By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
Battle- hardened Generals are hardly swayed by sentiments or threats.President Muhammadu Buhari, a prominent combatants in the genocidal Nigerian civil war, is one.Once upon a time, the Daura, Kastina state-born Army General and ex-military dictator,was stone-faced and unsmilling.But not anymore.politics has tempered him. He now smiles and crack jokes.
However, if he was smiling or cracking jokes on Tuesday, June 5th, he probably stopped abruptly immediately news of impeachment threats against him by the National Assembly filtered into Aso Rock, Nigeria’s seat of power.
An Aso Rock insider reveals that as soon as the joint sitting of the Senate and the House of Representatives issued the impeachement threat against the President,the mood in the presidency changed from conviviality to desperation.His close aides and key members of his kitchen cabinet comprising wholly of his Northern kins quickly met and many insisted the National Assembly led by Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara drew inspiration from former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s strident campaign to torpedo their principal’s re-election.
Saraki was characterised as unbending and the most powerful Senate President ever to have emerged since the dawn of democracy 19 years ago.The full political implication of the National Assembly’s resolution was then explained to Buhari: Impeachment will be a Herculean task to achieve going by the 1999 constitution and will therefore, not succeed but the joint sitting of the National Assembly and the resultant threat to do him in has not only demystified him but would seriously corrode his re- election bid as the underlining message in the NASS action is that he is has failed and not fit to lead the country.
The Source futher learnt that his kitchen cabinet and key loyalists were worried that unless something drastic and populist was done to change or atleast dilute the narrative, the President will go down in history as the only one whose administration’s actions and inactions attracted a joint sitting of the National Assembly where odium and opprobrium were generously delivered by fellow party men,in active collaboration with the opposition.
Desperate to regain the momentum,a pacification process that will begin from the Southwest was agreed.This magazine was told that a secrete accessment of the president’s rating in the South west that had earlier been carried showed that the people of that region are massively buying into Obasanjo’s argument against Buhari’s re-election hence his dwindling rating there.Thus, the
president’s handlers impressed it upon him to positively touch the raw nerve of the Yoruba by resurrecting the June12, 1993 presidential election and the presumed winner of the election and paint them in elegant colours and watch the resultant enchanting sparks.
It was argued that exhuming June 12 and placing Abiola on an unprecedented national radar are political master strokes that could achieve a number of elegant results for the President and divert attention from National Assembly’s onslaught.As was envisaged by the President’s inner caucus,the projected outcome of pro-Abiola cum Yoruba moves are: He will be endeared to the Southwest in order to reverse his sagging support base in the region, will lead to Yoruba federal lawmakers to break ranks with their colleagues and soft pedal in the anti- Buhari rehtorics in the National Assembly, Obasanjo, a direct beneficiary of the June 12 fiasco, will be cast as anti- Yoruba and sadist who refused to honour his kinsman when he had the opportunity as two- term president and Nigerians, particularly the Yoruba will be reminded that ex- dictator, General Ibrahim Babangida, who like Obasanjo is opposed to Buhari’s re-election, committed unforgivable crime against free choice and democracy by annulling a presidential election adjudged as the freest and fairest in Nigeria’s history.
The sweet scents of the moves and their expected results were over powering.The magazine gathered that President Buhari who critics say was never a June 12 advocate not only immediately granted South west’s 25 years old demand that June 12 be incorporated into the national calendar and designated as Democracy Day, he also posthumously confered on Abiola the highest national honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR.Another Yoruba icon and late feiry lawyer and human rights activist,Gani Fawehinmi was also posthumously awarded the second highest national honour, Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, GCON. The late Abiola’s running mate in the ill- fated June 12, 1993 presidential election, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe was also given GCON.
The Source learnt that so excited were the President and his key loyalists by the Abiola/Southwest appeasement project that declaring Abiola as President posthumously on the strength of the unofficial results of the June 12 presidential election which indicated that the late business mogul and philanthropist clearly defeated his challenger, Bashir Tofa, was canvassed
However, constitutional, political and legal snares of such move were pointed out and the idea eventually discarded.For example, the Nigerian constitution has no room for posthumous proclamation of a candidate in a presidential election president when such a candidate was neither officially declared winner of the election nor sworn-in before his demise.
Besides, it was argued that declaring Abiola President in death and Kingibe who is still alive, Vice President-elect could trigger agitations for him (Kingibe) to be declared Abiola’s successor and sworn-in.
It was also feared that there will be agitations for second Republic President, Shehu Shagri who Buhari dethroned on December 31st, 1983 in a military coup, to be brought back to complete his second term in office.
Meanwhile, determined to shore up his popularity ahead next year’s presidential election,The Source has been informed that the South east is the next geo-political zone slated to be placated by Buhari.It has been learnt that a national monument in the South east is likely to be named after the late military governor of the defunct Eastern Region and later Head of State of the short-lived Biafra, General Chukwukwu Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu who is adored and venerated by his people and even in death , still evokes tremendous emotions and sentiments among the people of the zone.
Completion and physical presence at the unveiling of Zik’s mausoleum is also top on the president’s appeasement agenda.The mausoleum was started in 1996 by the late military strongman, General Sani Abacha following Zik’s death but could not be completed by successive administrations of General Abdulsalam Abubakar, Obasanjo, late Umaru Musa Yar Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.Buhari is reportedly eager to deliver the project in order to project himself to the Igbo as the President who eventually provided a final resting place for their son, Zik who was Nigeria’s first President.
Apart from above, the lopsided composition of Nigeria’s security structure in favour of the North, sources told The Source,is likely to be altered to bring on board an Igbo.It is not however, clear which of the service chiefs will give way for the Igbo but the magazine has been emphatically told that “the President has no plans to give command of the Nigerian Army to a non Northerner and non Moslem to head as Chief of Army Staff”.
The Source also gathered that Middle Belt where armed Fulani herdsmen have been unleashing blood-chilling mayhem on innocent people and communities and the South south where environmental degradation,economic deprivation and infrastructural neglect remain thorny issues are also to be pacified with tough measures against the murderous herdsmen and massive environmental, infrastructural, economic facelift respectively.
Meanwhile, there are indications that the National Assembly is not prepared to back down on its confrontation with Buhari and will proceed to pass a vote of no confidence on the Nigerian leader if he fails to act on its ultimatum within a reasonable time frame.