DISCUSSING NIGERIA - Buhari, Biafra and the NYSC scheme

Buhari, Biafra and the NYSC scheme

Ojo Maduekwe

It is amusing when President Muhammadu Buhari is described to be a nationalist and, or patriot. Buhari is none of these things but a tribalist whose interest is first and foremost to those belonging to the same Fulani tribe and the Islamic faith like himself. How do I know this? By his words, but most importantly from his actions and sometimes inactions.

Let us leave what transpired between him and a former governor of Oyo State, Lam Adesina – the statement made by Buhari to Adesina that, “Your people are killing my people”; let us leave that in the past and focus on Buhari in 2016. [By the way, everybody needs to read the nationalistic response by Adesina to Buhari.] There is no difference between Buhari then and now.

Buhari of today has continued to expose his true nature and the ideologies that guide his actions, none of which portray him as anything near what his advisers want us to see him as. Recently he told NYSC members of Igbo extraction who visited him in Daura, Katsina State to “Tell your colleagues who want Biafra to forget about it,” and referred to Biafra as “wishful thinking.”

On it’s own, you would think that the president was expressing faith in Nigeria’s unity – a unity built on the equality of every Nigerian irrespective of tribe and religion. But when you juxtapose his comment with his actions, you’ll understand that Buhari was deriding Nigerians from the Southeast region whom he does not consider to be equals but view as a conquered people.

Buhari betrayed this assertion when he commended former military head of state, General Yakubu Gowon for initiating the NYSC scheme in 1973: “I very much appreciate the NYSC scheme and whenever I see General Gowon, I always thank him for that.” Which president is it that won’t appreciate a scheme that affords him with the subjects to rule and lord over, not to mention one such as Buhari?

Buhari can claim to appreciate Gowon for setting up the NYSC, but he does not appreciate the idea behind the scheme. The idea is to foster unity and entrench a sense of belonging among Nigerians, same objective as the Unity Schools and the Federal Character Principle. In his appointments to key government office’s, Buhari disregarded this principle and favoured nepotism. How then does he claim to appreciate the NYSC scheme if he won’t allow it’s principle guide him in his conduct as president?

How does Buhari claim to want Nigerians to “be together to build this country,” yet surround himself with only those from his side of the country; people who share same religion with him? This is doublespeak. Buhari’s words does not fit with his actions. This is why agitations will remain and more will arise because Buhari is ruling as if he is a president of the Fulanis’ and not the president of Nigeria.

A president of a multi ethnic entity such as Nigeria yet Buhari is quick to express his dislike for a people engaging in peaceful protests to drive home their feeling of marginalization; he will react to this peaceful group by sending the police after them, killing them, but he’ll approve government-backed protection for murderous Fulani herdsmen and use our collective wealth to protect their cows from rustlers.

Like I have always argued, there is no wrong in one being a tribalist and working for the interest of their ethnic group and religion; nothing wrong about that. What is wrong is for such a person to be the president of Nigeria; for such a person to claim what he’s not and deceive voters because he wants their votes to be president of a country made up of people of diverse faith and ethnic groups. That is a dishonest behaviour.

Truth is, just like I did not buy into the branded lie that Buhari had changed from a dictator to a democrat, I don’t see the president now becoming what he is not. The reason why I am painting this picture of him is for the electorates to learn to be more critical and analytical in their choice of a leader; analysing his past so as to be able to predict likely future actions.

Even Buhari himself said not too long ago that we cannot “separate the present from the past.” Indeed we have not been able to separate Buhari the dictator and tribalist from this ‘new’ Buhari that was sold to Nigerians. His words and actions bear us witness that nothing has changed with Buhari and, nothing will. Buhari remains a tribalist and has failed to act like a democrat.


  • Maduekwe is editor at Discussing Africa. You can follow him on Twitter @Ojo_Maduekwe

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