Daily, more people are joining the “Buhari has disappointed me with his performance” club. I hardly take such people seriously. I don’t know which irks me more. That Buhari has turned out to be just another occupant at the seat of power, or that people are surprised he turned out that way. Sooner or later, every one would drop this garment of feigned shock, and remind themselves that there was really nothing to be surprised about. Buhari has simply turned out as Buhari. The fact that we chose to embrace illusions, and forgo realities about him; notwithstanding.
The People’s Democratic Party practically put Buhari in office. Under PDP, Nigeria became a den of thieves. Politicians had no other mandate other than riding roughshod over Nigerians. With Jumbo salaries and unending convoys, political office became the one and only avenue for wealth, power, and more power. They abused the power so much, that Nigerians groaned for salvation. Any kind of salvation. What’s worse? The PDP had a knack for looking for the worst set of people to rule over the rest. In PDP, no one cared about your credentials. All that ruled was money. So, an Adedibu could lord it over Oyo state, populating political offices with all sorts of thugs and miscreants. By 2015, Nigerians had had enough. They needed just half a chance. Half a chance they got.
It would be wrong to assume PDP was all that was wrong with Nigeria’s political space. No. In fact, while the ills of PDP attracted headlines – it was after all the ruling party -, all politicians were actually comrades in crime. But while PDP could do little to deny its many ills, other parties silently plunged their states into debts while amassing wealth and looting resources. One of the greatest robberies ever pulled of against the Nigerian state is the pension law for ex- governors. The ridiculous law that pumps billions of money into accounts of ex- governors, as a reward for already looting their states in service, was actually pace-setted by Lagos, under ACN. Almost all states have adopted that satanic law. Such unbelievable theft of public resources, was not an exclusive preserve of the PDP. But the PDP paid the price for being the bigger thief.
The moment we knew Bola Tinubu was at the driving seat of demanding for Change, some of us lost hope. Tinube left Lagos government house in 2007, but Lagos government house hasn’t left him. He has singlehandedly chosen every governor since then. We don’t need to go into the cost of Bola Tinubu’s hold on Lagos. Many claim his protégés are wonderful performers. But those who know better, who know how much is at the disposal of Lagos, and what the state offers the citizens, know many Lagosians are actually being shortchanged. But, if Tinubu stayed in Lagos, maybe some of us wouldn’t have bothered. He had Nigeria in his sights. And he was going to use popular dissatisfaction of Nigerians against the PDP as his vehicle.
A smart politician that he is, Tinubu already sensed there was no way he ever was going to win an election in Nigeria, he quickly teamed up with Muhammadu Buhari, a northerner with cult following. Very many Nigerians saw through the plot. It was simply about getting power from the PDP, not really about offering Nigerians change, or development. They knew they stood a good chance. Alas! It was better than they assumed. They couldn’t believe their luck!
I don’t know at what point they decided to make Muhammadu Buhari the focal point of their campaign. But it was always going to be a gamble. It was all public record that Buhari almost ran Nigeria aground during his first stint as head of state. His human rights record was abysmal. His economic plan, a disaster. So, what would we say Buhari had to offer? They had nothing actually. So they decided to use the PDP to campaign against the PDP. The key word? Corruption! “We will say Buhari is the end of corruption in Nigeria”. And since they owned most of the media houses, they only needed to draft the agenda that corruption is the cause of all our problems, and that Buhari is the end of all that corruption. If you add two and two, it means Buhari would be the end of all our problems as a nation.
I don’t know how much they expected that message to sell. But sell it did! They must have been surprised by the success of it. Although Buhari’s campaign was sponsored by cash that had its very root in corruption. Buhari was surrounded by politicians that had all sorts of corrupt cobwebs hanging on their heads. Buhari himself had corruption cases yet unresolved, dating as far back as his time as petroleum minister, and as head of the petroleum trust fund (PTF). However, the party chose to ignore reality, and went as far as crafting fables about Buhari’s integrity. It was their choice to speak a lie. It was ours to believe it or not. We chose to believe. We chose to be deceived.
Muhammadu Buhari’s selling point was simply the huge followership he commanded in the North. Nothing more. He was sure to deliver enough votes from the North. The party that presented him knew he didn’t have as much to offer as Nigerians expected. They knew he wouldn’t be able to fight corruption as Nigerians would fantasicize. They knew he wouldn’t be able to either sustain or even improve the economy. They knew Buhari wasn’t the man they were painting him to be. So, they had him avoid televised debates altogether. They limited his public speeches even during the campaigns. Everything about Buhari was carefully crafted by the party, from the pictures where he dorned attires from the southern clans, to poetic cliches designed by media aides. In other words, the party, in their desperation for power, actually recreated a Buhari that never existed, put him in public sphere, sold him as the solution every Nigerian needed, even went as far as making phantom campaign promises, and kept the real Buhari in check.
At a point, Buhari himself got embarrassed at the embellishments. But he only talked after taking office, where he sensationally denied that popular image every Nigerian fell in love with. He denied ever being THAT person the campaigns presented, and even denied ever promising all those stuff.
Not everyone was carried away with the propaganda of the campaigns though. Infact, some people had no choice than to fall back on PDP when they saw how much APC was willing to lie about Buhari. The skeptics couldn’t have forgotten how Buhari, for all his adult life, never denied being ethnocentric and narrow minded. Buhari had never done anything to prove he had changed, except for reading a prepared speech at Chatham House, England, where he claimed to be a “reformed democrat”, whatever that means. The facts were there. The fiction was there. Nigerians ignored the facts.
The problem of 2015 was that we had no choice. Jonathan, representing PDP failed on some levels, including security in the North and curbing multifaceted corruption. Buhari on the other hand, represented an agenda clothed in propaganda. I saw through the deceit of APC’s campaign that Buhari had little to offer. If I had a choice, I would have voted someone else. I reluctantly went for Jonathan. Because I felt he represented a more honest option, regardless of his flaws. Buhari represented a group of hypocritical wolves in sheep’s clothing who had nothing but power at the back of their minds. I didn’t get to vote at all, eventually. Buhari won (I knew he would), and he hasn’t disappointed me.
Its a shame we refused to query Buhari in 2015. The press gave him a free pass. He shunned debates and we gave excuses for him. He couldn’t present the only certificate he owned, a mere WASSCE; yet, we let it go. He made obvious blunders. We ignored them. In other words, we deliberately chose to close our eyes to the flaws of Buhari, despite the fact that they were often times staring us in the face! Yet, we act surprised now that his performance has only revealed who he has always been.
As of today, he has spent twice the time in Nigeria, outside Nigeria this year. ASUU is on an indefinite strike, and Boko Haram are back in business. Hate speeches and hate songs are flying from North to East and East to North, while infrastructure is crumbling daily. Our budget as doubled, yet no visible impact is seen on the economy. We moved from inflation to recession and then stagflation. There is obviously no leadership in the country as Acting President Osinbajo is only merely allowed to occupy space till the Lion King returns. While Nigeria sleepwalks to destruction, quoting the words of Prof Emeka Anyaoku.
We knew Buhari wasn’t as suited to office as they said he was. Nigeria is paying the price of Buhari’s ineffectiveness, regardless of the famous “sixteen years of PDP”. He has not provided leadership nor inspiration where necessary. He has divided us more actually. He once sent a sallah message, from London, in Hausa!
It is appropriate to tell those acting surprised by Buhari’s performance to quit acting. It was obvious all along. So spare us your emergency sermons of being disappointed by him. Because Buhari didn’t disappoint anyone. He has stayed true to himself and his creed. Rather, it was you, who chose to disappoint yourselves.