Tuesday, May 29, marks three years of the Muhammadu Buhari government. The major question that should be on the lips of all Nigerians is, ‘Am I better off than I was before this government assumed office?” No matter the intensity of campaigns for next year’s elections, that’s the only issue that should be up for determination as President Buhari seeks our mandate again. After all, an incumbent runs on his record in office.
But this is not a review of the Buhari presidency as I’m not sure there is need for that as important as it seems. It was the president remarks last week in thin-veiled barbs to one of his predecessors in office and also a senior in the military, former President Olusegun Obasanjo that prompted this piece. There are many things unsaid in that verbal attack that one can decode. One of such is the continual pretence of our president that he is not interested in campaigning like other politicians as governance is his greater concern. Nothing could be further from the truth. And as we are all discovering daily, Buhari is like any other politician. Yes, he is not different from the average Nigerian politician.
From his overwhelming promise of a better life and to the underwhelming delivery in office so far, he knows when to strike the right chord in his political career. As a retired soldier too, he knows when to strike the right blow at his opponent’s solar plexus. A usual excuse of his armada of supporters that “the president is not aware” is no longer tenable as he knows what he is doing. Even if one ignores the lackadaisical attitude to serious matters of governance rather than seriousness that being President of Nigeria demands, Buhari knows more than he is willing to admit.
What better time to strike Obasanjo than when a nebulous group – Buhari Solidarity Organisation – led by a public servant, Hameed Ali, the Comptroller General of Customs, visited? By the way, who is paying for Mr. Ali’s time when he leaves his duty post and resumes at the Buhari Solidarity Organisation? Which employer will allow an employee to share his time with another organisation? But it is all in the family as Ibrahim Magu, the newly promoted police commissioner and acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was also seen on national television wearing a Buhari badge. No wonder our president continue with his pastime of eulogizing the late maximum ruler, Sani Abacha, as badge wearing became popular in Abacha days when only the brave dared to be different. So, will non-APC members get justice when they come in contact with Ali and Magu? You can guess the answer.
I wager that there will be no heavyweight fight between Buhari and Obasanjo, both know better than to commit class suicide and self-immolation. As members of the “Owners Club of Nigeria” they dare not expose each other further. We will only be treated to bolekaja fights, which will not pull the curtain wider and neither will Buhari commission an inquiry into the Obasanjo years so that we can hear the sordid tales of his government. Proxies will be the combatants while the rest of us who are hoping to take ringside seats at the titanic battle will be disappointed. I guess the Buhari government sensed the futility in demonizing Goodluck Jonathan’s government repeatedly and the next logical choice is Obasanjo who has not hidden his desire to see another person replace Buhari come next year. As actors in our national life for nearly five decades, who among them is exempted from the rot pervading our land? Who among them does not deserve quantifiable blame for where we are as a country? Pitiably, some Nigerians are already pitching their tents with the two combatants when in truth their battle is not about Nigeria or Nigerians.
Before the 2015 elections, the APC apparatchiks did all they could to get Obasanjo’s endorsement, which was celebrated, with great fanfare when he finally endorsed them. Remember the photographs of candidate Buhari then with running mate Yemi Osinbajo dressed in agbada with others like Bola Tinubu, John Oyegun, Ibikunle Amosun and Rotimi Amaechi when they visited Obasanjo at his hilltop home during their campaign in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital? Or the way President Buhari praised Obasanjo to the high heavens last year when the latter celebrated his birthday? Or when Obasanjo too became the chief salesperson for brand Buhari describing him as a person of integrity? Nothing changed, only that political interests no longer align and both have to part ways. As we mark Buhari’s three years, it is important for the government to know the right place to stick the pin on her mark of progression. That is more important than shadow-boxing.