By Hassan Gimba
“Any man whom Allah has given the authority of ruling some people and he does not look after them in an honest manner, will never feel even the smell of Paradise.” – Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Before going to my topic, please allow me a little digression. I want to start by appealing to the federal government to please stop the charade and for the people to not take their eyes off the goalpost. Or where do you place the ongoing drama about the former Central Bank Governor’s arrest, arraignment, and re-arrest?
In the first place, no one told the nation why he was relieved of his post, yet we clapped. No questions asked. Fine. But is it? Is this how it should be done? Okay, the man, and rightly so, was thought to have worsened the country’s economy and helped activities that would be considered harmful in a serious nation.
But when the time to bring him to justice came, the man was charged with the “illegal possession of a gun and 123 rounds of bullets”! Not abuse of office, mind you. Not economic sabotage, conflict of interest (for attempting to contest for the presidency), botched naira redesign, etc.
Can you beat that?! And then we were forced to be spectators of the drama of his re-arrest in court after securing bail for twenty million naira.
Well, if the government wants to hide something or shield some people who were hand in gloves with the man, no need to regale us with all this. And people should wise up and stop being taken for expensive rides. Next time, say “Thank you, but I don’t want your expensive ride borne out of the high cost of fuel; I’ll rather trek.”
We have had leaders in Nigeria who were not found to be corrupt. Alhaji Shehu Shagari was not jailed by Muhammadu Buhari after he was overthrown, unlike many other leaders from that time that were jailed for hundreds of years.
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria’s first and only prime minister, had to make Shehu Shagari, who was then his aide, pay the government for returning his (prime minister’s) mother home from Lagos in a presidential aircraft. He angrily told Shagari that he, as PM, did not use the presidential plane when going to his party’s activities or campaigns.
General Murtala Ramat Mohammed was a leader who purged the civil service of the corrupt and never allowed them to permeate his government. It was said that he had just thirty naira in his account when he was killed.
None of these three leaders had their wives or children in their governments. Their families were not known to have influenced the government or its agents. They did not seek favours from ministries, departments, or agencies.
Despite all their stellar attributes and saint-like qualities, none of them are as venerated by the people as General Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari successfully made a large chunk of the people see in their eyes a man wearing angelic garb. Firstly, he was able to make those people see him as “not a politician”. It is common to hear them tell themselves in self-illumination that “You know the General is not a politician”.
There is an erroneous belief that politicians are thieves. And so, from the beginning, he jumped off that general definition vehicle. That alone is great politics. Only a master politician can deflect the thoughts of the people from the real him and direct them to the image he wants to be identified as. Then he positioned himself as a man who runs away from worldly possessions, an ascetic of the highest order. Even this was laid to rest when his dressing style three years into the presidency was compared to his pre-presidential style.
Even though under his watch those around him filched from the commonwealth, people still believe the man has no desire for material things.
He remains in their minds as someone incapable of saying what cannot be so. Before the 2015 election, he said he borrowed about thirty million naira from his bank to buy his form, and none of his followers questioned how he would repay it. And till today, nobody has asked him if he had paid and how – or to account for funds people gave him through scratch cards.
To his followers, Buhari is perhaps the only patriot out of 200 million Nigerians. Their refrain was “he wants to work, but he is alone”, despite him tolerating those among his appointees mismanaging the country. And they can go to any length, including insulting those with contrary views, in his defence. Even when foreign foods – despite the closing of the borders against the importation of such by his government – were eaten in the highest of places, clothes and shoes worn were from overseas and official vehicles were all from abroad, the head of the government was seen by his followers as the “most patriotic of patriots”.
When hunger and lack were devastating the land, the president was being fed by the government, something that does not happen in America where we “borrowed” our democracy from.
Despite all this and many more, the man is still being venerated. Perhaps why many times he behaved and spoke like one taking the people for granted.
Even though Abraham Lincoln, the 16th American president and the country’s wartime hero and the first president to be assassinated once said “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”, one can’t help but marvel at Buhari swung those stuff through.
Lest I forget
I have seen why people now distrust their government. I have seen videos of Nasir el-Rufa’i and Nyesom Wike all saying they do not want to be ministers. El-Rufa’i said that he was a minister 20 years ago and so why should he be one again? He rhetorically asked, “Don’t I have sons, junior brothers? Must I be the only one doing it?” He even boasted that he had trained enough people to take over from him, revealing that anyone who has no one he trained to succeed him has failed. Maybe he has no younger brothers, and his son he has pushed to the House of Representatives. Or perhaps he has just plain failed?
But these two men who have been recycled to being ministers after being there first before becoming governors are men of many words and as Tony Wilson sang, they paint pictures, but they are not artists.
Therefore, tell me, why should those who watched those videos trust whatever they say again, official or personal, apart from “God is the Creator of the universe”?
Hassan Gimba is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Neptune Prime.
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