By Douglas Anele
That President Muhammadu Buhari’s electoral victory in 2015 was made possible in large part by self-styled progressives, hypocritical human rights activists, and politicians who previously scathingly criticised his nepotic, dictatorial tendencies is the clearest indication of the ideological and moral barrenness of Nigeria’s political class and the elite in general.
If assessed from an unbiased standpoint, Buhari’s record as a public servant does not inspire confidence in his ability to perform, meaning that he does not deserve to be elected into any high political office, let alone that of the President. It is quite revealing of his character that from the time he was overthrown in 1985 till 30 years later when he became President, Buhari did not engage in any relevant activity that could have improved his intellect and leadership skills.
Yet so-called respectable Nigerians with big academic and professional certificates bought the dummy sold by Tinubu, Amaechi and others prior to the 2015 elections. Before he concluded his first term in office, Nigerians increasingly realised that Buhari was overrated and over-marketed by APC’s propaganda machine.
Accordingly, several well-known Buharimaniacs such as the veteran columnist, Dr Dele Sobowale, Dino Melaye, former APC spokesman, Timi Frank, and Aminu Shagari (son of late Shehu Shagari), publicly regretted supporting Buhari and apologised for their error. Still Buhari was re-elected in 2019 in an election marred by widespread irregularities and violence.
It is very shameful that even in Buhari’s second term, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and several APC leaders are still blaming PDP for their own failures. Of the six living heads of state, only Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who, in 2015, joined the anti-Jonathan bandwagon and wrote a disparaging letter filled with dubious claims, has mustered the courage to criticise Buhari occasionally.
But why has Pastor Tunde Bakare resorted to scurrilous complaints about the sorry state of things in Nigeria instead of scathingly criticising Buhari directly as he did to Jonathan when the latter was in office? The same question applies to Femi Falana, Prof. Pat Utomi, Rochas Okorocha and prominent northerners who propped up Buhari to replace Jonathan.
Perhaps, due to embarrassing disappointment arising from the abysmal performance of the converted democrat in whom they were well pleased in 2015 and the sheer absurdity of keeping quiet in the midst of it all, Prof. Wole Soyinka laments once in a while whereas Dr. Oby Ezekwesili regularly agonises about Buhari’s corrosive incompetence.
Interestingly, the President’s attack dogs, especially Bashir Ahmad and Loretta Onochie, do not hesitate to return fire for fire – karma can be unsparing sometimes. It is really heart-wrenching but not surprising that even in this dark period of economic recession, rampaging poverty, inflation and unemployment, escalating insecurity and financial rascality or corruption in high places, gullible Nigerians still believe the myth that Buhari is a good leader.
To shameless Ndigbo who praise Buhari for mostly exaggerated or imaginary projects in Igboland and visit him or his subordinates to pay homage, one can only look at them with disgust because they are demeaning and ingratiating themselves with the ruling cabal for temporary political gains.
In my opinion, notwithstanding the hero-worship of the President by Arthur Eze, Orji Uzor Kalu, Hope Uzodinma and Dave Umahi, Buhari has never shown genuine interest in the main concerns of Ndigbo as a high-ranking public official. He has an ingrained condescending attitude towards Igbo people in spite of occasional token gestures intended to create the contrary impression.
To pretend otherwise as Igbo politicians and businessmen without shame are wont to do shows how low they are willing to descend in the quest for primitive accumulation and political relevance.
Shameless sycophants of the President seem to forget that the Internet is a wonderful instrument as a repository of historical memory. A simple Google search will disclose that several of them now eulogising and defending Buhari even now that the country has become the poverty Mecca of the world were among his severest critics before APC came into existence in 2013.
Take Bola Tinubu as an example: in 2007, while campaigning for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of then ACN, Tinubu described Buhari of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) with the following propositions: “Muhammadu Buhari is an agent of destabilisation, ethnic bigot and religious fanatic who, if given the chance, would ensure disintegration of the country.
His ethnocentrism would jeopardise national unity.” Every honest Nigerian will agree that Tinubu’s assessment has been vindicated since Buhari became President. But, presently, probably because of his alleged presidential ambition, desire to shield himself from investigation, and Machiavellian attitude to politics, Tinubu has swallowed his own vomit.
He is one of the ringleaders of APC who persuaded Buhari to contest the presidency for the fourth time: in short, he is among Buhari’s staunchest supporters and enablers. What about Nasir el-Rufai, former PDP stalwart and governor of Kaduna State who joined fellow northern politicians that wanted Jonathan out of office at all costs and replace him with Buhari?
Sometime in 2010, el-Rufai, speaking with the Daily Sun in Abuja at the Leadership Conference organised by Leadership newspaper on Nigeria @ 50, called for the emergence of a younger generation of leaders. According to him,, “People like President Babangida and General Buhari should just disappear. They should give way to a new set of people with new ideas.
Young people, preferably.” He even claimed that Buhari is perpetually unelectable. However, now that he is in APC, el-Rufai projects himself as “an admirer, a mentee, and a loyalist” of Buhari. As a matter of fact, in a strongly-worded letter he wrote to Buhari in 2017, he claimed, among other things, “From 2010 when we joined your team, I have no other interest than your place in history as our President. I believe in your integrity, commitment, and sense of duty to make our nation better.”
That is not all. A chronicle of the deceitful flip-plops by Buhari himself, Tony Momoh and several prominent APC members on issues such as Boko Haram, the economy, exchange rate, fuel price, corruption, insecurity and so on between 2013 to date is enough to convince any thoughtful Nigerian that our politicians cannot be trusted since they do not have much respect for truth and consistency.
Remember, In 2014, it was reported that Buhari criticised the onslaught by the army led by Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, claiming “that any attack on Boko Haram is an attack on the North” and that instead of giving the terrorists amnesty as Yar’Adua did for Niger Delta militants they were being killed by the army; which was why the terrorist group nominated him as its chief negotiator when the idea of negotiating with it was being contemplated by the Jonathan administration.
The same Buhari as President boasted that Boko Haram would be defeated in three months. Yemi Osinbajo is a pastor of a popular Pentecostal church with the vile reputation of always looking in the rear-view mirror blaming the PDP for every conceivable problem with the country. At the same time he is not ashamed of covering up for Buhari whenever the latter could not give intelligent answers to simple questions during joint interviews.
Tony Momoh asked Nigerians to stone APC leaders if they fail to perform after two years. More than five years since APC came to power, Nigeria has regressed so badly that Momoh ought to display moral courage by apologising to our people for the biggest hoax in Nigerian history. Yet these politicians are elders who, according to our custom and tradition, are supposed to speak the truth all the time or at least should not deliberately deceive the people. Shameful, indeed.