Having just a few minutes ago sworn on the Holy Book, I intend to keep my oath and serve as president to all Nigerians. I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody…
The foregoing was an excerpt from the May 29 Abuja Eagle Square declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari, after his inauguration as the country’s president for the period, May 2015 through May 2019.
This tendency of Buhari and his political party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, to throw up some political ideology based on the perceived interests of ordinary people, as opposed to those of a privileged elite, or focus on the lives of ordinary people is not new after all. All through the campaign days ahead of the just concluded general elections, it was commonplace, especially in the APC fold. Simply put, it was a foretaste of the new definition of populism that was in the making.
Undoubtedly, therefore, it was such tendency that must have caused the party and its chieftains to, at various times, promise Nigerians and the world many democracy dividends which by every reasonable calculation are utterly unachievable. Available statistics and indices underpin this position; so are all relevant data of experiences across the land, and even in foreign soils.
Belong to everybody?
Yes, in the spirit of modern day democratic practices, the president can be said to belong to every fellow country man and woman; and that includes our youths and far younger ones. Little wonder he is the defacto and dejure Commander-in-Chief. But does he really belong to everyone? I beg to disagree. The reasons are there staring Buhari and his APC in the face.
The facts of the president’s antecedents in governance and politicking easily put a lie to his above claim of belonging to all. Recall his calls to chaos ahead of the 2011 elections, his association with otherwise political heavyweights who shortsightedly posited that anything short of victory for Buhari and the APC would mean trouble for Nigeria; the scheming nuisances that characterised the campaigns and even long after and most importantly, the fact of the politics that threw him up as the presidential flag bearer of the APC against the serious opposition that almost factionalised the party and determine if he truly belongs to everyone.
The fact needs to be told that in politics world over, you are held responsible for your actions and inactions in the past, present and the future, as they all combine to underscore your person and capabilities. As for Buhari, not a few Nigerians still hold the view that his actions and inactions as the country’s military ruler for about 20 months beginning from 1983 contributed to where the country found itself today.
For instance, the jack boot style of military dispensation and its rather weird regimentation that saw people being jailed for 100s of years, some killed and some hiding, all largely without due process, caused him to step on very many toes with unforgettable and unforgivable memories lingering for God knows how long. To such people, they are not of Buhari in any way.
Also, even though victory has many friends, the president must realise that in his journey to grabbing APC’s presidential flag, and under the unusual circumstances that prevailed then, he has enemies within; and such cannot gladly embrace him. The same applies to members of today’s opposition parties who just would not accept the fact of today’s APC presidency, given the fact that the arrogance, gangsterism, half truths, deliberate lies, scandals, unpatriotic utterances and hostile propaganda antics unleashed on fellow Nigerians and the country by his party men and women, unfortunately led and poorly garnished by the ilk of the party’s spokesman, Lai Mohammed, from the Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, authentic haven of its very own Jagaban, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, were and still are repellants to Buhari’s crave to belong to everyone.
In fact, it is an absurdity for him to belong to all. Politicians have one short name for this brand of populism attempt. Not when he should among other APC members always recall how he got to where he is with the millions of thorns, hurdles, twists and turns on his path as he journeyed to Aso Rock. Politicians call it ANT-PARTY ACTIVTY. And the consequences can not only be embarrassing; they can be far-reaching. Watch it, Mr. President!
Belong to nobody?
Another clear absurdity in the Abuja Eagle Square declaration of the president is his statement that he belongs to no one.
Haba! In today’s Nigeria and in our not-so-well-defined democracy, a beneficiary of the process is claiming he belongs to no one? Abomination!
Methinks, the president made a mistake in this wise. To start with, you belong to the APC; and need I say, the principal members of the leadership of the party, especially, Tinubu. You also belong to your former party, Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and its members whose combined aspiration led all of you into the alliance with the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, that crystalised into the APC.
Furthermore, you belong to every other Nigerian who by way of financial, moral and electioneering support catapulted you into the nation’s prime public job inside Aso Rock. There are no two ways about it. Buhari belongs to very many interests.
In fact, he must learn this quick lesson in public political office service: you do not bite the finger that fed you. The reason is simple; bite them and they will not be there to feed you as you journey through the uncertain terrain in Nigeria politics. You may wish to take a quick course in political failures across the globe, not just West Africa, to be on same page with me on this note.
Whither anti-graft war?
If there was one campaign message from Buhari that landed him a lot of votes, that must have been his often-stated resolve to fight corruption if elected. And that, to the best of my knowledge, has accounted for the tremendous goodwill the Buhari administration is attracting all over. He acknowledged that much when on May 29, he retorted that at home his newly elected government is basking in a reservoir of goodwill and high expectations, adding that “Nigeria therefore has a window of opportunity to fulfill our long – standing potential of pulling ourselves together and realising our mission as a great nation.”
But with every sense of patriotic fear, I must state that Buhari needs to take a deep breath and review his war against corruption in his military days and how successful it was. Inspite of the questionable jail terms on Nigerians considered in the opinion of the “courts” to have been corrupt or corrupted, just what deterrent did that serve?
Thus, claiming to belong to all and yet to none will open the president to hostilities from his APC camp and the opposition, as well as non-aligned fellow country men and women. And with a very gullible civil service peopled by supposed “servants” whose ever-ready aloofness to patriotic duties can spell doom to any good intention of government, Buhari may find out before long that his May 29, 2015, Abuja Eagle Square declaration is a mere statement made out of ignorance; and that it has a better place in the market square.
In this vein, his anti-corruption war this time around may have a worse off result.