In 24 sterling years of military service, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari participated in three coups and emerged as Head of State. That was hard work! When he lost the swagger stick in 1985, he didn’t relent until he repossessed it 30 years later, entering the record book as the oldest African ex-military general in power, yet seeking more power.
I don’t seek to defend President Buhari over his “lazy youth” comment, though I love him. Frustrated is what you become after working ceaselessly for 57 years to change Nigeria, but all you get are some lazy and corrupt lot behaving as if the world exists on their breath. I’m not a bootlicker but I must say the President is the most misunderstood Nigerian leader ever.
You can accuse President Buhari of not possessing a secondary school leaving certificate, but you can’t accuse him of being talkative. Even Nigeria’s senator-on-the-cross, Dino Melaye, cannot. You’re also unlikely to find a member of the opposition that would disagree with the description of the president as being taciturn, uncommunicative, reticent, inarticulate, dumb, withdrawn and antisocial; the English Language has several synonyms for some words, you know. This is why I’m still at sea about the accusation that the President talked too much some days ago while addressing the Commonwealth Business Forum in London, where he described Nigerian youths as lazy.
To his growing multitude of haters, President Buhari’s aridity doesn’t stop at the oral level; they believe it has climbed upstairs. But I consider this assumption by critics as an insult to our simplistic president, whose sole ambition, after being ousted from power in 1985, was to return to power and endure lazy and corrupt Nigerians. Yes, endure Nigerians, who have failed to tolerate the hard work in herdsmen trekking all the way from the North through southern grazing routes, slinging peaceful AK 47 across their innocent necks. In the emerging new Nigeria, herdsmen without education can become president.
A stubborn question still puzzles me, though; if the President failed to bag a secondary school certificate and went on to have other higher certificates, does this failure render his military certificates a nullity? If the answer is yes, does this buttress the trite saying, ‘you can’t build something on nothing’? If yes is your answer again, are you saying President Buhari is nothing, or is he something that nothing can be built upon, or is he something that can build nothing? Please, don’t confuse me. I won’t be part of the Ayo Fayose maddening crowd or the infantile Melaye team or the Femi Fani-Kayode blabbing gang, who all delight in calling Mr President unprintable names.
I’m a well-brought-up Nigerian. As a journalist, I’ll only ask questions: Why can’t the hardworking President present his school leaving certificate publicly to show the horde of lazy Nigerian youths that it’s good to have an education? A President who has 10 children can be anything but lazy because only a hardworking general can give 10 children the best luxuries money can buy with the stipend called military salary.
Our President is a child of destiny. As the 23rd child who was born without blemish to his father, Hardo Adamu, and mother, Zulaihat, Buhari showed early signs of hard work when he enrolled in the Nigerian Army in 1961 at the age of 19 and engaged in a bloody coup five years after! This is how not to be lazy.
When the President calls our youths lazy, he sure knows what he’s saying; who among our youths ever engaged in an ethnic cleansing coup that sent the Head of State, General Agunyi Ironsi, the Military Governor of the Old Western Region, Lt Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, and a host of other military leaders to early grave? What do our youths do other than watch foreign football leagues, have sex, smoke hemp, drink alcohol, do 419; prostitute and engage in ritualism?
Can they put their lives on the line for their tribes as Buhari and co did to avenge the killings of Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa and Northern Region Premier, Ahmadu Bello? Did you say ethnic killings haven’t stopped in the North ever since? I never said our president is part of those that laid the foundation for vicious killings in the country because as long as dogs and baboons exist in Nigeria, Fulani bullets and daggers would soak blood, walahi. Truth is, British imperialists bequeathed Nigeria to an ethnic tribe when self-rule came knocking on the door of 1960. The tribe won’t lose control of the bequeathal without a bloody fight in 2019. Dogs and baboons beware!
Again, the hardworking Buhari staked his life for the country between 1967 and 1970 when he fought on the side of federal troops against Biafran secessionists and rose, within just 14 years of service, to become the Military Governor, North-Eastern State. The North-Eastern State was later divided into Bauchi, Borno, Gongola, Yobe,Taraba, Adamawa and Gombe states.
The born-to-rule president, at just 32, was governor of seven states! You see the essence of hard work? A year after he became military governor, 1976 to be precise, Buhari rose to become the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources and when the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was formed in 1977, the then military Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo, appointed him as its chairman. This was the era when the late Fela Anikulapo sang about a missing N2.8bn ‘Oyel Money’ from NNPC account.
I’m not here to defend the President, though I love him. I read an idiot saying online that the cold weather of the western world affects the President’s mental coordination whenever he travels out, hence his misstatements. I don’t agree with that puerile position. Rather, I think the President deserves our pity for his ceaseless toiling. As a journalist, I’m trained to ask questions: Why won’t the President be frustrated and annoyed when between Tuesday and Wednesday last week alone the stories emanating from Nigeria were nothing but palatable?
Headlines of stories within those two days include: “Senators fault Buhari’s $496m Tucano aircraft purchase without due process,” “CAN calls for nationwide protest against herdsmen killings,” “N323m fraud: Court remands Ibori’s ally, Nwaoboshi, in Ikoyi prison,” “Sex-for-marks: Alleged victim, Monica Osagie, appears before OAU panel,” “N13.5m running cost: SERAP sues Saraki, others,” “Protest in Benue as herdsmen kill two Catholic priests, 17 others inside church,” “Senate, Reps joint committee to probe invasion, mace theft,” “Dino Melaye jumps out of police van, ends in hospital,” “Again, herdsmen kill 11 in Benue,” “Man, 75, remanded in prison for defiling two girls in Niger,” “Suspected herdsmen kill seven in Nasarawa…communal clash death toll hits 30,” “Senate suspends plenary to visit Melaye,” “How Nigerian pupils cheat during WASSCE through websites,” “Benue church killings vile, satanic, Buhari says.”
How can Nigeria be ever great producing this type of stories in just TWO days? While taciturn President Buhari, as usual, spoke through his media aide, Mr Femi Adesina, describing the killing of over 30 people in Benue as ‘vile and satanic’, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, PERSONALLY addressed his countrymen after a van driver, Alek Minassian, last Tuesday, ran over 10 people on a busy Toronto sidewalk. Trudeau, in a nationwide broadcast, allayed the fears of his compatriots even as the murder suspect was promptly charged to court. In another development in Denmark capital, Copenhagen, last Wednesday, a Danish inventor, Peter Madsen, 47, got a life sentence for killing and sexually assaulting a female Swedish journalist, Kim Wall, 30, on his homemade submarine last year.
While the senate failed to suspend plenary over killings since 2015, it did so in order to visit a senator who attempted to outdo the orangutan. If the mounting disenchantment among the citizenry continues, nothing will stop Buhari from coasting back home to Daura in 2019.