By Deji Adeyanju
Recall that on October 1, 2015, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari in his independence day broadcast called Nigerians unruly people who do not like to obey rules and regulations, he went further to say progress could not happen without a change in citizens’ attitudes. The BBC and other international media immediately started raising fundamental questions about the comments of President Buhari on that occasion.
The first question that came to my mind when I heard the statement from Buhari was, when did he suddenly become a good Nigerian? Because the Buhari we all know has always been unruly throughout his entire life. He was unruly as a soldier by staging a coup against a democratically elected government and suspending the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. You will agree with me that it is only unruly soldiers who stage coups against a democratically government and suspend the constitutions of their country.
Is this the same unruly Buhari who on May 15, 2012, in Kaduna promised to soak Nigerians in blood if he did not win the 2015 elections or another one? In his exact words: “If what happened in 2011 (alleged rigging) should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood”. You will of course agree with me that it is only unruly citizens that threaten bloodbath in their country if they do not win elections.Is this the same Buhari who has promoted religious and tribal sentiments in the past above national interest or another one? You will agree with me that it is only unruly citizens who promote tribal and religious sentiments above national interests.Is this the same Buhari who never conceded defeat at any of the elections he lost between 2003 and 2011, no matter how free and fair the elections were deemed even by credible international observers, and by his various outbursts and actions, is responsible for the killing of more than 1,000 Nigerians by his supporters? You will agree with me that it is only an unruly citizen that could have uttered such words to his supporters at the Minna rally in 2011: “Go out and vote on Election Day, escort your votes, make sure your votes count. Anyone who tries to rig/manipulate the process or even try to stop you, kill him”.
WATCH Video of the above death instruction given by Buhari to his supporters below:
Is this the same Buhari who refused to appear before Oputa Panel or another one? Is this the same Buhari who was planning to form a parallel government if he had lost the 2015 general elections or another one? You will agree with me that only lawless citizens threaten to form parallel governments against constituted democratic government of their countries.
It is only an unruly president who is chanting change that will block Abuja road for more than 30mins because his convoy wants to pass as seen in this amateur video which was posted on the internet just yesterday and subject motorists to untold hardship.
It is only an unruly president that will detain people without trial like the way Nnamdi Kanu, a pro-Biafra agitator has been locked up without trial or charge. You will agree with me that a decent and law abiding president would have charged Kanu, allowed him access to his family and lawyer or at most brought a charge against him by now. It is also only unruly people who invade people’s houses with the sole intention of implicating them for crimes they have not committed as was done to former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and detained for over 24hrs on Sallah day because of vendetta.President Buhari also keeps shouting Nigerians are corrupt wherever he goes. My question is simple, is it Nigerians that have been looting this country since the 1970s when he was Petroleum Minister, in the 80s when he was Head of State and in the 90s when he served under Abacha or is it our leaders?This nation has gone beyond the primitiveness witnessed under Buhari when he was a military Head of State, he should get over his juvenile military behaviours, they can never happen again under a democracy. Nigerians will never do frog jumps if they are late for work again, and brutally enforced queueing which he implemented in the purchase of food items can never happen again. Nigerians are very much aware of Buhari’s tendencies to return to his old habits since old habits die hard and will do anything to guard this democracy.
Yes, I agree with President Buhari that change does not just happen. We have to make it happen. That is why he, the president must change his habits first and become a changed man (democrat) then use the best democratic ways to build institutions and then strengthen such institutions to enforce laws and ensure order. Buhari must stop seeing himself as a strong man. Strongmen do not last more than four years or exceed eight years in a democracy but strong institutions last forever. The United States of America is great today and a reference point because it has strong institutions. Strongmen die but strong institutions live forever.
The best way to change the unruly behaviour in schools, hospitals, market places, motor parks, on the roads, in homes and offices is for our leaders like Buhari to lead by example and most importantly concentrate on building strong institutions. To bring about change in Nigeria, Nigerians must see change in our leaders; they will have no option but to also change when that happens. You cannot be shouting that Nigerians should change when the leaders including the president still behave waywardly. Law abiding leaders produce law-abiding citizens.
Let me conclude by stating categorically that in my opinion, I do not think Nigerians are unruly in their conducts or actions. It is the leaders who have ruled Nigeria that have been the source of our problems. The problem with this country is not her citizens but her leaders. Instead of our leaders to focus on building strong institutions, they focus more on building strongmen, “dictators” who come with stick wielding approach to every issue like the way Buhari did in 1983-84, but failed and will always fail. Frog jumps and stick wielding is not the solution. The solution lies in building strong institutions, which enforce law and order. If people know that there are no separate laws for the rich and the poor, then laws will be naturally obeyed. You will require less energy for enforcement. If the people know that leaders whether they be Governors, Senators, Ministers, etc must obey traffic lights like other Nigerians and there are no preferential treatments for the leaders and the led, then the law becomes easy to enforce. For the law to become lawful, it must apply to all categories of people in a country. There must never be exceptions. Policemen and even law enforcement officers must obey the law. The president, his ministers, governors and all elected and appointed officials must obey the law, and then it will be easy to enforce it on the people. President Buhari must stop being unruly, lawless, crude and rude, then we can as a nation move forward.
•Adeyanju writes from Abuja and he is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He can be contacted on Twitter: @adeyanjudeji or email: email@example.com