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How not to hate Buhari

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Buhari. Photo: TWITTER/NIGERIAGOV

Our greatest distraction in Nigeria today is not social media as some would have us believe. Our greatest distraction is President Muhammadu Buhari, the very personality who is supposed to embody our values of unity of faith and oneness of purpose. From social media spaces to pages of newspapers, Buhari is at the centre of our heated exchanges and hot arguments. He has become the reason some of us make known and unknown enemies, many of whom we really do not deserve.

I agree that those who choose to hate him have a right to do so, especially when they have adjudged him to have done more than enough to earn their hatred. Nevertheless, there is a way to hate to one’s undoing, one which must be avoided at least for self-preservation. I have written this piece to explain how to hate Buhari and yet preserve our personal and national health beyond the expiration of Buhari presidency.

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First, we should not hate Buhari so much that we cannot draw a line between the president and the country. Buhari and his men are not Nigeria. There was Nigeria before Buhari presidency and hopefully there will be Nigeria after it. Few months out of office, those people around Buhari will try so hard to remember that they were once around power, but Nigeria will endure, again hopefully. We need to constantly remember that Nigeria is the real victim of bad leadership from dispensation to dispensation and that we feel only a part of her pains from time to time, depending on the side of power we find ourselves. Americans who believed Donald Trump was misruling their country did not hate the country because of Trump. Instead, they loved America so much that they worked really hard to democratically rescue their country from Trump. If hatred for Buhari is not already motivating and translating into focused and coordinated search for a better alternative leadership for Nigeria two years to another presidential election, that will be wasted hatred. Hatred for Buhari must not blind us to our responsibility to ensure that Nigeria is ruled by people who are in tune with reality.

For the sake of self-preservation, we must not watch our homes go up in the flames of our fiery hatred for Buhari. My father would say one does not dig a pit too deep for one’s enemy, in case a member of one’s household falls into it. By this wisdom, hatred for Buhari must not lead us to ignore, aid or abet evils that are done among us. Allowing one’s homestead to be overtaken by weeds to spite the gardener who absconds from duty post is all shades of dangerous. When venomous creatures creep in from the overgrown environment, they will have only members of the house to bite. In a positive turn, political leaders from the South East are coming out to condemn attacks on security facilities. It is better late than never. Traditional rulers and leaders of communities need to do the same. Not stopping at that, they need to ensure that their territories are not used as recruitment and training grounds by elements that have sworn to see Nigeria to the grave. Even those who have no trust left in the Nigerian State still have to work for its continued peaceful existence, otherwise the nations of their dream will be gone with the ashes of Nigeria.

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Also, we should not hate Buhari so much that we lose sight of what other arms and levels of government do with the mandate we entrust to them. In the past few days, President Muhammadu Buhari made two landmark moves, one an action and one a promise. The first is that he ensured that local government has its constitutional autonomy restored. However, the personalities running politics at the local level have for too long been tied to the apron strings of governors and political players at the state level. Given the cannibalistic nature of politics at the state level, the practicality of the restored local government autonomy rests largely on public oversight. The second is the promise to assent a restructuring bill if the same is passed by the National Assembly. At the moment, I am not aware of any such bill on the floor of both chambers of the National Assembly. This is an open cheque to those who are campaigning for restructuring. Focus now must shift from Buhari to senators and representatives whose is the primary responsibility. Our hatred for Buhari must not continue to distract us from demanding accountability from those who represent our interest especially in the legislature and at the grassroots.

The counsel by Martin Luther King, Jr., that we should let no man [or woman] pull us so low as to hate him [or her] is not always attainable. We will always have people who do not rise to the measure of our love. David Weinfeld writes about a healthy kind of hatred which makes us feel good without negatively affecting the object of the hate. If we stay within the limits of healthy hatred for Buhari, the law we will be violating exists only in the moral codes of the hypocrites, those who would arrogate to themselves the superhuman ability to love all and in equal measure. Let us be sportsmanly, even in hatred. We should hate Buhari in such a way that we have in our hatred many rooms left for other deserving personalities. There will always be people worthy of our hatred.

Wole Oladapo wrote from the University of Ibadan.

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