The Callous Selfishness of Buhari

The Kuje prisonbreak was followed by news that the Nigerian Airforce had “mistakenly” bombed a village in Katsina and preceded by reports claiming that a presidential convoy had been attacked by “terrorists”. None of these events have spurred a satisfactory response from the government — mostly because none of them should have happened. The question is: what is Buhari doing?

The only answer anyone can get from the government’s body language — save for the nonsense that Femi Adesina spews regularly — is simple: nothing. The president will do nothing because he has since checked out from governance and is now in the cruise control part of his tenure. He will now enjoy the trips abroad and insert another toothpick in his mouth for his next photo.

This is what happens when the electorate selects a man whose only plan is now clear: become president and the country will sort itself out. Buhari has gotten the latter and will now die fulfilled; the country is sorting itself out through deaths, mayhem, and violence. And nothing will change because our leader has neither the brains nor the will to do anything. Nigeria will get worse and Buhari will not behave better. His plan clearly is to just exist in his position until his successor takes over.

And it is in that regard that every Nigerian who manages to not get killed before February 2023 should be concerned. It would rather stupid and lethal if once again we get another person who clearly has placed ambition over excellence and aspiration over compassion. If prices and unemployment rate, the latter of which stands at 33%, go much higher than it is, it won’t be just security agencies and terrorists and former prisoners that will hunt down Nigerians. Hunger will make its own contribution.

What then do we have?

Not much unfortunately. One of the reasons Buhari has been unbothered and the main reason he is blatantly selfish is the assurance that nothing can actually touch his family. His wife has taken herself out of the country; his kids have degrees from outside of Nigeria and, if they live here, can very likely get out at a moment’s notice. Buhari is also protected by security people who will not accidentally drop a bomb on his roof.

The candidates vying for his position in 2023 are just as protected from the harm they can, potentially, cause. Atiku doesn’t even live in Nigeria enough to face any of our country’s problems. And if money stops nonsense, then Tinubu and family will never face the three horsemen of Nigerian nonsense: unpunished crime, avoidable deaths, and poor education.

Peter Obi doesn’t belong to the same class of venality as these senior prefects but I fear that billionaires in a poor country live a different reality. His ideas and the figures his team and supporters share online are great for business — but we need a leader that has those ideas as much as one that is empathy for the truly poor. Can Obi be both? Who knows? — but there’s only one way we’ll ever really know.

He is, however, a better bet than two men who everyone knows just want to be president because they have held the dream ever since they figured out a way to stick their fingers (and whole fists) into Nigeria’s pile of cash. Shame that one of them may win and bring back Buhari’s callousness and nonchalance.

In other climes, there may be a sense of responsibility for grown men who have held a political dream for long. Not Nigeria. Buhari has demonstrated that when a Nigerian contests repeatedly for an election, his only plan is to get his that title mentioned in the first line of his epitaph.

For now, we are in a fix. We have at least six full months before the elections, before His Royal Selfishness President Buhari leaves the palace. It is not a long time but if three major tragedies visited Nigeria in about 24 hours, then five months is the equivalent of thousands of deaths.

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