“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
It is appalling to know that Nigerians are now polarised into two main caucuses, which is not even anywhere near political, but rather individualism, and most times bordering on ethnic lines and religious affiliation – the Buharists and the Jonathanians – as if these are the most important situation and life-changing experience we need now.
The Buharists, if I may try to define it, are those who the supporters of ex-President Jonathan derogatorily refer to, as those who insist that President Muhammadu Buhari is a god, or at least, a demi-god, and can do no wrong in his singular pursuit of a corruption free and better life for his fellow Nigerians. Buharists are those who believe in the singularity and sincerity of purpose of President Buhari to set Nigeria on a different course from what the country has been subjected to during sixteen years of ignoble and disastrous PDP rule.
The Jonathanians, again if I may hazard a definition, are those willing to swear by God that ex-President Goodluck Jonathan was the best president Nigerians ever had, and should never have been voted out to allow a Northern ex-dictator into power to continue to perpetrate witch-hunting and lies against sixteen years of PDP rule in Nigeria. They do not believe Buhari has a moral claim in trying to clean the country of the pathogenic and endemic corruption that has ravaged the country. They further believe that Buhari is a fraud and is only fighting a Northern cause
The two terms are simply an exhibition and proof of our political immaturity as a people.
For sixteen years of PDP rule since 1999, who has ever heard of such inanity being spewed on the streets? Were there ever Obasanjonists, or Yar ‘Aduanians? Even during the six year reign of Mr Jonathan himself, there was never anything so hearable – I never heard anybody being called a Jonathanian between 2010 and 2015. This was probably as a result of the fact that the ruling party then were the absolute rulers, and never for once thought they would be removed from power. In fact, they were so entrenched and invincible that they themselves were reminding their fellow Nigerians that they were going to rule for sixty years; nine hundred and forty years short of Hitler’s one thousand year Third Reich.
During that short-lived sixteen years, the opposition in all the elections that took place in Nigeria, except 2015, were at best, noise-makers, and at worst, as clueless as the ruling party, PDP. They had no plans, no vision, and no focus, except to grab power, and then continue to do like the incumbent party was doing. Of course, they failed. The current president never had a chance, despite appearing thrice in two different political parties. There was no Buharist then of note, or wait a minute, I know a very few supporters of Buhari then – the current Ogun State governor, Mr Ibikunle Amosun, who was in the same ANPP with Buhari; a couple of my Igbo (yes, Igbo from South East Nigeria) friends in the UK who have been die-hard Buhari supporters since 2007; and ah, of course, the current Minister for Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu, who was the Oyo State flagbearer for Buhari’s CPC at the 2011 Elections; and now I remember one of my first cousins who lives in Abuja and has always been what you can call a Buharist – and that’s about it, at least as far as I know. Even me, I was not convinced of Mr Buhari’s possible success in winning an election in Nigeria, though I have always held him in the highest esteem mainly because of his anti-corruption antecedents, honesty, sincerity, patriotic and stoic stand.
Was there ever a Ribaduist, that is, a person who followed Nuhu Ribadu of the ACN in the 2011 Elections? None that I can think of, or can you? Who else again from all the other charlatans and clowns who call themselves political parties? The AD, Labour, ANPP, SDP, etc. some of who never even had Presidential candidates in those elections and prefer to mortgage their conscience and ideals with the bigger parties?
So here we are in 2016, and the social media of Nigerians are full of Jonathanians and Buharists, and to most of them, that is what politics and democracy in Nigeria is all about. The so-called Jonathanians are bitter and vicious because their “hero” lost an election, the first time such has ever occurred in Nigeria – for an incumbent, who planned an election to concede defeat. It is unheard of, and a lot of them cannot only bear it, but they also refuse to come to terms with that political disaster. To them, they refuse to accept that Mr Jonathan has had his chance, blew it, and can never ever come back to rule Nigeria again. My advice to them is to start looking for a more credible hero who will be able to uproot Mr Buhari from Aso Rock in 2019. 2015 is gone, together with Mr Jonathan. There is a lot of work to be done to really move Nigeria forward, if that has ever been their real intention, and not what they had perpetrated on the good people of Nigeria in the last sixteen years of their grip on the treasury and political terrain of the country.
And now to the so-called Buharists (some people even think I am one), life in the fast lane of Aso Rock in Abuja is very short. They must be mindful of the fact that Mr Buhari is surrounded by some men of questionable characters and integrity, much like Mr Jonathan indeed was, but the only saving grace or hope, is that Mr Buhari is a man of his own, a man of integrity and a man known to be devoid of greed and selfishness. There must not be hero-worshipping of Mr Buhari. A recent example is the botched budget; a very bad publicity, show of shame and incompetence, if not outright irresponsibility and corruption, and it must be vigorously criticised by all, not minding which side of the fence you are, for the sake of Nigeria. They also need to keep reminding Mr Buhari that he does not have a lot of time on his hands. Four years will soon be over, in fact, less than two years now, before the hounds of the opposition parties will soon be barking and besieging him and hurling missiles from every corner of the world. It ain’t gonna be a pretty sight.
To those of us who erroneously pride ourselves in being politically-savvy, we have been made to look like charlatans. In the 2011 Elections, we made so much issue of voting for the individual and not the party. Why? Another political immaturity, guided by a lack of defined and delineated political ideology imposed on us by crude, vicious and uneducated politicians who were there to take advantage of the ignorant masses, and then loot the common wealth. I was a guilty, ignorant villain then; I voted for Jonathan and not the PDP, I liked to assure myself then, all to my mortification and cost. In the 2015 Election, some people said the same: we voted for Buhari and not the APC. I hope we will not again be disappointed.
Even when we deviate a little from the stupidity, we resort to calling each other “APC apologists” or “PDP die-hards”, phrases which should not even be heard in sane political and democratic environments, because in such environments, people have the right of association and affiliation to a political party or the other, and should therefore be respected, not killed or pilloried for that. That is what politics and democracy are all about. But trust my people; there is no room or tolerance for opposition politics or diverse opinion or ideas. Hence, once again, a confirmation of our political immaturity, even after sixteen years.
So what lessons do we learn from this? The lesson a man learns from any issue is dependent on his experience or mistake. Nigerians have neither learnt from experience or their mistakes, and so perhaps, adaptation or aspiration to a more politically-beneficial environment and a fair and just society may be of a tall order. As Charles Darwin said, “False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for everyone takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness; and when this is done, one path towards error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened.”
Nigeria is not about Jonathan or Buhari. It is about Nigeria. It is our responsibility, and would be beneficial to all of us to get the right people into power, and the wrong people out of power. We have gotten rid of Mr Jonathan in 2015; we can get rid of Mr Buhari in 2019 if he failed us. We have all the power in the universe to do this, but only if we are sincere with ourselves, devoid of ethnic, religious and personal bigotry. I do not believe in Buharists or Jonathanians and I personally take umbrage when I am referred to as a Buharist or APC apologist.
Whichever of these two camps you belong to, why isn’t there anything like “Nigerianians”? For me, it is about Nigeria, and I have the right to swing to the camp I think is better or best for my survival as a Nigerian and for Nigeria in general.
Whoever those political “experts” who came up with these two labels are – Buharist and Jonathanian – into our political lexicon should have their heads examined.
Let the Truth be told always and those who want to hear it hear it and accept it.