In a democratic system like ours, it’s easy to understand that balloting is not a matter of pencil and eraser; we cannot shape the reality of how we just voted. It is a zero-sum thing, a binary action, a one or a zero, a yes or a no. In the same manner, this writer has tracked the narrative of Muhammadu Buhari since he became president a little over a week ago.
Although all still seems a tad too early to decipher, a pattern is already emerging.
Having been stripped of all the campaign adornments, voters are now beginning to see a reality that was all too glaring during the campaign, standing right before all of us, actually in our midst, if only many had the will to open the eyes and see. Alas, reality is all too stubborn.
Of course, those who didn’t buy into the change mantra have unabashedly published their concerns throughout the campaign, but at that time, their findings seemed a bit too out-of-step, that’s assuming many even bothered to pay attention to such findings. The findings were out of step with the perceived reality of Buhari’s personality, but in step with his real personality.
In tandem with our pathological hypocrisy, many of us were all too ready to discard Goodluck Jonathan, forgetting both the records of his predecessors and the individual he was running against. This is not a suspension of disbelief that allows us to enjoy a fantastical movie at the cinema but rather a suspension of self-interest, during which we put aside our partisan differences and wait.
Having sold himself to Nigerians as the only former leader living a modest lifestyle with utmost contempt for ostentatious braggadocio of his contemporaries, Buhari suddenly became a classic tabula rasa, a blank slate upon which many poor Nigerians could project their hopes and dreams.
His campaign slogan, ‘change’, was just as fascinating, if not even more so. Let’s face it: who doesn’t want change? Change from the past 16 years of PDP? Many divisive and disputed elections, endemic corruption, poor human capital development, lack of proper sanitation and inadequate healthcare facility. And to top it off, the devastating acts of terrorism that have remained largely unmitigated.
With particular emphasis on combating corruption, Buhari declared that, should Nigerians give him their mandate, he would abrogate the office of the First Lady, publicly declare his own acquisitions and mandate his prospective appointees to do so as a “precondition for any appointment” in his administration.
All these being so, Buhari continued his campaign thrusts with an extraordinarily large reservoir of goodwill, leaving a forlorn Jonathan teeth-gnashing. The man who led a ruthless junta 30 years ago walked away with the election. He was inaugurated into office on the 29th of May. Viva el presidente! Barely two days after he assumed the saddle, Buhari announced that he had declared his assets. Good news. But he took the same approach as all of his predecessors except Umar Musa Yar’Adua; Buhari declared his assets in secret with the Code of Conduct Bureau.
Obviously knowing they had made the first monumental gaffe, his media team told Nigerians that Buhari had met his campaign promise. A week-long demand from Nigerians that Buhari should declare his assets publicly as promised has remained ignored as at the time of filing this report.
The same day, which was on Sunday, the official portrait of the First Lady was unveiled.
The fact that the First Lady’s office doesn’t have the backing of the Constitution makes its abrogation a low-hanging public relations fruit for Buhari.
By Monday, Breaking Times, an online-based media, broke the news that a Cartier timepiece Buhari’s wife used in her official photograph as the First Lady actually costs a whopping N10M.
By Wednesday a breathtaking mansion nestled near a lake in the affluent Abuja suburb of Asokoro was linked to Buhari. The property is valued at N2.1B.
As at the time of filing this report, no cabinet position has been announced. For a president who promised to hit the ground running, this is a pain.
As earlier noted, it is too early to pass an accurate judgement upon Buhari’s tenure, but his narrative is beginning to look like the man that many knew he’d always been.
While many are expected to continue playing the ostrich with regards to Buhari’s real persona, there is no gainsaying the fact that we now know the man, his strengths, weaknesses, and his proclivities.
*N.B: The headline of this piece was adapted from one of Hans Christian Anderson’s tales, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.