The sacrifice Nigeria needs from Buhari -By Rasheed Olokode

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The sacrifice Nigeria needs from Buhari -By  Rasheed Olokode


I would go straight to the point. I do not share the widely raging sentiment that posits the acclaimed apostle of discipline, Maj. Gen. Muhamadu Buhari, as the solution to the perceived cluelessness that presently plagues my dear country. I am not, in any way, casting an inch of doubt on the perception of this former Nigerian leader as being one that never turned the highest office into an everlasting well of honey for himself, his relations and acquaintances. To me, his seeming credibility lies in the status of his nuclear family. Assuming he is a master in the game of pretence, exceptionally perfect at masquerading stupendous wealth from public glare through, for instance, a drama of the 2011 eviction of a former Head of State by his Abuja landlord, surely, his wife or wives and children cannot be as skilful as he is in the art of deceit.

Verily, that the Nigerian government could proceed to seize as much cash as it can, never can the Abacha Family become as “poor” as the current richest African, Aliko Dangote.

Nevertheless, any objective analysis of Buhari would reveal the fact that it is his indigent post-retirement lifestyle, rather than his performance while in office, that has made him the semi-god of the masses, particularly the northern talakawas who enjoy unrestricted proximity and access to a former Nigerian Head of State. If anything, I am dead sure that most of Buhari’s present-day fans were, probably, toddlers or even unborn babies as of 1984.

Therefore, simplicity of lifestyle, rather than proven competence in governance, I suspect, is what has endeared multitudes whose swansong of the day is Sai Buhari to the veteran presidential candidate. I also suspect that the unceasing outpouring of emotion from such admirers of the simplicity of a supposedly big man, in the Nigerian parlance, is responsible for the Daura-born reversal of his 2011 pledge not to contest again.

But, each time I ponder over the prospects of Buhari’s 2015 ambition, I perceive a wide gap begging to be filled in the theory that situates the solutions to the myriads of the complicated socio-economic and political plagues responsible for the dwarfing of a giant in a single-point strength.

The unanswered question of all seasons – the question of innovative governance as an antidote of cluelessness – still begs the recurrent candidacy of Buhari for an answer.

No one in Nigeria is ignorant of the slogan of Buhari’s party, the All Progressives Congress, which has been a vociferous crusader for innovative governance. Isn’t it, therefore, logical to expect that the aggressive change advocacy of the party reflect in the selling points of one of its souls and symbols? At least, a part is supposed to be a reflection of the whole and vice versa.

In fact, with the melodious lyrics of change sung by the APC since its inception, it is unthinkable that any form of aspiration on its platform would not be principally founded on what our backbencher nation really requires to catch up in a new world. A new world in which snails now fly on the wings of innovative leadership and governance in China, Singapore and even next-door Ghana.

Obviously, successful eradication of corruption, if ever possible, would not automatically engender the agricultural and industrial rebirth the nation desperately needs. Really, any attempt, however sincere and determined, to address corruption as a problem on its own may be futile and problematic. It would be a focus on a mere appearance while the fundamental remains neglected.

A cursory look at the shape and form of corruption in all facets of the Nigerian life would reveal the truth that the resort to cutting corners and taking the leaps by most Nigerians is, today, a direct effect of the systemic failure that has rendered the average citizen helpless. To most, using what you have to get what you want is only a self-help device in a failing nation. Its justification seems to reside in the silent cliché, “even if the nation is doomed to failure, I shall not fail with it as a person”.

Here lies the reason beneath the failure of crime-curing approaches of the Buhari and the Obasanjo military and civilian eras, let alone the present kid glove strategy. Aptly described, corruption is now a way of life that only life-impacting industrial and agricultural renaissance can address through the creation of legal opportunities as alternatives to listless illegalities that have, for long, put food on the tables of many a Nigerian.

To my beleaguered people, value is now jaundiced, especially when the talk is about money. The honest citizen that faithfully returns lost but found cash has, for long, in the eye of the Nigerian public, been a mentally deranged outcast that must necessarily be stoned to death. This goes to show that corruption is not just about the seemingly incurable pilfering disease on official fingers, it is a pattern of mentality, value and behaviour that is not amenable to force or even legislation.

And, since it is only the revival of our long dead agricultural and industrial system whose reincarnation would put food on our tables and not mere data of buoyancy on our papers, the news Nigerians deserve from Buhari is what new economic incantations he intends to chant to restore life in the dead. I am talking of strategies. Strategies different from the ancient government-based economy that actually planted the seeds of corruption on our land or the present day robbing of Peter to pay Paul under the pretext of privatisation and commercialisation. Strategies different from the present day prosperity-on-paper that has turned Nigerians into beggars on the crooked and ignoble altar of stomach infrastructure.

It is, therefore, pertinent for the strong-willed General and his party to think twice before it is too late. To be carried away by street sentiments is to be blinded to the enlightened truth that the real change Nigeria and Nigerians deserve is not one tied to a persona but one tied to institutional rebirth. The true problem has never been the man at the top but his immediate environment that feeds him with selfish lies, since he can’t but see and hear Nigerians through them.

It may also help the party to realise that it is not the case that all good products are sellable and not all sellable products are good. At times, a good but unsellable product might just make a glittering but bad product irresistible to buyers on a last resort.

Candidly, Buhari would fare better by sacrificing the temptation to be the captain-player at 72 but choosing to be the head coach, the Alex Ferguson of Nigeria, who would help the nation groom and guide the best team to the right path.

Surely, it is only by replacing the self-serving sycophants that traditionally surround a typical Nigerian president with genuine statesmen like Buhari can the remote but widely acknowledged cause of our collective motion without movement become a thing of the past. If anything, the respected man of dignity needs not unwittingly squander his rare resources of trust but boost it by proving it is not about the self but about Nigeria.