Elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai yesterday said Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari is on a walk to dictatorship and autocracy.
The cerebral politician said it is gravely unfortunate that already the military background of President Buhari is taking a front seat in his style of leadership at the expense of the country’s long cherished democracy.
Yakassai’s statement is coming on the heels of a similar reaction by the governor of Ekiti State, Mr Peter Ayodele Fayose, who described the running of Buhari’s government as a “demonstration of military dictatorship mentality”.
Governor Fayose, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, recently described a statement by Garba Shehu, presidend Buhari’s media aide condenming the governor’s assessment of the economic situation in the country as unbecoming of a public officer.
Olayinka, who said he was sure that Garba Shehu must have spoken for himself, and not President Mohammadu Buhari, added that “Governor Fayose will continue to say the truth in the interest of Nigeria and its people because the Governor is not one of those that will go underground because of political persecution.”
He maintained that the country’s economy was in serious recession, adding that; “the president himself attested to this when he said that the country was broke and this has also been corroborated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group financial report, indicating that the corporation incurred a total loss of N120.07bn in the months of August and September.
“JP Morgan is also removing Nigeria from its Emerging Market Bond Index, a move analysts say would have far reaching implications for the country’s dwindling economy as investors could move their funds to competing countries, resulting in higher lending rates.
“It is therefore a sad reminder of the military era that in a democracy, under a federation in which all federating units enjoy some degree of autonomy, the Presidency is warning a State Governor on what to say and what not to say.”
Also, yesterday, Yakasai who doubles as the Northern Elders Council, NEC Chairman stated
that, with the 2015 Presidential election concluded peacefully, the prevailing belief among a cross section of Nigerians and lovers of democracy across the globe was that the country was set for an enduring peace, justice and fairness in the hands of the new administration but sadly enough, that has not been the case.
According to him, “No doubt, all these happenings are already undermining a considerable share of the reservoir of goodwill and sympathy hitherto enjoyed by this administration and the overwhelming feeling today is that Nigeria is on a walk back to dictatorship.
“Nigerians were witness to the conduct of the March 2015 Presidential Elections, in which President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat to General Muhammadu Buhari, even before the official result of the polls was made public by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
“Everybody was relieved that the exercise was peacefully resolved, despite the fear of bloodshed that foreshadowed its conduct. It was not lost to many that, this was the first time that a loser in a presidential election in Nigeria was accepting defeat in the interest of peace, harmony and national unity. It should be recalled that after the result of the two previous presidential polls in the present democratic dispensation were announced, in 2007 and 2011,the situations in the country were characterized by massive ill–feelings, violence and bloodshed unleashed by the losers.
“With the 2015 Presidential election concluded peacefully, the prevailing belief among a cross section of Nigerians and lovers of democracy across the globe was that the country was set for an enduring peace, justice and fairness in the hands of the new administration. But sadly enough, that has not been the case,” Yakasai said.
He appealed to President Buhari to ensure that his present war against corruption should be guided by fairness and the due process of the law against the perceived selection in his anti-graft war.
“Recent policy and non- policy actions of the new administration as promoted by some of its leading figures, as well as the administration’s security and anti- graft agencies, have left much to be desired.
“It is on record that early in the life of the presence administration, the personal residences of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki in Abuja and that of his father in Sokoto was singled out for search by the officers of the Directorate of State Service, DSS, consequent upon which Col. Sambo is today arraigned in court, charged with criminal offences.
“This selective action, known only in a police state, yields itself to far- reaching speculations, viewed against the background that Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) was one of the military officers said to have arrested General Muhammadu Buhari, when his regime was toppled from power in 1985.
“Secondly, it is well known that the leadership of the All Progressive Congress, APC, is unhappy with the emergence of the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki. Saraki did not yield to their pressure to abdicate his position for their choice candidate. As a fall-out, he was picked and arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, charged with an offence of falsification in his assets declaration in 2007, some eight years ago, even when there is no sitting Attorney General of the Federation to prosecute the case.
“The fact that Abubakar Bukola Saraki was not arraigned on this particular matter for a long stretch of eight years; until he was elected the Senate President against the wishes of the leadership of his party the All Progressive Congress, APC, has inspired a legitimate suspicion.
“Equally worrisome is that since then, there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of public officers who had declared their assets for which no recognizable figure had been so arraigned until now. But the most disturbing aspect of it all is the haste with the matter is being handled apparently with a view to achieve a pre -determined objective.
“Thirdly, it is common knowledge that the President, the Vice President, Governors and Deputy Governors enjoy constitutional immunity from prosecution while they are in office. Despite being in possession of this knowledge, operatives of the Directorate of State Service, raided the official residence of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel and conducted a search on his abode in his absence. That, on its own, is highly condemnable and unacceptable in a democratic setting.
“Fourthly, while Nigerians respect the integrity and impartiality of the members of the Election Petitions Tribunals presently carrying out their assignments in various places, it is very strange that most of their judgments and rulings are against the opposition political parties and their members. For this, many Nigerians are not comfortable. Yet, I am confident that majority of Nigerians have unshaken confidence that the judiciary in Nigeria will continue to retain the coveted status as the last hope of the common man.
“Finally, Nigerians were shocked by the recent statement of President Muhammadu Buhari in faraway India to the effect that he would not lose sleep over criticisms that his fight against corruption is seen to be selective and one sided.
“That comment, shocking as it is, is most unfortunate and ought not to have come from an elected President who should normally be sensitive to public opinion and who only a few months ago, during his oath- taking ceremony, pledged not only to abide by the provision of the constitution and the law of the land, but also undertook to do justice to all manner of people without fear or favour, affection or ill will.
“My appeal to General Muhammadu Buhari, therefore, is that, at all times, justice must not only be done but must be seen to have been done to all Nigerians irrespective of their political affiliations. I strongly believe that the administration would benefit a lot from the wise counsel of the Peace Initiative Committee, made up of eminent Nigerians and headed by the former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd.) to the effect that the present war against corruption should be guided by fairness and the due process of the law,” Yakasai said.

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