Rethinking Buhari’s canonisation?



QUITE unlike the days heralding the last presidential  election that threw up Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as the winner, the staple of interventions in public discourse is noticeably shifting from  his valourisation.

In just 100 days in office on  September  5, Buhari has been stripped bare  of  the  mystification  orchestrated by  his diehard supporters.

His All Progressives Congress (APC)  has disowned what were thought were Buhari’s  campaign  promises . And what is left is a stark reminder of how power is easily abused by those who do not adequately prepare for its use.

At  first, the believers in the Buhari presidency were befuddled by the illusion of propping up an Oliver  Cromwell  who  would  brutally  dislodge  the throne  of corruption and restore  probity.  And  this  threw up hordes  of sycophants who were  never  tired  of  serenading  his  virtues.  Even after the election, this  lionisation  continued , with  the media being awash  with  the enthusiasm about how he would  transform the  country  in a short time .

Sadly, these people  never heeded Sigmund Freud’s warning  given many years  ago.  Cautioning  against  the pitfall  of  biographers  who are blind  to the faults  of their subjects, Freud  notes  that they idealise  the hero in a manner  that “ thereby  sacrifice  the truth to an illusion , and for the sake of their infantile phantasies they let slip the opportunity to penetrate into the most  attractive secrets of human nature.”

But now  that they are  beginning  to cease  living  under  the illusion  that  Buhari  would  engender  an  Eden that  is  hallmarked  by  justice  and equality, his supporters are being  haunted  by a sense  of disillusionment .

In line with his messianic complex and the aura of incorruptibility, his  supporters  had  thought Buhari  would  just  come  to  the  office  of the presidency  and  declare  to the whole  world  how  much he was worth. They  never expected  him to prevaricate about  the distinction  between  what  the party  said  and  what  he stood for.

A  spokesman  of the president  has denied  that  Buhari  actually  promised  to publicly  declare  his assets when elected  into office,  and  that  it was  his  party  that made  the promise on his  behalf . But this  has not by any means  settled  the matter. Nigerians  who  voted  for the  president  did  that on account  of the perception  that  he  had integrity and that  he would  curb  corruption. They  had  expected  that  for  the campaign  against  corruption  to succeed , the president  ought  to have publicly  told  Nigerians  how  much  he was worth  before he  was sworn  into office. What is  the president  hiding from the public?

Now, the apprehension is that in the corrupt  ways  of Nigerians,  100 days in office  is  enough  period  to  steal and claim  later  how  much one  had  before  one  was sworn  into  public office. If  the president still doubts  that  there  is  already  a question mark  on  his much-touted  integrity, let him wait until he publicly declares  his assets. That is if he would do this at all. But if he does, and his fortune surpasses  the estimation of  Nigerians, he has to tell them the  secret of  his  sudden prosperity. For  no amnesia  would  so soon  erase  from  the memory  of Nigerians  how  Buhari  bemoaned  his  inability  to  muster  enough  funds to  buy  his party’s  form  for  the expression of his presidential  interest  and  how  his  recourse  to a bank loan  saved  his ambition. Besides, there are doubts that Buhari  can really  fight corruption since  he may  not be able to prosecute  those  on whose  political influence  and  financial  resources  he rode to office.

Buhari’s  supporters’  disillusionment  is  further seen  in  their reactions  to his appointments  so far. They had expected him to  make appointments  that would  fairly  represent all the regions  of the country. They expected  him  to  live  above  the warped  thinking  that  some  people  voted  for him and  others  did not. They  thought  that  Buhari  would  see himself as the president of the whole nation. But  Buhari’s  appointments  have proved  them wrong. They  now  realise  that  they have not elected  a Nigerian president but a northern president.

For through his appointments,  Buhari  never ceases reminding  them  that  they are inferior, they are less educated and qualified  than  his own people.  That  is  why  even though  the heads of the three arms  of government , the executive, legislature and judiciary  are headed  by northerners,  the position of the  secretary  to the government  of the federation  and other key ones  are occupied  by northerners. When  Buhari  declared  during his  visit  to the United States  that  those  who voted  for him would  be rewarded  more  than  others , some incurable optimists thought that that could only have been a mistake . But  now  he  is  proving  those  who  did  not  take  him seriously wrong.

Now , in just  100 days,  Buhari  has  left  no one  in doubt  that  he  would  keep  on using  the oil  from  the south  to sustain  his  administration  while  at  the same  time  treating  the  people  from  that  part of the country as  not qualified  to hold  key positions.  Buhari  may  compound  the disillusionment  of his  supporters  by  proving that he is all out  to enthrone cronyism  and nepotism  by confirming  Amina Zakari as  the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). And this is despite the  fact  that Buhari  has  not  defended  himself  against  the charge  by the Peoples’ Democratic  Party (PDP)  that  Zakari  is his relatio Not  appeased  too are public  servants  on  whom  Buhari  has  foisted  retired  colleagues. These  cannot come  to terms  with  Buhari’s  notion of meritocracy   that does not reckon  with the fact  that  among those  still in service  are even  better  candidates  to fill the positions that he has  given  to those  he has  rescued from retirement.

In all Buhari’s appointments  so far, no  cognisance  is  taken  of the need  for gender parity. Buhari  is  set on a course  that  may  take  Nigeria  to  an era  when  women  were  treated as second-class citizens.  And  Buhari’s  violation  of his promise  not  to  empower  the office of the first lady  has done  nothing  to assuage  the  anger  of  the womenfolk  who now  feel neglected.

Buhari  has  over three years  to prove sceptics  wrong. Nigerians  are  weary  of a surfeit of a  sense  of Buhari’s  altruism derived  from symbolism  and body  language . It  is  incumbent on him to convince Nigerians through his  actions that he has come to bequeath to posterity a memorable legacy of a selfless service.

• Dr. Onomuakpokpo is a member of The Guardian Editorial Board.

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  • Musty

    Dr.(?) Onomuakpokpo, how did you even get into the editorial board of the Guardian? Or has the Guardian fallen so low that it hires anybody touting a ‘PhD’ into its editorial board? For the avoidance of doubt, most of those who have gone viral on these accusations, including you, are those who never supported him in the first place. Now, you turn around and say, “this is not what we voted for”, as if you hadn’t already begrudged him with those accusations before. Let it be known that if all the heads of federal agencies are tallied together, the south lead the north in no comparable measure. I should also say that I am not among those who support federal character or quota system in any way. I have been discriminated against based on this before, and my qualifications were not even considered. The Nigeria of the future is one which breaks away from the mediocrity of the so-called “federal character” and that which institutes competence. To achieve this, we must fight the old gooners like you who believe in sharing just for the sake of it and ethnic jingoists like GEJ who stockpile national defence contracts to his cronies . When this is instituted, it will even hurt the north more, but it will be better for our collective interest.

    • The Trib3sman

      Your comment is very dumb, myopic and silly. If you cannot deeply fathom what the author has written, then you keep quiet.

    • okwuteise

      No one is rooting for federal character or quota system. Those terminalogies were engendered by those who abhor competition. It was the making of the North for which Buhari rightly belongs and had also benfited from. No body is questioning any meri based appointments. it is however difficult to believe that amongst the possible qualifiers to those positions, the ones he picked are the best. It is nothing short of nepostism and tribalism of the highest order. Buhari cannot defend those appointments by all standards. Federal Character and Quota System were creations of the North, if they believe its time to jettison them they should simply inform Nigerians.

  • Fuzio

    The means justifies the end. Not the other way round. Even if Buhari performs wonders, the mere fact that he achieved them through dubious and unconstitutional way will be enough to render those wonders as ruse.

  • The Trib3sman

    Great piece of very enlightening prose. Thank you Dr Onomuakokpo. Buhari told Nigerians more than once that he does not have a house in Abuja. We must ask Buhari to tell us who owns that Estate in Udo Udoma Crescent in the Asokoro area of Abuja. These are the issues. If he lied to Nigerians so that he would be seen as a saint, then let us all know.

  • Bob Ezeh

    It is sad that when the truth is spoken, rather than give intellectual responses, intellectually challenged people resort to verbal vituperence as a form response. It is sad that after reading this piece, that someone’s response rather than being based on facts resorts to low level abuse as response. Really sad indeed!