BUHARIMANIACS AND BUHARIDEENS Femi Aribisala.
Buharimaniacs are of the conviction that Nigeria is now legitimately the property of the president. The rest of us are here simply by his grace and generosity.
New nomenclatures have come into the national political lexicon since the emergence of Muhammadu Buhari as president of Nigeria. Two that come to mind here are Buharimaniacs and Buharideens. There are other variants of these but they largely refer to the same set of people; those whose job is to insult, disparage and malign anyone who dares criticize the president and his policies.
It is a waste of time trying to educate these fanatics that it is the occupational hazard of a president to be criticized in a democracy. They were loud in criticizing Goodluck Jonathan as president to the point of even labelling a man with a Ph.D. degree as “clueless.” But they would not permit even the mildest criticism of President Buhari. As far as they are concerned, President Buhari must be worshiped, adored and lauded to the high heavens. Anything less is strictly forbidden.
Deens and maniacs
The deens are slightly different from the maniacs. The deens are a little more sedate; but just a little. On a good day, they can be engaged. You can reason with them, although you can never prevail in any discussion about Mr. President. Their position on the wonderments and sheer magnificence of President Buhari is unshakeable and apparently unassailable.
However, the maniacs are, well, maniacs. They are maniacal. They are attack dogs. They are bull-terriers. They can no longer even engage in rational logical discussion about the president or his policies. Buharimaniacs are of the conviction that Nigeria is now legitimately the property of the president. The rest of us are here simply by his grace and generosity.
Say anything against the president and they will insult you to your ancestors and curse you to the third and fourth generation of your children born and unborn. One of their favourite expressions is to tell you to go and hug a transformer because they want you dead. Barring that, they advise that you buy a ticket and leave the country.
I owe a debt of gratitude for their nomenclature to Douglas Anele, who correctly diagnosed them earlier on and conducted a naming ceremony for them. On a basic and fundamental level, Buharimaniacs don’t make sense because they have lost their marbles. Nevertheless, I will still attempt here to examine the origin and basis of their madness, the better to determine if it is in any way shape or form amenable to medical redress.
Both Buharimanics and Buharideens have come into sharp prominence today, as the president’s star has dimmed. More than ever before, they are required to play defense as criticisms about the president and his policies (or lack thereof) have mounted. Therefore, you will find them lurking around the edges of social media blogs with all kinds of pseudonyms and false identities. Write anything anti-government or pro-PDP and they immediately descend on you with a cacophony of motor-park insults; calling you mad, crazy, and even without a brain.
But it is clearly these abusive brigadiers that would seem to be out of their minds. This piece is not only designed to identify them, but also to smoke them out. As soon as this article lands in any part of the social media, they will come out of their closed places and call me all kinds of names. They will send missiles of profanities and vulgarities. They will top these with curses upon curses. By their expletives, you will surely know them.
Grace to grass
The president’s 2015 victory at the polls involved a very carefully-crafted makeover. This included the wearing of a suit and bow-tie in uncharacteristic fashion. It involved going to Chatham House in London in order to promise the Europeans and the Americans that Buhari the military dictator is now Buhari the democrat.
It involved convincing Nigerians that a man who declared his commitment to installing sharia all over Nigeria wily-nily was now carefully tolerant as regards other faiths by his choice of a Redeemed pastor as his presidential running-mate. It also involved transforming a man from one who declared to Lam Adesina of Oyo State that Fulani herdsmen are his people, to one who now says he belongs to everyone and belongs to nobody.
But three and a half years down the road as president, the real Buhari is back in view. Long gone are the black suits and bow-ties. All pretenses to democratic niceties have been thrown out of the window, as evident, for example, in the recent outrageous invasion of the National Assembly by masked men of the DSS.
Religious tolerance is no longer the watchword, as Christians are increasingly becoming an endangered species in many parts of the North under the watch of Mr. President. With one of the president’s subalterns advising Nigerians that it is better to lose their land to herdsmen than to lose their lives, it is now clear that the president does not belong to everybody but to somebody.
As President Buhari shed his borrowed clothes, he faces a dilemma: how to run for re-election. Many Nigerians are now under no illusions about the president as they had been in 2015. Many who waxed lyrical about him and gave him their vote in 2015 now want to see the back of him. Many who formed alliances with him have now filed for divorce.
If the president has heard anything from the British and the Americans on his so-called 10-day holiday in Britain, it would be that it is not advisable for him to run again for president in 2019. Certainly, he would not be getting the same support he obtained from the West in 2015. Femi Adesina’s strident denial of this truth is itself eloquent confirmation of its veracity.
My bet remains that President Muhammadu Buhari will not run for president in 2019 in order to preserve whatever legacy he has left. But I won’t put any money on that because there is the cabal who Aisha Buhari warned us have taken over the government since the 2015 election and whose livelihood depends on the president holding on to power. They might not allow him to do the honourable thing and leave without the disgrace of electoral defeat. And then there are the Buharimaniacs who are determined the president should remain until 2031 if possible.
Copyright of integrity
The first question that needs to be addressed is perhaps the most difficult one. How and why did Buharimaniacs become Buharimaniacs? Which ogogoro did they drink and who distilled it? One person who might be of great help in this regard is Douglas Anele who, as I said, was the first physician to diagnose and identify their manic condition. Douglas may be persuaded to weigh in on this in due course. I certainly acknowledge his superior expertise on this very matter.
My humble position is that Nigeria is a nation without heroes yearning for heroes. We desperately need a Nelson Mandela to present to the world as our contribution to international statecraft. Singapore has its Lee Kwan Yew. China has its Mao Tse-tung. India has its Mahatma Gandhi. Even Ghana has it Kwame Nkrumah. But in Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo just does not have what it takes.
In desperation, some people have decided to embrace Buhari as Lord and Saviour, and in the process, refuse to admit that our dear president just does not fit the bill. They would have us believe President Buhari is an island of integrity in the sea of Nigerian corruption. They also believe the only requirement of a modern president is to be anti-corruption. No matter the inefficacies of his programs and policies, if he is anti-corruption, even if only on the rhetorical level, then he must surely be the best president Nigeria has ever had.
Red meat politics
President Buhari is not a politician, which explains why APC is in shambles at the moment and why Oshiomhole, whose calling card says “Go and die,” is now the chairman of the party. Nevertheless, Buhari understands the need to feed his fawning supporters with a steady diet of red meat. That red meat is anti-corruption rhetoric.
By all accounts, our economy will be diversified and rebuilt with anti-corruption. Our educational system will be overhauled with anti-corruption. Our NEPA problem will be solved with anti-corruption. Anti-corruption will bring in foreign investors and launch Nigeria firmly into the 21st century.
Thus, when he came back from his brief holiday in London, he said nothing about the illegal invasion of the National Assembly. He ignored the news about the renewed onslaught of marauding herdsmen. Instead, he declared that he would be sending more corrupt people to jail. That is apparently APC’s foremost policy position as the party approaches the 2019 elections.
Buharimanics and Buharideens, for whom this red meat was provided, lapped it up. “Go on with integrity! Sai Buhari for life!” But point out to them that the president of Nigeria has no power whatsoever under the constitution to send anybody to jail and they will bite you. Tell them the executive cannot usurp the role of the judiciary and they will curse you. Tell them the president himself can be impeached and jailed and they will say you are mad. But the president cannot send anybody to jail. He can only send them to the courts.
But that is part of the problem. Neither the president nor his supporters are democrats. Therefore, the president is loud on espousing the rule of law but short on submitting to the rule of law. As a result, there are a number of Nigerians languishing in jail illegally. They were simply arrested and jailed without trial. All attempts to seek redress through the courts have failed. The government refuses to obey the courts.
That is part of the job of Buharimaniacs and Buharideens. They are busy re-writing the Constitution. So, when the president makes an illegal statement to the effect that June 12 is now Democracy Day instead of May 29, when such a change can only be made by an act of parliament, the maniacs and the deens shout lawyers and legal luminaries into silence.
The writing is on the wall. Buharimaniacs and Buharideens are part of the ammunition for the next election. The APC slogan is no longer change but anti-corruption. That means prospective presidential candidates of other parties are likely to be accused of corruption, arrested and their bank accounts frozen. The elections will be bought and sold after the pattern of Ekiti and Bauchi. Then the Buharimaniacs and the Buharideens will be unleashed to tell Nigerians the elections are the freest in Nigeria’s history, and to curse all naysayers into oblivion.
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