The supply and demand, that is, markets, for messiahs have been time-honored phenomena. For example, almost from its founding, a body of Muslims have been hooked on the delusion or hope that a guy – The Mahdi – will someday alight. His duty? Be a messiah and set the messy world aright.
Even before the Muslims, the Jews have set their hopes on a god-man or messiah, who will free Israel from her humiliations. Somehow, such as one never came. However, a monster, Hitler, did. After surviving Hitler, the Jews have collectively “deposed” to “Never Again.” Jews have thus refocused their faith and safety on their fearsome, nuclear-armed Israeli Defense Force, rather than on some mystical do-gooder.
Christians are of course veterans of the messianic trade too. For them, Christ is messiah made flesh, and there is thus no need to invoke another. So, every Easter, Christians ritually enact their trafficking and trade in their messiah. The rest for the Christians, is to wait out the rapture.
These historical realities are not strictly religious. They colour how politics is cognately played across regions. In the [Christian] West, including Israel, there are no needs for messiahs anymore, in politics, or in anything. In the West, only normal kids, not mad specialists or specialist madmen, aka redeemers, make the grade of being electable. However, the rest of the world, still seduced by the messiah syndrome, drool for redeemers. Africa is in this so-so loop.
If we recall, Kwame Nkrumah was not just elected as a president of Ghana, he sold himself as an Osagyefo, a Redeemer. China had Chairman Mao and Russia Joseph Stalin. For the Arabs, messiahs are so many, it is fruitless to list. In fact, it appears the Arabs can’t do without messiahs. The Arabs, one may conjecture, are Mahdi-hooked, if not dazed.
A peep in into the performances of these historical messiahs throws up poor results. Mao and Stalin, for instance, succeeded brilliantly as messiahs, but failed woefully as politicians. Mao unified his country and next bankrupted it, besides being one of history’s greatest mass murderers and thugs. Stalin followed suit and fought off Hitler in The Great Patriotic War. However, just like Mao, he brought millions to their death, as thugs with power are wont to do.
Yet, somehow, the demand for messiahs, for redeemers, persists in sun-burned Africa. However, for historians, messiahs are not the twists in the tale, per se. The twists are the unintended consequences that messiahs leave in their wake. This is because, unlike politicians, messiahs bring nonlinear consequences to their ways and means. Sometimes, a messiah saves today as his only way to destroying tomorrow.
It is in this sense the election of General Muhammadu Buhari is not just a momentous, but totally nonlinear, historical event. It may be safe to say that nothing in Nigeria’s democratic experience compares with the consequences of the Buhari democratic emergence.
We shall take them one by one. Immediately Lamido Sanusi was kicked out of his peacock throne, sympathizers, essentially from the South-West and parts of the North, mounted a sales pitch. They were singing that Sanusi is a wounded messiah. According to their litany, the best thing was to nurse Sanusi back to health. And this was best done, they contended, by awarding him a higher national assignment, specifically, the Presidency. This state of affairs was given added gravitas by the public letter intervention of General Olusegun Obasanjo, a southwesterner.
The Sanusi-presidency project was about to gather traction when bookmakers warned that we should be wary of ever electing messiahs. Nigerians were reminded how Buhari was once marketed as the small god that would come down and make every citizen feel high. Now, Buhari has come and is about to go. The verdict? He has failed as a messiah and even worse has not succeeded as a politician. He’s been so partisan, even his admirers wonder at his sense, if any, of nation, of unity. But that is an aside. The important thing is that, in failing, Buhari has crashed the market for messiahs, crashed the futures of Sanusi for President.
For instance, if Buhari had not happened, the prospect of Sanusi as President would have been sterling enough to bank on. Today, Sanusi as president is junk value. It is caveat emptor, and only vulture capitalists are in it with him. For decent investors, Sanusi as President is haram.
But Buhari is not finished. Retroactively, he has tainted, if not damaged, reputations. Recall that, before Buhari, Chief Obafemi Awolowo wore the toga of the “Best President Nigerian never had.” In fact, that was the least of his epithets. Awolowo was for his admirers the messiah who would have made Nigeria a developmental hub ahead of South Korea.
Today, following the Buhari market failures, all that historical shine on Awolowo has turned to dust. How, you may ask. It is because Awolowo and Buhari are analogues. The fact of this is as pushed by their supporters.
1. The parallels are bespoke as it were. Both were fanatically taken as messiahs in their regions. Their locked-in provincialisms was not for want of trying. It was just that they, despite their best efforts, never scaled the national bar. The implication of this was that they each had a captive dump of voters in their separate regions.
2. Both men also were touted as leading Spartan and clean lives, and even poor to boot. These are claims for which we hold no opinions.
3. While Awolowo was sold as something of a scholar, Buhari was marketed as something of a guru – that is, a genuine knockoff of the formal scholar. A guru possesses intuitive, non-formal, scholar-quality insights into the day’s wahala.
4. Essentially, Awolowo as a national messiah is a souped-up version of his “provincial” performance as retained hand by an unelected military dictatorship, and his local governance stints at Ibadan. Buhari also is a morph-up of his alleged performance as administrator under a usurper military dictatorship, and his one theatre bravery in charging the Chadians.
5. It is also important to recap that the believers and makers of the myths of Buhari and Awolowo as messiahs were essentially southwesterners and northerners. Yes, it may be on record that folks like General Emeka Ojukwu, in their expansive moments, put in a word of two. But it was all njakiri – things you say over palm wine, cheques you wrote but never signed. In other words, non-drawable instruments. For all practical purposes, the rest of the country was basically out of it, and only “siddon” looked.
6. In a word, Buhari and Awolowo are one of a kind, separated by their admirers. Their ways parted on that significant note, interestingly. It’s that Awolowo, while alive, never had the guile to persuade the North, that he, Awolowo, was an all-region universal messiah. Some miraculously, Buhari mousetrapped the Southwest that he, Buhari, shall be a messiah for them and the north. The rest is history. Now, there are consequences of this misbegotten bromance by the North and Southwest. We quote from one of their own.
‘’The paired two myths… have now been shattered resulting in the wry observation that were Buhari not to be availed the opportunity to become President of Nigeria again, he would have gone down in history, along with Awolowo as the best President Nigeria never had.’’ https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2019/11/15/from-trump-to-the-kaduna-mafia/
Yes, the writer was commenting on the incidence of Buhari as a fallen messiah. But by tying him up with Awolowo, as is appropriate, he also has a line on Awolowo. And that line is that Awolowo in being human as Buhari, cannot in the face of his analogue failing, be granted any waiver he wouldn’t have failed as national messiah and politician, given the chance. It is thus reasonable to conjecture that an Awolowo at the centre, would have been as nepotistic as Buhari, the two being analogues. Boy, things happen.
[On nepotisms/partisanships: https://www.farooqkperogi.com/2019/10/buharis-nepotism-on-steroids.html and https://punchng.com/22-7bn-loan-approval-suspended-over-seast-protest-gbajabiamila/]
This is the logical consequence of the Southwest rooting for a messiah that turned up a paper myth. And historical incidences are not retractable. In other words, that Awolowo is the best president Nigeria never had, is today, post Buhari, a largely humorous expression.
Also on record is this. Every time the South-West and the North have gone into alliance, they both intrigued for war, genocide, mass murder etc., largely against others. Examples:
1. There was the civil war, a near-fascist alliance between the South-West and the North. What followed? Professor Pat Utomi says that that alliance conducted the second greatest genocide of the 20th Century. That is, they are in “good and excellent” company with “decent” thugs like Hitler and Mussolini.
2. The North conspired to “elect” Obasanjo who couldn’t win his ward into the presidency. What followed? From Zaki Ibiam to Odi and perhaps more, all, government killing fields, genocides, etc.
3. And now Buhari – created by the same North-Southwest coalition. The hallmarks? Generalized mass murder, industrialized kidnapping and banditries… virgin pure nepotism, etc.
Maybe, there is something combustible in the union of Southwest and North, just maybe. Perhaps, survival calls that the two be separated from one another, in humanity’s best interests.
Certainly, many ears may grate, but facts are facts. In life there are three things you must live with amongst others. They are facts, facts and facts. All else is in humor. Ahiazuwa.