On Sunday night, the presidential press aide issued a statement to broadcast a Christmas Day event at the presidential villa. The otherwise routine statement said that the president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (ret.), received the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, and some residents of the nation’s capital. The statement contained the now grueling tirade on how Buhari will not meddle in national affairs after he ends his term. We have heard enough variations of this promise to marvel at the self-importance behind this repetitive statement. Who, really, is going to miss Buhari? Which of his acolytes, even licking saliva, will tolerate his annoyance when he is no longer serving his purposes? For a president who lacks charisma, does not embody intellectualism, and shows hardly any sustained interest even in his own work, there will be virtually no reason to summon Buhari after May 2023. The afterlife of his presidency will be long days vegetating in his native city. . His post-Aso Rock fate is oblivion.
In typical fashion for the Buhari administration’s flaunting of its anti-corruption credentials, Shehu relayed his director’s views on how Bello was faring given the incessant requests they received from some influential Nigerians, including the president’s associates, for the land allocation. According to Buhari’s account, one of his own asked him to speak to Bello on his behalf. When Buhari asked what he needed the land for, this person replied, “I will sell it and use the money to marry another wife.” The story must have been told for comic relief, but it was also too revealing of the nature of the people surrounding the president and the con Buhari himself has proven to be.
Now, it’s understandable that a president would have friends close enough to make idle jokes or even say off-color things in front of him; after all, he is human. However, it is an entirely different matter when the loose talk is transcribed and filed in official records. In societies where governance is serious business, what the president says while on duty is taken seriously. Serious leaders are always aware that the transcripts of their words will be used to measure their rule for a long time to come, so they strive to guard their statements with all due diligence. One striking exception was Donald Trump’s phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in 2019. In typical cheeky fashion, Trump had suggested to Zelensky that his military aid would be based on his willingness to use his position as president to investigate the Trump’s political interests. adversary. A whistleblower leaked the transcript of the conversation; Trump was investigated and charged. If Nigeria were a country that holds its leaders accountable for their words, more of them would think carefully before speaking.
For Shehu to include a rude exchange between the president and his associate suffering from Nigeria’s “Big Man” libidinal incontinence disease in official records, he, and even Buhari, thought little of how much they demeaned the presidency. Worse yet, they brought out the whole lie that was sold to us in 2015 that Buhari would be a reformer because he is personally disciplined. Look, for someone to approach the president of an entire country, ask for a plot of land in a prime location, and boldly admit that they would use the land for licentious purposes, it must mean that they know that Buhari is equally wanton and lacking in discipline. . If you don’t know the president well enough as someone who is comfortable around irresponsible and shameless freeloaders, don’t go up to him and ask for mere carnality to be gratified.
We are not talking about the cronyism of asking your president for land to start a business that will employ Nigerians or to locate a public library (or similar public service). No, the request is simply for degenerate purposes; non-regenerative activities that have paralyzed economic development in this part of the world. Such nonsense always makes me wonder why, as a nation and as a race of people, we are so perversely blessed with the most unimaginative and self-serving buffoons and a completely myopic set of leaders who can’t think beyond their orifices. If anyone is still wondering why a nation of some 200 million human beings cannot get out of multidimensional poverty and perennial underdevelopment, just look at the priorities of the people in power.
If Buhari was the type to think things through, that kind of request from his sidekick should have been a lightbulb moment. That might have caused his mind to ponder how Nigeria’s bureaucratic land allocation systems allow people to gain access to prime real estate for no worthwhile purpose other than to give them a few minutes of pleasure. A thoughtful leader would have taken such close illustration of the system’s flaws and corruption, and then would consider introducing reforms. Unfortunately, Buhari is not the type of person who can rise above the company of riotous pleasure seekers that he keeps. According to Shehu’s official statement, Buhari’s reason for bringing up this issue did not go beyond simply wondering how the FCT minister deals “with such people who are extremely serious about such things. And I think that about 45 percent of those who have received land allocation in the FCT have sold it and did not develop it according to the established criteria (master plan)”.
Yes, that is your president publicly admitting that those to whom they allocate land in the nation’s capital disregard the procedures established by his administration. Deviating from the master plan, it’s a matter of time before that place turns into another chaotic city. The fact that about half of the people who got land allotments deviated from the plan did not strike Buhari as a matter of accountability. He behaves like an independent observer in his presidency, but do they blame him? He is someone whom fate promoted, not only beyond his intellectual and administrative capabilities, but also beyond his moral strength. That is why he will leave the legacy of a nation marred by its lack of leadership acumen. We are worse off than where we were in 2015, and this man thinks anyone cares that he can meddle in national affairs after 2023? He might as well free us from the torture of his leadership by leaving for Daura tonight.
The Buhari who came to power about eight years ago was portrayed as someone who could exercise the self-control necessary to run a dysfunctional country like Nigeria. For an ignorant nation, the idea of having a president with integrity and self-discipline was attractive. No, thanks to Buhari and his legendary incompetence, we now know better. In the twilight of his leadership, he announces without irony that he is regularly requested by those who want to trade national resources for debauchery. Meanwhile, the same people who packaged the myth about him are back on the market. Now they promise that 2023 will bring “renewed hope”. We have gone from the slogans of ‘integrity’ and ‘anti-corruption’ to ‘builder of the city’ and ‘builder of men’. This is how they will tell you that another messiah is on the way until at some point the scam falls apart, first, through the failures of such a leader; and second, through the person’s garrulous admission that nothing he told her was ever true.