by Sola Salako-Ajulo
Flashback 1983: Buhari was Military Head of State. His style of governance was considered harsh but to me, he was making us take the hard pill of discipline and anti-corruption. He had many flaws then. Anyway, people were so resistant to his hard policies that when a coup was announced that overthrew him, people rejoiced.
I remember standing in front of our television that evening when Babangida walked out of the State House with his gang as the new Head of State. His gap toothed smile hoodwinked Nigerians. But not me. I told my father “ this man is going to take us right back to where we were trying to get out of”. It was a prophesy. IBB succeeded in institutionalizing corruption so much that public servants now feel a sense of entitlement to the commonwealth of a nation.
My friends with a sense of Nigeria’s history should recall the IBB days. If you are too young then google is your friend. I was in Year 2 in Unilag then. We lost most of the perks of university experience because IBB stopped funding education. Our meal ticket was 50k for a 3- course meal. Unilag provided bedsheets for us in the halls and they were replaced with fresh ones every Friday. A cleaner cleaned our rooms Mon-Fri …. I could go on!
Fast forward to 2018: Buhari is back as a civilian President. Our case is much worse now Corruption is endemic in every facet of society. We actually ran our economy on corruption. He began his hard line policies again, shutting the tap of corrupt funds. The economy practically grinds to a halt. People feel the pinch.
Some of us understand it is a sacrifice we must make to take our country on sustainable grounds. Many just hated his person and want him out. His flaws show up again. His nepotistic tendencies creep up here and there. His handlers complicate his matter severally. His health did not help matters. The uproar against him gains momentum.
Enters the PDP option… Atiku with a damning circumstantial evidence of massive corruption and lack of integrity against him. The people who are used to access to free money and who hold national assets as personal entitlement quickly rally round him. He is the “Share the Money” candidate. They use the hardship of the masses as weapon to beat down Buhari and his long term policies. They want the money NOW!
My take? – the choice of a president is the prerogative of the majority. If the majority choose to reverse the modest gains of reorientation on sustainability to the share the money orientation, it is their alienable right to do so.
As for me, I am resolute. I believe we need 4 more years of this hardship to factory reset our orientation so we all can build a sustainable economy and society. Does Buhari need to change some of his errors? Of course. Being sensitive is a major requirement in good leadership. He definitely is work in progress.
However, considering the option is not an option for me. I just cannot shake off how Nigeria began a speedy descent into the corruption abyss when the people welcomed IBB as a “friendly, detribalized Nigerian who will make life easier”. Yes, life got easier. Money flowed. But at what expense? The price we paid for the IBB feel good 9 years was the systemic decimation of our institutions. He stopped funding utilities, healthcare, infrastructure and education so the money could go around. Subsequent leadership reinforced his errors. Until OBJ came back and tried to reignite the investment but his gang were steeped in the “share the money” mentality.
One major character flaw is common to IBB and Atiku. They are both amoral. Self interest is paramount to national interest. PMB with all his flaws (annoying as they were) is still a better choice for the sustainability of the Nigerian state. Because he carries a palpable sense of duty to the poor in this country. His ascetic lifestyle takes his focus away from self so he is better fit to consider the poor.
Atiku is not ascetic. He is self interest driven. National interest comes after self interest. I don’t want a leader like that. I may be in the Minority now and the majority may have their way in 2019 (that’s democracy) but let it be on record that I had my say!
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