Before 2015, like many Nigerians, if someone walked up to me and said that Nigeria under the tenure of a President Buhari would experience the kind of desperate situation we are now in, I would consider the person a looney and proceed promptly to give him a verbal roasting. And if another were to tell me that Nigerians would come to get so fed up with President Buhari as to call stridently for his resignation, I would probably be moved to deliver a solid straightforward answer to the bridge of his nose.
But here we are, five years into the mandatory eight years of a Buhari presidency that promised so much but has delivered so very little, a growing number of Nigerians cannot wait to be rid of the administration even if that will precipitate a major crisis in the country.
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Nowadays, the abiding signature image of President Muhammadu Buhari is of him putting his feet up in Aso Villa picking his teeth, unconcerned, uncaring and without much empathy as the Nation goes through the excruciating pains of his ill-conceived and ill delivered policies. If that reminds one of Rome burning while Emperor Nero fiddled, it would not be far off the mark.
But at least Nero did not seek the votes of his Roman subjects; he was an absolute ruler to whom the niceties of canvassing for the votes of the populace to rule over them was unheard of in those days of antiquity. So Emperor Nero could afford to live it up in his palace without so much giving a hoot to what happened to his overburdened subjects wearied by the many taxes and tributes they had to pay to help service the militaristic state that was the Roman Empire.
Not so President Buhari. In his first coming as a military ruler, having forced his way to power, it may have been to his convenience to rule the nation through the command and obey ways of the military. But in retirement and into politics, he needed to seek our votes to rule over us.
Thrice he sought our consent to rule and thrice we demurred. In seeking to convince us to vote for him, he led street protests and made telling statements in solidarity with the people and their plight. He made promises that indicated he was ready to walk through fire to mend this almost broken country. So consumed by emotion and passionate did he appear on Nigeria that he even publicly cried a river.
And on the fourth attempt, we allowed him. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, now constructing a pathway to succeed President Buhari in 2023, was one of the leading political supremos who put together the coalition of political grandees that eventually installed Muhammadu Buhari in power in a very Nigerian political coup. During a campaign stop in Ogun State in the run up to the 2015 elections, he told the crowd that just as France, during its period of political and social challenges needed a General Charles de Gaulle to lead it, Nigeria too in the throes of Jonathanian induced difficulties, needed to turn to a General Muhammadu Buhari to rescue it.
Five years into his rule and counting, unlike de Gaulle in France, our ‘’messianic’’ General has hardly moved the mountain he and others said he was capable of. He had promised to tackle the insecurity that was ravaging the country; fight corruption head on that he himself admitted was a cankerworm and diversify the economy.
A measure of how far he has failed as a General is manifested in the spike in insecurity since he took over. His flunkeys might say bombs are no longer going off as they were during the time of President Jonathan, but it is possibly a change of tactics by the terrorists not necessarily out of any defeat or subjugation of them. The felons may just have considered that it was strategically better to turn to the more lucrative tactic of kidnapping for ransom or seizing large swathes of the country to exact levy tributes which is now the new normal.
Did he con us? Yes and No. He conned us because in our desperation to be rid of President Goodluck Jonathan we did not look too closely at the Greek that was Muhammadu Buhari bearing gifts. Like the pied piper of the town of Hamelin in the Grimm folk tales in medieval Germany during the bubonic plague and the resultant black death that claimed thousands of lives then, Nigerians were lulled by what, with the benefit of hindsight now, was the deceptively melodious tune of the ‘’messiah’’ Buhari. And in this, he is like the pied piper who instead of leading out the rats and other creatures that caused the bubonic plague in the town of Hamelin with the tunes from his flute as he pledged, turned round instead to totally destroy the town and its inhabitants.
But on the other hand, Nigerians are not conned because it did not take long for us to realise that President Buhari is not what he claimed to be. Between us and him now is a game of wits. He shows nothing but contempt for our allowing him through a well-packaged dissembling to get to power whereas he had nothing to offer.
But we have three times more than the contempt he has for us. And we have been where he is now with Babangida, Abacha, Obasanjo and Jonathan and have outlasted every one of their machinations. At least these others did not attempt to pull wool over our eyes with sanctimonious claims of integrity, probity and all that. In the end, they all bit the dust and we had the last laugh on them.
Nigerians will surely have the biggest laugh of all on President Buhari. He has written the script of his own demystification. The Aso Villa, where he is now ensconced, oblivious to the pains he is causing Nigerians, is a gilded cage for him. Between now and 2023, when he finally leaves as he must, his presidency will be dogged by uncertainty as the demystification continues apace.
Calls for his resignation in the face of his glaring failures of leadership are actually charitable to save him from the harsh verdict of history. His admission of failure and subsequent resignation now despite the outrage it will cause will actually be his saving grace as it will be viewed by discerning Nigerians as an act of supreme enlightened self-interest, which may mitigate some of the unflattering opinions of him. It will be viewed in the same statesmanlike act of President Jonathan, who conceded defeat to him in the 2015 elections, saving Nigeria from a possible conflagration then.
But knowing President Buhari, the Pope will get married before he does that. And many will pray he does not take that honourable step. They will prefer God preserves him long and well enough to see how Nigerians, whom he conned, will return the favour fully and with interest.