Interrogating the soft landing for Retired Military Service Chiefs and understanding the Buhari Persona

By magnus onyibe

Given the pattern of events in the past six (6) years of president Muhammadu Buhari’s stewardship as president and Commander-in-Chief of The Armed Forces of Nigeria, it is easy to conclude that mr president is a Fulani irredentist and an apologist.

That’s simply because the media is awash with complaints that most of those appointed into critical public offices by president Buhari have been skewed or heavily weighted in favor of the Hausa/Fulani to the exclusion of the two other major tribes (particularly the lgbo and to a lesser degree Yoruba) as well as other minority tribes numbering over 250 that make up our country .

Those who hold that view, aver that such mono ethnic dominance tendency is more pronounced in the security architecture of the nation with members of a particular tribe and faith being at the helms of practically all the critical security agencies.  And that’s on top of the fact that they are also in charge of other critical organs of the government including the leadership of the legislature and judiciary at the centre.

But would it not be glib talk to just label president Buhari,a Fulani irredentist without interrogating or conducting a basic psychological analysis to decipher the reasons  that our president tends to be exhibiting a predisposition that portrays him as selfish ,  clannish, ethnic, nepotistic and even a religious bigot?

Is the fact that he defended the Fulani back in the days when following a deadly conflict between herdsmen and farmers in Oyo state , then retired army general, Buhari had to travel all the way from Kano to lbadan for a show down with then governor of Oyo state Lam ADESINA, (1999/03) enough to draw the harsh conclusion that president Buhari is a Fulani apologist?null

Is it also fair or justifiable to adjudge him to be beholden only to the Fulani simply because he is the life patron of miyetti-Allah, the umbrella association of herdsmen who are predominantly Fulani and currently in the centre of herders and farmers conflicts erupting all over the country?

It is pertinent to point out that although he took the above referenced actions , president Buhari also defends the military and the judiciary with similar fervor. Does that make him a military and judiciary apologist or irredentist too?

Even those he calls his friends and allies also get the kind of protection that he provides for the Fulani and by extension, herdsmen.

Does that make him a nepotist?

Clearly, it is the protective tendencies often exhibited by mr president towards those that he shares affinity with such as the Fulani and other members of his constituents-the military ,acolytes and fellow party members that have earned him the negative appellations such as irredentist and apologist. In reality and to be fair, president Buhari should not just be referred to as Fulani irredentist because by his antecedents and if same logic is applied, he can also be termed a military apologist and a leader who turns blind eyes to the failings of his acolytes and devotees because he feels duty bound to do so. That’s partly evidenced by the fact that he demurred for a long time from firing the military service chiefs, even after the call by a cross section of the Nigerian public for their sack had reached the highest crescendo.

While all the earlier listed  labels attached to mr president such as selfish, clannish, religious bigot may not be easy to prove , one toga that sticks on him like second skin is that president Buhari is a tribalist.

That’s because as a person , he appears to be wired to recognize and reward only those known and loyal to him. And owing to their loyalty, the people or groups that he helps , protects or supports are regarded as his tribesmen and women.

That attitude to leadership would not have been such a bad trait, if the number of Nigerians outside his clan that are within his orbit were not so very limited.

But as things currently stand , reflective of his personal lifestyle, president Buhari’s circle of friends is very small.

As such , his actions and inactions as president in the nearly six years period that he has held sway in Aso Rock presidential villa attest to the belief that our president may be afflicted by what l would like to term-tunnel vision miasma. Which basically means that mr president may only be applying the optics of loyalty in his assessment of issues, allocation of power or in dispensing favor. In order words, the main criteria of appraisal of issues by  mr president is likely to be mainly from the prism of loyalty.

And l arrived at the conclusion above based on the psychological analysis (though l

lay no claim to being a psychologist or psychiatrist) that l have conducted relying on trend analysis of president Buhari’s public actions and utterances .

So, the outcome of my assessment, is that all the myths about our president being an ethnic jingoist and religious bigot have been shattered. And a new vision of who he truly is, in my opinion has just crystalized.

My new vision of mr president has been defined or influenced by a myriad of factors,but the chief of which is the current soft landing that he has accorded the recently retired military service chiefs, by proposing them for ambassadorial appointments.

So, by and large,any keen follower of Buharism that adjudges President Buhari to be a tribalist, would not be far from the truth.

But the Nigerian leader is not a tribalist of the hue that is restricted to the narrow prism of his clan or state of origin. That is to say that the tribalism of our president goes beyond tongue and place of origin. It is much wider than that as it extends to the orbit of fellow human beings irrespective of the tongue, tribe and creed of those with whom he has developed a comfort zone. Based on the above precept, president Buhari’s tribe members are those that he demands absolute loyalty from, it does not matter whether they are Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba or lgbo. In like manner , he pledges his loyalty to them too-in terms of offering his protective backing through thick or  thin. My finding is that once he develops a bond with anyone or group , they become his tribesmen and women.

It is a sort of informal and unwritten commitment of sorts that makes members of mr president’s inner circle look like cult members,  with him as a consigliere as the Italians like to refer to godfathers. A bond which in an uncanny way is writ large, in my considered opinion.

That’s why the average Buharist is likely to be blinded to all his shortcomings, just as he too sees them as blue eyed princes/princess for whom he provides protective shields against their adversaries.

The notion is a validation of the thinking by a good number of Nigerians that tend to have the belief that president Buhari practically turns blind eyes to the atrocities committed by his devotees .

To substantiate the hypothesis above, let’s assume that the military is a tribe.

Given his unflinching support to the service chiefs that just retired , after being on the job for about five (5) years which is unprecedented, would president Buhari also be tagged a military tribalist for choosing members of his tribe(military)to serve as ambassadors after dithering from sacking them over a long period of agitation for their replacement by Nigerians? At least two of the five service chiefs are not from the Hausa/Fulani stock – Abayomi Olonisakin is Yoruba.

Ekiti state, while Ibok Ete-Ibas is Efik from cross rivers state.

For standing stoically behind the service chiefs that were on the job for an unprecedented period of 5 years , would it not be easy to also identify president Buhari as a military irredentist, much the same way as he is being labelled Fulani irredentist?

How about the two former Supreme Court justices, George Oguntade-Yorubaman and late Sylvanus Nsofor-lgboman that he gave appointments as ambassadors to the Uk and USA-the most prestigious and strategic ambassadorial postings? These men are said to be the members of the temple of justice that offered minority opinions in his favor on the two occasions that he challenged his losses in the presidential elections to Supreme Court levels prior to 2015 when he eventually won the presidency.

Was he also tribalistic with their appointments or can he be characterized as an apologist of the judiciary arm of government? From what l gleaned from

my brief research into president Buhari’s actions and inactions , both Supreme Court justices are the ones who gave the minority judgements that helped candidate Buhari to keep his presidential hope alive during the dark period of his quest for the presidency.

Being someone that treasures and cherishes loyalism, he must have felt duty bound to reward his loyalists, generously by offering them the prestigious appointments in the manner he is now putting up the retired military service chiefs for appointment as ambassadors.

The point l’m trying to put across is that president Buhari is more of an ardent and perhaps irredeemable believer in the concept of loyalism than a mere Fulani irredentist as he is being characterized.

So his somewhat unwavering, if not zealous commitment to loyalty, in my view, explains or is the reason his appointees are mainly from amongst his cohort and he hardly fires them.

That leadership style or approach hinged on absolute loyalty might have originated from his military training which is steep in regimentation. Nevertheless , there are also chances that the character trait of insularity might have been innate in our president and his military orientation might have only contributed to the consolidation of his constricted outlook or worldview and unique approach to leadership . Whatever the case may be, mr president is obviously set in his ways. However, he may be difficult, but not impossible to sway from a presumably settled mind set. Take the case of naira  devaluation, fuel pump price increase and petroleum subsidy removal for instance.

President Buhari was initially resistant to such fundamental economic reforms. But he eventually yielded to superior arguments and reality by allowing the market forces  to influence the dynamics of those economic factors.(Vsnguard)

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