Had former head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari(rtd) always been a divisive figure? Latest round of vituperations from the statuesque ex-soldier makes one pause and ponder on whether he truly loves Nigeria.
One recalls his seizing power in 1983 from Alhaji Shehu Shagari, and his stern pronouncements on the raison d’etre for his intervention; “to save this nation from imminent collapse,” we were told.
The most recent round of volleys from this Daura-born retired General turned politician, may derive from either a great love or deep seated hatred for Nigeria.
Let’s examine this: a great love for Nigeria means you selflessly put your country first in all that you do. Buhari and his colleagues had an opportunity to set things right. They identified corruption and indiscipline as the two factors ailing the country and sort to quick fix the problems. Unfortunately they were not able to do much before they were tossed out. Some argue that the opportunities to display great love were not judiciously used.
On the contrary, the period is best remembered for the terror tactics applied to set things right. The iron fist; media clampdowns, retrospective public executions, violations of human rights etc. Rather than be endeared to the masses, the coup plotters were derided and eventually supplanted by their colleagues. Years after that, Buhari chaired an agency set up to disburse funds from the petroleum sector into projects. That era in the country’s history, was not exactly scandal -free.
Recent years have seen the General vie to be Nigeria’s president. Things have not had the expected outcome and the world may well be experiencing a new side to the General’s character. The defeat at the ballot box and in the courts, appears to have birthed some kind of deep-seated hatred otherwise how come anytime the General talks, he’s practically setting the country aflame with his inflammatory comments.
If he truly loves Nigeria as much as he professes, ought he be the author of such missiles. We are all witnesses to the matured words from the latest candidate to lose his presidential bid.
Take former French president, Nicholas Sarkozy, for instance. His words at realising that he had lost the election were: “I take responsibility for this loss”. The French people have made their choice...Francois Hollande is the President of France and he must be respected. I bear full responsibility for defeat.”
I don’t think we heard Senator John McCain spew uncomplimentary language after his defeat by President Barack Obama. Years later he’s still as patriotic as ever.
The General’s loud silence in the post-election violence and over boko haram, makes one wonder about his real feelings about Nigeria. And when he breaks his silence intermittently, his fiery darts have all the potential to heat up the polity. What has happened to the spirit of statesmanship? No-one begrudges him his right to free speech, but surely in these tense times don’t our leaders, even more so an ex-head of state, have a responsibility to be guarded in utterances, lest the loose canons in the various communities, run away with such volatile statements and cause further damage to an-already fragile situation.
If the General truly loves Nigeria as he had us believe over the years, and most recently during his campaigns, he should bear in mind that volatile statements will not fetch much, but derision and pain. A man who once ruled this country hardly needs to attract such opprobrium or wittingly or unwittingly, inflict pain. He as a stakeholder in the Nigerian project, should embrace statesmanship and preach same.