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Unveiling President Buhari’s Mindset, We Supported Him Almost Blindly – Dele Momodu 

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​Fellow Nigerians, I doubt if there is anyone who

does not see and feel President Muhammadu

Buhari is a complex character. As a matter of

fact, that is the veritable hallmark of his persona

and super brand. Those of us that supported him

voluntarily, and almost blindly, last year did so

out of our acute frustration with Project Nigeria.

There were those who hated his guts but still

went ahead to vote for him because they

expected him to wave the fabled magic wand

and bring sanity and succour to our insane clime.

What no one bargained for was the repercussion,

and reverberation, of such venture and

adventure. As always, Nigerians felt their

situation could never be worse under Buhari than

that of the 16-year rule of profligacy of the PDP

and the squander-manic regime of President

Goodluck Jonathan.

The APC operatives ran a blistering campaign

with active collaboration and connivance from

some of us. On the matter of the continuation of

the Jonathan Presidency, there was no

negotiation. Even now as people pummel us over

the seeming inertia or retrogression of the

Buhari government, I still stand by my decision to

support Major General Muhammadu Buhari, warts

and all. Walahi, I would have loved any of the

combinations of Donald Duke, Nasir El Rufai,

Rotimi Amaechi, Aminu Tambuwal, Mobola

Johnson, Babatunde Raji Fashola, Nuhu Ribadu,

Oby Ezekwesili, Charles Soludo, Akinwunmi

Adesina, Pat Utomi, Kayode Fayemi, and some of

our other tested and brightest young stars.

They may have their personal foibles like all

mortals do but I’m persuaded that Nigeria would

have joined the comity of other nations parading

some youthful cerebral leaders by now. But the

ways of Nigerian politicians are not the ways of

mere mortals. We have our unique and peculiar

methods of doing things. Our incorrigibility is

almost second to none. Everything about us is

about self and self alone. Everyone’s permutation

is about who is his friend, school mate, church

member, Muslim brother, godfather or godson,

village folk, and so on. It is not about what you

know but more about who you know. Nepotism is

the order of the day!

That is why the best of the myriad of Nigerian

brains would never be able to win elections at

certain levels because of our irredeemable

obsession with primordial and parochial

sentiments. The import of my preamble is that

Buhari was a product of our maddening and

inordinate search for a near saint amongst us

and he perfectly fitted the bill. Buhari himself

must have assumed that the votes given to him

were signed off carte-blanche and in blind trust.

I’m sure he never expected that the honeymoon

would not be an endless romance.

But things and times have changed. It is now

sour grapes time. Except for profiteers and/or

pretenders who would not tell our President the

gospel truth, things are falling apart. The reasons

are not because of what Buhari and company

are doing wrong but because of what they are

not doing right which I hope to enumerate and

dissect.

I had chosen to write on this topic before I

received the message quoted below from a

young, concerned Nigerian reflecting on the

“new” rebranding that we have been subjected

to. His views mirror the present mood of the

nation and the restiveness of our people

especially the young ones who fought gallantly

for Change and PMB!

“President Buhari, with all due respect to your

high office, you are losing me. What’s wrong?

What’s wrong with your advisers? Who got you to

sign up to the cliché called “Change Begins With

Me” and to throw the weight of your office

behind it? Did they put together a crack team of

psychologists, communicators, sociologists,

political scientists, etc? I refuse to believe that

this programme, and especially the name, is the

product of deep thinking and reflection.

First, the idea that “Change Begins With Me”,

renders all our efforts to get you elected in 2015

worthless. Heck, why did we bother? If it’s going

to start with us Lilliputs, we might as well have

left Goodluck Jonathan in office and allow him

and his band of hopeless cohorts to get on with

the good job they were doing of raping Nigeria.

Don’t you get it? Change began with you! We, the

people, already implemented the biggest change

possible with turning around this country by

electing you on the mantra of change. So why

are you now passing the buck? The buck is on

your desk. Make the change happen and we will

follow from there. It’s over a year and many,

sadly, are already suffering buyer’s remorse.

Arrest the trend!

Secondly, what change can any single individual

put into action that will impact the culture and

behaviour of 180m people in double quick time?

We are in a hurry, Mr. President. So much has

been lost. So to rely on Adeola, Abubakar or

Opara to start the change and hope that we will

be counting gains in months is delusional. You

don’t have all the time. We do not have the time.

Start the Change!” – Chris Adetayo

Let me reiterate that I have had the privilege of

meeting and interacting with some members of

the Buhari administration.

I can confirm that I have held discussions and

communicated the feelings of both the rich and

poor on the streets directly to them. However, I

am not sure that they are in tune with the reality

of things on this side of the divide. I believe I

have sufficient knowledge of the political history

of Nigeria. I’m afraid to say, I see the same

symptoms of afflictions that ravaged previous

governments and rendered them incapacitated.

I’m saddened that no lessons seemed to have

been learnt from our beleaguered past.

Government appears to believe only in its own

mind-set and every complaint or suggestion is

summed up in some dangerous conclusions: the

wailing wailers; corruption is fighting back; the

suffering of Nigerians is exaggerated, etc.

Equally worrisome is the apparent paranoia that

has crept into our senior government officials.

Every commentator or demonstrator is perceived

an enemy of government. I was surprised to read

how my childhood friend and brother, Femi

Adesina, singled me out in his article yesterday

and accused me of insinuating that he was too

comfortable in Aso Rock. There are so many

occupants in Aso Rock and I know the limits of

Femi’s influence on the men of power. I can

never blame him for what I clearly know is

beyond him. He faces the same dilemma of his

predecessors who found themselves defending

the indefensible in order to exhibit their hard

work, competence and loyalty. It is a delicate

and thankless job that leads oftentimes to

Golgotha. I love Femi so much that I would

rather offer him my sincere prayers instead of

hanging him.

Let me go to the next case at hand. I could not

believe the shabby treatment meted to Mrs Oby

Ezekwesili and other members of the Bring Back

Our Girls agitators. Their harmless and

defenceless group is being harassed for merely

exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights

of expression, association and movement. They

constitute no danger whatsoever to society. Even

if President Buhari won’t receive or entertain

them, a senior member of the Federal

Government should have been assigned to meet,

pacify and reassure them.

Something is terminally wrong with our crisis

management capabilities. Our proclivity for

mismanaging and escalating troubles is

legendary. This particular case is as disgraceful

as it is unnecessary. Once upon a time, in the

not too distant past, these were the friends of

Buhari. They had pinned their hope on the

muscular and military abilities of our President to

liberate the Chibok girls in a jiffy. If things were

proving difficult as it seems, constant dialogue is

the only way out of the debacle.

But the handlers of Buhari prefer to fuel the long

held belief or myth that Buhari is a mean and

ruthless man. This is not good. It also comes at

the wrong time. This administration has been

accused of several human rights abuses and,

according to the Minster of Foreign Affairs,

Geoffrey Onyeama, the President is heading for

the United Nations on Tuesday to make the case

that his administration is not guilty of such

allegations. Intolerance for the rights of

expression, association and movement cannot be

a good way of making out such a case.

Anyone who has met President Buhari would

readily attest to his simplicity and humility. His

witty jokes are remarkable and legendary, just

like his hearty smiles and laughter are infectious.

He certainly means well for Nigeria and wants to

rid our nation of the debilitating cankerworm of

corruption and indiscipline. Why, therefore, would

anyone want to remind Nigerians that the Buhari

in uniform is not different from Buhari, the born

again democrat. Why are they compounding

Buhari’s image of an irascible dictator? Buhari

needs to make a conscious effort to tear the

toga of vindictiveness and irritability that appears

to surround him. The biggest image deficit he

has today is due to the fact that his biggest pet

project, the war against corruption, is believed to

be largely uncoordinated and too staccato in

outlook.

It is difficult to ignore the cries of so many

Nigerians who feel let down by a government

that promised so much change but seems to

have short-changed the people who saw Buhari

as a liberator. Even if some of the most

vociferous complainants are being cheeky and

outright mischievous, many are doing so out of

genuine concern. They do not want Buhari to

fail. It is someone who loves you unconditionally

that can do this. They are worried that the

President behaves like a man who feels he has

all the time in the world when in reality he has

none. Some believe that he started fading and

failing when he took his time in selecting his

ministers and advisers. The intractable squabbles

in his Party has also contributed to the lacklustre

nature of his government. APC does not look or

act like a Party in power. There seems to be no

serious input from the Party to the affairs of

government and governance.

The government has been wobbling and fumbling

by doing the same things PDP used to do that

led to the disintegration of the biggest political

party in Africa, according to their self-

glorification. The war of attrition in PDP has

been passed on to APC. A house divided against

itself is inviting extermination. And whenever

politicians fight dirty it affects governance

adversely.

The economy is in shambles and the commonest

justification is that Jonathan’s gang looted the

treasury. All that is well and good. But Nigerians

knew this and therefore voted for Change! We

promised to make things much better. Fighting

corruption alone would not save Nigeria. We

must fight endemic poverty. If Alhaji Lai

Muhammed likes, let him launch a million

campaigns and waste more scarce resources on

doing a rehash of what past governments did

that led nowhere. The Yoruba have a way of

describing this kind of unproductive

sermonisation: “Eni ebi npa ko gbo iwaasu!” (A

hungry man does not listen to sermons in the

church).

What the people want to see are the following: a

drastic reduction in the size and budget of our

over-bloated governments; a sustained war

against poverty; protection of lives and

properties; creating a less rancorous atmosphere

for businesses to thrive; special concessions and

incentives to employers of labour; a stable

currency; upgrading our educational system and

making the schools’ curriculum more relevant to

our communities and society in general; provision

of social infrastructure, particularly power, good

roads, hospitals and potable water; and so on.

The mind-set of gloating over the fall of some

former members of the privileged class is

counter-productive. We must be careful of the

image portrayed to foreign investors. Let

government concentrate urgently on alleviating

the suffering of the people. It is obvious that

government may never be able to collect enough

money back from the brigands and looters to

make appreciable impact on our national

treasury. We should stop building our castle in

the air and start thinking outside the box.

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