May 25, 2020
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May 12, 202017min1560
Again, Nigerians are looking for their president

From the killing field of bandits in his country home of Katsina to the black covered earth of Niger Delta where oil spill has damaged people’s source of livelihood, Nigerians are again searching for their president.
Muhammadu Buhari, who, a leading local newspaper, The Punch, prefers to call retired general due to his proclivity to abuse of rule of law and human rights has not appeared in public for several months. The only time he was seen was not physical but a prerecorded televised address where he outlined his guidance for the management of coronavirus.
But many critics including the rebellious Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, being championed by a British citizen, Nnamdi Kanu, believed that was not the real Buhari. Soon after the last address which happened two weeks ago, he has not been heard again. Many of his critics believed he was long dead, others say he has been on treatment bed in Cuba, a semi-hermetic country bordering the United States.
On social media, citizens especially from his home state of Katsina have set #PrayForKatsina rolling, calling for prayers for endless killings associated with the bandits.
Between March and first week of May, over 80 people have been killed with a single day killing of 56. Figures are often disputed for lack of access and deliberate manipulation by government officials to reduce public outcry.
While the president is “hiding away” and “living a baby lifestyle in Aso Villa (Nigeria’s presidential residence), according to social media critics, economy has gone under, citizens groan under lack of electricity while poverty figure is hitting the sun. Nigeria is regarded as the country with highest poverty rate in the world, long before the outbreak of coronavirus.
Meaning, seven in every ten are poor. That figure could be higher owing to stall in economic activities due to the virus.
But majority of Nigerians are less concerned about the shape of the economy but the absence of their president prompting many to be refreshing Kanu’s allegation of ‘another’ Buhari in Aso Villa. They compare their country with Ghana, Madagascar, South Africa and other countries in the continent whose presidents are often heard and have been leading the charge against the virus.
This has forced many to rename him the ‘Missing One’.
The absence of Buhari has left many to feel acute power vacuum since the death of his top aide, Abba Kyari, who was his Chief of Staff. Kyari, who was accused of usurping power, illegally enriching himself from bribes from MTN, one of the country’s telecom giants, Aso Villa Clinic, (a privileged official clinic for the president, his family and staff, among other few persons), unaccounted diversion of funds, died of the virus in April.
His death was celebrated by Nigerians with many hoping for more high profile deaths as pay back for running aground Nigeria, (especially for abandoning the health system to rot way), which until 2015 had a prospect of moving into the top 25 biggest economies in the world.
Buhari himself has travelled overseas for medical treatments more than seven times, the longest being an almost one year stay in the UK prompting protests home and abroad. Those times too, Nigerians looked for Buhari as he proceeded for (medical) vacation while on official assignments in other countries without handing over to his VP.
Kyari however was buried is disregard for social distancing regulations initiated by the government, which critics say is responsible for the renewed surge in infections across the country especially the North where those who took part in the mammoth burial came from.
The government came under heavy criticisms for allowing such gathering after it had punished many Nigerians including celebrities whose gatherings were not more than 30 in their houses. Few weeks before Mr Kyari’s death,  Funke Akindele and husband were punished in a hastily arranged court in Lagos, the country’s populous state, for birthday bash. The celebrity said attendants were few and had converged in the house before the social distancing regulations, and where mostly family members. This was condemned few weeks later when the government issued a veiled apology for the huge number of people that attended the top aide’s burial. Akindele too apologised before her arrest to a crowded court and sentencing alongside her husband.
While the politics who to reprimand or not continues, Nigerian economy is in a sorry shape with their missing president.
“Everything is wrong, every thing has gone against Nigerians as if we killed Jesus,” lamented Segun Adebanjo, a political analyst in Lagos.
“The president can’t be seen, can’t be heard. The vice president is scared of being accused of usurping the president’s power so he’s quiet, he too is hiding away,” added Mr Adebanjo, who said he supported and campaigned for Buhari in 2015.
The South West supported Buhari in both 2015 and 2019 elections with a leading figure, Mr Bola Tinubu, a top APC member ensuring positive returns. But the zone appears to be in a political limbo as the North schemes for power retention, something Mr Tinubu and his supporters are worried of. Mr Tinubu, like his political protege, Mr Osinbajo, wants the top Nigerian job in 2023, although both politicians have started mobilisation through proxies.
Nigerian VP, Yemi Osinbajo said to be locked up in Aso Villa and shut from leading the country in the president’s absence
“I was happy he won in 2015. We dreamed of a new Nigeria. One year into his government, I gave up. The comedy of errors, blatant mistakes and elementary errors started making me to feel we made a mistake.
“By 2019, I campaigned against him but they used the Army, armed police men and secret police to kill people and to disperse them. They used them to warn against mass protest and eventually rigged the presidential election. They suppressed the people to stay in power,” said Adebanjo.
Nigeria’s secret police is the Department of State Security, often deployed ahead of every election and said to lead bribe of top election management officials to rig elections. They arrest social media critics and every perceived critics and can hold them in secret places as long as they desire. Even journalists are not spared.
“They have unlimited powers. They decide on who, when, how, why and where to arrest perceived enemies of government. They tap your phone, bug your house, car anything to be able to arrest you and hold you without court appearance for years,” Mr Adebanjo said.
Few months ago, the DSS arrested a Nigerian citizen from the oil rich Delta State of using a SIM card belonging to one of President Buhari’s children and held him without bail in unknown location until public outcry forced them to undertake a hastily arranged court appearance. The case has not been heard again.
“We are in auto pilot,” a Benin-based social commentator, Isaac Osele said from Nigeria’s South South region.
“Buhari would go down in infamy. He abdicated his role at will. His men make sure the vice president doesn’t act. He has pocketed the National Assembly so they don’t act. They are all his men. The judiciary is his handpicked as the head is his closest political ally.
Nigerian Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, accused of being Buhari’s yes man
“Corruption has demarketed the country in an administration that made fighting corruption its number one policy. Even donations to fight coronavirus is being stolen.
“No checks and balances. The government is borrowing to spend on food for government officials not capital projects. The Sani Abacha loot being returned is being relooted and spent on frivolous things.
“People are being killed in Kano, Katsina, (where the president comes from), Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Kogi, Kaduna, Niger, Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba, Zamfara, Sokoto, the list is endless. The entire country is a killing field.
“Bandits are killing daily. Boko haram members are killing daily. Armed robbers are having a field day. Coronavirus infection is rising with deaths increasing. And the president is off duty, hiding away in the comfort of his villa,” a visibly angry Osele said.
A leading opposition party in the country, which Buhari’s political party, the All Progressive Congress, APC, disposed in 2015 has accused Buhari of turning his back on the country.
Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed (left), accused of being a political ally to Buhari (right)

In a statement signed by its Spokesman, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan few days ago, the party said, “Nigerians can recall how the PDP championed the cause of the downtrodden, established Almajiri schools, the e-wallet initiatives for rural farmers, built new universities, revamped our economy, overhauled our health care system, established the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), revamped the mortgage system to give Nigerians access to own homes and expanded the political space to promote youth and women participation in governance among others.

“Unfortunately, what we witness today are total reneging on these promises, degradation of citizens, hunger and starvation, intimidation of dissenting voices, untold corruption, neglect of our infrastructure, annexation of electoral and judicial system, violation of human rights, in addition to escalation of insurgency and bloodletting while the President, who promised to lead from the front, recedes very far into the luxury and safety of Aso Presidential villa.
“The APC posed as the messiah; promised free houses, millions of jobs, monthly allowances and even to bring the value of dollar to one naira.
“President Buhari promised more prosperity and to rout out insurgency with the snap of the finger only to abandon them in the middle of the nowhere, stripped of honour and means of survival.
“The APC lied to a people who were already organizing their lives along the path of economic prosperity, development and national cohesion; they beguiled and misled them into believing that they were being led to Eldorado.
“Today, the APC relishes in abusing and insulting Nigerian youths; from Kano to Lagos, they deny them access to economic opportunities and jobs, yet tag them as lazy. The APC deny our youths good education, health care, comfortable homes and access to basic necessities of life, yet demean them as outcasts and undesirable elements fit only for life on the streets and as tools to manipulate elections for corrupt APC leaders.”
The PDP had in April called on the president to visit Kano State, to get first hand information about strange deaths but the ruling party said the president would not visit.
Some states in the northern part of the country such as Kano, Zamfara, Borno, Katsina, Gombe, Kaduna, among others have been experiencing strange deaths with as much as 34 dying in a single day.
Critics have accused Buhari of not doing anything about the deaths.
For now, Nigerians celebrate that everyone, rich or poor, are staying back at home to face collective but individual grief and face the prospect of being wiped out by hunger or bandits whose areas of operation keep enlarging. And in a country where there’s no existing economic team, one thing is now sure – starvation for the citizens and everyone is his own saving grace.
 
This article was written for Daily Mail UK by Lambert Eigege (Abuja) and Abiodun Adejo (Lagos) with Ahmed Ademola (Lagos) editing.

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