One might have guessed it. No sooner was the new mega-party registered than Buhari declared that he would put himself forward as it’s presidential candidate come 2015, contrary to the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that neither he nor Tinubu would vie for any elective posts but throw their weight behind a younger man, possibly from the North. However, being a born-again democrat who believes in ‘internal democracy’ he promised to abide by the rules. If another clinched the prize he would ‘still support the party’, which is as maybe.
In an earlier statement some months back he appeared to make this contingent on the emergence of ‘a formidable and better candidate than me’.
Who might such a candidate be? And will he bow to the party’s wishes – internal democracy – should he consider the chosen one (a subjective matter) less ‘formidable’ than himself? This is said against the background of his evident messiah complex, and amply demonstrated by his three previous attempts to regain the crown snatched from him by the ‘evil genius’ all those years ago after an all-too brief tenure.
On the third occasion he even ditched one party for another he himself registered for that sole purpose. One might even conjecture that by entering into this new alliance he had already calculated that his chance of victory if he contested again would be enhanced in what was always likely to be his last shot given his age.
My own prediction is that he will scuttle the new party’s prospects if he is thwarted but then the alliance was always going to be problematic given the egos involved, although the hysteria emanating from the presidency suggests that PDP, riven as it is by all kinds of factions and represented at the top by a man who is clearly floundering when he isn’t being publicly upstaged by his ‘formidable’ wife, is genuinely worried at the prospect of defeat. But the question remains: why is Buhari so insistent on his ambition? And what does he want to do with it if and when he achieves it?
The answer to the first goes beyond the person of Buhari himself to the generation he represents, the men and women who emerged on the scene in the immediate wake of independence and have carried on as though the country belonged to them. Their sense of entitlement was given voice by Buhari’s nemesis who, putting himself forward in 2011 to contest in an exercise he had himself subverted when he had the chance, opined that the younger pretenders were ‘not capable of leading this country and so we feel we should help them’ on the grounds that ‘they were not given the proper education’. Considering the mess this same generation has made of the country one wonders whether others could have possibly done worse.
Buhari, of course, has the reputation of being ‘disciplined’ and ‘upright’, what with his War Against Indiscipline which saw grown men and women flogged in the streets for failing to queue at the bus stop or for crossing the road under a bridge, traits which he himself talks up at every opportunity, but is it true? I alluded in an earlier blog to the retroactive decree he once passed which executed three young men, as well as the imprisonment of two journalists who published an article which, though true, ‘embarrassed’ the regime. A democrat he is not. He is also a religious fanatic, having once insisted on the ‘total implementation of the Sharia legal system in the country’ which, he said, ‘he will not give up on’. But there are those who, overlooking his previous transgressions on the grounds that he is a reformed character (we once thought the same of Obasanjo until his second coming) with the necessary gumption to tackle what we are pleased to call ‘the cankerworm of corruption’.
And therein lies the rub. Corruption is indeed the bane of Nigeria but to suppose that those who benefit from it, which is to say all the representatives of a venal ruling class – the executive, the federal and state legislators, the civil servants – will somehow sit back and wait for the Lone Ranger to ride into town and put them behind bars is a fantasy that can only be dreamt up by someone who views the world through the eyes of the rabble cheering him on, the uneducated, dispossessed potential foot soldiers of Boko Haram whose entire political philosophy is based on the rejection of the imperatives of the modern world. There is also the matter of his own party unless he supposes that Tinubu, for instance, an unlikely Tonto with his penchant for nepotism and endless rumours of his fabulous wealth, will himself become a reformed character anxious to do the right thing in order that the country might move forward.
To put it at it starkest, nothing less than a revolution will rescue the country from the depredations of those who think that stealing is the be-all and end-all of governance. This will not be achieved at the ballot box for the simple reason that those who count the votes are hardly going to count them against their own interests. Indeed, they hardly even wait for it to start before they begin their shenanigans, as the Governor of Rivers State has lately discovered – and he one of their own. By insisting on his ambition Buhari will only end up destroying ‘his’ party and thereby pave the way for PDP to continue its uninterrupted reign it once promised would last for 60 years. Not that it will make much difference to the state of the nation in its onward march to the final disintegration that is already well underway. In this sense, Buhari is merely one of the many distractions we allow ourselves in the hope (always hope) that things will somehow get better without our own volition. God will do it, as we like to say; God will touch their hearts. Big mistake.
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