Victory is sweet; no one wants to be associated with defeat in a culture that makes people avoid defeat like a plague. Not wanting to be classified as “failures” after their “hero” last the presidential election, President Muhammadu Buhari’s opponents or better still critics appear to be cruising off with an early lead. The most recent his critics have done is to label him “Baba Go Slow” referring to his seeming lack of activities. But is it all about an early lead?
Watching from a far, I have come to realise that Buhari’s critics can fall under any of the following categories: First, are the career Jonathanians or GEJites as they are now popularly known. Leading this pack is our dear Femi Aribisala. In fact one of these people had openly written that he will not accept Buhari as his President. These people were so sure that their boss or hero will win no matter the costs. They “prophesised” that Buhari will never “smell” Aso Rock. In fact, Aribisala once wrote under the title: HOW TO LOSE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION FOUR TIMES in one of his columns stating his reasons why Buhari would lose the fourth time. If wishes were horse, they say, men will ride. How time flies. Anyway, they are foremost among Buhari’s critics.
Not all Buhari’s critics are pro-Jonathan as many may think though it is very difficult to vouch for this distinction. We can have a second group as those having issues either personally with Buhari himself or his party, the All Progressives Congress(APC). This group accommodates people like a former governor of old Kaduna state Alhaji Balarabe Musa and a renowned writer Okey Ndibe. One really cannot explain Balarabe Musa’s issues with Buhari. He was noted to have criticised President Jonathan vociferously at some points and I am not aware he has rescinded on his opinion about Jonathan. His criticisms of President Buhari is what one finds hard to explain, other than the fact that he may probably know something about Buhari that is not to public knowledge. On the other hand Okey Ndibe’s case can be because he had issues at some point with the way the APC was been run. I am not sure Ndibe will be your first choice of a Jonathanian or GEJite. Either way they constitute a pack of their own.
The third group are perhaps the most reckless. They are nothing but tribal pirates, ethnic buccaneers and religious Vikings. In this group we boldly include Radio Biafra and its sponsors. They are myopic in views; tactless in approach and reckless in criticisms. On the one hand they urged their “people” not to vote in the election on the other hand they want Jonathan to win in an election they forced their people not to vote. I find it difficult to reconcile these contrasting objectives. More confused was I when I knew that former President Jonathan is Ijaw, a tribe that proudly supported the Federal Army during the Nigerian Civil War. It was only this radio that broadcast the news that President Buhari authorised the bombarding of “Biafran territories”, by which they mean Cross Rivers and Akwa Ibom. While they told their viewers that “Igbos are not Nigerians”, one is left to wonder at what point did the Efiks, Ibibios, Orons, etc (which they also claim as part of “Biafran territories”) became Igbos. Apart from this pirate radio which, I later knew, broadcast from London, no other credible news medium reported the “bombardment”.
The fourth group can be neglected as mere “professional” critics, wanting no more than mere attention or patronage. Some of them may have good intentions you never can tell.
The most brilliant of these criticisms is “Baba Go Slow”. I only laugh anytime I hear these critics on social media make this argument. I have carefully avoided taking part in these discussions because once you air your views you are most likely either going to get insults or get intellectually-insulting answers. While not making excuses for sluggishness, I think these critics must get their facts right. First, they have done their very best to compare Buhari to Jonathan. They tend to forget that Jonathan’s early missteps were just enough to turn Nigerians against him. Second, they also tend to forget that unlike Buhari, Jonathan has close to two years before his election in 2011 so there were no issues about “smooth transition”. Third, Jonathanians, in particular, must by now be aware that the Buhari transition committee submitted its report only recently because the Jonathan administration will not cooperate with the committee.
When they hammer the argument that Buhari’s administration is slow, two things come to my mind. The first is the Aesop’s fable The Hare and the Tortoise. The moral of that story is very simple: Thoroughness and quality counts for more in the long run than speed. The race is usually not to the swift as there is no sense in starting fast and ending poorly. Alas! This is one of life’s terrible lessons. Second, I remember Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd United States’ President.
Like Buhari, Roosevelt defeated an incumbent President, Herbert Hoover in 1932. In the weeks following the election, Roosevelt withdrew from public glare leaving the space for his enemies in the Republican Party to criticise him. He is not prepared for the challenge, so they say. Their criticisms become even more personal and aggressive. At his inauguration, he gave a rousing speech in what is now known as “Hundred Days” that serves as a major blow to the GOP leaders’ attacks. Roosevelt will then go to win the next three presidential elections, which is unprecedented and unsurpassed in US history. This appears to me to be the position of Buhari’s critics today.
For those celebrating Buhari’s “sluggishness” is only a demonstration of the fact that they are bereft of political wisdom.
Adigun a political risk analyst and an independent political strategist writes from Lagos