Buhari’s Vanishing Messianic Halo | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Buhari’s Vanishing Messianic Halo

Posted: Jun 16, 2015 at 12:23 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

As I opened my laptop bag a few minutes ago, I saw again a copy of the Nigerian Observer of March 23, 2015, which a friend in Benin had helped me to obtain when we learnt that it had republished one of my articles entitled, “Is Robert Mugabe’s Fall Symbolic?” As I leafed through the good old Observer, I wondered how such a paper with the enviable history of having helped to groom several reputable journalists in this country since it debuted on May 29, 1968 could have been allowed to so badly depreciate in quality, even under the very watch of the “People’s Comrade.”

Well, on page 3 of the paper, I saw a full-page advert placed by an association that calls itself “Change Advocates of Nigeria (CAN)” asking us to give our votes to General Muhammadu Buhari, then presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC). The association gave four really tantalizing reasons why we should give our votes to Buhari. Permit me to reproduce three:

1.       “Vote for a leader who will not appoint any corrupt person in his government.”

2.      “Vote for a leader who will give social welfare package to the unemployed monthly…”

3.      Vote for a leader who matches his words with action for the overall benefit of the people…”

That sounds so nice, doesn’t it? But why am I suddenly having this feeling that these statements sound even more hollow now than when they were first uttered? Indeed, how many people who had eagerly swallowed those sweet promises which the APC, its candidates and agents were recklessly throwing about during the campaigns would still be able to view them with even the tiniest bit of seriousness today, given the very demoralizing starting signals the APC regime has already served Nigerians?

Now, let’s start with the Observer advert: As we await the release of Buhari’s list of ministers, one wonders if there is any reasonable person in Nigeria today (even among die-hard APC warriors) who believes in all sincerity, I mean, deep down his heart, that Buhari “will not appoint any corrupt person in his government”?

Again, how many APC chieftains would still be able to repeat today the (now clearly fraudulent) assurance Buhari gave Nigerians during the campaigns that he would “give social welfare package to the unemployed monthly…?” And with what we have already seen in the past couple of weeks since power changed hands in Abuja, who in Nigeria today can confidently say that we now have a leader who “matches his words with action for the overall benefit of the people…”

But these are the very attractive but empty packets the APC boldly waved before Nigerians in order to obtain their votes. Today, they are not only by their words and ‘body language’ distancing themselves from those tantalizing promises which were clearly made, stressed and repeated on countless forums, they are equally showing that those who still believe them are entirely on their own.

Two recent examples will help explain what I mean. The laws of Nigeria do not stipulate that prospective leaders must make the details in their assets declaration forms public. Late President Umar Yar’Adua knew this, but still went ahead to make his public to strengthen his moral credentials and gain the trust of Nigerians. During his campaign, President Jonathan never promised to publicly declare his assets, and so when he assumed office, he chose to limit himself to the exact demand of the law by quietly sending his assets declaration forms to the Code of Conduct Bureau.

But the APC turned this into a juicy campaign issue with which they thoroughly rubbished Jonathan. And to demonstrate that he represents a healthy alternative to Jonathan, Buhari looked Nigerians in the face and firmly assured them that he would publicly declare his assets and ensure that all functionaries serving in his regime did the same. But despite that loud and unduly recycled promise, Buhari and his deputy have merely followed Jonathan’s example by also secretly declaring their assets. And his spin doctors are all over the place composing all sorts of exasperating tales to explain away that clearly brutal assault on the sensibility of Nigerians. In a decent country, it amounts to political suicide for a presidential candidate to announce promises he knows full well that he lacks the capacity and willingness to fulfill. Nigerian politicians have always ridden roughshod on the sensibilities of the people, so how now has Buhari proved that he is different? In what language does he articulate the exact meaning of the “change” he is purporting to offer? And why would anyone expect Nigerians to trust a president who could not keep even the least of his widely advertised promises?

Again, how exactly was Buhari feeling when he flew to Chad and Niger to seek their greater cooperation in the fight against Boko Haram when he told Nigerians during the campaigns that by seeking such a sub-regional collaboration against the terrorists, Jonathan had belittled Nigeria ?

It is sad that Buhari and the APC are yet to realize that Nigerians are already feeling that they were deluded into pouring all their water in a leaking vessel. On the social media, APC internet warriors are always quick to ask “what about Jonathan” any time anyone points to the growing list of the failings of the new regime. Should we now take it that the APC’s “change” is nothing but the amplification of all the failings of Jonathan? Then, indeed, there is trouble in the land.