By ordinary existential understanding, all being is mortal. None is immortal. Only deities are seen, in traditional religion, to assume some level of immortality. Logically therefore, President Muhammadu Buhari, classified as a being of the human specie, is not a deity, but a mortal being whose existence is limited to time. He is, like all men, mortal.
As a mortal being, he is also one that is subject to human shortcomings in the expression, or discharge, of everyday human activity. Therefore, President Buhari is not infallible, in the same way and manner the Catholic dogma would express the infallibility of the Pope when he speaks ex cathedra. In politics, no politician is infallible.
Not even the progenitors of democracy itself were. The forebears of the Nigerian nation were not either. Infallibility in the activities of men is therefore not a foreseeable possibility. It therefore means that Buhari, having subjected himself to public life, and having been voted into an office he had sought for over a 12 year period, has submitted himself to public scrutiny, probe, tantrums and spats. In our special environment, insults come with public office. Every one of our leaders, who had found himself in the office now being occupied by Buhari, has been subjected to ridicule, verbal insults and abuses. Their families have not been spared either.
Are such right or wrong? Well, who legislates on public morals in a cyber age where anonymity is a characteristic of online media platform, or social media page ownership? Within this context, we have progressively come to a point where a president, operating in an age of knowledge, in a society of the learned and unschooled, of the wise and the fool, usurps power legitimately granted other officials of state by the constitution, which he swore on oath to defend, and discharges same in a fashion to suggest that sole administratorship is a preferred replacement of the government of the people, by the people, and we all bow and genuflect in subjugated adulation of a deified mortal, who discharges his powers through wrong and unconstitutional acts. Isn’t that amazing?
It is even more amazing that we have all lost our voices and preferred to wait patiently for change while the illegal festers. For now, Buhari, who as at April 1, 2015 had become aware that he was Nigeria’s next president after Goodluck Jonathan, has told Nigerians not to expect constitutionally allowed ministers till September. It was good he told us so. But the implications are huge. First, between April 1 and May 29 is 59 days. Between May 29 and today we have 77 days.
Critically examined, this is 77 days off the first 100 days of his administration. This means the 100 Days target is off the radar. Defeated! Effectively, Buhari has had 136 days within which to form a cabinet. More confounding is the fact that he had contested for the office in 2003, 2007 and 2011. The president simply says, by his actions, that in all these years, he had no idea of who to work with. He must have assumed that the Buhari persona is enough to steer statecraft.
The worrisome dimension is that most press statements from his media aides begin with “Buhari Orders…” That is instructive. Last week, his media office explained that the inclusion of his son on the list of delegates that accompanied the president on his maiden USA state visit was at no cost to the country. Indeed! But how did he get to the USA? Did he sneak in?
Did he fly in the Presidential Jet? As the president’s son, is he an official of state to be listed, transported and accommodated in the USA on behalf of Nigeria, by the Nigerian state for such a state function? The last time pictures of Buhari’s visit to Daura were published by his media office, he was shown at his farm attending to his cattle. We also saw pictures of him checking through a note book with his son. Was that not a wrong use of state time? I may be wrong, and would want to be told. But I think that amounted to using time officially paid for by the Nigerian state, to attend to private business.
One could get disciplined in private business for doing such. But here we are with a president whose body language means an end to everything that is wrong with our federation since nationhood in 1960, corrupting the same system he pledged to fix. Was the president right in using official time for private business? What happens to the civil servant who uses his time in office to attend to his shop? But it was right because it was an act committed against the state by an infallible being. For emphasis, a president’s hours is fully paid for by the state, even during his vacation.
This means that his interest in personal business ought to be divested. However, while we are hoodwinked in animated devotion, the few who manage to critic the sole administratorship that Nigeria now ‘enjoys’, are faced daily with threats and insults and abuses. They have been called names and warned to desist from ‘attacking Buhari’.
It suggests that aside Boko Haram; we have a new form of haram –Buhari Criticism Is Not Allowed. Some people are actually afraid of criticizing the new system for fear of branding. But we forget that the authoritarianism of Adolf Hitler, Saddam Husssein, Muammar Ghadaffi, Emperor Lean- Bedel Bokassa, Mobutu Sese Seko etc, started with the gagging of citizen voices, not by government, but by fellow citizens. Those who worshiped and deified and made an absolute monarch of Ghadaffi, Saddam Hussein etc, eventually rode on their names to carry out despotic acts against the state.
Today, we read of Pat Utomi educating us all on the morality of nepotism and ethnicization of government by Buhari. He applauds it. He sees nothing wrong with it in so far as it is committed by Buhari. We also read of the call by a former Minister of Police Affairs, Dr Ibrahim Yakubu Lame, advocating for the suspension of the constitution and granting Buhari absolute powers, to rule Nigeria with. I pray he gets it as it will complete his ride on divinity to power.
This is why Archie Brown cautions in his book The Myth Of The Strong Leader, that “it is visionary and inclusive leadership which the poorest and most divided societies need, not a strongman”. Today, our Vice President is not seen as that necessary assistant in governance. He is eclipsed by the notion of messianic conquest.
Sadly, those who are working Buhari toward the path he is walking on, and making everyone see him as a deity that is visiting Nigeria on a divine mandate, don’t see the dangers they are taking him, and the country into. The 21st century dictatorship does not necessarily come in khaki and jackboots. I just hope we are not consciously creating a leviathan. We must know that better leaders evolve by internalizing observations by critics. After all, the man outside the ring observes the wrestling match better.
-ACHILLEUS-CHUD UCHEGBU e-mail: email@example.com