As Muhammadu Buhari retires to Daura or wherever he will be seen and heard less. There are two-character traits he is renowned for which will serve him well. First, is his aversion to reading anything remotely intellectual, and second his personal vanity. His aversion to reading will ensure that he will never comprehend the extent of his failure in office, while his vanity will immunize him from stressing over what people think about him!
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) recently lampooned him for his “un-presidential” statement that if Nigerians disturb him after leaving office, he would relocate to Niger Republic. This they said, was a clear indication of his lack of empathy for Nigerians, and the fact that he never possessed the necessary compassion, competence and intellectual capacity to lead the nation.
In truth, the last eight years have been wasted in bloodshed, maladministration, and increased poverty resulting in the widely held view that former President Buhari led the worst government in Nigeria’s history leaving the nation poorer, stupendously indebted with little to show for it, and more divided than he met it.
While the buck stops at the president’s table, it would be unfair to place all the blame for failure at Buhari’s doorstep. There are those who knew better and should have acted in a more principled manner even if that meant resigning from office.
Professor Yemi Osinbajo, vice-president for eight years, has been likened to a spare tyre on a brand new car. It’s something you need to have but do not use! Cynically referred to as “Minister for Condolences”, he will best be remembered for reacting to atrocities rather than doing anything significant to prevent them! He has been asked to lead the Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) to the general elections in Sierra Leone. The trending social media joke is that he was selected because he specialises in keeping quiet and doing nothing while all sorts of atrocities are committed!
On the bright side, the Department of State Services (DSS) will move on with its new duties relating to a new president. No longer will criticism of Buhari be regarded as “a threat to national security”. The DSS will doubtlessly concentrate on dealing with critics of the new president and should not have either the time, motivation or indeed desire to arrest those who tell the truth about the last eight years of what Okopi Ade aptly described in the Nigerian Tribune of May 25, 2023 as ideological bankruptcy, messianic posturing, vanity, nepotism, personality cult, contempt for constitutional restraints on abuse of power, contempt for the rule of law, religious bigotry, arrogance in ignorance and appetite for cronyism.
There will be a plethora of published opinions, and reviews of the last eight years which will all use different forms of abuse, flowery English and statistical evidence to conclude that Buhari did nothing to reduce corruption, improve the economy, reduce illiteracy, reduce insecurity, or promote social cohesion. But then again it is trite that a man cannot exceed his limitations! Nigerians were sold a dummy about the retired general’s disdain for corrupt practices and capacity to reposition the military to become victorious against insurgents. However, rather than appoint himself minister for Defence, Buhari chose the “lucrative” position of minister for Petroleum Resources which requires specialist knowledge. The end result was that the oil sector collapsed, oil went “missing”, subsidy fraud continued, and petrol prices skyrocketed.
As for reducing insecurity, the Vanguard headline of May 20, 2023 screamed “Insecurity: 63,111 killed in Buhari’s eight years”. For reasons best known to them, Buhari’s handlers decided to release a picture of him relaxing barefooted and picking his teeth as if totally unconcerned that the nation was collapsing under his watch. Ironically his last visit for overseas medical treatment at public expense was to visit a dentist!
Unfortunately, as Nigerians eagerly await a new president to begin solving the nation’s myriad of problems, all the signs are there that the incoming administration will simply be old wine in an old bottle! The same “loyalists” who mismanaged their ministries or states, colluded to ignore the constitution, looted the treasury, incurred massive debts, presided over mass killings, and turned the National Assembly into an object of shamelessness and ridicule are positioning themselves to be part and parcel of the incoming government. As a result, the future doesn’t look enticing to young highly qualified Nigerians who continue to flee the nation in droves. Other than venting anger there is little to gain from reviewing Buhari’s tenure in detail, it will simply be a waste of time better spent adding to the eight years already wasted.
However, there is one important lesson future presidents can learn from Buhari, which is how not to be a leader! It is important to do the opposite of what Buhari did. His spokespersons appeared to take pleasure in insulting Nigerians while he remained aloof, indifferent, arrogant, and self-centred even as impunity reigned supreme, herdsmen killed citizens on a daily basis defying state governors, the Senate endorsed unconstitutionalities, and all manner of excesses that took place were swept under the carpet. Even if Buhari meant well for the nation, which is in itself debatable, it’s important to understand that his distorted view of reality and failure in governance is the direct result of having surrounded himself with sycophants and political jobbers who always fed his ego. The next president should avoid this mistake.