General Buhari’s Inability To Form A Legacy


THE 2015 general election has been postponed to March and electioneering by various political parties and their candidates are in full swing. The major political parties and their affluent candidates have employed radio jingles, television adverts, newspapers editorials and online ads.

  Ominously, the upcoming elections have engendered the pre-election violence currently being witnessed across the country. With the elections predicted by international and local pundits and political analysts to be the closest and most competitive ever in our 54-year history, it portends what is to come when the winner of the elections is eventually declared. 

   The emergence of the APC and Buhari as its presidential aspirant has indeed over-heated the polity, as well as elicited differing emotions from teeming Nigerians. In the true fashion of politicking and electioneering campaigns in Nigeria, mud-slinging, character assassination, bootlicking, cross-carpeting, backbiting, witch-hunting, have been the order of the day.

   The forthcoming Presidential elections is unquestionably between the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who is seeking re-election and the “serial” Presidential aspirant, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), of the All Progressive Congress (APC).

  I must admit that, while I am desperate for change in Naija, I am not a fan or supporter of General Buhari. My grouse with him is that ever since his emergence into the political landscape of our country, he has been unable to establish a cogent school of thought or leave a political legacy, which future generations could benefit from.

   Gen. Buhari has actively and officially been in politics since 2003. Hitherto, however, one cannot identify him with any social movement. So far, his school of thought begins with Buhari and ends with Buhari.

  When I think of politicians or leaders and their long term legacies, I think back all the way to the legendary Usman Dan Fodio, who built a dynasty that remains intact till this day.

  The Sokoto caliphate, which he founded is a lasting legacy that has stood the test of time. A commendatory trait of the renowned religious teacher, Islamic promoter and writer was, he never came forward to personally benefit from his struggle and declined much of the pomp of rulership. His interest and efforts were purely in the legacy he built and left for the masses. History tells us that despite his huge support base and power to rule, Usman Dan Fodio never put himself in a position to benefit directly from his struggle. His interest was in building a legacy to pass on to the generations that came after him.

  When one looks at legendary political leaders and nationalists that emerged in more recent times than Usman Dan Fodio such as Obafemi Awolowo, who though vied for the mantle of leadership, built a very palpable legacy and empowered generations to carry on that legacy. Awolowo left a lasting legacy of pioneering free primary education and healthcare while he was Premier of the Western Region. 

   Best remembered for his remarkable integrity, ardent nationalism and dogged Federalistic convictions; he also coined the term “naira”. To this day, he remains a folk hero to many eminent educated Yorubas, as many of them benefitted immensely from his free education policy.

   Looking towards the Northern part of the country, the great Mallam Aminu Kano created a movement, which left indelible footprints on the psyche of many Northerners, as they began believing in themselves and in their capabilities, as well as sought to challenge the aristocracies of the North. 

   Mallam Aminu Kano’s legacy was built through the “NEPU movement” and the popular call for the emancipation of the “Talakawas” (commoners), due to a societal gulf in Northern Nigeria, who were exploited and oppressed by the aristocrats and feudal class at that time.

   Among Mallam Aminu’s legacies were the fiscal systems he proposed, which favoured heavy taxation of the rich in the region. He was notably one of the few leading Nigerian politicians that supported equal rights for women, and his movement and influence was the first real mass movement in the modern history of Nigeria.

   There have been so many legendary figures, such as Samuel Akintola, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello and so on, who built movements, created legacy and empowered people to carry on those legacies. These men were all social thinkers, who created and shaped movements that had the substance of carrying on beyond them. The strength of their legacies was that, it was never about them individually, but about the essence of the lessons and features, which came with their teachings.

    The durability of those lessons was in the fact that they were not the main or central figures or beneficiaries of their movement. They were merely the creators and teachers. And because they empowered, developed, trained and established people, their legacies have been able to live on beyond their lifetime. The legacies that these men individually created still stands the test of time, immensely benefitting a lot of people from all works of life.

    Looking at present times, in their own fashion, leaders such as, Gen. T.Y. Danjuma and Rochas Okorocha are all known to be benevolent philanthropist and contributing their quota, albeit little,  which are intended to increase human wellbeing and development in this great country of ours.

  However, when I consider Gen. Buhari and dissect his movement, I wonder exactly what legacy he has been able to establish. I ask which school of thought he is creating with his commitment to aspiring for political office? I question what legacy he is building or has built?

   Gen. Buhari has been in active politics for the past 12 years and from my vantage point, I cannot comprehend which legacy he has built on in the past decade other than being a presidential candidate, who is not known to be corrupt. I do not see him identifying with or engaging in any philanthropic act or setting up organisations to cater for those whose support he thrives on. I do not see him making any effort to establish people, build up a younger generation or mould a cluster of people, who can carry forth and pass on the torch of his legacy in the future when he is no longer around.

  What I do see in the movement and aspiration of Gen. Buhari in the last 10 years, is a movement that is about him, his person, his aspiration to become president of Nigeria alone. Even though he is representative of so many positive leadership qualities that this country is so much in need of, but essentially, Gen. Buhari’s legacy is purely about him. 

   If, by now, Buhari is unable to establish a legacy with all the opportunities he has had, and if his movement is based solely on his positive characteristics and presidential aspirations, then won’t posterity remember him for just that? Won’t his struggles live and die with him because he failed to groom others to carry on after him?

   When I look at Buhari’s political odyssey of cross-carpeting and leapfrogging from one political party to another, I see him as a man who floats alone. Whenever he changed party, he did it practically alone without taking his party allies with him. It has always been he who moves from one party to another and giving the impression of his necessity to do so. 

   In all the parties he has been in and all the presidential campaigns he has contested for, it has always been about his campaign. The party presidential primaries has always been about him obtaining the ticket while other aspirants are often cajoled and forced to step aside and relinquish the presidential ticket to Gen Buhari.

   Even in instances where there have been other candidates more qualified and capable than Gen. Buhari, it has never been an option for him to consider the possibility of anyone else vying for the presidency in the party Gen. Buhari is in. And provided he becomes the Presidential flag bearer of his party, he will stay in that party. So long he is given the privilege of contesting for the presidency, Gen. Buhari can throw caution to the wind, compromise his morals and stance and align with characters who are the antithesis of what he claims to stand for, amongst whom are some of the most corrupt officials to have ever participated in government in Nigeria.

   For his presidential ambition, Gen. Buhari seems to be more than willing to drop his loyalists along the way; those who have sacrificed and fought tooth and nail for him, in the pursuit of his overarching quest and aspiration.

   While he was the arrowhead of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), what ideology did he imbibe or what legacy did he leave behind? Instead, he emigrated to the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), a party he helped founded and one that was to cater for his overarching ambition of becoming President. At the time, it was reported that Gen. Buhari was dissatisfied with the ANPP decision to join and work with the Yar’Adua government, who was announced as the winner of the 2007 polls.

   Furthermore, having contested and lost the 2011 election, Buhari made inflammatory statements, which sparked widespread sectarian violence that claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people nationwide. In that particular conflict, it was alleged that Buhari’s supporters attacked Christian settlements in the country’s centre regions. Is this the kind of legacy the former General wants to be remembered for?

   Now, as we gear up to go into another election in such a tense and anxious atmosphere, Gen. Buhari’s comment that, “if what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood,” continues to echo and loom over the country. 

  Whether he meant to incite his followers or not, the fact that he has such a passionate and cult like following and the fact that he is such a polarising figure, the elder statesman and former president should have known better than to make such statement capable of being misinterpreted and plunging the country into further chaos.

  As we go to the polls, I wonder whether I should read meaning into the actions and inactions of Gen. Buhari. I wonder whether I should trust a man to whom I cannot attach any substance; a man who has no cogent legacy and no track record of empowering anyone to carry forth his message. I wonder if I should choose a man whose political journey is about him and him alone; a man who joined the APC and while his presidential candidature is built around his image as a staunch anti-corruption fighter and honest reputation, he hobnobs with cohorts known to be some of the most corrupt politicians in Nigeria. 

   Those bankrolling the campaign for Buhari are known to have amassed huge ill-gotten wealth and are using some of their loot for Buhari’s present campaign. One wonders, if he gets into office, whether he would jail such persons who are contributing to his possible rise to the presidency. As the time-honored adage states, show me your friend and I’ll tell you who you are,’ Buhari’s new friends indeed tell you the true nature of the former General.

•Adekanola lives in Osun Oshogbo 

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