“This administration has done extremely well. I have to say it because those who are supposed to say it are not saying it. I don’t know why.”
The above was a statement made by President Muhammadu Buhari while on a working visit to Imo state two weeks ago. The president had been invited by the current tenant of the Imo state government house, the man whose detractors tagged “supreme court governor” (due to how he became governor of the state), senator Hope Uzodinma. President Buhari’s statement was a lamentation on how though still in office, his party (APC) appears to have dumped him and moved on to the current most appealing damsel in the party, the party’s presidential candidate in the 2023 general elections, Bola Tinubu.
Tinubu is today the party’s most important man for obvious reasons. And the president is not one who likes the idea of another taking his shine, especially when he still has eight months in Aso Rock. Perhaps Mr president should take this as preparation for the cold post-presidency days. Reuben Abati, a former media aide to Buhari’s predecessor, President Goodluck Jonathan, in a beautiful piece after the Jonathan presidency, described how “the phones stopped ringing”, a metaphor that painted a brilliant picture of life in political office and life after leaving political office. Former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi also delivered a speech recently, in which he described the folly of the Nigerian politician, who while in the office thinks the world revolves around him/her, forgetting that Time happens to everything.
Even for a person widely acknowledged to have done well, post office days are usually devoid of the pump of office, talk more of a president Buhari. And the fact that his party gladiators are already deliberately distancing themselves from Buhari’s records in the office is a clear sign of the chilling days ahead of President Buhari once he leaves Aso Rock. Really, hardly will anyone admit to having failed in political office, at least not publicly. The likes of Femi Adesina will keep serenading Buhari till May 2023, at least. If Buhari truly thinks he has done well for Nigeria and Nigerians since 2015, he should be satisfied with how much praise he gets from the likes of Femi Adesina, and stop worrying about how Tinubu, Shettima, and others who have their sight on 2023 have been distancing themselves from him and his claimed great performance.
However, whatever Buhari thinks of his reign since 2015, he must acknowledge that there is a difference between what you want to think and what reality is. Tinubu and Shettima have been clear as crystal on Buhari’s performance since they secured the party’s presidential ticket. The party’s 2023 presidential campaign so far has directly/indirectly shown the irony that APC’s time in the life of Nigeria has been. If you are wondering how Buhari could think and say it publicly that he has done well for Nigeria since 2015, you might want to examine the definition of Irony. One of the different definitions of Irony, according to Oxford languages, is “a literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions is clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character”. There is hardly a better way to describe the universe Buhari lives in than this definition of Irony.
Tragedy will be a mild way to describe the impact of Buhari’s reign in Nigeria, irrespective of what the man thinks of himself. The naira has been a victim, the economy has been a victim, agriculture has been a victim, national cohesion has been a victim, the Nigerian identity has been a victim, security has been a victim, innocent school children have been victims, and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other Unions have been victims, Chief Olu Falae has been victim, EndSars protesting youths at the Lekki tollgate have been victims, passengers on the Kaduna-Abuja train have been victims, international airlines have been victims, Omoyele Sowore has been victim, the Nigerian fiscal health has been victim, the country’s crude oil export has been victim, the country’s North has been victim, so has the country’s South. Even the First Lady had to “Japa”.
Irrespective of social-political-economic considerations, there have been victims of Buhari’s reign in every nook and cranny of the country. But like the Irony definition above, these things, though crystal clear to Nigerians, seem unknown to Buhari. Tinubu and his campaign team have been deliberately focused on his time in Lagos, 1999-2007, and 2007 till date through proxies. They have been going about the campaign like they are in the opposition, seeking to deliver Nigeria from the misery of the last almost eight years. The ironic part of this is that until Tinubu secured the party’s presidential ticket, Tinubu pretended like he cared about Buhari. While Nigerians rightly denounced the government for the country’s rapid decline under Buhari, Tinubu carried on like all was well. In the face of ravaging insecurity – with relative nonchalance from the federal government – and while the grieving mourned their loss in the hands of killer herdsmen, and despite an official statement to that effect by the police, Tinubu asked, “where are the cows?”.
Shettima on his part has been campaigning about his time as governor of Borno state and his time at Zenith Bank. What better thing is there for a party in power to campaign for the next election than its records of achievement? If Tinubu, Shettima, and their campaign team are suggesting to Nigerians that nothing good has come out of the APC’s Nazareth since 2015, what justification do they have to be asking that the same victims who endured the APC’s misrule for eight years should still go to the polls in 2023 and cast their votes for the APC? Isn’t this a situation of flogging a child and telling him to not cry? In Nigeria’s Southwest geopolitical zone, the Yorubas, like other peoples on earth, use parables, metaphors, and other ingredients of language to describe situations, whether pleasant or otherwise.
Like elsewhere, the Yorubas do have deities for worship and consultation in times of distress. When a village consults its deity for solutions to pressing issues, usually a plague, they expect direction from the deity on what to do to eradicate such plague. But history is filled with examples of times when such consultations fail to yield the desired results. As a matter of fact, there have been times when the situation became worse after such consultations. In such circumstances, the Yorubas do not fold their hands in blind faith. They challenge the deity to live up to its fame, and if not, it should not make things worse for them. “Orisa bo o le gbé mi, fi mi sile bo o ti ba mi”. A simple translation of that saying is, “deity, if you cannot save me, at least leave me the way I was before consulting you.” In other words, I accept that you are useless in addressing my predicament, just don’t complicate things for me.
This is the same lamentation Nigerians have been doing since 2015 when the APC deity intervened in their affairs. Demonizing the Goodluck Jonathan administration as the worst thing to have happened to Nigeria, and promising heaven on earth if voted into office, Tinubu’s APC rode to power on the conjured but non-existent righteousness and efficacy of the charm called Buhari. But after four years, some Nigerians already found out they had been scammed. Yet in 2019, other Nigerians – a lot of them, including Tinubu – said the ailment had degenerated to a critical level before Buhari came. And so, Nigerians needed more doses of the potion to get rid of the disease. Rather than ease their pain, the potion has proven to be a worse plague than Nigerians endured previously. Yet, despite such previously unimagined misery in the hands of Buhari and APC, which Tinubu boasted months ago of being the architect, the same Tinubu is asking that Nigerians continue drinking this poison in 2023.
Tinubu’s case is so unusual that even his Lagos claims are being debunked by those who know about his time as Lagos governor, including members of his party. They have told Tinubu and his campaign team to be factual about claims and stop claiming ownership of the achievements of his predecessors and successors. It is not unusual for people to seek to rewrite history to favour themselves, and this is not the first time Tinubu and his supporters will be doing that, they falsely claimed to be Buhari’s political benefactor when they needed the presidential ticket, but the real Lagosians will not have it this time. Buhari, Tinubu, Shettima, and the APC have – individually and collectively – been ironies since 2015. Sadly, Nigeria and Nigerians have suffered the consequences. Yet for various reasons, some Nigerians are again queuing behind this unfeeling and insensitive chief priest, whose potion has proven to be as deadly as the plague.