On a recent trip to Kano, I took time off to visit the famous Kwari market. It was there I met Dan Liti, one of the stall owners in the precincts of the market. While haggling over prices of some items, a young man sauntered by and shouted in the direction of Dan Liti above the din of the noise around; ’’Dan Buhari’’! As if stung by a bee, Dan Liti abruptly cut short the transaction and aiming a baleful look at the young intruder, released a volley of choice unprintable expletives that made me cringe instantly.
When he was done I asked him why he took deep offense at what appeared to me a harmless reference to him by the young man. ‘’Look Mallam’’, he told me in a voice so contemptuous you could cut an Iroko tree with and with a pronounced grimace on his face; ‘’I don’t want to hear the mention of that name here let alone being referred to it. Everyone around here knew me as a die-hard Buhari supporter. I was so fixated on him such that I drove away customers who as much as questioned me innocently why I was doing that. I got the name Dan Buhari from my fellow stall owners here because of my long term dedication and support for Buhari even to my inconvenience. I was proud and took it as a badge of honour to be so called because I believed in and promoted the Buhari cause vigorously. But now, I neither want to be called by that name nor even want to hear it mentioned around me. That young man was just taunting me to remind me of those days’’
When I asked him what must have happened to make him do a 360 degree turn from being a die-hard Buhari supporter to a Buhari naysayer, Dan Liti looked at my frame and taking in my well-tailored wears, remarked that people like me from Abuja will never understand the sense of disappointment that President Buhari had been to the millions of folks in Kano who had consistently stood by him politically more than any part of the country through thick and thin.
Personal tales like Dan Liti’s abound from insurgent ravaged Borno and Yobe in the north east; right across to bandit infested Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna and Sokoto in the north west; to the killing fields of north central Nigeria, and the southwest of Nigeria by folks who until recently, used to regard President Buhari with a near divine reverence. This is Buhari territory, the belt of the president’s ‘’twelve million safe deposit’’ supporters who have been with him since his days in political opposition up until his ascension to the presidential office he now occupies.
But like Dan Liti in Kano, president Buhari’s stock has plummeted so low such that the president would readily lose a popularity contest hands down in these areas.
What is the beef with the president in these parts?
It is the insecurity of course which has resulted in thousands of lives lost in these areas, destruction of properties and livelihoods. Added to the scourge of insecurity is the excruciating economic hardships being faced by majority of Nigerians under the Buhari administration.
It is a source of bother that all through this president Buhari who rode to power on the back of promises to ease the burden of the less privileged in society, has shown very little empathy towards their plight. If anything he has increased their burden with his economic policies that has brought more poverty and misery to the less privileged who had placed all their hopes on him for alleviation.
It is incontestable that the love affair between president Buhari and the core areas of his support is progressively breaking down with no signs of recovery. Due to repeated breaking of promises and lack of due diligence in the implementation of some of the pronounced policies of the administration, president Buhari is no longer as believable as he was in the estimation of the people.
Earlier this year he was heckled and booed in Borno where he stopped by on his return from a trip to Ethiopia, the president made matters worse by blaming the people for not cooperating with the military drafted there to fight the insurgents.
In Katsina, the president’s home state, his aloofness at the unabated killings of inhabitants of scores of villages across eight local government areas by bandits has resulted in condemnation and demonstrations against him personally and his administration.
There is a pervading sense now across the country among Nigerians of all shades that president Buhari’s abiding quest to rule this country all the while was actually to prepare a retirement nest egg for him. The president’s proclivity to concern himself more with issues to do with his personal convenience and those of his inner circle most of the time without showing much vigour to those that affect the generality of Nigerians, clearly underscores this view.
With the benefit of placing his promises and pledges when he was seeking the presidential office side by side by side his performance while in it, it is crystal clear even to the most die-hard of president Buhari’s supporters that he is not the solutions provider that he claimed to be when he was desperately seeking the office.
As we course through the remaining years of president Buhari’s administration it will dawn on more and more Nigerians that what we have on our hands is a ‘’one chance’’ administration that reached the end of its dissembling ways. There will be many Dan Liti’s along the way whose sense of disappointment and feeling of abandonment will be acute and manifest in many ways.
Already having realised this and having noticed that president Buhari will never be able nor will he be inclined to give this country the platform for a lasting legacy of political and socio-economic transformation which we all expected him to give, many Nigerians are becoming decidedly apolitical. Indeed I have come across many who say they will not come out to vote in the next circle of elections in 2023 what with the way president Buhari had mismanaged the immense goodwill and promise that rode on his coming to power in 2015.
It is now left to those with abiding faith in this country to come to terms with this development and begin plans in earnest for a post-Buhari Nigeria.