April 19, 2024

Celebrating Buhari, Nigeria’s Man of Peace

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By Suyi Ayodele

Naira Marley. Where is he now? For those who don’t know him; Naira Marley is one of the best street lingo crooners of the contemporary jargons, this generation calls music. But if you do not love his person, you must love his beats. His real name is Azeez Adeshina Fashola. How he came about the Naira Marley of a name is known to him and his generation. He is also very educated and street wise. His Wikipedia entry says he graduated with Distinction in Business from Peckham Academy and also studied Business Law at the Crossways College, both in England.

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I love the beats of the Agege, Lagos-born songwriter and musicologist. I listen to his lyrics. He did a song titled Soapy. One of the lines in the song is “Inside Life”. Inside Life is a translation of the Yoruba nominal phrase: Nínú Ayé. The full sentence is: Nínú Ayé, orísirísi nnkàn ló nsélè – in this world, all manners of things happen. Orísirísi is also an appellation of an elderly fellow in my native environment. But the name is also a complete sentence. Orísirísi nnkàn ló nsélè ni ile Alágbára. – All manners of things happen in the household of the powerful – is the full name. This is what Naira Marley says in the song” “Inside life l’oo ti ri Five Alive (Inside life you see Five Alive). Inside life l’oo ti ri Deeper Life (Inside life, you see Deeper Life). Inside life awon kan n je’ya, awon kan n chop life (Inside life, there are some who suffer, there are some who enjoy life). Valid words. Things happen in life. At least in Nigeria, things happen in our life as a nation. One of the things that has happened to us inside Nigerian life is the presidency of General Muhammadu Buhari. Buhari himself is our “Inside Life”. True, inside the Buhari government, our ‘life’, there are some Nigerians who are suffering. They are in the majority. We have Nigerians, who in the last seven years and seven months of the Buhari presidency had wished that Nigeria never experienced the Daura-born retired General. And of course, there are some inside the same Buhari, government that are chopping life. There are very few of those. They are the typical politicians, who feed fat on our collective woes. Those ones, the real locusts of our time, are ruled by three creeds: greed, selfishness, and personal aggrandisement. After those three, nothing else matters. Our politicians are our real Ayédé (This is where I am). Our elders say “ Ibi tí ayé bá eni dé ni a únpé ní Ayédé” – it is where life has pushed one to that one calls this is where I am. Where precisely have our leaders driven us to? Our Ayédés are in this government, and they are the ones Marley refers to as “awon kan n chop life”.

Marley, in the earlier lines of the song above sings: “Ati lo a ti de (We have gone we have come back). Eni ori yo o dile (Whoever destiny saves scurries back home). That makes sense. Nigeria has become a jungle of a sort under Buhari. Whoever survives should thank his Ori (destiny). We have never had it so bad. Unfortunately, the one who holds our collective destiny in his hands cares less what happens to us. Buhari, I say again, is our own Nínú Ayé. Ayé (life) continues no matter what happens to the individuals inside it. So is it with General Buhari. Yesterday, Monday, January 16, 2023, Buhari left Abuja for Nouakchott, the capital of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. His mission? He travelled to the country to receive a “Peace Award” for “Strengthening peace in Africa”. The statement announcing his departure said that the award is in recognition of Buhari’s leadership role in promoting peace on the continent, through regular inventions, counsels, and conciliatory positions. Femi Adesina, Buhari’s spokesman, who endorsed the statement, said the award would be presented to General Buhari today, Tuesday, January 17, 2023, by the Abu Dhabi Peace Forum, “an assembly of leaders established in 2014 to pursue new ways to embrace inclusive citizenship, promote lasting peace, and work towards a safer and more sustainable world for everyone”. That is a noble body. One of the key elements of the Abu Dhabi group is to “work towards a safer and more sustainable world for everyone”. The group will be rewarding Buhari because in its estimation, the Nigerian president has worked towards a safer and more sustainable world for everyone, Nigerians inclusive, I guess. But is that true of Buhari? While receiving the award, would Buhari beam with smiles and beat his chest that he has made life safer for us as citizens of Nigeria? Inside life!

Some twenty-four hours before Buhari jetted out to Mauritania for his peace award, bandits stormed a Catholic Church in Niger State and burnt a priest to ashes in his home. Nigerian Tribune of January 16, 2023, reported the sad story under the headline: “Bandits burn Catholic Priests inside residence in Niger”. The headline has two riders: “Abduct five in Katsina church. Kidnap another Catholic priest in Ekiti”. Reverend father Isaac Achi of St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Kaffin-Koro in Panikoro Local Government Area of Niger State was attacked earlier hours of Sunday by bandits, who after failed attempts to enter the priest’s residence, set the building ablaze and waited for it to burn down completely with its occupant, the Catholic priest. Locals said the bandits came into the community at about 1.00am. Wasiu Abiodun, Niger Police Command spokesman, said that the bandits eventually burnt down the priest at about 3.00am. Between their arrival and the setting of Reverend Father Achi ablaze, the bandits had two full hours. No help came the way of the priest, even as another priest, Father Collins, escaped with gunshot wound to his shoulder. Father Collins, where he is will remember Marley’s line, ‘Eni ori yo o dile’. Don’t ask me why no help came for Reverend Father Achi. Kuje Correctional Centre is some 48 kilometres from Aso Rock. The facility came under heavy attacks of bandits on July 5, 2022. General Buhari was in his Aso Rock Villa while the attack lasted. Hundreds of inmates, among whom were Boko Haram members, were in that facility. Yet Buhari heard nothing, said nothing and did absolutely nothing. By the time the avalanche of gunshots was over, the hitherto incarcerated Boko Haram suspects became free men. If the Buhari presidency was too lame duck to rise to the defence of the Kuje Correctional Centre, how would anyone expect a miracle from him for a lonely Catholic priest in faraway Niger State, the closeness of Niger to Abuja notwithstanding.

Reverend Father Achi was not the only thing that happened to life in Nigeria under Buhari that Sunday. In the General’s home state of Katsina, some AK-47 wielding terrorists stormed Maitsauni Village in Kankara Local Government Area at about 7.00a.m and made for a church in the locality. After shooting one pastor, named Haruna, the terrorists kidnapped five worshippers. Ogundele Ayodeji, Niger State Commissioner of police, said “reinforcement has been dispatched to the area and effort is ongoing to apprehend the assailants…”. Count on your fingertips the number of such cases the nation has had the misfortune of experiencing and you will marvel at what ‘life’ is doing to us under Buhari. But the Maitsauni experience was nothing compared to the fate that befell the New Life All Church at Jan-Tsauni, Gidan Haruna Community, also of Kankara LGA, where bandits kidnapped 25 worshippers. Ishaya Jarau, a Reverend, who doubles as Senior Special Assistant to Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State on Christian Affairs, while confirming the incident, said that the bandits “abducted 25 worshippers and left the church pastor with injuries”. That incident happened by 10.00a.m, three clear hours after five worshippers were abducted the same day in the same LGA. You may want to ask again, what happened within the hours? What did the security agencies do? What message did Buhari, who is from the state, pass across to the security agencies? Why should bad things happen in the president’s state and nothing concrete is done about it? If those incidents could happen in Katsina State, what is the fate of Ekiti, Bayelsa, Kogi, Anambra or Taraba States? The two accounts above made the Saturday evening kidnap of Reverend father Michael Olofinlade of St. George Catholic Church, Omuo-Ekiti by bandits along the Itaji-Ekiti and Ijelu-Ekiti road to pale into insignificance. Maybe one day, someone will crack the mystery behind the bandits of this Buhari government and the Catholic Mission in Nigeria. The incidents are too close and too frequent to be mere coincidences.

While terrorists reign supreme in Nigeria, while life has become so short and difficult for an average citizen of the once peaceful nation, and the Katsina home state of the president has become the headquarters of terrorism in the last couple of days, Buhari left Abuja for Mauritania to receive a ‘Peace Award’! And guess what, Buhari travelled with almost the entire nation’s security architecture. On the baseless journey, Buhari will be accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi, the National Security Adviser, Major General Mohammed B. Monguno and the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, Adesina disclosed. So, who is left behind to watch over our porous nation while Buhari and his entourage enjoy the safety of Mauritania till they return on Wednesday? Not only that, Adesina added: “Before the international recognition for serving Nigeria, and the larger interest of peace in Africa, the President will participate in the Programme of the Third Forum of the African Conference for Peace, where he will deliver a speech on milestones and gains in the African peace process”; in addition to the award. Interesting. Why is our ‘life’ a contrast in Nigeria? Honestly, I am very much interested in the content of Buhari’s speech at the ‘Peace Award’ event. I would like to, if I have the opportunity, see the countenance of his would-be audience, when he begins to talk about peace. I would more than anything else, like to know if there would be any Yoruba person among the audience. If there were any, I would like them to interpret for me the saying by our elders to wit: “Eni ma dá aso fún ni, ti orùn rèlaakó wò – if a man promises to give you clothing, you first look at what he is putting on. What exactly would be Buhari’s definition of peace? What will he make of the daily bloodletting in the South-East? How would he place, describe, and project the roving killer Fulani herders, who daily visit “sorrow, tears, and blood” on Nigerians with absolute impunity? What will the retired General call the almost per-second kidnappings on our highways, waterways, railways and everywhere in Nigeria? Peace? What manner of Peace? Those who wrote Buhari’s speech for the event, what statistics did they use? How convincing were they while drafting the material, or was it just a case of getting the job done regardless of whose ox is gored? Will the Buharideens of this world also add the Abu Dhabi Peace Award emblem to Buhari’s collection of trophies? May the Nigerian kind of ‘life’ never happen to us!

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