By Isa Muhammad Sama
This write-up is an attempt to compare the personalities of two different individuals in two different environments in terms of their societal importance, personal predilections and predispositions towards the accomplishments of near impossible tasks. The life and times of these individuals significantly affected not only the people of their nationalities but also other parts of the world. Though, both men became the leaders of their countries under different circumstances and conditions, yet both were able to change the attitudinal dispositions of the people of their countries, largely due to their singular belief in fighting injustice, discrimination, corruption as well as denial of peoples’ rights in their respective communities. The determination of these great men to rid their societies of unwanted vices and the struggle against inequality of action against the people, gave rise to hopes and aspirations for a better society where peace and security would reign and where societal development could be achieved. Both men struggled to achieve the unity of their collective peoples by laying a solid foundation for the enthronement of the provisions for equality and justice as well as the overall development of collective well-being of their respective societies. The actions of these great men significantly altered the thinking of their peoples providing hope where it was lost and restoring glories of nationhood long abandoned.
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and Nelson Mandela of South Africa are men of proven personal integrities and achievements in their fields of chosen endeavours. Both individuals have risen through thick and thin to surmount seemingly insurmountable difficulties. The two personalities stood as one of the very few highly respected elder statesmen in their respective countries. Their patriotic tendencies are not hidden to all, their opponents inclusive. They are men whose vision and mission are in no doubt. They are the very few people whose disciplinary attributes, uprightness and quest to move their respective countries forward are clearly visible. The rare qualities of these great men have been acknowledged world-wide. Both personalities are epitome of the highest ideals of selfless service to their respective peoples.
Both President Muhammadu Buhari and Nelson Mandela are nation builders and advocates of empowerment across their societies, pursuing capacity building in areas of need and sustainability. Nation building is aimed at the unification of the people within a geographical location which remain politically established and sustainable in the long run and this can evolve in the use of propaganda or major infrastructural development to foster social harmony and economic growth.
History is replete with examples of inspiring leaders whose single-minded devotion and commitment to nation building led to the overall development of the productive capacities of their lands engendering the emergence of strong nations and developed states. Nelson Mandela of South Africa; Winston Churchill of England; Mahatma Gandhi of India; Mao Tse-tung of China; Lee Kun Yun of Singapore; Mahathir bin Mohammed of Malaysia are a few examples with Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria as the latest entrant in this world league of Nation Builders.
After 30 years of a long and hard journey in which three and half years was spent in detention and more than a decade in the political trenches, Muhammadu Buhari finally arrived to actualize the Nigeria of his dream.
General Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as a democratically elected President of Nigeria on the 29th of May 2015, after an election which for the first time witnessed the defeat of an incumbent government through the will of the people and an overriding desire for change. It was the triumph and the victory of the populace that placed all hopes and a renewed faith that Nigeria will now move forward, surmount the seemingly insurmountable difficulties and meet the expectations of the generality of the people and change the course of history of this great nation.
As a corollary to this, Nelson Modi’be Mandela emerged from detention in the widely coveted “long walk to freedom” amongst pump and pageantry in a nation turn by war of attrition and genocide. South Africa was a country in which racial discrimination divided the state into black and white; an apartheid system of white supremacy and black slavery. The emergence of Mandela raised more hopes to a helpless black majority state, which have been deprived of all rights and subjected to in-human treatment in their own lands. It was a new dawn to the South African people, a new beginning, one that markedly differed from the discrimination and arrogance of the white minority rule which subjected black South Africans to in-human treatment, denial of their civil rights, economic deprivation and social insecurity. The emergence of Nelson Mandela brought about a new dawn to the blacks of South Africa; a new beginning full of promise. A promise of equal treatment, equal opportunities and above all hope for the actualization of all their dreams. It was a remarkable departure from the economic stagnation and political and social emasculation of the majority of the black people in their own lands.
In a like manner, Nigerians were excited after electing President Muhammadu Buhari. For the very first time, it appears that they now have a chance to get a leader who honestly is determined to do his best for his country. The leader is ready and has been tried, tested and trusted and he has all that it takes to make a difference. Buhari is determined to return Nigeria back to its lost glory; a position of economic prosperity, international respect and prestige that existed during the 1970s era. Consequently, therefore, Nigerians were full of expectations and anxious to see dividends. However, Nigerians in their frenzy to see the fruits of their labour seem to have forgotten the difficulty of governing Nigeria.
Nigerians are a difficult group to manage. They are cliquish and are not willing to be objective or even cooperative. Above all, the country has been very badly mismanaged with a decade infrastructure and wide-spread corruption thanks to the nine years of Peoples Democratic Party misrule. Thus, President Buhari has inherited a corrupt nation with an under-developed disposition. Though arguable, some Nigerians most especially of the elite extraction are inclined to primitive accumulation. They are equally, a people with a criminal irrationalism which is enshrined in their sociology, psychology and culture. It will, therefore, be unreasonable to attempt to change the psyche of such breed of Nigerians from their negative tendencies which is intertwined in their personality to a positive disposition within a short period of four or eight years. Such an exercise in a country where most of the people are downright unpatriotic owing to their negative tutelage inculcated over a long period of misrule, could only be regarded as an exercise in futility. An honest approach to this complex task of nation building would be to settle for a few gradual but deliberate and targeted solutions. Thus, the problems of nation building which confronted President Muhammadu Buhari at the inception of his four year rule were daunting. Foremost among these intractable problem areas are: insecurity; the economy and; societal re-engineering.
The imperative of peace in the development of a nation need not be over-emphasized. Any nation or a state where peace does not exist relatively can hardly be said to witness any progress developmentally. Nigeria has in the past 8-10 years been bedeviled by debilitating security challenges. The importance of security to the material well-being of every country and nation in the world is in no doubt. It is woven into nearly every sector of our individual and collective lives. Nigeria is faced with security challenges which have been a growing concern for both the government and its citizens. The rate of terrorism in the country constitute serious impediment to human liberty as much as it poses a mixture of uncertainty and instability to national, regional and international peace.
The pattern of insecurity in the country has been regionalized. Though there is no any clear-cut delineation of this regionalized assessment of insecurity, yet it can be argued that there is a seeming pattern of the insecurity problem in the country. The northern part of the country appears to be pervaded by militia group insurgency. Whereas, the eastern and southern parts of the country has been permeated by problems of kidnapping although this particular problem has of recent reared its ugly head in some parts of the north most especially in Kaduna and Zamfara States. The Western part of Nigeria has been noted for ritual killings in addition to political and non-political assassinations. However, of all these security challenges, the threat of Boko Haram insurgency in the north eastern part of the country has proved more daunting than the rest. Consequent upon this, therefore, President Muhammadu Buhari made the issue of security a cardinal principle of his administration deserving priority attention. Indeed, soon after this policy directive, President Muhammadu Buhari embarked on a regional trip covering neighbouring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroun. The President noted that the security of Nigeria and her neighbours was intimately linked, making it essential to cooperate on security issues in a robust and sustainable manner. The President lamented that when fully operational, the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) made up of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroun, would be able to secure and stabilize all areas affected by the insurgents.
Isa Muhammad Sama writes in from Kebbi.