Viewpoint

How Buhari Squandered His Goodwill

In just a few months, the seemingly unlimited patience Nigerians appear to have has evaporated as President Buhari has gradually squandered the enormous goodwill he started his presidency with.

When the president mentioned that, “I belong to everybody, I belong to nobody,” it smacked some form of confusion, a split personality of a sort, that should have been recognized early, and to come to terms with.

The support that he enjoyed among the masses at the time was like a cult or religious belief, with him as the idol. It was suicidal to even contemplate opposing him or criticize him.

It was so much that when he sent troops to Zaria to wipe out the Islamic Movement and its leadership and obliterate everything it stands for, people saw in him a hero, with some even calling the agents he used in the furious attack “Ayatollah.” Like minded people completely lost the humanity in them, and came out to rejoice and extol his qualities. One academician even said if Buhari does nothing else, by wiping out Shiah, he has done so much for them. Such was the blind and fanatical support Buhari enjoyed.

When the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, advised him “to reorient and reorganise the Nigerian military, it was viewed as a taboo, or even something much worse. How dare him advice a leader widely taken as a ” know-all!” Buhari was portrayed as a faultless saint, who knows all and does no wrong. You criticize him only at your own peril.

Buhari’s legendary snail-pace at doing things was taken to be a virtue, and even when what comes out of the undue delay was messy, his worshippers would imply that there is a wisdom that only they understood. For instance, after such a prolonged delay in appointing his cabinet, which ended up with a blend of the old and the fantastically corrupt, nobody could dare say a word against it. People were told to wait for the Buhari miracles. It never came.

Kano is such a strategic state politically. A sort of swing state in an election. It would not be wrong to say that Buhari won the 2015 election or put it in another way, Goodluck lost the election because of Kano votes. Yet, the levity with which he took the state was tremendous. He visited only twice since assumption of office nearly three years ago. It was not for lack of reasons to visit. It was for the very topic of this write up; squandering of Goodwill.

The two visits were quite remarkable, each in its own way. The first much less so. It was a litmus test of sort. People had criticized him, impliedly, of not going to Kano for two years despite his going to many other less strategic states for some less remarkable reason. He decided to go. All eyes were in Kano for that visit. Would he pull the crowd he pulled during the electioneering campaigns? Being a litmus test, it was obvious what the answer was.

However, it is the second visit that confirmed it all. He has completely squandered his goodwill. People were angered. Not only Kano people. All over his political base. The decision to visit Kano was wrong. The timing of the visit was wrong. The event that took him to Kano was wrongly done. And people couldn’t hide their anger. They talked. They wrote. They sang. All against this visit. All of a sudden, the masquerade has been stripped naked in broad daylight in the market place.

People saw the very ordinary nature of Buhari. He was just like the rest of them, perhaps much cheaper. They questioned, “what is the difference between Buhari and Goodluck?” At least they saw no difference between what Buhari did with what Goodluck did, cheapening the lives of Nigerians for a more glamorous partying with rich political associates. It was callous then to go to Kano on a political campaign and even dance on stage soon after a murderous bomb attack at Nyanya park in Abuja suburb, which claimed lives of innocent Nigerians. It is even more callous now to go to Kano for a royal wedding of two governors’ children at a time when all across the Northern belt it was a tale of woes and despair following mindless massacres and abductions of innocent Nigerians. A matter made much worse by the fact that Buhari had claimed Boko Haram had been “technically defeated” and claims that his main achievement as a president is the domain of peace and security.

All over the crisis-ridden areas of Dapchi, Mambila, Benue, Zamfara, etc had expected the president to at least be with them to condole them and empathize. That he did not put in place measures to prevent the killings and abductions was bad enough, but that he preferred to go on a wedding occasion, merrymaking while those that voted him in were in pains and anguish was worse off.

Nowhere was a real gap between campaign promise and the real Buhari much evident than in the healthcare, education and other critical sectors. As a presidential hopeful, rhetoric such as one he made at Chatham House moments just before the election had garnered for him much of the Goodwill he now squandered. Then, he said: “‘What is the Difference between me and those who elected us to represent them, absolutely nothing. Why should Nigerian President not fly with other Nigerian public? Why do I need to embark on a foreign trip as a president with a huge crowd with public funds? Why do I need to go for foreign medical trip if we cannot make our hospital functional? Why do we need to send our children to school abroad if we cannot developed our university to compete with the foreign ones?'” However, nearly three years on, we all know where it all is. The lack of difference was between him and those he replaced in office, not between him and the rest of us.

This Kano visit appears to be the last straw that broke the camel’s back. It opens the eyes of the masses as they cry and wail. Even some of his supporters now write about “Buhari’s crass nepotism, frequent but meaningless foreign travels, north-centric merry-go-round and chronic administrative languidness.”

That Buhari has failed on all grounds is obvious. He has squandered his goodwill as recent events happening in the country clearly show. Buhari identifies with the elite more than with the common man. Those that once believed or still believe the president had masses at heart are having a change of heart and renouncing the belief.

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