By Frisky Larr
The name Eddy Grant is still a household name to a particular age group all over the world. The Guyana-born Reggae star once sang the lyrics that I remember so well. One of several memorable verses. “Another revolutionary; He is fighting for us righteously; But he can’t paddle waves with his hands…” Whoever watches the Nigerian political scene of today and does not see Muhammadu Buhari reflected in these verses is either indifferent to the Nigerian scene or is an avowed adversary of the current President of Nigeria.
Within the past few weeks and months, there have been reasons to be angry at the President. Very many reasons too. Indeed, even if not clearly articulated or expressed in public space, Nigerians, who voted Muhammadu Buhari to power in March 2015, actually voted for a revolution, no matter the type. His admirers knew this and his enemies too. The desperate drive to stop his candidacy at all cost (with certificate, health records, etc.) was borne out of a premonition of the troubles ahead. The revolution. Steering the nation from one extreme to the other was and still remains a daunting task. From insane corruption that broke all bounds under Goodluck Jonathan back to normalcy and sanity! From disintegration to a unity of purpose. It was a movement from one extreme to the very other.
The realization that the filthy system will always fight back has been with us since the days of Nuhu Ribadu. We have, therefore, genuinely asked ourselves umpteenth times, how come President Buhari allowed himself to be duped and cornered by the cabal both within and without?
In all honesty, though, a lot is easier said than it is done. It is also easier to watch and criticize from the comfort zone of an armchair quarterback than it is to be the real actor on the throne of power. Precisely this power is President Buhari’s strongest enemy today. We will come to this later.
To become a President, Muhammadu Buhari mounted the candidate’s saddle in three futile attempts. Each of these three attempts fielded the real revolutionary Buhari, who sought to enforce (“by fire, by force”) most of the radical changes that Nigeria constantly yearned for. At least, for the most part. Upon the third consecutive failure, however, the Ex-General saw the steam in him dissipating. The age factor could not be wished away. He vowed to call it quits. There was no way the powerful establishment of Nigeria at the time, could have allowed him to mount the throne of President. No way. His views were yet, too radical. They were too divisive. They were yet, too tribalist.
A Softened Buhari
When Jonathan took the rot to further extreme, however, and many observers got disappointed, thinking they had seen the worst of filths long before Jonathan, a part of the establishment had to swing to action. The need to shake and overhaul the system was recognized and Buhari became the only bride available. This time though, the rules of the game were not to be dictated by him alone. The radical line, the divisive line and the tribalist line had to be reworked. He had to shed some baggage. Getting Muhammadu Buhari to play by the rules of the powerful domestic and international establishment meant the birth of a softened Buhari. This, indeed, was the veiled message that Muhammadu Buhari constantly sent to Nigerians, amongst others, when he told Chatham House in a speech that was primarily directed at the international establishment, that he was a born-again democrat, who regretted his dictatorial past.
Unfortunately, however, revolution is nothing but the radical displacement or reversal of the status quo and existing conditions against the desires and wishes of the establishment. The establishment never leads a revolution to rob itself of power. In other words, the day Muhammadu Buhari became marketable as a presidential candidate in a democratic election was the day Nigeria lost the original and authentic revolutionary Buhari.
Since old soldiers never die, revolutionary instincts are also, never lost completely. Within the scope that still makes his silent gentleman’s agreement with the establishment tenableand workable, Muhammadu Buhari set out to face the onerous task of walking the electoral talk, once becoming President.All within his possible authentic limits! He was serious. He was hell-bent on succeeding. Each time, he lets out these revolutionary instincts in a bubbling crescendo, however, the domestic establishment descends on him to take him back to the limits of marketability and electoral assurances.
The best proof of what every observer has long thought and speculated, was provided lately, by the Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress in Lagos State, Mr. Joe Igbokwe while commenting on the excesses of former President Goodluck Jonathan. “He is supposed to be the one that should be held responsible but because other heads of state (keep) pleading for him, that is why he is busy junketing all over the place.” He was quoted as saying.
Indeed, those persons, who step in to caution and whip President Buhari back into line for whatever agenda they pursue, often adopt all measures possible. Some choose the instrument of invisibility through conspiratorial intimidation.This partly entails the avenging of peace and tranquility in delta environment as well as agitation for the loss of innocent lives in the eastern region to warn the President of an impending chaos.
Veiled Household Betrayal
In other words, while President Buhari took off the gloves and began to step on powerful toes, he was ready to stretch the limit to the constitutionally permitted leeway. Sabotage set in, though, through viciously hostile and bellicose acts that was then smoothened out by the innocent intervention of well-meaning establishment characters. They urge soft-pedalling. They urge the recognition of untouchable geographical regions in the war against corruption. They sugar-coat their psychological persuasion. They urge a cooling of the political temperature.
Since this powerful and massive pressure is often difficult to overcome by one man alone, the President’s doggedness caved-in and opened up another vacuum for die-hard opportunists. Slowly but steadily and before the President knew it, his own inner circle seems to have formed another dirty cabal just before his nose.
In this collaborative network of criminal actors, which requires several hands washing each other for dubious cleanliness, the President now seems alienated in his own world. Who would not be in the trap of unsuspected predators, when fighting back against righteousness is a matter of life and death? It is in this light, that I have begun to view the President’s heap of contradictions in the fight against corruption.
This is no longer the time to fume over the President’s unforced errors. Countless unforced errors! This is no longer the time to turn our back on the President in anger as the childish agents of hate and vindictiveness do, saying “I told you so”. After all, the revolutionary instinct still lives in President Buhari.
The Revolution lives!
His historical, unprecedented and dare-devil strike on the judiciary that gladdened the heart of all well-meaning Nigerians, is one little drop of water on a glowing rock. It shows to us that even though further planned arrests of more corrupt judges have been stalled, yet again, by intervening establishment maneuvers, Nigerians should rally round the President to bring out the best in him. It also shows to us that this President strikes in the dark of night to take his adversary unaware in spite the constant stumbling block of the establishment.
He may have missed the golden opportunity to fall back on his rock-solid base of people’s power. He may have missed the chance to damn the establishment and relate directly with the masses. But the opportunity of the masses to get him back to their side is inexhaustible.
A true revolutionary seeks the instrument of power by all means and implements his agenda without a care for the consequences and whose ox is gored. He leaves the end to justify the means. President Buhari may have underrated the readiness of committed Nigerians to take to the streets and whip the enemies of the country into line on his behalf, but Nigerians will never underrate their inexhaustible opportunity to get the President back to their side. The Occupy NASS movement and the spontaneous march on the Supreme Court by a few aggrieved Nigerians are just a taste of the gathering storm that the Germans would refer to as the cleansing thunderstorm.
While the world always expects a revolutionary to confront the system and the establishment, it is also aware that revolution is akin to a gathering hurricane that will raze many edifices to their foundation for a better and guided reconstruction bearing all imaginable precautions. Nigeria is overdue for the reset button and for now, we have no Tunde Idiagbon on the horizon. We have no Murtala Muhammed left. No Gani Fawehimi. No Tai Solarin. All we have left, is Muhammadu Buhari. Even though trapped in the tempest and the violent waves of a brutal sea, he cannot paddle the waves with his bare hands. Brush his costly mistakes aside and help him save the revolution. Let us reassure him now, of the needed support to break free from the fangs of the evil cabal.
Frisky Larr is a Public Affairs Analyst.