“Everywhere revolutions are painful yet fruitful gestations of a people: they shed blood but create light, they eliminate men but elaborate ideas”. That was the voice of Manuel Gonzalez Prada in 1908. The former presidential torch bearer for CPC, Gen. Mohammadu Buhari made it to our front pages last week. Tall, lean and mean Buhari allegedly affronted the delicate sensibility of some Nigerians through his uncommon radical streak. In earlier incarnation, Buhari was a man known to revolutionary orientation. His tenure as head of state brought in war against indiscipline. That war on Nigerians strengthened the contour of our public bad behaviour. His regime brought Nigeria under an illuminating radical rupture. He was feared. He was idolised. He was equally demonised. Buhari had always cut the picture of a true patriot. He once sailed close to being branded a benevolent dictator.
Buhari is not a man to enjoy oblivion. Politics affords him a rare opportunity. He embraced its temptation. The temptation for power. He worked on the emotion of his supporters and cheerleaders. He bestrode the Northern political landscape like the expected messiah. The emotional scripting of his party manifestoes worked well on our sympathies. It embodied change, paradigm shift, public service, probity, fiscal prudence, accountability and transparency. In May 2011, Buhari lost to a shoeless, inexperienced and clueless Jonathan. To Buhari, the defeat was more than an insult. He alleged electoral robbery. He will not allow the perfidy to go unchallenged. He dragged Jonathan and PDP to court. He wears the insignia of his stubbornness with the typical old soldier’s pride. He acted like a true commander-in-chief. This time, he had no army. He had no police. He had no navy to command. For the first time Buhari was powerless. He was reduced to mortality. He was alone.
The fomenting threat and support of the talakawa and almajiris could not save him. He lost. Third time a loser. He returned to Daura – beaten, broken and brutalised. He embraced the cold chamber of political meditation. The Daura’s retreat offered him enough time to ruminate on why he lost that epic electoral battle to that small boy from the minority slum of Itueke. He consulted his leather-bound Koran for answers. Diviners were brought in. Who lied? God or man? Well, God cannot lie. The liars were the optical illusions from the photo-Journalists lenses. Buhari was a crowd puller. His fiery speeches grabbed us at the jugular. During the presidential race, he commanded more crowd than other contestants. The maimed, the blind, the mute, the deaf and even the demon-possessed stalked him. They struggled to touch his starchy babanriga.
Buhari was able to feed his 5,000 and his 4,000. Yes, on the flat plains of Daura and in many Northern cities. Photo journalists feasted on his crowds. Their optical illusion gave him hope. He began to equate the illusion of pictorial power with winning. When reality blunted his nightmare, he settled for a pragmatic option. His internal demon kept reminding him that he lost the election to massive rigging. The post-mortem from his advisers, diviners, enchanters and magicians pointed to rigging. At last, he believed! Today, Buhari is the burden bearer for the suffering masses of Nigerians. Buharism is morphing into a public awareness agenda. As a reminder, the radicalism of Buharism was forged through an inner urge to clean up the profound untidiness of Nigeria’s corruption and failed governance. He wants Nigerians to be delivered from colonial servitude of the few. Buhari is profoundly incorrigible. This is his most famous trait. He likes to stir us with injurious statement. The typical Buharispeak! Remembering Malcolm X, he borrowed his famous maxim: by all means necessary. Remembering Jesus, he borrowed his famous argot: the Kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent takes it by force.
Just days ago, he dropped his latest choleric clanger. Hear him: “If what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood.” He promised fire, brimstones, mayhem and lynching for whoever will dare rig election in 2015. This is Buhari’s raw cry for social protest against our electoral shame. This is Buhari’s hyper-radicalism to date. Some saluted his courage. Some reasoned that it was sentimentally gruff. Writers, opinion moulders, pundits, politicians, students and Facebook walls were polarised. Buhari believes that the next best ideology that will reshape Nigeria is the preparation for mass action. He believes that the only shift that will push Nigeria towards the path of progress is the citizens readiness to take on the role of nihilists and ply their talents, if need be, on election riggers. To safeguard our democracy, Buhari reasons, Nigeria needs its own graveyard for election riggers.
Of a truth, Buhari has a burning contempt for Jonathan. He sees him as a satanic election rigger. He stole, killed and destroyed on his way to Aso Rock. We have to cast our wistful envy on Buhari. He talks straight. He is the true son of the Daura bulldog breed. He is also a practical humanitarian. He is an alert teacher. He can lecture us on the nocturnal, shady dealings of Nigerian politicians. He has fierce loyalty to the people of Nigeria. He is fighting to wrest the soul of this nation back from Mephisto. Buhari has the very best of good intention. But his declaration of war on election thieves has unnerved and sharpened our dilemma. The iconic Buhari’s dilemma. There is invisible but powerful suspicion of his innate tyranny if he wins future election. There is also invisible but powerful suspicion and fear that he is a raw, fundamentalist Jihadist. At heart. In his gesture. These lingering character pollutants are obscuring the messianic message of his pragmatic politics.
Of course, there is a sustaining sense of his moral superiority. But when the layer is peeled backward, some see him as a tarnished historical hero. He had the unhappy talent of being seen as uncompromising, a Jihadist and tribal ideologue. Of all sins, Buhari believes that election rigging is the worst. His agenda is to cough out this awareness in the minds of voters. Anyway, why would anybody be afraid if you are not a vote thief? Buhari understands the potency of death threat to all perpetrators of election criminality. Bad guys fear tribulation. It must be said that this nation’s law on electoral malpractices deters nobody. Those who would want to enjoy democracy and its ugly dividend, so to speak, but defends election rigging, are in effect not democrats. Predictably, Jonathan and his PDP cabal-in-rigging have intensified their attacks on Buhari and his embrace of political nihilism. Buhari is hunted, heckled and hounded by the very enemies of this nation who could not win election without subverting the sincere will of the people.
Rich and well connected democratic saboteurs are afraid to loose the comfort of their safe harbour to free and fair election. Nobody has injured, shamed and desecrated our democratic renewal than the hordes of unpatriotic political rascals and thieves who subvert this nation’s destiny through vote rigging. Buhari is their future nemesis. Buhari is a grand symbol of the hostile, transforming movement that is striving for the perfection of our democratic experiment through transparent, free and fair processes. He has an inbred resistance to cheating. Buhari’s heart cry is heart-searchingly relevant. Nigeria is a graveyard of election probity. Why? Politics is either win or kill in the Nigerian universe. We should not be content until we rid this nation of election fraudsters. Buhari cannot rest. He is consumed by a desperate struggle to lynch election riggers.
I am equally persuaded to say that transparency-loving Nigerians should not rest. Let nothing calm our anger until our vote count. Buhari remains our witness to this yearning. Democracy must be built on eternal verities of transparency and fairness. In the roll of our quadrennial electoral grievances, Buhari’s heart cry is our saving clause. He is a sort of tribune of the people. He is a democratic reformer who is grappling with a lost time and opportunity. He may never find both time and opportunity again. To Buhari, it is better to die usefully than to die rich, but with the guilt of election rigging on your troubled soul. I have a worry though. My worry is Buhari’s prolong fit of political blindness. It is surprising. It is puzzling.