Nigeria: Before Contemplating for Another Messiah, by Ammar Abdulhamid Katsina


by Ammar Abdulhamid Katsina

With utter chagrin with president Goodluck Jonathan-led government’s
handling of Nigeria; and magnetizing ballyhoos, utopian promises and
masses-proof campaign rhetoric of the then mega opposition party APC,
Nigeria’s disgruntled masses trooped to polling booths on 28th March

2015 and voted-amidst flurry of hope and optimism-for the APC’s
Muhammadu Buhari en masse. There was a collective sigh of relief when
it becomes crystal clear Buhari won the election even before official
announcement, outré jubilations leading to many deaths ensued.

Obviously, the disgruntled voters hoped for the new government to
speedily reset the country to normalcy, arrest worsening security
situation and improve the welfare of common Nugerian. Nobody, perhaps
even the pessimists would have dreamt of the retrogression of Nigeria
to the situation we’re today.

Nineteen months down the line, the story is different and sadly,
disappointing. Everything happened. Economy suffers the heaviest blow,
and the masses are now just striving to survive. Fuel subsidy removal
– which Buhari promised not to – and unofficial Naira devaluation
ushered speedy hike of prices in the market. “The tempo at which
things change for the worse in this country is so fast that, it is
obvious the days of Jonathan must now be looked back upon with
nostalgia” a worried Nigerian recently wrote on Facebook.

Buhari, as an opposition candidate, enjoyed the enormous goodwill,
free confidence and touted by common man in Nigeria. Through Buhari
Campaign donation card, the masses, pauperized by PDP’s rule,
financially contributed directly to Buhari’s ascension to power,
beside sacrifices in all possible way in ensuring his victory. But
things has since fell apart and still falling day by day to even
scarier level. Many small businesses crumbled, almost 4.6 million jobs
lost according to ‘official’ publication. In his letter titled “What
has gone wrong for Nigeria’s President Buhari?” published recently by
BBC, the editor-in-chief of Daily Trust, Mannir Dan Ali, quoted a
viral Facebook status update urging the president Buhari to halt his
esoteric ‘Change’ and kindly return Nigeria to the state it was before
he became president. The post to me, speaks more than it seems. Behind
being a sample of deluge of posts like it all over Nigeria’s
cyberspace and print media, it is also incisive encapsulation of what
transpired daily in our markets as well as demotic conversations off
social media.

Buhari, as a president, beside building a reputation of junketing the
world at the slightest excuse, he also cultivated a wont of
split-second response-condolence, felicitations to faraway foreign
happenings, at the same time display insensitivity toward killings,
incidents and bloodshed in the country.  It took him few hours to
speak to faraway Saudi Arabia over purported reprisal missile attack
while on the same day dreaded Boko Haram killed an army lieutenant
colonel along with unknown number of soldiers. When another lieutenant
colonel was also killed recently, his disappointed brother had to
write a brusque open letter on the insensitivity displayed to their
family by the presidency.

On November 20, whilst over 40 hapless people were gunned down by
gunmen in Zamfara, Buhari was mute, perhaps busy, but swiftly sent
acondolences to faraway Republic of India over train derailment there.

When army killed scores of unarmed Biafra separatists, Buhari didn’t
deem it worthy of presidential action, and when he do, he dismisses
their agitation without even a tangible intent in addressing their
agitation or probing the impropriety of confronting unarmed
demonstrators with full military might.

Between 12-14 December last year, a contingents of army displayed full
military might in massacring defenseless members of Islamic

Movement/Shiites in what Amnesty International and other Human Rights
organizations described as systemic repression. To cover up, the army
in collaborating with Kaduna state government summarily mass buried
the victims. Buhari – whose supporters trumpeted as an unrelenting
humane and embodiment of human rights – this horrible massacre didn’t
evoke his ‘symphathetic’ heart; as a leader, he tacitly justified it,
and this affirmative silence lead to another series of Shiite minority
persecution the following months. A commentator Chris Ngwodo, aptly
wrote: “Buhari risks leaving as his defining moral legacy, an
indifference to human suffering and tyrannical oppression of
minorities that will forever colour the memory of his presidency”.
After Chris’ comment, many things happened and all substantiating his

Buhari no doubt, is the last – and to some, only – hope of the common
man, having suffered for 16-year ‘misrule’ of PDP. He was elevated to
saint station, touted and vaunted by supporters and posse as a
no-nonsense, competent, sympathetic and a poor like the masses, who
can’t even afford to pay for his nomination form. With the unceasing
precipitous decline of things, dwindling economy and excruciating
hardship all this myth about him has been shot down and it beg to ask
the question; what if Buhari hadn’t won?.

Incontestably, had he (Buhari) not won the 2015 election he would have
surely been celebrated and extolled alive and in death as a Nigeria’s
only saint and messiah, but that was then. The sorry status quo of
Nigeria and the tempo at which things change for the worse exploded
this mistakenly thought messianic prowess. The involvement of his top
loyal officials in path breaking corruption scandals also demystified
his assumed integrity and shattered his obvious selective war against
corruption. When the chief of army staff, T.Y Buratai’s evidence of
diverting government funds to acquire properties in Dubai were
published, he was speciously cleared in hurry by a ‘special panel’.
Another top loyalist, SG to the federation, Babachir Lawal was
recently on the news about alleged mind blowing grass cutting scandal,
all this happening whilst the opposition are arrested at slightest
allegation and the masses are wallowing in unprecedented
hyperinflation, hardship and worsening power supply.

His pre-presidency ascetic lifestyle and austere simplicity has
already been rubbished by the lavish outrageous allocation to the
presidential kitchen and zoo in 2015 budget, talkless of the Aso rock
clinic which got share more than 16 teaching hospitals of the country
combined. Many of the president’s core supporters now have doubts in
his abilities, while some are saying that it would have-perhaps been
better if he had never won. Arguing that would have preserved the myth
of his competence which is now shattered. He would have remained a
presumed best president that Nigeria never had and would have enliven
the legacy of extolling and singing him messiah praises after his

Now should we be contemplating for another messiah to clear ‘mess’ of
APC’s rule? Or should we be hopeless and just pray for God to fix
things? Albeit, we are now bound to wait for remaining 2 years of APC,
Me personally thinks, it is high time for Nigerians before rushing in
search of another messiah, to start thinking out of the box; what’s
really the problem with the system binding the entity Nigeria? After
all, it’s proven now, the system transcends any supposed-integrity,
competence or what all.

Ammar Abdulhamid Katsina wrote this piece from Ahmad Bello University, Zaria.

Also published on Daily Trust, Friday 23 December 2016.