Commentary: Buhari is not the change….
At last, the haze is clear. The scales have fallen and the masquerades in the February 14, 2015 bullfight have been revealed. And it is a straight fight between incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General and former Head of State. Already, some Nigerians are mouthing their support for Buhari, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). They see Buhari as the change Nigeria needs. They see in him the redemptive force that would save the nation from further cascade down the steep slope of underdevelopment. They see him as the messianic emblem best suited for this moment.
Buhari in his acceptance speech and in his remark after announcing Professor Yemi Osinbajo as running mate told his supporters that it will take him to end the Boko Haram insurgency in the North, end corruption in the country and birth a new socio-economic order that would usher the country into the global hall of fame. A rather taciturn Buhari was garrulous on the day. Nobody should begrudge him.
No doubt, Nigeria needs a change, a breath of fresh air. But the stark truth is that Buhari is not that change. He is nowhere near. He cannot as a leader birth a better nation. All through his military career including as Head of State and even now as a democrat (let’s assume he is one), he is yet to come to terms with the nuances of cognitive leadership, the type needed in the 21st century to transform any community.
In all his interactions, media interviews and off-the-cuff speeches, Buhari comes off as a third class leader. Never had he espoused any vision or economic blueprint that will stand contemporary scrutiny. Those who latch to his past as reason for rooting for him forget that Nigeria never got any better under his jackboot leadership. And for those who tout his so-called ramrod straight integrity as a factor of good leadership, they simply miss the mark. What makes a man of integrity? First, a man of integrity must keep to his words. Buhari never does. He eats his word easily when the heat is on. He once said he would make Nigeria ungovernable for Jonathan if he loses election. He lost that election and the country has been ungovernable, reduced to a hotbed of bombs and guns of the Afghanistan hue. And when chroniclers of history reminded the General of his words, he denies it flat. He never said that, he now claims. What a pity.
After he lost election in 2011, Buhari humoured the nation with sobs and teary eyes. He cried and made a pronouncement that he will never contest the position of Presidency of Nigeria. Less than four years, Buhari again eats his own word. He is back in the fray, to contest for the Presidency, this time, with a tinge of desperation. A man of integrity? No, not this Buhari.
And he is not a statesman either. A statesman is a man of honour, who speaks the truth even to his own hurt. A statesman is not parochial, narrow-minded or bigoted by religious and ethnic sentiments. Buhari is a proven religious and ethnic champion. He demonstrated this in all his utterances since the outbreak of the Boko Haram scourge. He never hid his soft spot and affectation for the insurgents who are intent on exterminating Nigerians, especially those of the Christian faith. When Boko Haram started their war of attrition, Christians were their chief targets. At that time, it was okay for Buhari to keep mute. He has since kept mum in the face of the real and clear threat of the Islamist fundamentalists. Now, he tells us he is the only one to stop them…only if we vote him in as president. This is cheap blackmail. So, Buhari has the formula to check Boko Haram but he will only let us into it if we elect him president? This is the chant of a desperate mind. Buhari is desperate for power. Power is often abused in the hands of such men…check history.
In his desperation, he tapped a Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) pastor as his running mate. What a brilliant strategy. But somebody should wake this Buhari from his deep slumber. Christians are not enamoured at your benevolence, they are not taken in by your choice. Yes, you may have succeeded in fooling some Christians and even Muslims but you cannot fool God. If Jonathan was the choice of Nigerians in 2011 and a Buhari worked ruthlessly hard to undo him, what guarantee do the people have that the same Buhari, drunk with power, would not hound them to early grave?
Yet, this Buhari is not a corrupt man. But he shares the same party with Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar, two Nigerian politicians whose anti-corruption rating among Nigerians is not quite impressive. Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are. Buhari’s anti-corruption posturing is still a subject of debate. It is not definitive.
Buhari cannot be the change. Nigeria does not need such change for change sake. This country is better off with Goodluck Jonathan. He may be slow in his deeds but democracy in itself is a slow process. In less than four years, Jonathan has shown superior vision and better leadership qualities than all his predecessors. He is cleaning up the mess left behind by Obasanjo, Abacha, Babangida and Buhari. From the days of the military, Nigerians have been born into hardship, Jonathan cannot wipe such pain out overnight.
Cast away sentiments. Buhari is not the change we need. He is too mentally dense to lead a nation in the 21st century. He may not like this but that is the truth.
Author: Ken Ugbechie