Buhari’s Presidency: Facts and fiction
By Abraham Ogbodo
The Editor of the Guardian, Mr. Abraham Ogbodo
I am worried about the ongoing narrative that Nigerians desired a change from the PDP misrule and agreed in 2015 to kick out Goodluck Jonathan and vote in Muhammadu Buhari as President.
Nothing sounds more fraudulent. Was there a consensus at anytime on that? The answer is no. Rather, the Buhari presidency was a risk specifically undertaken by a tiny but powerful clique solely for its benefit and not the benefit of Nigerians.
Now that the risk has failed and woefully too, the same clique is trying to change the narrative and make the mistake look like everybody’s mistake. It will not happen. I know the truth is always a casualty when history is being hurriedly written from many perspectives. But not this time please because I am going to tell the truth to shame the devil and stop it from escaping with vain glory .
Penultimate Saturday, my Oga, Dele Mommodu, did a lamentation on the back page of Thisday Newspaper in which he admitted being part of the cabal (that actually was the original cabal before this gratuitous cabal in Aso Rock Villa that everybody is talking about) that promoted Buhari to high heavens and made him the one to defeat in the 2015 electoral calculations. Another of my Oga, Sam Omatseye of The Nation Newspaper, has been lamenting too. He also was part of the original cabal.
Yet another of my Oga, Femi Adesina, who was part of the original cabal is not lamenting. At the end of it all, fortune smiled on him and became a marginal stakeholder in the new cabal in Aso Rock. He is a marginal stakeholder because the main stakeholders are well known and he is not one. But as he was in the beginning singing Buhari praises, so he is now, and maybe, ever shall he be till Buhari’s tenancy in Aso Rock expires one way or the other.
Other members of the pro-Buhari orchestra who also benefited when the deed was done are maintaining good table manners. They are eating and have decided to remain quiet to avoid being choked. One is the monumental Mohammed Haruna who is a national commissioner at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Another is Modibo Kawu who is the director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). Yet another is Bayo Onanuga who enjoys a double portion as Managing Director of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) with his wife as deputy governor of Ogun State. The list of mercenary writers is longer.
I cannot say for sure, but it follows that the lamentations of those lamenting now could have turned to exhortations if fortune had also smiled on them as others. In Nigeria, the transition from a prophet of hope to a prophet of doom is so flexible and is often determined by the warmth of the stomach. The only good thing is that the subject matter has not changed and the voices that hailed Buhari less than three years ago as a blessing unto the nation are today saying he is an affliction.
The media was recruited as partner in the drive to enthrone Buhari. And it did a good job of the script handed to it. Reason did not stand a chance as emotions became too compelling to resist in the media narration of falsehood to completely obliterate Buhari’s past. In the aftermath, the choice between Buhari and Jonathan became like the choice between Angel Michael and Lucifer.
Even the indefatigable defender of the national conscience, Professor Wole Soyinka, also got overwhelmed. He believed, albeit without clear proof, that by some cosmic interventions, Buhari had been reconditioned into a manageable democrat in the years between 1985 when he (Buhari) was overthrown as a military head of state and 2015 when he sought election as a democratic president. Lately, the Prof has also been seeing affliction in place of blessing. But Professors Itse Sagay and Tam David West are faithful disciples that will not deny the saviour of Nigeria and even seem ready to propagate the gospel to the world long after the master must have gone.
Mind you, the purpose today is to say that it is not all Nigerians, as it is being peddled, that agreed to return Buhari to the presidency in 2015. Some people did and what I am trying to do here is to name some of them. The political wing of the original cabal was far more determined to witness the second crowning of Buhari as president. But today, there is also huge frustration and disappointment in that camp.
Apart from Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who has managed to break loose at great personal cost, others are largely suffering in silence, and like Boxer in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, they do not know what better thing to say than to agree that Comrade Napoleon is right always. Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State is also in this camp and in fact the camp’s leader. He, it was, who mobilised the Southwest to strike a successful formal political deal with the Hausa/Fulani power elite for the first time since the birth of Nigeria. And he did so in spite of warnings from elders of the region.
For this purpose, Tinubu had willingly renounced his essence. Suddenly, the man who was in the trenches under the NADECO umbrella to fight dictatorship and Fulani domination of the Nigerian political space was all too ready to go to dinner with the devil even without a long spoon.
For instance, in the public debates for the desirability or otherwise of the 2014 political reform conference, Tinubu had said openly that a conference to restructure Nigeria was diversionary and that what Nigerians needed at that material time was a Buhari presidency after which other things including restructuring would be added unto them.
To make it look real, he got the APC to include restructuring of the polity in its manifesto. But that was where it ended. Nobody in the APC including its chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, is talking about restructuring.
In his New Year speech to Nigerians, President Buhari said the myriad of national problems had more to do with processes than they had to do with the structure of the federation. He more or less put paid to agitations for the restructuring of the country to reflect true federalism.
And so, in the end, after the huge and unprecedented political investment that he made, what have been the returns, in concrete terms, for Tinubu and the Southwest outside a lame duck Vice President who is more seen than heard and who became Acting President by default for a couple of months? Let me also add that only charitable commentators like me would put the entire blame on the head of the Ashiwaju alone. Others who are less charitable will hold the entire Southwest responsible for the Buhari misfortune. Here are a people known for their sophistication in engaging the Nigerian system and they have hardly faltered right from the days of the late sage, Pa Obafemi Awolowo.
Permit me to digress a little. Usually, when planners of a revolution fail to agree or decide to project too much of personal interest over the collective goal, they lose the initiative to control things to complete strangers. That was what happened in the French Revolution when the planners degenerated into self-cancellation and allow the rise of that military upstart called Napoleon Bonaparte to derail the goal of the revolution in pursuit of his personal glory.
The Yoruba elders and the entire progressive clan in Nigeria also went into self-cancellation in pursuit of personal glory and left the vision unprotected.
In the process, the man with the most power, not the best ideas, became the king. Tinubu overwhelmed the Southwest with his power and led the region into the current quagmire. Two considerations mainly defined the politics of 2015. First was the pure desire to cultivate democracy beyond incessant attacks by undemocratic forces personified by the likes of Olusegun Obasanjo.
The other was personal lust for power which was vigorously promoted through a complacent media as quest for good governance.
Let’s us even agree for once that Buhari represented good governance in the context of the issues that defined the last presidential election.
In that case, what Nigeria chose in electing Buhari was good governance, which in any case was a mere aspiration and not a description of a perfect state of things, over democracy which Goodluck Jonathan in all honesty, approximated based on facts.
I will add here that in a country that has suffered decades of military and despotic abuse, what should come first is democracy. An entrenched democratic culture comes with many benefits including good and accountable governance. It is as the Christians would say: choose ye first the Kingdom of God and other things will be added unto you. Choosing democracy is like choosing the kingdom of God that attracts other good things.
But Tinubu and others chose other things first and sacrificed the kingdom of God—democracy. They, a kind of, put the cart before the horse. In fact, as it has turned out, it wasn’t a horse that they paired anyhow with the cart. It was a lion which only devours and can hardly plough and prepare the soil for the cultivation of democracy.
And so, there is trepidation as the country moves closer to 2019. If for a cocktail of reasons, the lion king refuses to be tamed by the same processes that enthroned him in 2015, we shall all be awarded a BA (Begin Again). The great battles of June 12 to gain democracy would have been fought in vain as democracy takes flight for the umpteenth time in Nigeria. The prayer is for things to happen differently.
But then, prayer is not a strategy. The call will still return to Tinubu, one of the greatest political strategists of our time to re-enter his political laboratory to cook up a containment strategy for the conflagration ahead. He created the virus in the first place and I do not see this as another HIV that has no cure. That clear vision which hit Tinubu and made him to accept a man who truncated democracy and could not be associated with personal and public development in 30 years as the saviour of Nigeria shall, by the special grace of God, return to lead him to work out the antidote.
If he fails, I can pretty well do an epitaph here and now on his political demise. It will read: ‘Here lies the Jagaban who fought so hard to lose everything.’ Lesson: Statesmen should avoid short-term tactical gains that could lead to irrecoverable strategic collapse.
I return to my starting point. Some people and not all Nigerians are responsible for the change that has become chain. The fraudulent narrative by the likes of Dele Momodu must end forthwith. Those who caused the rain should be asked to invite the rain doctor. I rest my case.