This rhetoric question is often asked by Nigerians especially anytime a general election approaches. As we approach the 2019 elections, it’s pertinent that we seek an answer to this important question to avoid the mistake of 2015 when many questionable characters were elected into public offices just by professing Buharism.
Buharism is often erroneously equated to the support for President Buhari’s political aspiration or membership of his political party. It evokes conflicting emotion from different groups in Nigeria. This conflict arises from the perception of the person of President Muhammadu Buhari whose name gave birth to the word and whose ideology forms the bedrock of the movement.
Like many heroes or villains in history, Buhari supporters glorify him beyond his wildest imagination, while his adversaries demonize him beyond limits. The strong emotional attachment often render the analysis of the ideology he represents null and void. Analysis of Buharism is often done through a selective reading of history and opportunistic attribution and misattribution of responsibility. Thus, the question keep reoccurring: What is Buharism and what does it stands for?
As described on wikipedia, “Buharism is a term rooted in the politics of Nigeria, referring to the economic principles and the political ideology of military lead government of Nigeria headed by General Muhammadu Buhari from 31 December 1983 to 27 August 1985″.
The political economy of Buharism as represented by the military government of the period is described by the rejection of the approach of the Washington Consensus that the solution to Nigeria’s economic problem inherited lies in the devaluation of the nation’s currency.
The administration on the other hand believes that for a crisis-wrecked country to successfully improve its balance of payments through devaluation, there must first exist a condition that the price of every country’s export is denominated in its own currency. Since such a condition did not exist, as was the case of Nigeria, Buharism asserted that there are alternate and superior approaches to solving the problem of its economic crisis.
Therefore, instead of applying devaluation to get the then crisis-wrecked economy of Nigeria back on track, Buharism employed a policy of curbing imports of goods deemed unnecessary, curtailing oil theft and improving exports through a counter trade policy of bartering seized illegally bunkered crude oil for needful goods like machinery, enabling it to export above its OPEC quota.
This system was well described by HRH Muhammadu Sanusi Lamido II in a paper presented in London on the 20th of February, 2003 titled: Buharism as Fascism: Engaging Balarabe Musa. He described the ideology as a right wing nationalist government, similar to fascism, that pursued bourgeois economic programs and curtailed personal freedoms.
He however said, in a constitutional democracy, what is left of Buharism is a fiercely nationalistic political ideology combined with right wing social and economic policies. The alternative Nigerians have to Buharism is a political ideology characterized by sleaze and corruption; a comical desperation to impress America and the western world; a seeming rush to sell off national assets at much less than fair value; an open-door policy of import liberalization that has destroyed indigenous industry; an economic program lacking in fiscal and monetary discipline that will lead to high inflation, a heavy debt burden, diminished foreign reserves, greater disparities in income distribution, and the consequent social insecurity and poverty.
In contrast, ten characteristics of Buharism were listed as: a policy of zero tolerance for corruption in the Federal Government; a review of the policy of unrestricted import liberalization; privatization to continue but at a fair price for national assets, no asset considered of vital national interest will be sold and privatization will aim at empowering Nigerians and promoting the interests of a domestic capitalist; a shift in our foreign policy from the west; a focus on an educational program that seeks transfer of skills and technology and the development of indigenous human capital; confront oil exploration companies and ensure that they pay for environmental damage and plough a substantial portion of their profits into developing oil producing areas; a trimming of government and a reduction in recurrent expenditure and overheads; greater fiscal discipline and tighter monetary policy to combat inflation; a focus on paying off our foreign debt and reducing the debt overhang through negotiations based on patriotic interests and compliance with agreed terms; a realistic acceptance of the precariousness of our position and a prioritization of our economic projects; and a truly nationalist government that seeks to inculcate pride in every Nigerian of his nationality and deals fairly with all ethnic and religious groups. The paper warned that these policies will set Buhari against international finance capital, against domestic criminals, sundry contractors, commission agents and drug barons, in other words against those who are responsible for the woes of Nigeria.
As further described by the same author in earlier publications: BUHARISM: Economic Theory and Political Economy (LAGOS) July 22,2002 and Buharism Beyond Buhari: A Response to Mohammed Haruna (LONDON), SEPTEMBER 6, 2002, the concept of Buharism is beyond the person of President Buhari. It is a movement of the people that place the nation above self and any other consideration.
This movement is what His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osibajo was referring to in a Keynote address at the Annual Nation Building Workshop in Lagos last year (2016) when he said, “To build the new Nigeria, we need a new tribe. A tribe of men and women of all faiths, tribes, and ethnicities, committed to a country run on high values of INTEGRITY, HARD WORK, JUSTICE and LOVE OF COUNTRY. A tribe of men and women who are prepared to make the sacrifices and exercise the self-constraints that are crucial to building a healthy society; who are prepared to stick together.”
This new tribe is what is referred to as “THE BUHARIST”. They are neither APC nor PDP. They are neither wailers nor hailers. They are not Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo. They are not Christians or Muslims. They are the antithesis of those responsible for Nigeria’s woes. They are Nigerians committed to progress and development. As we approach 2019, all Nigerians are invited into this new tribe for a better Nigeria