Buhari 2003 – The Confusion Of An Alchemist

by Banjo Odutola

Paulo Coelho in his International Best Seller – The Alchemist explored the inter-relationship of human kismet and the sere conditions of a Desert through the sojourn of an intrepid boy shepherd who found love while in pursuit of what Moira had assigned to him. The morals of the book are: treachery laced in the peregrination of pursing a pre-ordination; appreciating the present and not fear the future; not expecting that the destiny for which a great deal is sacrificed is achievable and patience is required to achieve Maktub.

It is in these four areas that a limited periscopic perlustration on the Presidential Candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), General Mohammadu Buhari (Rtd) is to provide an insight and advice for the journey that he embarked with the appreciation that the murky waters of Nigerian politics is beneath the image he portrays as a honest operator.

Firstly, he should understand that treachery is a hand well fitted in our political gloves or how else could it be rationalised that while he is calling for civil disobedience, his winsome governor elects are declaring their victories are well deserved.

Does that infer that their leader’s failure to win the presidential election is also deserved? Perhaps the objective of the public display of the governor elect is that Buhari accepts his defeat sub rosa. Ostensibly, the maladroit dealing of his failure by his political party does not bade well for any struggle afoot.

The treachery of many vital ANPP leaders to condemn the elections provides the leader’s primary difficulties. This may be payback time for Chief Harry Ayoade Akande, the Agbaoye of Ibadanland et al for the way Buhari was granted the party’s ticket. Is this what is termed retribution? Coelho in his book neatly describes it as “anyone who interferes with the destiny of another never discover his own.”

Is this what Akande too is saying to all and sundry or is this the time for a covert glee? Well, Coelho focuses on Omens in his book and somewhat his argument is depicted in the histronics displayed in Buhari’s loss. Could the fourberie and skulduggery that attended ANPP presidential primaries be a prognostication of how Buhari is to be dealt with by a greater hand beyond Akande et al? Is this what Greek mythology refers as Nemesis? Nobody cheats an Ibadan High Chief and gets away with it.

Treachery does not necessarily have to be a wilful act; it can be an omission. That seems to be at the core of the confusion of Buhari as an Alchemist. Coelho used the illustration of the Shepherd boy placing his trust in an old hand when he arrived in a new territory. No matter the protestation of the tea shopkeeper, the Shepherd boy still followed the fleecer, who defrauded him. Is Buhari now making the same mistake by putting his trust in people who appear to be ‘old hands’ in Nigerian Politics? He should remember Aare MKO Abiola. The Nigerian politician is self serving and would sell his birthright for a pot of soup. That is how cheap many of them are. Abiola was betrayed. Buhari should not expect to be treated differently.

It is imperative that in order to propagate the unfairness of the elections, he must avoid the representation of the old set to plead his cause. Buhari must discourage the old set such as Wada Nas to champion his case. They are only set to damage what may be a justified pleading. After all they are trollops and not many people in the country believe in their advocacy. The point is that Buhari must find politicians who would not divert attention from the mandate that he is claiming. Therefore, as propaganda is dispensed, the Alchemist must remember that it serves no purpose to call the nation to disobedience when one day in the future he may win an election to govern a lawless society steeped in civil disobedience.

Ian Duncan Smith, the present Leader of the British Conservative Party suffers the same plight in the control of his party. Here is a man who was a rebel in Prime Minister John Major’s cabinet. He dissented and voted against the government in which he served; it is surprising to him that he now reaps what he had sown years before. If Buhari wants to govern a peaceful Nigeria, he cannot expect a disobedient society to change its colours because of his ascension.

The Alchemist in Buhari must keep trying at unifying the nation in the face of what he considers an injustice. That in itself depicts that he is not after power at all costs. Therefore until base metal turns into a precious one, he must work harder at being accepted by a broad church. In his case Nigeria is the base metal. It is doubtful that any amount of patience can win the day for the 2003 elections. This must not be a reason for his galumph to a minatory and invidious civil disobedience of our present democracy. That type of action stands to inmolate the destiny the ANPP flagbearer seeks. Unwittingly a demagogue becomes a democrat.

Secondly, this Alchemist must appreciate the present and not fear the future. What future does Buhari have in Nigeria? A better one in 2007 – if he works hard at it; if the man could muster over 12 million votes in a few months of joining politics, he should embrace the virtue of leadership that engages the grassroot in areas such as Southern Nigeria where he was rejected. It may be argued that his Northern credentials will deny him of Southern votes. That is balderdash and it is the coinage of fear, which has been used in our politics for a long time. This Alchemist does not lack credibility like most others. It is his image and utterances that precede him as a dependable power broker in whom a mandate is safe. Those are not innate traits; they are mastered. He must spend the next four years to master and proffer an acceptable demeanour for which his antecedents can be relegated to history.

The fear that this Alchemist must avoid is the one that speaks of trouble in the land. Believe it or not, such maelstrom is not in the interest of our country. In fact, when others talk of him plunging the nation into a civil war – that is an exaggeration. At the worst, there will be riots in Northern Nigeria, where many will lose their lives and properties. It is doubtful that those in the south will attack Northerners on a scale that is tantamount to a declaration of war.

The results of the last elections in certain parts of the country further makes the point that we graduated from the Florida “chads” in the last US presidential elections to a different level of plebiscite engineering. The Rivers and Ogun States defy common sense. Nonetheless, the courts are there for the aggrieved to seek redress.

Thirdly, must Buhari become the president of a democratic Nigeria? He has as good a chance as any other and there is no reason why he should not make it. However, it is equally tenable that such goal may be achievable because of Maktub. This Alchemist needs not be confused because the elements have not conspired in his favour. It is not every time that a professional Alchemist turns Lead to Gold. The precious office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria may never be his. What is fundamental in this proposition is that Buhari would have seen no need for the outré reaction to his loss. However, there are politicians that believe that all goals are achievable and it is infantile to concede defeat. Coelho describes the China shopkeeper as a man who set out on an ambition to go to Mecca and he had worked out that he would set up a shop; make enough money and travel to Mecca to perform his Islamic obligations. As years rolled on, the goal of travelling to Mecca remained a dream and no more. The shopkeeper refused to enlarge his business until the Shepherd boy advised him of business innovations.

It is doubtful that becoming an elected President of Nigeria will ever become a distant dream to Buhari and neither does he require the prodding of others to revaluate his strategy. If after doing a makeover of his image, it still appears Atiku would carry the day, it may be expedient to learn the Chimera deployed by the ruling Party in winning these elections; expose their antics or plan to do the same on a grander level. Whatever is done the electorate will be the worse for it.

Fourthly and finally, the previous paragraph requires patience to achieve what the Arabs call Maktub. This patience is what Edmund Burke (1727-1797), the Irish Born Whip politician and man of letters in Reflections on the Revolution of France (1790) described as our ‘patience will achieve more than our force.’ Buhari must demonstrate that he is not a man in a hurry like Ghali Na’abba and his Deputy, Chinedom Nwuche, who for their duplicity and middle age crises characterised power with pedomorphic attitudes. There is no hurry in setting off on a race against Atiku for the Golden Crown. Time is not of the essence. Tricks are.

Herault de Sechelles in Voyage a Montbar (1830) wrote about the French naturalist Comte de Buffon (1707 -1788) describing genius is only a greater aptitude for patience; Buhari now has all to play for. He should learn the modalities by which the ruling party pulled the last election victory and do the same to them at the next. This is when this Alchemist is able to prove that he understands his own foibles and he is willing to learn and use underhand tricks, which others have perfected. It is called beating them at their own game. Therefore, if the ruling party has not used force to gain plebiscites, Buhari must refrain from arming his opponents with adequate ammunition to sink his boat.

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