By Comrade Bello Ishaq
In 2006, while perusing the writings of some classical Greek philosophers, I came across a quote by Plato which says, ‘one of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors”. This quote motivated me to not only broaden my research on politics but pick a deliberate interest in it. Prior to that time, particularly when Buhari began contesting in 2003, I had nothing to do with politics due to callowness in age and political apathy I suppose.
So, I had been an ardent supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari from 2007 to 2015. During elections, I and other devotees risked our lives to keep vigil at INEC office just to protect the votes cast in favour of Buhari in compliance with his usual directive of ‘A kasa, a tsare (which could be connotatively be translated to English as ‘cast your vote and stay to protect it’). Anytime Buhari was to visit Bauchi, I trekked numerous kilometers to welcome and accompany him to all the major places he was visiting such as Emir’s Palace, among others, even though I was a nonentity but the vehement belief in what he politically preached was the only thing that had been intoxicating me to do such a voluntary herculean task. I kept following him through ANPP, CPC and APC. In my mind’s eye, I was regarding him as the Nigerian Mao Zedong and a living version of Napoleon Bonaparte.
In 2015, I authored and published two books about Buhari and translated one of them to Hausa – all in my quest to promote messiah Buhari that we were hero worshipping. I can’t recall the number of essays I drafted in support of Buhari.
A year after his ascension to the presidential throne, I realized that the General could not take us to the promised land as he had been vowing. I came to that conclusion after observing many of his actions and inactions because I was expecting him to start taking boldly developmental steps the way his counterpart in Tanzania – late John Pombe Magafuli was doing. Buhari and Magafuli came to power almost the same time as both were elected in 2015.
In 2016, my instinct revealed to me that Buhari might take us to where life will be horribly ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’, using Thomas Hobbes’ phraseology. For that, my conscience pricked me to make a decision. Consequent upon that, I totally withdrew my support for him and resigned my membership of the APC despite having a cordial relationship with some of the party leaders at some levels. I Independently started pointing out the felonies and misdemeanors of the administration using the social media tools and occasionally making use of the mainstream media channels whenever the opportunities sprang up as they did from time to time.
Casting criticism on Buhari’s administration had attracted numerous antagonists to me, within and outside. Receiving insults from close ones and strangers was normal and became like a daily dose. Some ethno-religious zealots started labelling me as an enemy of the North or Islam just because I was pointing out the direction Buhari was taking us to. Some people that venerably called me ‘teacher’, as they used to come and take lessons from me, started openly challenging me and distrusting the veracity of my knowledge to the extent that some of them stopped consulting me just because I was pointing out maladies in saint Buhari’s administration. Many Buhari’s diehards doubted my sanity and they deployed unprintably insultive and pejorative terms against me. Those that were extremely kind and generous doubted my IQ and the schools I attended. At times, the insults came from people that I couldn’t reply to because I held them in high esteem. Numerous ad hominem propositions were developed against me including the one which proclaimed that I was being sponsored by the West or the enemies of Nigeria.
What kept me going then were three factors: my love for Nigeria is unquenchable and I regards it as necessary. Whenever I contemplated leaving the shores of Nigeria for safer and greener pastures, my mind would remind me that my parents, siblings and relatives are still in here. In addition, I have no any country that I could proudly call mine except this. Therefore, I could leave the country physically but I can’t leave it mentally, emotionally and psychologically. Thus, I considered it necessary to see things turn right. The second factor was that I am naturally averse to ‘herd mentality’. Just the fact that a multitude of persons do something or support something doesn’t move me to do the same as I always try my best to be moved by logic. The third factor was the letter I started reading since my secondary school days written by former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln to his son’s teacher. In the letter, Lincoln wrote, “Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone is getting on the band wagon. Teach him to listen to all men but teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth, and take only the good that comes through. Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob and to stand and fight if he thinks he is right. Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong.” The aforementioned factors had enabled me to sustain the tempo in the face of massive hostility, insults and threats.
Honestly, I am writing this piece to express regret for two things: first for the fact that Buhari has been proving my prognostication right even though I wanted him to prove it wrong for our collective safety and well-being. Secondly, with all the symptomatic harbingers of dangers that appeared in the Buhari’s first tenure, some Nigerians couldn’t foresee what was to come as they reelected him to carry the mediocrity-infested mess to the next level based on reasons best known to them. So sad that the region that shelters most of the voters of the next level is now the one bearing the worst brunt of the same Next Level (may God intervene).
Though Buhari has succeeded in lowering the bar and standard of leadership in Nigeria, I know I can hardly perform like him if I were to be in his shoes due to my personal shortcomings but Nigeria is adequately endowed with great men and women whom if given the opportunity can make a tremendous difference. For that, I most respectfully exhort my compatriots to always learn from the past to live in the present in order to forecast the future by not reprising the same terrible flub that we collectively did or some of us did on our behalf. We should stop recruiting leaders on the basis of primordial sentiments such as religion, region or tribe. Competence, capacity and integrity should be our yardstick.
While it remains few months for General Buhari to go and it is irrefutable that he had taken us to waterloo on all fronts, I pray another Buhari will not happen to Nigeria. May God help us elect leaders that will take us out of the woods and restore us to victory, prosperity, security, safety and peace.