Writing on the man Buhari is a work I looked forward with excitement to do for many months and the reasons are many. No matter what view anybody holds, Buhari is a true hero of our nation. He has passion for the well-being of the nation and her people and has used every opportunity that has come his way to practically demonstrate this conviction.
Along the line Buhari has recorded enough achievements that should make him go home and enjoy his retirement in peace, but he has said this won’t be, because Nigeria of his dream is still far from being realized. Many have criticized him for this, but the good news is a good number of Nigerians cutting across different tribes still believe that Buhari even at 72 has a lot to impart, teach and offer to Nigeria of today.
Buhari is disciplined; that much most of us agree and in our private moments we wish that most Nigerians would imbibe this because one major problem of our nation today is indiscipline. There is no order as to how things should be done, by whom and at what time. The situation is like everybody to himself and God for us all. The result is that things are not working and suffering has become the order of the day and those who know about the days of War Against Indiscipline (WAI) during the 23 months he was the Head of State still nurse a nostalgia for a return of that era, possibly by the man who introduced it. Buhari too is frugal and ascetic and for these reasons many Nigerians believe in him because a good number of us have come to believe that hedonistic lifestyle of our leadership class has contributed a great deal to the wastage of public funds that has become our lot.
Besides these, I like writing on a personality like Buhari because of the bastardization that has attended the choice of mentors and role models in our nation. The situation we have at hand is one in which those who should be recognized as role models are jettisoned and even derided while those who carry no positive value, who are stupid and foolish, whose only ‘asset’ is to break rules and subvert due processes are eulogized and venerated as true national icons. In any society like ours where such is the trend, progress is difficult to ignite and that is why some of us who know, cry and protest over the manner national awards are dished out.
The problem of creative icons is that most of them are neither very social nor frivolous dispensers of cash. What this turns out to be is that they lack critical support in places that matter and even among the masses for whom they live for. Buhari is no exception, he has done so well for this nation, but he has found it difficult to gather the kind of widespread followership that others of his status or even lesser do attract. The reason is not that Buhari is not good, just that he has that divine nature which most Nigerians at present find very difficult to relate with.
We love those who steal all the money and give us a pittance and we are ready to die for those who will drink and womanize with us all day not minding if productive engagement is worthy or not. Buhari is certainly not of that kind, so he was bound to have problem of association to some degree. Even while admitting to this, it is equally important to state that Buhari has allowed issues concerning social association to so widen to the point that it has become a cross to be carried. Today in our nation, majority of the Christians do not believe that Buhari can be a fair-minded person. In fact they see him as an Islamic fundamentalist. Yet, this is a man we are told his driver and cook are Christians. This fact is difficult to know because not too many people visit Buhari because the man is taciturn. Buhari and his managers have never seen this as an obstacle for a man who desires to democratically win elections and become the nation’s president. That is a big tactical omission.
Again in 2011 when Buhari ran for the presidency he further muddled the issue of religious stereotyping when in the bid to placate the Christian community he took as running mate a Christian whose profile included conversion from Islam. In fact many Christians did not take him serious and that move did not assuage them because many viewed it as something pre-arranged for a time and for an assignment of that nature and that move showed the vulnerability of Buhari in terms of tactics and techniques for winning complex election such as the Nigerian presidency. I am one of those who have been wondering why Buhari has never seen it necessary to rotate very much among communities in the South-South, South-West, South-East and North-Central. I was in Umuahia few months back when Buhari visited his friend Chief Ikechi Emenike, who was commemorating his late father with the dedication of a church he built for the Methodist Church. Buhari arrived after the church service had ended and after many invited to the program had left for their homes. Again at the 7th year anniversary of Chibuike Amaechi’s administration during the Christian prayer, Buhari had his cap on and sat glued to his seat. That mood did not show sensitivity and love for the other person’s faith; add these to the fact that Buhari is an elite but does not like members of his group, then the obstacles confronting Buhari’s quest for the presidency in 2015 become obvious.
Many hold the view that how he manages these perceived hindrances between now and the elections in February 2015 would determine the extent of his acceptability and electability. It would not be about issue of age or breaking of vow not to contest for public office again, because qualitative service has nothing to do with age but repository value. In the same way changing of mind in view of superior argument or facts is no weakness in a democracy. Rather, it is a measure of strong strength of character. In 2011 a Buhari that ran on the platform of a restricted party with low funds made tremendous impact by winning over 12 million votes; now that his coast has expanded following mergers and defections, a calculating Buhari can win the presidency, if only he can plan well, run on solid programs, not abuses, and a string of vital alliances with various interest groups. Nigerians must see the difference between him and the incumbent president. Buhari will make a good leader that is if he can get there. That is the challenge!