The most unforgiving and, at the same time, the most forgiving people are Nigerians. The most criticised and abused position is that of the President of Nigeria. An angel from heaven needs only one day in the seat of the President of Nigeria to become Lucifer. Let me state from onset that I am not a fanatic fan of Buhari, not because he is not better than some of our previous leaders, but because I had so much hope in him that, like Rawlings, he will clear the “cream de la dregs” that have run and ruined this country over the past fifty years or so. The Nigerian politician has demonstrated that it is not safe to “assume innocence until proven guilty”. The safest bet for any Nigerian politician is to assume “guilt until and after proven innocent”. For you cannot be sure that the innocence was not achieved through connivance, plotting, scheming, and conspiring with the judiciary.
Back to bashing Buhari, Nigeria is such a place that has the talent of diverting your attention from real issues. As you think of what the day holds for you in Nigeria, you are woken up with the news of a scandal that surpasses the impudent callousness of the one reported the night before you went to sleep. Nigeria is a wilderness of temptations; the original garden of evil, where, to stay alive, we suck the orange juice of corruption, wet our appetite with the watermelon of dishonesty, quench our thirst with the mango juice of fraud, and sip the bitter Hibiscus zoborodo juice of depravity. To survive in Nigeria, we start the day with swallowing a mouthful of the apple juice of perversion, and swig the pine apple juice of degeneracy and depravity. We survive on a daily and regular watermelon drink of immorality. Quaffing the mixed cocktail fruit juice of sleaze, venality, vice and perversion is needed for our very existence. We take our bath with the stagnant water in the gutter of gluttony and greed, and brush our teeth with the brush of iniquity layered with the paste of putrefaction. Nigeria is that country where sin is not seen, and where the daily scene of our leaders is no longer regarded as sin.
This was the country we had become after more than 50 years of independence. Where did it all begin? Our amiable General Gowon was reported to have said corruption came after he left office. He can tell that to those born after 1975. Assuming that corrupt leaders came after him, he should at least accept that he laid the foundation and others built on the edifice of Sodom and Gomorrah, which is now Nigeria.
Back to Bashing Buhari… So this was the country Buhari inherited when he took over in 2015. We had hopes, remembering his first coming. He and his deputy, Tunde IdiAgbon. We practised restraint; we put on the gear of control on our behavior. We obeyed the law of the war against indiscipline. The fear of Buharidiagbon was the sign of wisdom and self-preservation. In short, during the period, there was “disflin” in Nigeria. We had hopes that his second coming would bring about a better and more disciplined Nigeria. With Buhari’s return we had the expectation for the re-ordering of Nigeria’s future, the prospect for a united indivisible and progressive nation.
The optimism was in the air that at last Nigeria will cater for the welfare of her citizens and that the drowsy, lethargic, sluggish and somnolent giant will wake up and rouse itself from the deep sleep in the cave of underdevelopment. We had a dream that the slobbering, drooling dribbling and drivelling nation crippled by corruption will walk tall again. The hope we had in Buhari was that he would give himself just 4 years to clean up the rotten stable left by previous governments and lay the foundation for good governance, and construct the framework for accountability. We dared to hope that in four years he would retire to his Daura farm and say “Shikena..I have done my best” haven, at least, laid the foundation of what we longed for, yearned for, craved for, hungered for, pined for and ached for – a better Nigeria.
We were hoping that he would not be sucked into the desire of seeking a second term, knowing how his 2015 election was financed from known and unknown sources. Of course, we knew that he did not win the election financed from his resources or on his own steam. He told us he neither had the means nor the resources to campaign and win an election, even in his own town, not to mention the whole of Nigeria. We assumed that not all those who contributed financially, physically and spiritually to his election did so with the motive of altruism or because they so loved Nigeria. We knew that some of these contributors, loving themselves more than they love Nigeria, expected disproportionate, excessive and exorbitant returns on their investments in Buhari. We just need to look back on the campaigns for the 2015 elections.
But we still hoped that Buhari was going to set the country on the path of honour, having survived the stench of the campaign trench, and having arrived in the Aso Rock where the reception rooms are decorated with the settee of sleaze, and with pictures of the irrational and vicious hanging on the walls. We were confident that, as he swivelled on the rocking chair of trickery and signed bills into laws with pen filled with the indigo ink of deceit, he would say “Kai, all these must stop”.
But we also had our lingering doubts. Could he, as we say, bite the rotten fingers that guided him to the State House? Could he do the “Rawlings” to his friends, who are the foes and enemies of the nation? Would members of his cabinet be those men and women of integrity and honour, untainted by the smudge and blemish of Nigeria? Would his team work assiduously for the re-birth of the morality of Nigeria, and labour for regeneration of the essence of Nigeria? Will Buhari get the three arms of government to work for the mortality of all the things that bring shame to our nation? Tough job, hard assignments, but with our doubts came also a hope. A hope that Nigeria which once used her resources in the past to build a nation that produced eminent men and women that we are still proud of, will do so again, under Buhari.
So why are we now bashing Buhari? Because going by what we saw during the first time around, and believing in his promises on the campaign trail, we had hoped that most, if not all the looters, will be locked up in jails forever; that we will not have about 4.5 million children still unvaccinated; that we will not be spending over 20% of our gross domestic product on servicing debts used for dubious purposes.
Perhaps, we assumed too much; expected too much, hoped for too much. Was it not right for us to naturally assume that he was cut above the rest? Was it wrong for us to think that he could not be overwhelmed by the things that make Nigeria distinctive and matchless in a different and negative way? We bash Buhari for not stirring our hope as a people and as a nation. We bash him for not talking on time when we went after each other exchanging human life for cow life. We bash Buhari for moving Nigeria forward too little, too slowly and too lopsided; and for bringing us from the heights of hope to the depths of despair. We bash Buhari
Tomori is a public affairs commentator.
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