Graffiti... Buhari: Finally the messiah is here; or is he? by Joseph Rotimi | Ripples Nigeria
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Graffiti… Buhari: Finally the messiah is here; or is he? by Joseph Rotimi

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There is a wave of optimism and hope right now in the country as Nigerians think the new government of Buhari is capable of cleaning the Augean stable of Nigeria’s socio-political-problems. While this prognostication may be justified, it only tells half the story. Buhari might not be able to carry out the wide ranging reforms he promised and when the dust of victory and hand-over settles down sufficiently, there might not be any significant difference between what has gone before and what we think we are buying.

Nigeria’s foundation is faulty and we must not confuse a single political event with the total emancipation of the state. All the high expectations and positivity will yield nothing if Buhari is not a reformer and the fact that we are currently operating a democracy based on a less than stellar constitution could make reformation rather difficult. According to observers; Buhari is a frugal man who abhors ostentation, hates corruption and is sensible with resources. The Buharists are so sure that we would reach Utopia with the election of their hero that a regular online contributor said “What I can promise is that what Buhari will get right for Nigeria in the next four years will massively overwhelm whatever he is bound to humanly get wrong once in a while” This sets the unrealistic expectations of Nigerians against reality. In a democratic dispensation, Buhari might have been okay as the governor of his state but as a civilian President of the entire country he might just be a tad frustrated despite his best intentions. Added to this, Nigeria is interconnected with the international community, especially western nations that do not care a hoot if Nigerians live as people or as animals. It is guaranteed that Buhari’s best actions would be opposed vehemently by those benefitting from the chaos we currently have. Ruling as a no-nonsense military man is quite different from having to pass every edict or proposal through the legislature. Before long; Buhari might become the lonely politician, shouting himself hoarse above the noise of those fighting around him for the spoils of office.

A lot has been made of Buhari’s determination to fight corruption; but how do you battle such a monster on a lame horse, wielding a blunt sword, with potential Benedict Arnolds surrounding you? Nigerians generally do not hate corruption; they only hate the consequences. The same psyche drives the hawker who sells twenty Naira guguru for fifty and the oil barons holding the country to ransom today. Buhari may try to battle corruption but it will be selective. Buhari; some years back, in concert with a couple of other retired northern military heads of state suggested that Abacha did not misappropriate funds belonging to the Nigerian state. This means that all the monies recovered from Swiss bank accounts and other hidden accounts were probably being kept in trust by the Abacha family for the next generation of Nigerians. I have maintained elsewhere that Nigeria needs a strong hand to remake it into a nation and only a benevolent military dictator can accomplish this. Currently, there is no sense of nationhood. There is no rule of law and our infrastructure is pitiable. We lack concrete plans to achieve anything. We are just going through the motions of being a country. The educational system is bereft of purpose. Our professionals have lost their sense for creativity on the altar of survival and when this becomes impossible they quietly relocate elsewhere on the globe. Every so-called oga leads his place of work as a personal estate without accountability. Traditional rulers, who should be relegated to the background in a democracy, now determine who should ‘democratically’ govern.

The main backers behind Buhari’s victory have questionable antecedents and will simply not melt into the background like a shadow – they are bound to try influencing things. Another noticeable but worrisome trend is the seeming overreliance of our new President on foreign powers. When western powers appear joyous or approve of our choices you can bet that their interests are being comfortably taken care of at our expense. The US, France and Britain have praised our elections to high heavens and even gave Jega a medal while Jonathan was, for a while, being touted as a Nobel Peace Prize candidate – well, I don’t buy it. For one, Buhari has indicated that he would reverse Jonathan’s decision not to go into military partnership with the US, and both France and Britain are giving all kinds of signals of wanting to do business with Buhari, maybe to stave off the influence of China and Russia. But when Buhari appeared uncooperative with western financial institutions during his initial tour of duty as head of state, his government was edged aside by a more IMF/World Bank friendly government headed by Ibrahim Babangida. It appears Buhari has learned his lesson and is ready to play the good boy since Idiagbon no dey. For Nigeria; I am afraid, it is not yet Uhuru.

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