First thing first. A confession. I was neither a supporter nor a believer in the candidacy of General Muhammadu Buhari prior to the elections of 2015. I was not either in the previous election cycles when he contested for the presidency in 2003, 2007 and 2011. And I have not had faith in his presidency in the last seven years, going to eight. I believed then, and I still do now, that he does not possess the requisite intellect, capacity, competence, energy, national appeal, temperament, nationwide network of friends, religious tolerance needed in a multi-religious country and the worldview to make a good and inspiring Nigerian President in 2015, or at any time for that matter. Nigeria is too complex for a man who is so insular and who has no qualms in wearing his frightening sectarian bonafides on his sleeves. I feared he would fail and in that process take Nigeria backwards by several decades, but I did not reckon he would be such a disaster and catastrophe combined. Nothing prepared me for what has turned out to be an affliction of a regime. Gen. Buhari has surpassed all my expectations. But in the wrong direction. Even many, probably most, of his erstwhile ardent supporters and worshipers have been left gasping for breath at the extent of his bad governance or ‘un-governance’ as Prof. Farooq Kperogi would lament in exasperation.
Another confession will be in order. Yours sincerely stopped listening to the bogus live broadcast of Gen. Buhari since 2016 to save myself from torture. His advertised live broadcasts are not live. They are pre-recorded and edited many times over. Even then they still come out poorly. They are underwhelming, uninspiring, depressing, disconcerting, condescending, hollow, demotivating, demoralising, divisive and empty. In the context of speaking to Nigerians, the only media event I suspected was a live telecast was the December 2015 Media Chat. I could tell because I had participated in one Media Chat while Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo was president. Indeed, due to aviation issues, I had arrived Abuja from Lagos late but was still admitted to the set in the Presidential Villa while the interview. There was no rehearsal. Nobody demanded that I submitted the questions I intended to ask ahead of the Chat. The invitation was simple and straightforward- Please join the team that will interact with the President in this month’s Media Chat. The only other addition was the code that would grant you access to the high security grounds of the expansive Villa.
That convention of addressing Nigerians every month in our own version of the American Fire Side Chat was sustained until the era of President Umaru Yar’Adua who couldn’t keep faith on account of protracted ill health from which he eventually died. The Media Chat was revived when President Goodluck Jonathan assumed office after surviving what can be likened to an attempted Aso Rock Villa civilian coup. The expectation was that the current President would latch unto that veritable platform for constant and regular interactions with Nigerians. But no. He did one but apparently noticed that he does not have the temperament to engage in dialogue with those who are literate. It was not unexpected for a man who feels that he did Nigerians a huge favour by allowing himself to be elected their President. His supporters used to say as much when they claim that Nigeria would have disintegrated if Buhari had not been elected President in 2015. What hubris!
For them it has been convenient to forget that the same Buhari had been roundly and soundly rejected in three previous presidential election cycles between 20032011, and yet the country did not disintegrate. His supporters will not remember that after Buhari’s crushing defeat in 2011, he cried publicly on national television and vowed never to again contest for the presidency. They have a right to selective amnesia because authentic history is the one told or written by the victors. But their revisionism will not erase the glaring and verifiable fact that Buhari’s presidency has been an unmitigated disaster. He has left Nigeria poorer, more divided, almost hopeless, more corrupt, in a debt trap and certainly less secure. To a majority of Nigerians including those who still live in denial, it has become obvious that Buhari sought the presidency solely for the sake of the office. As we wrote elsewhere the presidency was a trophy to be won and not a call to serve. Buhari was the least prepared for the office of the president; he was the least credentialed in the life of the country; he was the least committed to the aspirations of Nigerians; and, he will, by the time he leaves office in 2023, be the worst president Nigeria has ever had, because to expect to have another president worst than Buhari is to prepare to sing nunc dimitis for Nigeria.
In spite of the obvious, Gen. Buhari has in the last few weeks turned himself into a snake oil salesman or merchant. When he went to Owerri recently he regaled his audience with tales of how much he has been doing transforming the lives of Nigerians for good. He said that the only problem he has had was that those whose responsibility it was to sell his magic to Nigerians had refused to do so. But trust Nigerians who pointedly and promptly told Buhari that there was no story to tell about his regime except that of privations, hunger, insecurity, despondency and division. And to insist on telling Nigerians this story would be to exacerbate their depression and deaths by degrees. But since his hirelings will not tell the story of the ‘wonderful performance’ of Buhari’s regime which is winding down in a whimper like the way it started, he has elected to sing his own praises. And he chose Saturday, October 1 which was the country’s 62nd Independence Anniversary celebrations for the self indulgence. And what a poor job he made of it. His 47-paragragh underwhelming address was a mixture of fairy tales, tales by moonlight, masturbation, self delusion, distorted truths, half truths and outright lies. The height of it was Gen. Buhari’s claim that he felt the pain and privations of Nigerian. No. That’s not true. That’s a lie. He is incapable of feeling the pain of Nigerians simply because he’s unfeeling. How can a man who only a few weeks earlier said that he had changed the lives of Nigerians for good turn around to say he feels their pain? Could Buhari be mocking Nigerians?
Another lie was that his election as ‘’a democratic President in 2015 was made possible by the majority of Nigerians’’. He was not even elected by a majority of the over 80 million registered voters. Indeed all the candidates combined got less than 50 percent of registered voters. So the 13 million votes or so that Buhari got in 2015 could not have translated to majority of Nigerians. If Nigeria were to be some other countries where 50 percent plus one threshold is required to be validly elected, we would have struggled to have a legitimate government in Abuja since the return of democracy in 1999.
He said he pledged to improve the economy tackle corruption and fight insecurity in 2015 and then to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in ten years from 2019, and that to the “Glory of God and His Grace as well as the commitment and passion displayed by many Nigerian supporters, we have made appreciable progress in these areas…’’ Buhari must be talking of a Nigeria in his imagination not this one which economy has slipped into recession two times in seven years; which is the global capital for poverty; which is one of the most terrorised countries in the world; which generates barely 5 megawatts of electricity (which is not enough for 20 million residents of Lagos state) for 218 million Nigerians; which is food insecure in spite of the Abuja rice pyramids or better still mirage; which public universities have been shut down for eight months and counting; which national currency is losing value with the speed of a Japanese bullet train; and, which is suffocating under a mountain of domestic and external debts.
It is pointless going through Buhari’s October 1 lies and deliberate provocations. He missed an opportunity to do the needful: apologise for letting down his misguided and gullible supporters. He would have been better served if he borrowed a leaf from his wife Aisha who in her own review of the Nigerian situation opted to apologise to Nigerians for the woeful performance of her husband’s regime. The irony of Aisha’s apology to Nigerians on the limping performance of Buhari and the All Progressives Congress [APC] should not be lost on Nigerians. She spoke one day before her husband’s cocktail of lies and in a mosque or its vicinity in Abuja. The redeeming feature for October 1 were the rallies in parts of the country in support of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi and his running mate, Mr. Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed in the 2023 election. A naysayer and social media tiger, Reno Omokri humbly but surprisingly described the rallies as ‘’a show of force’’. Indeed it was.