Two Buharideens, two separate threads far apart, going on simultaneously. Unbeknownst to the other, each makes exactly the same case for Buhari. I decide to be a quiet monitoring spirit, following with interest.
They make a perfectly logical and sensible submission for another four years for Buhari. I listen in quietly. You could not subtract a single thing from their submission. You could not add a single thing to their submission. It was perfect. On the strength of their argument alone, one ought to consider giving Buhari a second chance…
What was the argument?
Basically, Nigerians have too much expectation of their governments. I had actually argued in defense of the people's right to a heightened expectation when I delivered Nasir El Rufai's inauguration lecture three years ago in Kaduna and still believe in that proposition. However, for the sake of argument, I conceded quietly to these guys that the people's expectations of their leaders, especially the President, are too high and unrealistic.
Their second argument? People underestimate the level of the rot in every sphere of the Nigerian polity. Even those living in Nigeria grossly underestimate the rot and what it would take to fix it. You also have to give them that - the rot is deep and we underestimate it.
Based on these two factors, they boast and brag about their understanding of the situation, of the necessity of patience. They say, compassionately and patronizingly, that Nigerians just do not understand that it will take Buhari more than a term and even his putative successor in 2023, Osinbajo, more than a term to make a dent on the afflictions of Nigeria. If only other Nigerians had their gift of insight! You could almost cut their pity of unknowing Nigerians with a knife.
They - the gifted knowers of patience.
Nigerians - the lively and exuberant kids filled with over expectations.
Remember, they are operating in separate threads, totally unaware of the other. Their synchronicity of thought and talking points was remarkable. I make a mental note that memos have probably gone out to the faithful the moment President Buhari declared his decision to run in 2019.
You would have expected folks this gifted with knowing to also be gifted with introspection and hindsight. I smiled, knowing they would not be able to come up with introspection and hindsight. Part of me suspected they were capable of it but just would not do it.
For to do it is to remember that Goodluck E. Jonathan had made the same case that they are now making so passionately for Buhari. GEJ had said that Nigeria's problems were so monumental that it would take two terms to make a dent, for results to show.
Three years ago, this all-knowing Buharideen duo was at the forefront of the rejection of that submission by Goodluck Jonathan for Buharists were at the vanguard of the national ridiculing of Goodluck Jonathan for making such a case.
Stop trying to lower our expectations, Mr. Jonathan!
If you cannot do it in 4 years, away with you! Let someone else try!
Now, these guys, with a straight face (I have wondered what or who they see in the mirror) are making for Buhari arguments and submissions they poo-pooed and ridiculed for Goodluck Jonathan only three years ago!
Of course, it was right to dismiss Mr. Jonathan's submissions at the time as it is right to dismiss the same premise for Buhari's case today.
The nonsense that you need more than four years to significantly change Nigeria's course and move her in a positive direction is just that: nonsense. No Nigerian citizen worthy of that name should ever regret rejecting that nonsensical argument from Mr. Jonathan and his fanatical supporters.
However, the unmatchable hypocrisy of the Buharideen will also be a serious factor in the marketing of the 2019 candidates. He is describing as pure gold viewpoints he said were garbage three years ago. For sure, Mr. Jonathan was a colossal failure. However, it would be a compliment to call Mr. Buhari a failure. He is a tragedy and his marketers for 2019 cannot be allowed to get away with repackaging submissions they previously spat upon.
The Buharideen and the Jonathanian present specters of followership whose contours could provide caution and guidance as we march into the future. It is no longer necessary to draw a portrait of the Jonathanian. He is an unyielding binarist who worshipped his political idol for five years in office, broached not the slightest criticism, and praised him to doom and damnation. Three years later, he has not evolved beyond Jonathan worship.
These were traits that the Buharideen identified as inimical to the growth of our democracy. How can you worship a President? Truth is that the Buharideen is a worse, cruder, and more inveterate version of the Jonathanian. The Buharideen was not interested in Nigeria. The Buharideen was merely seeking to replace a god he did not like with his own beloved god in 2015.
Once that was accomplished, the Buharideen relinquished the fundamentals of engaged citizenship that were supposed to hold Buhari to account. Buhari was President. Nigeria could go to blazes. The Buharideen had the perfect answer for every failure, every gaffe, every indecency, every indication of incompetence, every manifestation of mediocrity, every display of unkindness by Buhari.
From Jonathan to Buhari, one set of personality cultists were replaced by an even cruder set of personality cultists for whom Nigeria does not matter. Only the god and his narrow interests matter. Let one thousand Offas happen today, let ten thousand Dapchis happen tomorrow, the Buharideen will give you the brighter side of the picture and his god, now in London, will come out smelling of roses. Nigeria may burn to ashes, so long as there is a throne in Aso Rock for Buhari's ass, the Buharideen is content within, without, and roundabout.
This is why it is important for you to watch the company you keep towards 2019. That you and somebody support the same candidate does not mean you are in it for the same reasons. You have to be careful to determine that you are not traveling in the company of incurable personality cultists looking for a new god to worship in Aso Rock Villa.
You may be supporting a candidate because you are a transcendental subscriber to the vision of a greater Nigeria in which no political actor is indispensable. The fellow screaming in solidarity beside you may see your candidate as a be-all beyond reproach, a god for whom fact, logic, common sense, and even Nigeria herself could be sacrificed if need be. In one candidate, you see a possible vehicle for a vision (who must be discarded if he does not live up to expectation), your friend sees a god he is prepared to follow to the grave as abobaku.
Back to the question of term limits. I have said this before and I make bold to repeat it: a second term is overrated. NO LEADER CAN CHANGE NIGERIA WHO ISN'T PREPARED TO SPEND ONLY ONE TERM IN OFFICE.
The logic for this submission is simple. The shock treatment that Nigeria needs, the revolution she needs, is so great that any leader who embarks on it will be deemed an error by all the forces of political darkness in Nigeria. They will do all within their power to deny such a revolutionary and transformative leader a second term. If necessary, they will kill him for Nigeria's political actors are killers.
With your personal conduct, you can cause a tsunami of positive changes in the life of a nation for there is nothing like the symbolic and optical value of the Presidency.
Part of Buhari's tragedy is his moral and ethical emptiness. If you look at the last three years, there is no positive symbolic thing that he ever did that was not coerced. Look at how long it took him to reluctantly fire the corrupt grass cutter - his friend who is still cavorting with him. Buhari must be dragged kicking and screaming to do the right thing and that is why Nigeria has literally collapsed on his head.
A few weeks ago, the young fiery lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, offered a list of simple things he would do to drastically change the destiny of Akwa Ibom state within a year were he ever fortunate to become Governor. It was just a list of simple, symbolic, personal choices relating to style, substance, and the appurtenances of power. He identified a lot of things within his executive prerogative that wouldn't even need the approval of the House of Assembly.
I read that list with the corner of one eye and shook my head. Everything he listed would change Akwa Ibom forever and positively in just one year were that state ever fortunate enough to have a Governor with the requisite moral and ethical mettle to embark on such a course.
However, he'd be destined for a single term for if they don't kill him, they'd make sure he never returned for a second term for he would put too many people in the corruption assembly line out of business.
Ethical willpower is what Buhari could not muster. He's had more than enough time and enjoyed the longest stretch of public goodwill conferred on any President in recent memory. He frittered everything away and his supporters add insult to injury by wailing that the people are not patient with their failed and frail god.
My advice to Buharideens: go back to wherever the talking points are coming from and report that this new narrative ain't selling.