2015: Buhari and the (un)kept Promise

Muhammad Buhari

Muhammad Buhari

Drawing a close on his campaign in 2011, three-time presidential aspirant, General Muhammadu Buhari, delivered a heart-breaking speech that should have moved anybody who loves this country to tears. Buhari stated inter alia:

…  In the life of any nation, there comes a time when some people have to stand up and point out when things are moving off track, explain why they are going wrong demonstrate how they can be set aright, and work towards making a difference.

With tears in his eyes, the retired General further said:

This campaign is the third and last one for me, since after it, I will not be presenting myself again for election into the office of the President.

Later on, in an interview with the BBC Hausa service, Buhari said:

“I have never cried in all positions I occupied but I was moved and I wept because of the present pitiable condition of Nigerians, particularly that of the poor ones who are struggling to survive. Here is a country that is rich and blessed, and there is no sound leadership that will do justice to the country. Our people are poor with no leadership; they are selling their votes, which will automatically enslave them with their children and great-grand children because they have been denied education, health, water and so on. My shedding tears had nothing to do with a political strategy… the choice is with the people; if they decide let them vote for or reject me.”

A lot of Nigerians mocked and scoffed at Buhari and called him all sorts of names. They said real men don’t cry and in fact, soldiers don’t cry, not to talk of a General. In the end, a lot of people said he was already crying ahead of his electoral defeat, which was clearly written on the wall. The media commentaries and bashing were endless. Social media went amok, and in the end, the fresh air with which Nigerians were bewitched became overwhelmingly putrid, and stifling. The hypnotised mass of Nigerians who fell for PDP’s ultimate deception said they were voting for Goodluck (whose name would bring Nigeria luck) and not the PDP – an aberration unheard of in my life! It’s been two years now and President Jonathan remains as bereft of ideas as when his handlers first mobilised religious and ethnic sentiments to his image of the shoeless and innocent one, and divided Nigerians like never before.

The mass of Nigerians, as at the 2011 elections, can be categorised into four:

1.Those that felt the North had ruled this country more than any other group and had made “stop the North at all cost” their motto. To them, the mentality of the North (whatever that means) must be ended even if it meant enthroning a Mobutu Sese-seko Gnassingbe Eyadema and Laurent Kabila all rolled up into, so long as the person was not a northerner!

2. Those, who, typical of Nigerians, have been brainwashed into thinking that our problem is actually religion and not the pervasive corruption and criminality in high places. To these kinds of people, all that mattered and still matter is: “Is he/she a Christian”? Or “is he or she a Muslim?” It doesn’t mean anything that the person has no programmes for Nigeria or devotion to his or her professed faith. It is just some kind of vicarious gratification or political catharsis that “one of my own” is the one in charge. Nigerian psychologists may have to research this aspect deeply.

3. Those, who again, as is typical with Nigerians, have been brainwashed into believing that our problem is the language we speak, the kind of food we eat, and the kind of dress we wear; not the elite conspiracy to keep us in perpetual poverty and misery.

4. Those who simply don’t give a damn about anything. The ones who are proud to say “I have never voted in my life”; “I will never vote”; “even if you vote, it won’t change anything”; “they have already selected the person they want to be there”; “PDP can’t be removed”; “there is no election in Nigeria, just selection. Queuing under the sun is a waste of time thus.” These kind of people are quick to quote Martin Luther King and deify America as if the freedom she enjoys today was a walk in the park. They easily forget that if Martin Luther King and the like of Rosa Parks had resigned themselves to pessimism, they would have remained in the pigeonhole of subjugation and oppression along with the millions of Black Americans.

Today, such people are proud to wear Barack Obama T-shirts and pin the flag of America on their dashboards but conveniently forget that Obama is the product of the Martin Luther King struggle. A struggle they didn’t allow to die on the altar of helplessness, cynicism, self-pity and pessimism. It was exactly this category of people the German Philosopher had in mind when he said:

The worst illiterate is the political illiterate. He hears nothing, sees nothing, takes no part in political life. He doesn’t seem to know that the cost of living, the price of beans, of flour, of rent, of medicines, all depend on political decisions. He even prides himself on his political ignorance, sticks out his chest and says he hates politics. He doesn’t know, the imbecile, that from his political non-participation comes the prostitute, the abandoned child, the robber and, worst of all, corrupt officials, the lackeys of exploitative multinational corporations”.

In reality, the Nigeria of today has seen an escalation in the wave of violence by insurgents and an effete government that continues to wobble and fumble by the day. Armed robbery and kidnapping go on smoothly. Corruption continues to flourish like never before. Criminals are given state cover by the powers that be and innocent people are being decimated like chickens. Justice is beyond the reach of the downtrodden and oppressed; human rights abuses are screaming to high heavens, yet we claim we are in a democracy! Poverty is embracing more people and the very few people who have held this country to ransom still call the shots and want to continue to do so. Revolution in education, healthcare, transportation, agriculture, power, diversification of the economy, foreign policy and lots more have been mere rhetoric since the coming of this administration and is it not evident how much of a laughing stock the once “Great Nigeria” has become in the eyes of the world?

They called him a perpetual and serial loser; they did not realise, and some still haven’t realised that the common Nigerians have always been the real losers. We are the ones without jobs, without access to basic healthcare, let alone having one that’s world class. It is the common Nigerians who are dying in hospitals while the elite fly themselves and their families abroad for medical checkups. Why have we become so hypnotised as a people that we repeatedly have fallen victims of the deception of the very few who divide us just to get power and keep us in perpetual slavery?

It is true that Buhari said he wasn’t going to present himself for elective office again but the questions to ask are: Did he enter into any agreement with anybody to that effect? Did he swear an oath to that effect? If the answer to both questions is NO, why have Nigerians not directed their venom at those who have sworn by the Bible and Qur’an over the past 14 years to secure lives and property of Nigerians; to ensure justice, equity and fairness even where they held the Holy Scriptures as witnesses to the barefaced rigging of elections? True, Buhari said it before the whole world that he would not be presenting himself for election again. So much for a man who loves this country all his life and fought to keep it together as a soldier in the civil war and in various capacities in his public life. As military head of state, he was meticulous, transparent, and focused on a corrupt-free, justiciable and prosperous nation.

There comes a time when a man weighs the options of his decision against overriding public interest. That interest, which is of far more benefit for others than him, becomes his purpose and he decides to go the whole hog for it. It is in this light that Buhari’s decision to throw his hat into the ring once again for the 2015 election if given the opportunity should be viewed. How interesting that the people casting aspersions on Buhari are far from the puritanical not-going-back-on-their-words specie. How many men have divorced their wives and remarried them in the overriding interest of their kids? How many people spat in the face of Michael Jordan when he said he was retiring from the NBA in 1993 only to return two years later? How many people stopped buying and reading Thisday newspapers because Dele Momodu openly said he was going to call it quits only to come back to his “Pendulum?” How many people left Nigeria because President Goodluck openly said he was not going to grant amnesty to Boko Haram only for him to turn around and set up a committee? So much for going back on words!

In the amazement of the scoffers and mockers of Buhari and his free flowing tears, I am made to recall John 11:35 (Jesus wept), which my friends and I rehearsed during choreography sessions back in the days. I learnt it was the shortest verse in the Bible. Similarly, Muhammad Haykal records in his book, “The life of Muhammad” that the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (PBUH) cried when his son Ibrahim died. He captured it as: “Tears flowed from his eyes”. So if the two greatest personalities of Christianity and Islam could weep/cry, then it isn’t an anathema after all.

While we are eager and itchy to condemn Buhari for his unparalleled and uncommon patriotism, let us not forget that Buhari does not lack food to eat, shelter over his head (no matter how modest), clothes to wear or access to healthcare. As a retired army general and an former-head of state, he is entitled to security details till his last breath, ditto for a pension. He could have chosen to retire to the Cayman Islands, Sychelles, or Hawaii away from the bitterness of Nigeria’s bad belle politics but he chose to remain in the country he had exhorted in these golden words on January 1, 1984, as military head of state:

“This generation of Nigerians, and indeed future generations, have no country other than Nigeria. We shall remain here and salvage it together.”

Nigerians must realise that Buhari’s fight has been about liberating the masses from the clutches of oppression, corruption and deception that has held us back. It has never been about him as a person. All that he ever did in the right or the wrong he did for country. As former governor of north-eastern states (which today comprises of six states); as minister of petroleum, as Head of state, and as PTF chairman, he never stole, nay, never touched public funds! He has challenged us all to prove the contrary, and since 2003 we have not been able to. Isn’t it time we listened to this man?

May 4, 2013
Source: The Sun
•Aliyu Bala Aliyu writes from Lagos. email: aliyubala.aliyu@gmail.com

Note Bene

Quotes of the General

“Bombing other human beings to death at any time is callous. It becomes much more reprehensible on a Christmas day and all lovers of peace must condemn these gruesome acts and demand that the perpetrators be fished out and brought to book.” -General Buhari after the Christmas Day Bombings at Mandalla

“There has yet to be any coordinated response by the security forces in the country. It is unprofessional and incompetent for our security agencies to surrender to this omnibus Boko Haram as the only clue to every security challenge.” – Buhari: After the Bombing of UN Building in Abuja in 2011

“It’s unfortunate to learn of the eruption of violence in some parts of the north following the declaration of election results, where churches and Christians were attacked. I disassociate myself and my party from what happened. I contested elections in 2003 and 2007, but I never resorted to violence. I have no reason to do so this time around. I urge people to remain calm and law-abiding.” – General Buhari: During the Post Election Violence of 2011


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