His reputation and the verdict of history are very important to him. He has said so, so many times, and hopes that he will find solace in the knowledge that he has done his best for Nigeria. There is simply no doubting the fact of the importance of the judgement of posterity for Muhammed Buhari, Nigeria’s 14th national leader, the second civilian after Obasanjo to exchange military khaki with civilian clothing. There is also no doubt that the president is a very proud man. All the more reason why a not so flattering post 2023 judgement of his presidency will be very hurtful to him. His demeanor gives him off as a very stand-offish person, which his very close friends might dispute. Perhaps he is a simple man, but by virtue of his privileged positions, both past and present, that knowledge is beyond us. Nobody knows just what to think about President Muhammadu Buhari who came to power on the back of such great expectations and promises for the 200 million inhabitants that make up this vast, beautiful, and long suffering country of ours. It is so sad to see the gradual decline of hope and the acceleration of despair, anger, and fear overtake Nigeria under a man who promised to be a father to all. Oh! How Nigerians believed him. How they loved him and believed him that bright sunny, May day in 2015 when he stood before the whole world at Eagle Square to swear that he belonged to no one but belonged to all of us. How they prayed for his success, knowing that his success would be theirs. How could such love turn so sour in a space of six years? It must be true; the saying that love, when it goes sour, is twice as hateful, twice as bitter.
There is just so much happening in our country and around the person of our president. So much is being said about him, mostly negative – perhaps false, perhaps true, or perhaps somewhere in between. The tragedy of the president’s situation is his penchant for taciturnity and stoic silence. Perhaps he is an apostle of the saying that ‘silence is golden.’ I am not so sure that that is the right attitude because we are aware of another saying that ‘silence is assent’. Surely the gravity of the various sundry allegations by Nigerians against the president are so weighty, so monumental, and so immense that the president just has to respond, especially and specifically to the most egregious of these allegations because of the Goebellian dictum that a lie repeated so many times takes on the garb of truth. A president who is hoping on the kindness of history’s judgement will not keep quiet when all manner of people accuse him of treasonable offence against the very state over which he presides – for that is the implication of the accusations by Governor Ortom of Benue state and former naval intelligence officer and professor of international strategic studies, Professor Akinwunmi. They say the president knows more about the terrorism and herdsmen violence than he is letting on. They accuse him pointedly of having sympathy for the killers of our people. But do not think that these accusations are found only within the persons of the Benue state governor and the professor. You hear it on the streets of the four corners of this country. You hear it from the mouths of bus conductors and drivers You hear it from market women and men, from blue colour workers, from religious men and women and within the four walls of people’s homes and offices. The accusation is as perfidious and as heinous as they come. How can the man who was elected to be commander-in-chief now turn out to be our tormentor-in-chief? The president must speak up. He must talk directly to his people – all 200 million of us, including those who say that they want out of Nigeria. Until they get their wish of separation, if they ever do, they have to deal with the fact that they are still Nigerians, and Buhari is their president.
If the president continues to hide under the nebulous and sometimes senseless press statements of Laurel and Hardy – Shehu and Adesina, then the legend of the president’s people-driven narratives of his dalliances with insurgents and violent criminals will continue to surge.
Or perhaps the president is a prisoner at Aso Rock, held hostage by a band of blood sucking sycopants whose hold on their principal consists in isolating him from the public and creating a different and false narrative of the Nigerian situation. Perhaps, surrounded by this band of praise singers who praise him by day and night about his achievements, real and fictive, he has become oblivious of the prevailing fear in the land and the terrible things people are saying about him.
But oblivious or not, the inexorable, just, and passionless verdict of history will be passed on President Muhammadu Buhari, the 14th head of state of the Nigerian federation. The outcome of his promises to the Nigerian people, made on the 29th of May in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand and fifteen will be laid side by side with the reality of the Nigerian situation – over two hundred and fifty thousand Nigerians killed since he became president, poverty unimagined and unimaginable, assailing the country, corruption unchained and unbridled, rule of law on the retreat and amnesty for the killers of our people. And to wit, do not forget that never in the annals of the great Nigerian federation have Nigerians been so divided along ethno-religious, and geo-political lines. Pro-ethnic agitations under the president who pledged unity are bursting at the seams, as insults and counter insults are hauled with reckless disdain by various ethnic- based groups against one another. People are saying that it is the president that is also fueling this division. For instance, they point to the open grazing initiative still being pushed by the president even after so many lives have been lost as a result. And this is coming after the Northern Governors’ Forum in February officially jettisoned the idea – a move that was followed a few weeks later by the Southern Governors’Forum (SGF). This has also been the position of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF). So, why is the president the only prominent Nigerian (and the most important), still pushing for an initiative that is already settled by the elites? Why is he still looking for old grazing routes through his brand new grazing committee set up by him? You see why people are making insinuations? Why they are smelling a rat, even if they smelling it from the wrong nostrils.
It is not that the president has absolutely done nothing during these years of the locusts. He has built rail lines across parts of the country, though at a price higher than the African average. He has embarked on social poverty alleviation programs, though they are sometimes derided by people as too little and meaningless in terms of impact. He has jailed a few government looters, though people point to the ones jumping into his party for sanctification, seemingly to escape corruption probe. He is building the 3rd Onitsha Naija bridge, something that has been clamoured for for so many years , and yet people are pointing to the dualized Benin-Asaba expressway built by the late dictator, Abacha.
Unfortunately, when all these achievements are weighed with the failures, they will likely pale into insignificance.
Perhaps, Muhammadu Buhari is a good man who found himself in a situation that was bigger than him. Laurel and Hardy – sorry! I mean Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina say that he is a good and compassionate man. Garba called him a decent man recently. Perhaps he is not as nepotistic and as provincial as people make him out. We might never know. But what we do know are the fruits of his actions and inactions as president of our beautiful but sad country. And the fruits are sour and have gone rancid.
Perhaps! Perhaps! Perhaps!
I simply shudder at what the verdict of history would be for him.