President Mohammadu Buhari has turned out to be the baddest joker Nigeria has ever seen. His story is the story of a once jackboot rebel, who, at a time of Nigeria’s military rule, straightened some of the contours of our national aberrations. Today, the same Buhari, hiding under the mantra of change, is the worst conformist of all time. Ancient Buhari, at the risk of what anybody might say about his early 80’s iron rule, made Nigeria work. He made Nigerians walked tall and proud. He shifted the paradigm of our indolence, corruption, indiscipline and brought both tears and joy to a tottering nation that had refused to drop her farcical dark sides.
In the 80s we idolized Buhari. He was the iconic leader who shook us to our foundation. He unplugged us from the long and tragic trajectory of dancing to songs of pain and sorrow. He turned Nigeria upside down. He destroyed our idols. He burned our altars and set out to rededicate Nigeria to a new set of godly values. He brought illumination to the monstrous darkness that was Nigeria then and we all supported Buhari with fierce loyalty. We warmed around the glow of his “War Against Indiscipline” and most of our old ways collapsed as we embraced the new.
We queued to get into commercial buses. We queued at the post offices. We queued at the banking halls. Food prices stabilized. At the entry points to all our towns and cities were soldiers with horse whip to deal ruthlessly with fomenters of trouble or anybody who wanted to operate from the fringe and against what was then normal. Adulterers changed their ways and began to love their wives again. Money doublers abandoned their stalls and melted into thin air.
Philippians 4:19 was a passage in the Bible that speaks of Gods provision for his children during 80s Buhari. During Buhari’s earlier incarnation, the purity of that passage had not been corrupted to mean what 419 means today – scam, corruption, looting, gbajue, fraud, odaju ole, robbery, deceit and abracadabra! Armed robbers knew their fate. They were routinely shot into pieces of crumbs at the firing squad along Lagos bar beach. White collar thieves were hammered with long jail sentences. Corrupt politicians or those perceived to have stolen our national cake had dust for dinner. They were humiliated, battered, hounded and handed long jail sentences that looked like eternity.
A new general or sheriff was in town and when the show was going on we all gave the main actor, General Mohammadu Buhari and co-star, late General Tunde Idiagbon and other supporting cast our standing ovation. The oxygen of Buhari’s fame then was nothing but his doggedness, fanaticism to right the wrong of society, eradication of corruption among public servants, reinvention of discipline, accountability, punishment for misdemeanor, respect for social values and accountability. It was truly a defining moment. We had believed then that Buhari was enough to get us to heaven and not a pastor!
Like all great imperial or military powers, an end has to come. However, before ancient Buhari faded into oblivion, we had built so much mythology around his personality to a point of a cult figure. In the arc of time, opinions were divided about his ancient legacy. Many cursed his military regime. Politicians with axes to grind called him a dictator and a man of Hitlerite tendency. Others who could not get close to him to inflict vengeance on him rushed his carved image to Babalawo, alufa and various supernatural covens. Baba Buhari remains solid like a statute in his rural Daura plotting a comeback. All the arrows threw at him returned back to sender.
By 2015, a new Muhammadu Buhari emerged like a sphinx from his ashes. Like Lazarus, a resurrected Buhari, reading the temper of the time, wooed Nigerians with a promise of “CHANGE”. Older, gaunt looking, still handsome, thoroughly innocent and winsome, we fell for his old charm as a performer, action man, honest and rule breaker. He ticked all our boxes of a rare quintessential Nigerian. If Buhari were to be a bachelor, many of us were willing to thrust our daughters on him. Such was the power and potency of our love for him that we blindly bought into his change agenda.
Ha….President Muhammadu Buhari where is my change? I learned from my scripture that in any labour, there must be profit. Where is the profit for all the tailors, mechanics, bricklayers, carpenters, okada riders, teachers, roadside sellers, shop keepers, cleaners, civil servants, phone unlockers, gatemen, molue drivers and millions of granddads, grand mums, dads and mums who braved rain and fiercely burning sun to cast a covenant vote for you? Where is the fruit of change for all the dynamic mix of support, loyalty and expectations showered on you by expectants and thoroughly traumatised Nigerians who cast their hope on you for a better future?
Ha…President Muhammadu Buhari, once again, where is my change? Where is the fruit of change for the working class, poor, alienated and forgotten Nigerians whose collective vote gave you your mandate? Where is the gain for that innocent and explosive euphoria for your second coming? Where is the gain of that common destiny woven around your vision to change Nigeria and make it better? Are Nigerians naïve and silly in their innocent assumptions that you will do politics differently? Are Nigerians paying the price for mythologizing your ancient performance without a prophet to warn them of the word of Proverbs 24:22 – “Do not associate with those given to change”?
Today Nigerians are living with a bitter sense of betrayal. The Buhari’s lies is becoming a fixture even among liberal commentators. The nature of the political narrative is that the change mantra is now meaningless without tangible proof of what has changed so far. The political, social and economic reclamation promised by Buhari’s via change have all floundered dramatically and tragically. Your change has not unseat corruption. Your change has not unseat unemployment among our youths. Your change has not unseat our social paralysis. Your change has not unseat cabals from the interior recesses of our political life. This change is a change that changes nothing!