Sharing my thoughts and putting my message accross
Before anyone develops ideas and speculates that I am now a wailer-convert, I will make haste to dispel this silly notion. It is of immense importance to underscore the undeniable usefulness of Buhari’s emergence as the leader of our great nation at a perilous time, in which unlettered evil forces sought the discontinuation of the country’s unity. They employed the instruments of dislodging our military strength and ruining us economically to the benefit of themselves and their cronies. After all, they must have reasoned, the resources that they were plundering as a prelude to the disintegration of the country, is their God-given oil right.
Since Buhari emerged, however, the course has been clear. Salvage Nigeria. Restore it’s dwindling glory and fix the broken edges. In fact, there is hardly any other course to fathom by any leader who sought to offer a serious alternative to the dark days of elitist incompetence. The alternative would have been ‘business as usual’ to hasten the demise.
Emerging differences on how to ply the road and stay the course, however, should, ordinarily, not go beyond cosmetic disagreements on the fastest and most viable route to the final destination. Unfortunately, there is more to it in the scheme of things. As if in the typical Nigerian jinxed character, disagreements are taking the form of a vicious battle for the soul of nothingness. From claims of a lack of direction through ethnic lopsidedness down to admirations and unflinching loyalty, a fundamentally polarized nation is lost in a battle to consume itself in a clear-cut war of love and hate.
In-between both poles, are the voices of moderation, hanging reason on the pedestal of rationality. They take out hate-filled emotional critics and angry well-wishers, who feel left out in the raging think-tank that calls the ruler’s shots. They also take out the ruler, whose zigzag course in the defined and visible direction of sail is causing shock and disquiet among supporters and fans.
Hope and Expectations
Indeed, the ruler, Muhammadu Buhari, ignited hope as the last refuge of his battered folks before he took the reins of power. Even though stupendous and empty promises were heard in the run-up to his electoral victory, the nation had its mind set on specific ideals. The foolish promise of equaling the Naira to the Dollar and paying unemployment benefits, when the financial and economic indices were clear enough for novices to discern, was a complete nuisance and political mischief that took the voters for a ride. I refused to take them seriously at the time because every discerning mind knew it was all nonsensical and utopian. Every discerning mind was set on the simple ideal of stopping the train of the then ruling party that was bent on running to perdition at the perilous speed of wanton destruction. After all, the southward direction of oil prices on the international market was an open secret as was the exigency of borrowing money to pay the wages of Federal employees.
The trust that was reposed on Muhammadu Buhari to salvage the country from the brinkmanship of segmentation and cronyism was hinged on memories of a military past that people looked back upon with a burning feel of nostalgia. The total collapse of values, infrastructure and the seriousness of state and institutions bolstered frustration and the urgent need for salvation. I, an erstwhile ardent critic of Buhari, ‘had to bite hard on the sour apple’ (as the Germans would say) to endorse Muhammadu Buhari as the key to our salvation in the light of the disaster that Jonathan turned out to be. Like several other Nigerians, my interest was not in placing the Naira on par with the Dollar or in the social benefits that were promised to unemployed Nigerians, even though the mere issuance of such promises was angering and outrageous enough. Like Wole Soyinka (who, in 2007, addressed the urgent need to stop Muhammadu Buhari from clinching the presidency by rekindling memories of his ethnically lopsided and obstinate attributes of the military era involving the execution of cocaine smugglers against all pleas for leniency and the Emir suitcase scandal), we shoved all potent reservations aside and saw the urgent need to rid Nigeria of the lethal Jonathan plague that was set to consume the country. We also saw in Buhari, the strongman that was needed at the crucial time, to pick the pieces and fix the nation again in the search for sanity.
In spite of his disappointing and lame inaugural speech, Nigerians maintained hope and confidence in the new ‘no-nonsense’ strongman. He started brilliantly. He fixed the military. He dislodged the most lethal insurgency that made a laughing stock of a former regional power. There, he restored lost glory. He picked up erstwhile Untouchables, who chose to bastardize the integrity and unity of the nation in favor of their personal wellbeing and stupendous comfort. He started from his own ethnic region and no one could accuse him of ethnic bias. Dasuki was dumped behind bars. It was no longer a suitcase affair. Another pubescent, roaring nonentity was nabbed and dumped behind bars from the corridors of pastime secessionist agitation. Today, Buhari is on the verge of crushing another misguided avenger of willful exploitation. He did what others talked about, who had Harvard degrees and the Ivy League pedigree. They talked about plugging loopholes in our economy. The other genius of Otuoke’s acclaim promised to eradicate corruption with hi-tech software on computers. Buhari implemented the Treasury Single Account that others talked about but did not do, for the comfort of maximum looting. Indeed, Buhari’s direction has been more than clear even to the blind in spite of all childish claims of a ‘directionless’ drift.
The fight Against Corruption
Altruistically or politically-strategically, he docked the sitting Senate President on potent and viable charges of malfeasance, corruption and other vices. He boosted popular belief in his obstinacy and non-compromising stance, the type that people remembered, of his order to execute two young men for cocaine smuggling against all emotional pleas for clemency, and of the trial and jailing of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, during his days as military Head of State. A strong followership emerged believing in the incorruptible and unbreakable leader when it comes to personal conviction and principles. Even though he had underscored his readiness, during the campaign period, to adapt to a new democratic culture of negotiations and compromises in the spirit of the constitution, away from the days of the Khaki and boots, everyone still believed that the core elements of his character will prevail and persist.
This hope remained alive when the President refused to shy away from touching the ‘Untouchables’.
Unfortunately, however, a simple lesson in the study of elementary political science, has taught us through the years, that one of the deadliest and most toxic acts that a politician can embark upon to achieve the sure and safe goal of killing and burying trust and credibility is to be INCONSISTENT.
I began this discourse with the reassurance that my hope in Buhari remains unshaken. This is based on the simple fact that many supporters of the President have jumped ship in recent times. My reassurance is true only as far as the core area of salvaging the country and its broken architectural columns, is concerned. In the details of meandering through the numerous columns in this vast edifice, however, legitimate questions have been creeping up from various corners of the most ardent supporters of the President.
While negotiations and compromises are, undoubtedly, key to the successful function of a democratic process, skillful politicians never lose sight of crucial objectives and central directions. All through the months since the inauguration of Muhammadu Buhari as President of this great nation, a lot of negotiations have been held and compromises reached, often behind closed doors as is characteristic of the democratic process. In his incurable desperation for survival, Bukola Saraki has tried every means at his disposal to save his skin. From a streak of judicial processes to the mobilization of ‘godfathers’ to negotiate his cause, he has acted in desperation, albeit within the ambit of instruments provided by constitutional democracy.
Whatever deal Buhari may have struck with Saraki’s negotiators or the man himself, the political novice in the President seems to have lost sight of what the public perceives. The public has now noticed that the Code of Conduct Tribunal and the Saraki’s trial have suddenly disappeared not just from the headlines but from all imaginable news items. The public has noticed that the much publicized trial of the Senate President and his Deputy on forgery charges has been left to cool off in the political deep freezer. From the modest man from Daura, who was popularly admired for opting to collect only 10 percent of the monthly gratuity that was due to him as an ex-Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari now seems to have lost it completely, as far as public perception is concerned. In Saraki, he now seems to have started a battle that he cannot complete. This, alone, is an immense victory for Bukola Saraki and a huge loss of reputation for the President. It does not matter, if Saraki ends up being sentenced tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. To have stayed so long in defiance of the President’s perceived will is a huge victory for him that exposes the limits of the President’s skills in political maneuvers and horse-trading.
Worse still, negotiations and compromises ostentatiously trailed the bombshell that came from the House of Representatives through the mouth of a renegade outcast seeking restitution. Dogara was reported to have held several desperate meetings with stakeholders in and out of Aso Villa. In the fight against evil, the saint is happy for every strategy uncovered. Not so, President Buhari. The President has always been a symbol of uprightness and the rigidity of righteousness. The belief in his ability to fight and “give corruption a bloody nose” in his own words, has always been unshaken. Yet, he doesn’t seem to give a damn at all, about the chains of revelations that have so far, come from Assemblyman Jibrin, which are of crucial importance to the fight against corruption.
Even though Nigerians are thankful to Buhari, for getting to know the meaning and existence of budget padding, it has yet, come as a shocking realization that the President could ignore the public and its perception completely, to stubbornly toe the path of secretly negotiated settlements in contravention of his covenant with the voting public. Today, the whistleblower will become the convict while exposed thieves will stay on as villains waxing strong on the spoils of wanton disloyalty. That is the fate rumored to be awaiting Jibrin.
More distasteful is the fact that there is no mouthpiece of the public spearheading the expression of outrage. All pressure groups have gone on sabbatical while their leaders ride high on borrowed time. There is an obvious establishmentarian conspiracy to kill the momentum on fighting corruption. Yakubu Gowon was the latest to add his voice to the call for the killing of the corruption battle and they all seem to have had the ears of the President. The public pulse for which power stands, doesn’t seem to matter any bit. The news media have gone dumb for reasons unknown. Not even reputable investigative outlets have shown any interest, whatsoever, in authentically picking on Jibrin’s revelations. The reach of this network of establishmentarian conspiracy is yet unknown. But there will be nothing hidden under the sun when judgment is due.
The President disappointed his followers amongst others, with his very late acknowledgement of the need to do away with elements of the presidential fleet of jets after initially reaping accolades in the early days of his Presidency when rumors first made the round that several jets will be sold off. The President dragged his feet, ignoring public sensitivities and kept all the jets. He hardly addresses the nation when the nation needs him most. He makes sporadic speeches touching on matters on a piecemeal basis.
The obstinacy for which he was known in the military days became a scarce commodity, when he sought to stand his grounds on currency devaluation. His personal conviction did not win the day as it seems to be in some other economic policies. Pressures from International Financial Institutions did, as did the voice of individuals that could not be loud enough on the domestic scene. Elitist academics and Sultans burst loose impatiently, when they are unable to prevail on the President with their one-sided views in the sea of many more. Yet, the President, in his meager acumen for political maneuvers and manipulation, is unable to secure the loose cannons.
The Audacity of Comedy
The President stands tall all the same, not the least, because there is no alternative to him at the present moment. In spite of the controversy surrounding his economic policies, however, they remain the only option available to help the nation back to its feet since these policies are not the cause of the problems in the very first place, no matter what adversaries may say out of infantile schadenfreude. In spite of his wavering and cowardice backtrack on corruption, though, the discerning public also knows it is the best option since the Ribadu-waves of the Obasanjo’s days. It is, certainly, the best option to Jonathan’s open and outright encouragement of corruption. The negative consequences, though, have not only been a serious damage to the President’s reputation and the dare-evil persistence of corruption under his very nose, but also the ludicrous audacity of foolishness perpetrated by the disgraceful and embarrassing former first lady Patience Jonathan.
It simply came as a midsummer nightmare and sounded like a fantasy tale. Nigeria’s former first lady lays claim to a whopping $31.4 million frozen in a corruption case. What a comedy. I will choose to reserve any further comment on this issue until the public has been duly informed of the source of this stupendous wealth owned by a single person with no track record of commercial prosperity out of government house. It is all a part of the audacity of comedy occasioned by President Buhari’s self-weakening and surprising attitude of cozying up to corrupt individuals. It is like a feast of mice that have lost their fear of the deadly strike of the mighty cat. A shock to admirers.