Is Buhari for nobody and for everybody?
I have read quite a number of analysts of convenience claiming that President Muhammadu Buhari’s response to APC’s defeat in the just concluded Osun State gubernatorial election lends some credence to his claim to be for nobody and for everybody at the same time. Those analysts missed out on the proverbial tortoise that Buhari is, the one that named himself Mr Everybody to have to himself the food served to all visiting animals at a heavenly feast thrown to assuage their hunger. It takes careful observers to correctly read Buhari’s statement as “I am for nobody and I am for myself,” because he, like the tortoise, is Mr Everybody. Like that tortoise, Buhari chooses when to be for nobody and for everybody, absolutely to the gratification of his ego.
In a necessary detour, let me foreground Buhari’s incurably self-serving nature with a case, the strike action embarked upon by university unions, ASUU, SSANU, NASU, and NAAT. Public universities across the country have been shut for over five months, and the president was unruffled by it. He set up a committee to re-negotiate an already re-negotiated agreement and still refused to accept the recommendations of his own team. The affected students are dispersed across the country, with their dreams suspended while the university workers fake strength in the jaws of hunger. Why on earth will a president watch undisturbed as society’s major mill of knowledge grinds to a halt? The attitude is not different when health workers go on strike. But why? The president has nothing at stake to warrant a responsible response to a societal problem of that magnitude. When his children needed education, they headed abroad. Whenever he needs to access healthcare services, he heads abroad. Since all of these issues do not directly affect him, they are none of his problems.
Anyone who is still in doubt as to how irredeemably self-serving President Muhammadu Buhari is should read on as I juxtapose his responses to the last two Osun State gubernatorial elections. It is on record that the man of akube integrity claimed to have used a ‘remote control’ to influence the outcome of the 2018 Osun State gubernatorial election. It does not require common sense and integrity to admit that Senator Ademola Adeleke clearly won that election. Then, out of nowhere, INEC, armed with the word ‘inconclusive’, thwarted the will of the people and enthroned that of the remote controllers. It would appear that Governor Oyetola owed that stolen victory primarily to the hands that held the remote control. Fast forward to 2022, and Senator Ademola Adeleke did it again by thudding Governor Oyetola onto the rocky election defeat ground. Sadly, the remote controllers from Abuja did not come to the rescue this time. While Oyetola and his team were busy studying the outcomes of the election, perhaps with the aid of magnifying glasses, the grand remote controller sent a congratulatory message to the opposition candidate. Yes, just like that, unforced.
Apparently, the remote control was needed in 2018 because the outcome of the Osun State gubernatorial election that year had great implications for the upcoming 2019 presidential election. President Muhammadu Buhari saw defeat staring him in the face if he allowed an opposition victory to stand in Osun in 2018. He used the remote control to teach everyone a lesson that he would not tolerate defeat come 2019. He never did well with defeat. Good for him that the joker worked.
He led APC to the polls to beat PDP and leave Atiku Abubakar and his team in a purblind chase after an INEC server that would not come alive until about four years after. Why was Buhari so swift in admitting defeat on behalf of an incumbent governor who is still studying the outcome of the election? The answer is simple: there was nothing at stake for the president in the outcome of the election. Clearly, President Muhammadu Buhari is and has always been for himself and for himself alone. He acts only when acting serves his purpose. He falls into slumbering inaction when it is not detrimental to his interests. In short, he is an incurably self-serving person who is for nobody but himself.
It cannot escape public memory easily that President Muhammadu Buhari handled the APC presidential primary election just in the same self-serving manner. Anyone who knows the retired general knows that he is not afraid to take a stand on issues, no matter how strange his position may appear. He declared that he would anoint his successor. Then, he turned around to hide his choice of candidate, claiming that the candidate could be killed if he did otherwise. After Tinubu fought his way through to the APC presidential candidacy, the retired general turned around again to declare Tinubu as the right candidate. That peek-a-boo game revealed Buhari as someone who always wanted to have his cake and eat it. He does not love his preferred candidate enough to get in the ring with other party desperados and their supporters because he loves himself too much to experience a vicarious defeat from the party’s routing of his preferred candidate. Can a man be more self-serving than this?
With such a self-serving person leading the APC to the presidential election in 2023, it is a lost battle already. In fact, the defeat that the retired general accepted on behalf of Governor Oyetola of Osun State was actually done on behalf of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in advance. The symbolic meaning of that action is that deep. Just as he did not lift a finger to ensure Bola Tinubu’s emergence as APC’s presidential standard-bearer, he would do absolutely nothing to ensure his victory at the polls. The security agencies appeared to have operated freely in Ekiti and Osun, as though the remote control has developed an irreparable fault. What is left in politicians’ election crime chest is money. Security agencies might work hard to limit the extent of vote buying, thereby neutralizing its efficacy.
Oladapo wrote from the University of Ibadan.