Is it true? Are our worst fears coming true? Is Buhari really just a tyrant that the Nigerian people democratically voted in as president? Buhari was first dubbed a tyrant by the People’s Democratic Party. The name caught on, with the hashtag #TyrantBuhari becoming viral on Twitter. Nigerians have dropped their two or three nairas on the issue. PDP, as the opposition party, has shown Nigerians that they will not fail to slander Buhari given the opportunity. However, we should be worried if there is truth behind the statements by the PDP. As they say, there is no smoke without fire. The issue is that Buhari is flouting constitutional laws governing what he can or cannot do or what he can or cannot influence. Is Buhari making a mockery of our hard fought democracy?
Case one: the corruption war. Sambo Dasuki was arrested for his part in a $2.1bn arms deal scam. Dasuki’s trial has not been concluded and remains innocent until proven guilty. However, in his presidential media chat held on the 30th of December, 2016, Buhari was quoted as saying, “If you see the atrocities those committed against this country, we can’t allow them to jump bail” when asked about Dasuki and Nnamdi Kanu. This led prominent voices to berate Buhari and rightfully so. It is not up to the president to determine who gets bail or not. The executive branch is different from the judiciary branch for a reason. If Buhari had anything to do with the decision to grant or not grant bail to Dasuki and Kanu, that is an infringement of the constitution and thus, a threat to our democracy.
Another worrying factor is the situation with the Shiites that arose recently. In December, hundreds of Shiite Muslims were killed by the army who claimed that the killings were in response to a threat on a commander’s life. The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (ISM) is known for its roadblocks but this time, the army claimed that the people were throwing dangerous objects at the soldiers and they were forced to retaliate. Even if that is true, IN WHAT WORLD IS IT OKAY TO KILL HUNDREDS (some sources say 1000) OF PEOPLE. That is clearly an abuse of power. To add insult to injury, the leader of the ISM, El-Zakzaky, was arrested and has been locked up without being charged. The entire situation, from the reactionary killings to arrest of El-Zakzaky, is just very fishy. What has our President done to ensure that the people he has been elected to serve have been treated fairly? Nothing. Buhari said that an investigation was going on but gave no details on when the public could expect any updates. His statements also seemed to almost attempt to justify the killings saying “I saw a clip in which some dissidents were virtually hitting the chest of Generals” and accusing the ISM of trying to create a state within a state. This has done nothing but fan the flames started by his opposition that Buhari, as a Sunni Muslim, was somehow behind the attack. Regardless of the truth behind that theory, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria has been wronged. It is not a military regime, the army must be held accountable and who else but their Commander-in-Chief.
These are legitimate worries. Buhari should not be seen attempting to circumvent the constitution. These mishaps should not be repeated. The Nigerian people trusted Buhari because they were sick of the old guard. They shouldn’t have to worry about a democratically elected tyrant running rampant. We are not trying to return to military rule. That is not the change we were promised.