I saw President Muhammadu Buhari Estate -By Anthony A. Kila

Filed under: Life And People,Political Issues |

President Muhammadu Buhari Estate in Abeokuta, Ogun State


Last week, I saw the President Muhammadu Buhari Estate located on the outskirt of the main Abeokuta town in Ogun State and I couldn’t but ask myself in Egba “Se kosi? I translate: Is everything okay? The estate is not a new project so I apologise for my tardiness in just reacting to it publicly and whilst we are at it, let me also apologise for guiltily failing to visit my darling Abeokuta for such a long time. As I have discovered and as we shall soon see, there are however bigger misdemeanours than failing to visit Abeokuta regularly.

The sight of these 50 hectares of land in Kobape Abeokuta, with its exterior painted in the colours of the Nigerian flag and the construction of a residential estate sponsored by the Ogun State Government or better still the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, has made me ask myself a question I have often asked: What is wrong with us as a people? The spectacle of this yet-to-be-completed President Muhammadu Buhari Estate has reaffirmed in me the conviction that for us to be truly civil free citizens, we as a people, need to sit down to rationally analyse the powers of politicians and indeed all public office holders, find ways to make those that wield such powers accurately accountable and indeed find ways to curtail all public and political powers.

If we exclude the possibility of a decision based on sheer arbitrariness, influenced by an amazing misconception of the spirit of the common wealth and modus of managing such wealth; if we exclude the possibility of a style of governance built on tested unchangeability, it becomes difficult to explain how the governor of Ogun State will in February 2016 name a wide land of mass belonging to the people of Nigeria, Ogun State to be specific, after a President who as of that time had not even passed a budget. I mean what kind of considerations and consultations were made and by whom to arrive at such vexatious exuberance?

Let us be clear, and I hope President Buhari and his closest allies know it too: Good a man as Buhari is, he is no Barack Obama and his oratory skills were never his attraction for most Nigerians. Experienced as he is on Nigerian affairs and governance, most Nigerians do not associate him with dynamic and innovative economic policies nor do they associate Buhari with great diplomatic skills.

If we want to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, then there is no other way to put it than to admit that on this symbolical ethical and aesthetical issue, President Buhari failed many of us. The Buhari that many Nigerians voted for could have and should have said: “No thanks, this is too early or this is too much.” The epitome of anti-corruption and embodiment of a Spartan life could have and should have said no need for such aggrandisement for just a visit to a state in Nigeria. Just to be absolutely clear, President Buhari did not build the estate and even if he did, it was not built with his money nor did he conquer the land from a belligerent neighbour.

Whilst we are at it, shame on all those advisers who could have pointed out to the governor and the President that such hubris (in the form of the arrogance of giving and the vanity of taking) but they didn’t do it.

No! It is not enough, rather it is quite unsafe, to understand and justify advisers and assistants to those in power by saying that some leaders don’t listen to advice. For the sake of the future of our country, it is better, even important, to remind advisers and all others that have the ears of those in power that if a man is not willing to take some risks for his opinion, then either he or his opinion is not worth much.

We pick on Governor Amosun and the President here for their vanity and arbitrariness, but they are not the only one indictable for abusing their privilege of office. There are even commissioners who with equal or more astonishing hubris have had streets and buildings named after them. For all, let us pick on the now famous Dr Muiz Banire, National Legal Adviser of the APC and a former Lagos State Commissioner who has a knack for streets being named after him. There is even a street in GRA Ikeja that had a name they had to change to accommodate the “greatness” of Banire.

In a sane society of truly civil free citizens, streets, buildings and monuments are named after those who have accomplished outstanding feats for the benefit of humanity. Their names are placed on these plaques to immortalise them as a sign of recognition and a source of inspiration for the rest of us so we can aspire to greatness borne out of vision and sacrifice.

Amongst truly civil free citizens, the honour of being immortalised with resources of the common wealth should be reserved to martyrs of the republic, innovators, inventors, and people of outstanding talents like artists, artistes and athletes. We can even use dates of significant events. Everyone should be able to aspire to such immortality based purely on measurable merits. Elected and nominated public office holders should be excluded from such honours because regardless of their performance, they will always have a place in history. If we exclude the influence of greed and an exorbitant ego, a place in history is enough for any human being.

If politicians and other public holders do not have the decency and discipline to curb their appetite for ridiculous behaviours, then we, the people, need to find the courage and voice to say enough of this Banana republic style of governance. We, the people, owe such courage to our children, if we want science and arts to flourish, we owe to ourselves as a nation if we want to be taken seriously by others.

Prof Kila, Director, Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies, wrote in via [email protected] @anthonykila