IN 2015, I shuddered at the emergence of General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB) as the president of Nigeria. My assessment of his mental equipage was not based on the misgiving or warped sentiments by a section of Nigerians about his certificate or educational qualification. I won’t suffer fool gladly by admitting that a man who received training in some of the best military academies in the world, and rose to become a General in the Nigerian Army is an illiterate- even if he earned his enlistment and all promotions through nepotism and favouritism, as his traducers would want us to believe. Perhaps one could ask, how many of his mates who were commissioned at the same time made it to General? Again, I won’t suffer fool gladly by admitting that a man who has held several positions in the country before capping it all as ‘Head-of–state’ is not educated or intelligent enough. How many of his generals mate made it to become head-of-state? As Albert Einstein would put it, not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted actually counts. I have seen many people whose certificates when joined together could be as long as a boar constrictor, yet are very shallow in thinking, and lack introspection.
And with his emergence, people like me who shared these sentiments out of patriotism, had to resign to imprimatur of fate, and wished him a successful tenure. However, my fear would later rear its ugly head early enough, no sooner had he become the president-elect, when in a response to how he was going to form an all-inclusive government, he said people who gave him five per cent of their votes should not expect to be treated equally as the people who gave him 90 per cent. That made me shiver, for it was grossly unstatemanly. Again, since the fate of Nigeria was already tied to him for the next four years, I had no choice than to wish and hope that he learns quickly on the job. And I also prayed that he selected good team to see through his agenda. And sincerely, it would only be out of pure malice to say PMB has not come up faster than many people had anticipated.
Really, he has shown tremendous finesse and helicopter ability as a president. He has proven to be a complete gentleman and a true lover of Nigeria and the Nigerians. Even under greatest provocations, he has always maintained his calm, and has always remained undistracted. I do not know of any former Nigerian president that has been this openly and profusely vilified, debased, berated, abused and denigrated as PMB; yet he has never resolved into personal vendetta. Although, it still beats my imaginations how he has been able to pull that stunt. PMB sure must have some thick skin. Save for the frailty of old age, and the fallibility of human nature which underscores allegations such as that of nepotism- though highly hyperbolized and sensationalised, but still true to some extents anyways; and sundry other political gaffes he has committed, PMB has scored higher than any of the past presidents in some indexes of governance, even just under a spate of three years, and despite the additional financial grinds he has to contend with. He really has successfully persuaded me against my better judgement about his capacity to rule Nigeria, and has equally earned my support and admiration.
Though I don’t praise him for doing what he was elected to do as many sycophants do, I have always stood in his defense whenever he came under superfluous barrage of attacks and unfair criticism- which most times are bereaved by lack of objectivity and introspection. Or what is criticism- either constructive or destructive, in opening a condolence register for a man who was just tending his health? To me, that could only be pure agnostic hatred and mischief. Out of patriotism, however, I have equally spoken against some of his actions and/ or inactions which I considered quite inimical to the well-being of Nigeria. But when I do so, I do it with deference for his coveted office, and with cautions and charitably in respect for his age- for what goes around comes around. I wouldn’t use censorious and abusive words to desecrate the most coveted office in my country.
In truth, for a president who has signed huge cheques as amnesty payments to the restive militants; to a president who has paid huge ransoms to secure the release of some of the Boko haram abductees; for a president who has the records of how many billions of naira the previous regime doled out under YOUWIN programme but which the beneficiaries treated merely as slush funds, and never invested a dime on the proposed businesses, etc, one cannot imagine the volcano of pains that pushed that statement out his mouth. Nevertheless, even though what he said was right, was he completely right to have said it at that forum? It would be fool hardy of anyone to answer in the affirmative, for that statement served no purpose at the forum. And again, if for whatever reason best known to Mr President, he chose to underscore that fact at that forum, isn’t there a better way to put it? The answer is YES! As such, one cannot say all those who took him up on what he actually said were completely wrong. And this is what I called the fuzziness of human perception. Most actions in life cannot be boxed crisply into ‘absolute right’ or ‘absolute wrong’. Most times and in most situations, elements of right are always in wrong, and elements of wrong are always in right. Their membership functions might vary though.
And lastly, just as a spectator in a football match is always better than the actual players on the field, here I consider a revision to the statement made by the president thus: Nigeria has a conservative population of 180 million, 60 per cent of which is below the age of 30 years. While a lot of them are highly educated, enterprising and resourceful; a lot of them who have not been to school would rather sit down and do nothing, expecting free…. .’’. Honestly, had he put it this way, it wouldn’t have generated as much uproar and backlash as it did. But again, we as citizens too should show some tolerance to our leaders, especially when they have not committed serious constitutional infractions.
- Agbaogun writes in from Germany