During the height of the rumour that the current occupant of Aso Rock, Major General Muhamamdu Buhari (retd. ), had been kidnapped by a certain Jibril (or Jubril) from Sudan, this column pointed out that there is some logic in the nonsense being peddled in some quarters. Stories do not always have to be logical to be considered reasonable. Despite its incoherence, it occasionally reveals some deeper truth about people’s situations.
While no actual Jibril was impersonating Buhari, the president’s Jibrilisation and Sudanisation demonstrated alienation. Given how estranged he was from the people he purportedly rules, the theory of an impersonator replacing Buhari is plausible. Both “Jibril” and “Sudan” were foreignisation metaphors for a man who was no longer recognisable.
This was a man whose limited ability to solve Nigeria’s problems was exaggerated during the 2015 election campaign. The image of Buhari they marketed must have overwhelmed the man himself because when he finally won the election, he collapsed like Humpty Dumpty. He hasn’t been able to put himself back together since. Knowing how lacklustre he would be in office, he forewarned of his impending failures by stating that old age would impair his performance.
For a man who rose to power as a roarer, he hadn’t even been sworn in before starting to squeak. So far, it appears that his problem was not so much his advancing years as it was his sociopathic nonchalance. The issues his handlers promised he’d face with his “spartan” approach haven’t changed much. The photo of his administration that best describes his administration is one of him in his living room, picking his teeth.
The image has been meme-filled and used to mock his distance from Nigerians. Whoever released that image of Buhari to the public lacked tact, but they also provided us with a powerful visual representation of his disconnection from the realities of the people he ostensibly governs.
Buhari’s few interactions with Nigerians revealed both his cold indifference to people and gross disregard for their sensibilities. As an example, in July, he stated in his hometown that he would not leave any assets to his children. He sounded hypocritical for a man whose children had been educated in private schools abroad at the expense of Nigerians and had snagged several privileges that would pay them off for multiple lifetimes.
Despite lacking a personal record of achievement, one of his children, Yusuf, was turbaned Talban Daura and appointed district head of the Kwasarawa community despite having a motorcycle accident while overextending himself. Despite all evidence of their freeloading, Buhari imagined himself as a disciplinarian father whose children foraged their way through personal responsibility.
He reportedly lamented on Tuesday in Imo State that he had not received enough credit for his administrative achievements. “In terms of time and resources, this administration has done extremely well,” he said. I’m forced to say it because those who should be saying it aren’t. “I’m not sure why.” Those who should be celebrating his accomplishments are quiet because they are embarrassed by his missteps.
Buhari is most likely the only one who rates himself highly. They just let him be because he is happily deluded. They see him happily picking his teeth, unconcerned about Nigeria’s fate, and they feed his alienation by sending him carefully selected information about the country’s state.
Buhari’s speech in Imo was typical of a man trapped in time. He still spoke as if it were 2015. He boasted about the number of local governments that were in the hands of Boko Haram when he came to power and have since been recaptured. The man does not appear to have kept up with a new form of evil known as banditry, which has taken over the country and has even surpassed Boko Haram in malevolence.
Buhari made the same old complaint about his predecessors, who reaped huge profits from oil but failed to deliver on infrastructure. His biggest boast has long been the construction of some federal roads, a bridge, and railway services that serve a few cities. Because health, education, energy, and rural/urban management infrastructure are still lacking, he and his spokespersons act as if they don’t matter.
One would think that a man whose regime is so reliant on oil prices would make a concerted effort to stop oil plunder, but no. An estimated 108,000 barrels of oil are stolen each day. In 2015, his selling point was his promise to end corruption, but corruption erupted right under his nose. For example, his own accountant general was accused of stealing a large sum; the shady sum allotted to fuel subsidies ballooned.
Insecurity in Nigeria has morphed into a monstrosity; Boko Haram’s antics are now barely distinguishable from the bandits’ wickedness. Most Nigerians have progressed from being simply poor to being multidimensionally poor as a result of poor economic management. Almost nothing he encountered when he took office improved.
An examination of our lives under this administration reveals how far we have regressed rather than advanced. The rate of out-of-school children is one of the most spectacular failures. In almost eight years of their administration, the figure skyrocketed due to a combination of insecurity and rising poverty. When they took power in 2015, UNICEF put the figure at a whopping 10.5 million. UNICEF recently announced that the figure had risen to 18.5 million.
According to a more recent UNESCO update, the figure is around 20.2 million, which is roughly the population of entire countries like Burkina Faso or Mali! This administration claims to have spent billions of naira on school feeding projects, but things have only gotten worse. Their social relief programs squander vast sums of money, but few people benefit, except perhaps their cronies and corrupt associates.
In a matter of months, it will have been a full calendar year since public universities were closed across the country. Thousands of students have lost years of their lives due to the strike, which will never be made up even if lecturers work extra hours.
But what does that matter to Buhari, who has purposefully socially distanced himself from reality in order to pass? Many people’s lives have taken a downturn, and their quality of life has significantly declined, but the man in charge believes that people are not singing his praises loudly enough. He doesn’t understand why his own party members who are vying for power are embarrassed by his failures. When electioneering officially begins on September 28, they will distance themselves from their own party’s failures and campaign as an opposition party.
Most people have given up on Buhari and are already anticipating the salvation that 2023 may bring. Buhari has also surrendered. He’s just counting down the days until he can return to his village, the scorching remains of the country safely in the hands of someone else to manage.
He is pathetically disconnected from the carnage he caused for a man whose anti-Midas touch turns brass to dross. His recollection of his administration will undoubtedly differ from the reality that many Nigerians experienced, a dissonance that will be exacerbated by hagiographers who will not allow him to accept his ignorance.