It is no longer news that President Muhammadu Buhari’s minister for women affairs, Aisha Alhassan has publicly ditched him and hitched unto the advocate of restructuring, Atiku Abubakar.
As she paid Sallah homage to him during the eid-el-Kabir holidays, she greeted the Waziri Adamawa as follows:
“Your excellency, our father and our president by the grace of God, come 2019”
And if anybody thought that Aisha was going to dial back on her comments, having been outed by a video released online, they were dead wrong!
Instead of dialing back, she doubled down on her stance and told the BBC Hausa on Wednesday August 6, 2017 that:
“Let me tell you today that if Baba said he is going to contest in 2019, I swear to Allah, I will go before him and kneel and tell him that ‘Baba I am grateful for the opportunity you gave me to serve your government as a minister but Baba, just like you know, I will support only Atiku because he is my godfather. If Atiku said he is going to contest.”
First of all, let me say bravo to Aisha Alhassan for having the courage to say that the emperor is naked!
Truly, Nigerians should not see Aisha as a traitor. Ever since the lion indicated that he was afraid of rats, it was only a matter of time for the lionesses to abandon him and find a real lion!
And Atiku Abubakar is definitely a real lion. The type of lion that can lead the pride, and not a king of the jungle that prefers being far away from the real jungle in preference for a concrete one in London.
Aisha Alhassan, is my new favorite person! She is the Dora Akunyili of 2017 who has the balls (forgive my poetic liberties) to tell an inept President the bitter truth.
By openly telling President Muhammadu Buhari on BBC Hausa “I will support only Atiku Abubakar”, she is actually telling him ‘Go. You have done enough damage!’
And it is wrong to see Aisha’s actions as a betrayal. If there is any betrayal, it is from President Buhari, not Aisha.
In an interview with Reuters, she revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent posturing for a second term in office notwithstanding, the President had actually promised the inner caucus of his party before he was elected in 2015 that he would not seek a second term and it was on that basis that many of them supported him.
Her exact words were:
“In 2014/2015 he said he was going to run for only one time to clean up the mess that the (previous) PDP government did in Nigeria. And I took him for his word that he is not contesting in 2019”
Buhari’s own wife publicly rejected him for 2019 on the same BBC, now her namesake (you now know what name to give your daughter if you want her to be a strong woman) publicly rejects her husband. Buhari’s greatest sycophant, Nasir El-Rufai, publicly rejected him in a memo telling him he has failed, yet the President continues to wallow in his failure with his latest misadventure of cancelling the most recent Executive Council of the Federation meeting as if it is an ordinary appointment!
But should we be surprised? The same way his closest aides rejected him in 1985 is same way his closest confidants are rejecting him in 2017. His wife, Minister and his sycophant!
Personally, I believe the last straw for Aisha Alhassan was his canceling of FEC in the midst of unprecedented national calamities and challenges because of an ‘extended holiday’.
100,000 homes flooded in Benue. North Korea threatens ‘impudent’ people of Nigerian. ASUU/Doctor strike and you cancel FEC meeting for extended Sallah? Yet you say you returned from London to ‘reposition Nigeria and make life better’?
Is it by canceling the most important meeting in Nigeria where government meets to decide the progress of Nigeria that you do that?
If Nigerians want an ‘extended’ holiday, we have Wakanow website for that. We elected Buhari to cancel hunger in Nigeria, not to cancel FEC due to ‘extended’ holidays!
It seems President Buhari does not yet know the type of humongous challenges we are about to face because of our failure to plan which is in itself a plan for failure. And it is not just President Buhari. Collectively, Nigeria as a nation appears to be blind sighted to the coming perils in the horizon.
We continue with the wasteful pattern of state sponsorship for pilgrimages and give pilgrims concessionary dollar exchange rates as if a nation becomes great solely by prayer. We must end concessionary dollar exchange rates for pilgrims. If we should have special dollar rates it should be for manufacturers and the real sector.
President Muhammadu Buhari keeps resisting the idea of restructuring and since the idea is one whose time has come, restructuring is already happening without his input. Atiku sees it. Buhari does not, hence the pendulum of power is shifting from the latter to the former.
For instance, regionalism is already back in Nigeria. A state like Anambra is not waiting for oil money to be shared to it from a rent collecting federal government in Abuja. Anambra has no time for that!
By virtue of trading, manufacturing and of late a strong agricultural resurgence, Anambra is the richest state in Nigeria in terms of per capital per individual and Nnewi has more billionaires per square mile than ANYWHERE ELSE in Africa!
You cannot be a millionaire and claim to be a big boy in Nnewi. Mba!
Yet Anambra has no oil and Nnewi is no Port Harcourt!
Many Nigerians may not know why President Muhammadu Buhari is against restructuring and wants to draw a red line against ‘hate speech’. The thing is that he alone gets to decide what constitutes hate speech just as his Chief of Staff Supreme Military Council, the late Major General (rtd) Tunde Idiagbon, got to be the only one to decide if a truthful comment was a crime under their infamous Decree Number 2 (the military version of his civilian ‘red line’).
But the reason why Buhari is against restructuring and free speech is because he is a self confessed admirer of the old Soviet Union.
On May 10, 2015, President Buhari received a delegation from Taraba state, led, coincidentally, by Aisha Alhassan, and he explained his admiration of the Soviet Union thus;
“In 1991, after coming out of detention, I was sitting at home and the Soviet Union collapsed. They were the world power fighting the western world. In technology, they were the first to go to space and they had intercontinental war heads than NATO. They had more sophisticated weapons.”
President Buhari was disappointed that a nation he loved so much had folded up.
Now do not forget that President Buhari is first and foremost a military man who has fought wars and planned and participated in military coup d’états. He thinks strategically.
Now, ask yourself this question: Why did the Soviet Union collapse?
Most scholars attribute the collapse of the Soviet Union to the reforms initiated by its last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev which are briefly summarized in two doctrines that he initiated in the 80s, namely, Glasnost and Perestroika.
What are Glasnost and Perestroika?
Glasnost means as a noun means:
“a Soviet policy permitting open discussion of political and social issues and freer dissemination of news and information:” initiated under Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985.
As a verb, it means:
‘the Russian word glásnost’ literally taken to mean openness’.
Then there is perestroika.
Perestroika means as a noun means:
‘The program of economic and political reform in the Soviet Union initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986.
Perestroika means as a verb means:
‘Russian word perestróĭka literally meaning rebuilding, reorganization’.
These definitions are from the Merriam-Webster dictionary and dictionary dot com and from their meaning we see that glásnost means openness and freedom of speech while perestróĭka means restructuring.
Now you can enter the mindset of President Muhammadu Buhari and understand why he is against restructuring and free speech.
Connect the dots people, connect the dots!
While in reality, the Soviet Union was a dystopia, President Buhari remembers it as a utopia.
To him, nirvana is the defunct Soviet Union and that nation of his dreams, the USSR, was, at least in his mind, brought down by glásnost and perestróĭka otherwise known as free speech and restructuring.
Now that he finally has the opportunity to turn Nigeria into the nation of his dreams, the clamor for restructuring and openness has reached fever pitch and to him, it is like déjà vu..
President Muhammadu Buhari believes that if he allows glásnost and perestróĭka in Nigeria, he will suffer the fate of Mikhail Gorbachev and Nigeria will go the way of the Soviet Union, dismembered into multiple smaller nations.
But the President forgets a number of things.
You see, without glásnost and perestróĭka, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was headed for a very nasty implosion.
The then US President, Ronald Reagan, in pursuit of his policy of ‘peace through strength’, had lured the USSR into running an arms race that it could not afford and which America could. As a result of the arms race, Gorbachev was unable to turn the energies of the Soviet Union to pressing domestic problems.
There was a proxy war in Afghanistan, a country they invaded in December 1979 and occupied for a decade at a human cost of 15,000 Soviet casualties and 2 million Afghan civilian casualties and a financial cost of the entire budget of Nigeria for the last 40 years!
Worse still was the fact that the growth of the Soviet economy was not keeping pace with her population growth (remind you of anybody?).
So, it was not as if Gorbachev was being generous by introducing glásnost and perestróĭka. He literally had no choice. His country was collapsing under him and that is the same thing that is happening to Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari.
President Buhari must not allow his phobia for glásnost and perestróĭka, stemming from his fascination with the defunct USSR blind him to a fundamental truth-there must either be a new Nigeria or there may soon be no Nigeria!
His resistance to free speech and his new policy of drawing a red line against hate speech will not hold ground in a nation with 100 million Internet ready mobile lines! And nothing undermines a leader’s capacity to govern than when the leader makes unenforceable laws or threats that he cannot back up.
In the same vein, to resist restructuring is to fight against an idea whose time has come!
It is very clear that President Buhari’s fixation with the Soviet Union has kept him in an 80s time capsule. That is why he still refers to the unified nation of Germany as West Germany and that is why he still thinks that hate speech is any speech that is in opposition to government policy.
Somebody must tell the President that the reason dinosaurs became extinct is because they refused to adapt to the changes in their environment!
Like Gorbachev’s 1980’s USSR, Nigeria’s population is growing far faster than her economy. Our population grew at 2.6% last quarter while the economy grew at 0.55%. Only a Buhari administration will be shameless enough to celebrate such an abysmal record!
And also, like the USSR of the 80’s, Nigeria is caught in an intractable war with Islamic extremists.
You may say to me that the Russian invasion of Afghanistan is different in nature from the war against Boko Haram and my response to you is that you ought to study Nigeria’s contemporary history deeply. History does not repeat itself, men repeat history!
Boko Haram was not initially a violent sect. It was not until the Nigerian Government extra judicially killed its leaders, most notably Mohammed Yusuf, that the group became radicalized and linked up with global terror groups.
And today, just like with the USSR in Afghanistan, we are spending billions that we do not have fighting a war that is so difficult to win because the enemy relies on guerrilla warfare tactics. Boko Haram are like the mujahideen that fought the Russians to a standstill in Afghanistan.
Russia’s Afghanistan campaign was what led to the rise of Osama Bin Laden and our killing of the pious Mohammed Yusuf was what led to the rise of the radical Abubakar Shekau.
We cannot pay civil servants, we are taking loans from capitalists, socialists and communists left right and center. Essentially, Nigeria will take loans from any nation or institution willing to lend her money, yet we just spent $593 million purchasing 12 A-29 Super Tucano military jets and other weapons from America because we must fight Boko Haram.
But what does Boko Haram really want?
Is it just to fight, kill and to destroy? No. They want an Islamic Caliphate essentially in the Kanuri dominated Yobe and Borno state and since Nigeria killed their leaders who were advocating for that idea peacefully, they have decided that they must advance their cause by force of arms.
But what if they are genuinely invited to restructure Nigeria. If the certain states want to live under strict Sharia law why can’t they if they will not impose it on others?
After all President Buhari himself once declared in 2001 that (and I quote):
“I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria”
I assure President Buhari that restructuring will take care of that desire that he has burning ‘inside me’!
Can we not see that everyone, including Boko Haram (secretly) IPOB, OPC and Arewa Youth Forum rejoices when Nigeria scores against another nation in a game of football.
That alone should tell a reasonable man that their problem is not Nigeria per se, but the fact that Nigeria is not also scoring in the areas of equal Opportunity for everyone, in the economy and in government.
Once we make the necessary structural changes to our polity and start to score in these areas, EVERY separatist agenda will end!
And that is the only way that President Muhammadu Buhari can prevent the fate of the defunct USSR from befalling Nigeria.