from afar the impending expiry of their inordinate suck of the Nigerian nectar, are confused and disconcerted.
Abuja, their nest of filch, is becoming too hot for comfort. The same Abuja is also fast assuming the violent notoriety of Afghanistan and Tel Aviv. Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists coming in different names and attired in shades of different murderous allies like ISWAP, Boko Haram, Ansaru, bandits and Fulani herdsmen, wave at Aso Rock from the cusp of their guns and grenades. Exactly a week today, they hoisted aloft a whiff of their earlier threat to kidnap President Muhammadu Buhari and the Kaduna state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, by ambushing the elite Brigade of Guards, the president’s elite security guard.
Apparently a flex of bravado and their can-do bravura, the terrorists had stormed Bwari, the federal capital territory, where they ambushed a detachment of the elite Nigerian troops. At the end of their operations, three officers and five soldiers had been killed. A few days later, a military checkpoint close to Zuma Rock which borders Niger state and the federal capital territory, was reported to have been attacked by people feared to be terrorists. On the economic front, the Nigerian naira scurry inside its hole whenever the dollar and other foreign currencies holler, hoisting its worthlessness for the world to see the emptiness of the minds of Nigerian rulers.
Those who hysterically warned Nigeria of the bottomless pit the country was blindly walking into by voting for Buhari in 2015, as well as those who naively shouted “Sai Baba!” at his approach have now all met at a critical juncture of harrowing regrets. Nigeria is slipping off the handle very fast. In the midst of this grotesque situation, I remember two nuggets which effectively explain the Buhari phenomenon. One is the lyrics of Jamaican reggae musician, Peter Tosh; the other is an ancient yet scary anecdote we were told growing up in the 1970s. The anecdote was a weapon the Yoruba society of the time used to wean children away from greed. It also illustrates the saying that all that glitters isn’t gold. It was the story of a notorious womanizer named Lailo whose pastime was an insatiable collection of Daughters of Discord – apologies to Prof Wole Soyinka.
Represented as a hunter in some versions of the anecdote like the one Ibadan-born Awurebe musician, Dauda Epo Akara, narrated in one of his songs, but in some others simply as an avaricious man for whom précis couldn’t be found in his sexual diary. One market day, Lailo was in the market to hawk his merchandise. His gluttonous eyes then caught this ravishing beauty with the radiance of a zebra. She had no single blemish on her body. Instantly, the lady’s arresting beauty took Lailo’s brain to factory reset mode. He instantly ran a ring around her and baited her as she went through each of the serpentine processes of purchase of wares in the market.
As this beautiful lady made to leave the market, Lailo helped her carry some of the wares and then Lailo followed her. The lady repeatedly warned Lailo to leave her alone and return to his home, to no avail. He assumed that her refusal of his advances was a demonstration of the usual women prudery which actually translated into her desiring him.
As they walked down the forest path, this beautiful lady continued warning Lailo to go back. “If you do not take your leave of me, we will get to a bluish river that challenges the heart of the brave-hearted – t’o ba dehin, o kan odo kan aro” the lady warned. Lailo obstinately continued following her. “If you do not take your leave, we will get to a blood-red river that challenges the heart of the brave-hearted – t’o ba dehin, o kan odo kan odo kan eje,” she warned again. Lailo persisted. And then they got to a point of no return indeed. As they sunk further into the forest, they met guards, to whom the beautiful lady returned all her borrowed appurtenances of beauty, one by one – the beautiful face, the arresting legs of a gazelle, the heap-like backside and the cuppy bosom of a damsel. Lailo persisted. At the last minute when it dawned on him that he had got to a point of no return, Lailo attempted to run back. By then, the beautiful lady had turned into what she really was – a fearful, frightening sphinx, with the incisors of a carnivorous animal. As Lailo attempted to run, the animal tore him into pitiable mincemeat.
The Nigerian 2015 election that enthroned Buhari as president and the enormous and grotesque carnival of hopelessness that the country is embroiled in today remind me of Tosh’s Nobody feel no way in his Mama Africa album. Its lacerating lyrics sink deep into the subconscious. Tosh had warned that “It’s coming close to payday” as “everyman get paid according to his work this day” and that, “you cannot plant peas and reap rice, cannot plant cocoa and reap yam, cannot plant turnip and reap tomato,” and “cannot plant breadfruit and rea potato”.
In the words of Tosh, it is our payday as a country. In 2015, we planted the seed of a terrorism-loving president and today, we are alarmed that terror has festooned the neck of the country. We sowed as seed the weakest leader in the history of humanity and we expected a valiant, running helter-skelter now that he cannot lift a finger for us. Again, General Buhari was that beautiful sphinx whose bewitching look entrapped Nigeria, the Lailo, in 2015. He looked so enrapturing to behold. His minders said he possessed multiple healing features. Buhari was marketed as a sure recipe for our multifarious national ailments. As a retired general of the Nigerian Army, he was held as the answer to the dreadful, then mutating Boko Haram insurgency calamity that had befallen Nigeria. He was a fitting response to the cluelessness of Goodluck Jonathan. He would incinerate corruption with his fabled pedigree of personal integrity. His vice, whose gift of the garb was in the realm of legendary Mark Anthony’s, would fix the Nigerian economy, so the lame narratives went.
However, one by one, Buhari unravelled unto us like the ravishing beauty of that Lailo sphinx. He peeled those fake ascriptions, one after the other, until he manifested as one bloodsucking affliction. Today, that beautiful woman we saw in the market has swallowed more blood than any other in Nigerian history. Today, the demon of the marketplace has swallowed so many of us in his insatiable bowel.
Unfortunately, we have crossed the Rubicon and it is no time for apportioning blames. The urgent assignment in the hands of Nigerians today is how we can collectively retrieve this great country from the hands of the small-minded sphinx who has taken our country to this precipice.
Last week, a video surfaced on social media which succinctly explains that the Nigerian Lailo is hanging inside the incisors of the sphinx. Never did it occur to me that a social media-circulated video clip could forcefully deny anyone of their peace of mind as that viral clip did. It was a duet featuring a cast of two ladies. The ladies were unknown angels whose assignment on earth was obviously to forcefully burst human beings’ lachrymal glands. They did this effectively. Anyone who watched the clip lost some ounce of tears in the process. The heroine of the one-minute, fifty-four seconds-duration clip was a lady of obvious northern Nigerian descent. Strapping a blue Muslim hijab around her head and neck, medicated glasses sitting uncomfortably on the ridge of her nose, she strapped a car seat belt around her, indicating that the filming of the clip was inside an immobile car. Intermixing Hausa and English to form a perfect blend of sorrowful outbursts, she told the story of the horror that has become Nigeria’s northern Nigeria under President Buhari.
“I saw horror when I was in captivity. I had nightmares when I was in captivity. That (was) why I left Nigeria; that was why I am here. But walahi talahi if you have not been through what we have been through… a lot of us who have been through captivity and been raped multiple times by terrorists, you will not know the pains, you will not know the agony… Nobody believed me; nobody said anything, nobody helped me (cries helplessly). No one! No one! And that is what is happening right now to our children. They are being killed. Nobody is saying anything! … I was raped! I was raped! I was raped by terrorists! I still have marks on my hands”.
And then she burst into a paroxysm of a highly contagious revue of tears. It was so infectious that her colleague cast who had listened to her grisly narrative without a word, except occasional punctuating grunts of Lailahilahala! Lailahilahala, began to sob. The ladies immediately and unwittingly recruited me into this lachrymose assignment of theirs. Like a burst pipe, my tear gland burst too, as I suspected it did with many Nigerians who watched the clip. As the horror narrative gradually reeled to its end, the two ladies then tore into another round of very fitful and almost disconsolate gush of weeping. None of the two ladies could or attempted to console the other. I cried along with them. Even if you were as unfeeling and mirthless as to be capable of eating the ugly, unexciting and meatless head of a tortoise for dinner – as the Yoruba would say – your eyes, at this intersection, must be filled with dripping well of hot tears.
The hopelessness crafted in that lady’s narrative fills the atmosphere in Nigeria today. Since the Kuje jailbreak of July 2022, a gush of episodic dramas has happened in the country. During that attack on the Kuje Medium Security Prison, the terrorists bombed the prison while freeing 879 inmates, 64 of whom were their comrades in terrorism. Each of these events makes Nigerians realize that they can no longer continue to pretend about their country. As that Ghanaian Akhan poet chanted in ‘My Song Burst,’ one of the poems in A Selection of African Poetry by Kojo Senanu and Theo Vincent, “War has begun, says So-kple-So,” Nigerians realized that the days of pretences have long gone past. On their hands is one of the most irresponsible and ineffective governments in human history. The oats we sowed some seven years and two months ago have germinated into very atrocious and poisonous weeds that exterminate us in droves.
The elites have now seen the danger Buhari portends. They are scampering from pillar to post to salvage their pot of soup. Last Wednesday, some 80 senators, from a total of 105, in concert with majority members of the house of representatives, handed over a six-week ultimatum to Buhari to fix Nigerian security or risk being impeached. The house was also reported to have cancelled its earlier decision to go on recess. A band of grovelling party-men immediately came to Buhari’s rescue. Feebly, they try to exonerate him from the state of hopelessness he has thrown Nigeria. Flakes of that fatal ambush of Brigade of Guards members by terrorists in Bwari reflect the up-scaling of the level of despondency in the polity. In response, the FCT shut down all public schools, while the Nigerian Law School was forced to hurriedly find an alternative venue for its call-to-bar ceremony. Boko Haram, whose pseudo ideology is war on education, won.
It is however certain that push has come to shove. With our hands, we have brought into office a man who is either too naïve, too complicit or too incompetent to lead Nigeria. Despite this incompetence, Nigeria has funnelled stupendously unbelievable national patrimony into this barren exercise of their security. The Buhari government was reported to have spent N4.85 trillion, while withdrawing $2.35bn from the ECA fund, ostensibly to wage war on terrorists who are right now by the tip of its nose. Yet, the Islamist terrorists are energised by the infamous incompetence of the Buhari government. Having succeeded in the spate of attacks it carried out, fears are mounting that public institutions are the suspected next targets of attack by these demons. Those who, over the years, were demonised as enemies of Buhari and those who demonised them are today on the same queue, having come to the reality that Nigeria is haemorrhaging to death fast.
Semantics are being deployed to demarcate where Nigeria stands today. Is it failed, failing or just a fragile state in the hands of Muhammadu Buhari? What we see today that has metastasized into terrorists ambushing the advanced team convoy of the Nigerian president came from Buhari’s dalliance with terrorists, right from the beginning of his regime. The president found excuses for every tissue of terrorism inflicted on this country. Fulani were pastoralists who were forced into Nigeria by the drying up of rivers in the Sahel, he once claimed. As Fulani, terrorists have no boundaries in Africa, a member of his cabinet once told us, in tow. Nigerians blocked grazing routes and the government was bent on re-locating these routes, Buhari himself said, ad nauseam. Captured Boko Haram terrorists are resent into the system under a very suspicious amnesty programme. Today, Buhari’s hands cannot wrap around the sphere of operations of these messengers of death who he has acted as their counsel in years of his being in office. They have wrapped themselves around Nigeria and it will be a miracle if they aren’t planning to penetrate Aso Rock already.
The 10 months that remain for Buhari in Aso Rock will mark a regression that is more fatal to Nigeria than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Today, Nigeria is literally grounded, a state which some optimists called bottomed out. Education is comatose; the economy is gasping for breath and society is in tatters. The glue that wedges us together has melted due, principally, to Buhari’s nepotism and favouritism for his Fulani stock. If you add these to an insecure Nigeria — Armageddon, here we come. As a result of these, whether by impeachment or resignation, Nigeria should get Buhari to leave. Immediately! He has demonstrated rank naivety, aloofness and incapacity to bring anything good the way of this country and enough to be pleaded with to leave the Villa right away. Since he said he was excited at the thought of leaving office in May 2023, can’t he be prevailed upon to leave right now? Immediately?