OPINION: Buhari, May You Never Be Nigeria’s President By AbdullAziz
Last December 17, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) turned 71. A privileged age in our clime where many things conive to deny many long live. Chief among which is bad leadership. So, for General Buhari, it is a rare privilege, especially considering his God bestowed sound health. Nelson Mandela; one of the finest of human leaders, probably next only to Mahatma Ghandi, walked out of racist gaol where he spent 27 years at the same age of 71 which Buhari ‘just’ attained. Mandela went ahead to become the first democratically elected President of free South Africa after leaving prison at that age.
Buhari is no Nigerian Mandela and never laid claim to that. General Obasanjo would have been fit for that term but he booted the factors that would have earned him that title while rooting for a personal ambition. To say General Buhari was incoruptible albeit officially, is to state the obvious. Though some close allies may have raise certain weak points of the retired General to, sometimes, make noise when the pendulum does not swing their ways when they want, the public image of the man as far as integrity is concerned remains taller than his physical figure. The gap toothed General was the 7th of the 14th Nigerian to rule or lead Nigeria between independence in 1960 and now, and the 5th of the 8th military rulers the nation was saddled with in-between the same period.
The initial caption for this write-up was “Buhari, take a bow now”. But on closer scrutiny, and like earlier written, Mandela walked out of the gaol at 71 and went to win an election to be President after all. So, Buhari at 71 may not likely be the best time to take a bow from national politics. But it is the time Buhari should let go of his dream about re-occupying the number one seat in the country. For a start, Buhari appeals to the common man on the street more than the elite. He is seen more as the “saviour” or political messiah more and above any of the nine surviving former occupants of that exalted office. No doubt, the media image of Buhari has been a source of worry to so many of his supporters and fans. No thanks to the infamous “Muslims should vote for Muslims” junk journalism of a reporter who could not even interpret the commonest of Hausa words nor translate the easiest of Hausa adage. But who went ahead to file a report of an event of which he reportedly got to late and even care less to get someone versed in the language of the address to educate him on what was said. The same has been the stock in trade of several journalists as far as Buhari is concerned till the recent “kare jini biri jini” which were misinterpreted due to the limited understanding of the Hausa language by most of the writers and arm chair commentators. One of the favourite sayings of Buhari anytime asked about the appalling leadership situations in the country is “jiki magayi”. In the heydays of All Peoples Party (APP) that later transmutted to All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Buhari was seen as a regional politicians with regional following on a regional political party. Some even accused him of religious bias. But they were all not knowledgeable about the person of Buhari or did so out of mere mischief. Many have attested to the fact that from his domestic staff to all the places he held command position, non Muslims around the man felt at home and could follow him to a battle field blind folded. But with the recent merger which resulted in the formation of All Progressive Congress (APC) with presence in all geo-political zones of the country, those critics who went to town with ethnic, religious and regional propaganda are fast reclining into their shells and searching for other means to brand the General all to no avail. As the man have many passionate admirers, so does he have those who passionately hate him.
From the Dikkos of this world, to certain road side meat seller or cobbler for reasons best known to them. But the reason for asking Buhari to take or bow, or praying for him never to be President of Nigeria is far fetched from what the likes of the above mentioned individuals or groups may see as their reasons. In fact, many are of the opinion that the lanky General take a rest from his aspiration to lead the country again. He should rather play the role of a king maker. There is no doubt that in certain quarters, whoever Buhari anoints always have the backing of the teaming electorates. Of all the eight surviving Nigerian leaders or rulers, Buhari may be second to General Gowon when put on the scale of scathing criticism. They both rate low in terms of being called names when their tenures in office and their manner of leadership is in discourse. These also trickle down to their children and family members. Some family members of former leaders in Nigeria, especially those who bear the family name are so much despised due to the alleged sins of the leader (s). Not so with General Buhari. Some past leaders are so despised and booted not so much because of their acts, but more because of the corrupts and cesspit acts of those around them in corridors of power or insatiable power and wealth appetites of subordinates. But the truth is, rightly or wrongly, no one or few occupy public office in our clime and quits the stage with their integrity intact.
The reason why Buhari, from Governor, to Minister and to Head of State remains a phenomenon. Not even his days as head of the multi-billion naira Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF) could be used to taint him. Some have said that if Buhari had used the PTDF to line his pocket, the government; past and present would have dug the dirt and used it to drag him down the muddy water of Nigerian politics. He remains one of the few whose children could work through a crowd unnoticed. They maintain very low profile even in the face of the highest intimidation or public outcry. So, if General Muhammadu Buhari would become one of such leaders whose name would lead to negative change of countenance, whose presence pose a threat to men of goodwill, whose image the teaming masses would de deraid. If his becoming a President would have his name written among the corrupt, his integrity tainted, his family name become despicable. His children a liability instead of source of pride, may he never be Nigerian President. May he live the rest of his life in sound health, better wisdom, positive prosperity of all ramifications, rooting for the global citizen and quit the stage with loud encomium, leaving goodwill for his family to the awe of his worst critic.
—Abdull-Azeez is a journalist based in Kaduna and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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