Ask for a President beleaguered from all sides, and I’ll show you Muhammadu Buhari, the ramrod straight man from Daura, in Katsina State, who turns 78 today. In the build-up to the 2015 presidential election, we used to say everything had been thrown at him as projectiles, except the kitchen sink. Permit me to update that expression. Today, everything possible has been thrown at President Buhari, including the kitchen sink. But the man trudges on. calmly, sedately, peacefully.Femi Adesina, 2020
Dear Muhammadu Buhari,
When you were born December 17, 1942, it is possible your father, Mallam Hardo Adamu, a Fulani chieftain, and mother Zulaihat did not realise they had given birth to someone growing up to be a figure in the country’s history books. And, coming as the twenty-third child, you probably thought you were just going to end up as another Nigerian.
Your place of birth, background or rank among your father’s children did not deter you from chasing lofty dreams. It is a phenomenon for many households in Northern Nigeria to have at least one person in the large family enlisted in either in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Police Force. But, you went further and eventually became a Major General. Your kindred must be proud even by just looking at your achievements as a Nigerian who has invested his whole life in serving the country.
You enrolled at age 19 in the Nigerian Military Training College (NMTC) in 1962. In January 1963, at just 20, you were commissioned a Second Lieutenant and was appointed Platoon Commander of the Second Infantry Battalion in Abeokuta, Nigeria.
At just 36, you were a member of the Supreme Military Council where you served up till 1979. From 1979 to 1980, at the rank of a Colonel, you attended the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in the United States, and gained a Masters Degree in Strategic Studies.
At 41, you became a Military Head of State when it was reported that you led an offensive against officials and businessmen jailed for corruption. Even though you also jailed critics.
Notwithstanding the scathing criticism against you and the many articles against you, pertaining especially to the economy, you came back to lead the country, after a large percentage of the country’s qualified voters came out to buy into your ‘saviour complex.’ Comparisons were done, and people said, to themselves, that you could do this. “Buhari got this!” Let us first remove that man in Aso Rock – we no do fresh blood again.
Before then, in March 2010, you left the ANPP for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), a party you founded. According to you, your support for the foundation of the CPC came “as a solution to the debilitating, ethical and ideological conflicts in my former party the ANPP“.
The elections in 2011 were marred by widespread sectarian violence, where 800 lives were reportedly lost just because you and some other candidates wanted, by all means, to lead from Aso Rock.
Your supporters attacked Christian settlements in the country’s central region. Why not? You had said that “If what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood.” You attacked the credibility of the election – like Donald Trump in current-day United States – even though Human Rights Watch adjudged the election the fairest in Nigeria’s history.
You remained a hero to some for your vocal opposition to corruption and won 12,214,853 votes, coming in second to Jonathan, who polled 22,495,187 votes and was declared the winner.
In May 2014, in the wake of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnap, you were outspoken and strongly denounced the Boko Haram insurgency. You even walked the country telling Nigerians that you were going to cause progressive development, as the people in power are just some corrupt individuals who simply want to milk the country’s resources.
Expanding your ‘hero love,’ you won the election in 2015. Nigerians, across the world, introvert and extrovert, young and old, rich and poor, rose from their rickety chairs and worn out beds to celebrate the one man who will turn Nigeria into a utopia.
The atmosphere was beautiful. If you had looked to the skies yourself, you would have seen that the Angels celebrated the ‘rise of the saviour of Africa’s most populous nation.’ They had to take a break from all the battles and you were the one to take over.
Not too long into your reign, Nigerians started seeing scary numbers. Headlines that read, ‘$1 billion gone missing without a human face,’ ‘$5 billion paid for abandoned project…’ The excitement of a saviour-come-home increased. We assumed we knew the criminals hoarding the national cake to themselves.
Months into your tenure, you were still complaining of the previous administrations and how they already sold the country out. We were surprised; knowing this was not what you included in your mission to Aso Rock statement.
It persisted for months and it is sure you sensed Nigerians were tired of the tagline of outright incompetence: Blame the former administration. In case you don’t know, this is what caused the excitement to wane, and the feeling of regret began to replace what we had before.
But then, you made announcements like the unification of the country’s ‘bank accounts’ and the Treasury Single Account (TSA) turned from an idea into reality. It looked like the Second Coming of the awaited Saviour. Especially when we thought the phenomenon was going to put an end to missing funds.
Interestingly, you came up with policies that catered to the poor – who will remain poor if they kept eating from your fish without fishing for themselves. ‘Folk heroism’ was rekindled and spread to many parts of the country.
Indeed, if there was a love graph, yours will read quick drops and rise. For now, there is no instrument to check what point it is at this time, but it’s definitely below level 0.
One of the Nigerians working with you, one of the men who is known to lie to Nigerians – possibly to you too – says, notwithstanding the tantrums and constant attack, you keep treading calmly, sedately, peacefully. This is suspicious in itself considering we thought since you are a Major General, you will bring agility, aggressiveness to bringing corruption to its knees.
Insecurity was another consideration and we all thought this is the man to solve it all!
But Mr. Buhari (Nigerians born in dark ages will say ‘father of the nation’), we can’t at this time even say you are the one at the Aso Villa. Your body language and response to happenings across the country read someone who is weak and needs to take a break. You are 78 today, so it is understandable.
In October, you literarily laughed at the document containing the #5for5 demands of the #EndSARS protesters presented to you by the near-absent governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. You probably are not aware that young Nigerians, across the country, were killed indiscriminately for just being young, wild and ambitious. Young Nigerians in the same peer groups with your beautiful and handsome children.
If we recall how you got into powerful positions at rather ‘tender ages’ (in the backward Nigerian sense), one wonders how you reacted that way to cries of the #EndSARS protesters. The future of the country asks that you protect them from harm.
For insecurity, you have insisted that the plans to do something substantial is in place and you cannot announce those plans. But, five years down the lane, insecurity has become a part of national cake – we eat it every day and many Nigerians have gone mad because of this; talking about those who are still alive.
Under your watch, in fact, under your nose, just across your street, over 300 schoolboys were kidnapped and, even though they have been recovered, we still fear for those who are still out there with the insurgents. Children and adults alike. We fear that people the age of your grandchildren have been suffering the same fate many other Nigerians have faced in the hands of terrorists. We are pained knowing that these children may be turned to adults in no time and their childhood, their future destroyed forever.
We would have asked you to retire today. See 78 as a beautiful number and perfect time to return to Daura or anywhere else of your dreams – it is sure the state will cater to that. But, before you retire, let us state here that all your 2014/15 promises are yet to be fulfilled.
When the love graph experiences a downward spiral, it is because we sense a blurry image of the man who many Nigerians came out to vote for. We are made to realise that you may hardly know what exactly is going on in this country. Those pictures of you reading one newspaper or the other are surely optics.
It may be because the people around you are keen on telling lies, even to their chi. Also, possibly because you think Nigerians are living their best lives. Who would not think so? You see the cars on the road, the houses that are being built, people flying around the country and the world, online markets buzzing all week. Let us state here that it is all screensaver.
In fact, only a very small percentage of the over 200 million Nigerians have the financial capacity to eat three square meals. Only a very small percentage can afford to rent an apartment, travel from one town to the other, buy things for their wardrobes. If the other percentage dare buy one kpongila, they will definitely go bankrupt.
Mr Buhari, the reality is that Nigerians are highly disappointed and wish that on this day, you listen to the cries of the people. Amazingly, there are still people who believe in you. Make them smile.
God bless Nigeria (using your voice), but do the work.
Omoleye Omoruyi… an apprentice web/game developer, novelist, sensitive to happenings in the world. Meet him @Lord_rickie on Twitter/Instagram