The term Buharists has entered our political lexicon as “one who sees all things good in Buhari and fights whoever criticizes Buhari in whatever manner”. Some go outright to insult and invite thunder to fall on whoever says Buhari has done wrong in any circumstance, whether the person is right or wrong.
Before the 2015 electoral victory of President Muhammadu Buhari, his ardent supporters, a large proportion in the lower rungs of the food chain, had visited mayhem on almost everyone who sided anyone that was not him. The mayhem assumed a gargantuan dimension in 2011 when a lot of people lost their lives and some their properties.
There is a school of thought that believes that most of our political elite (and important foreign nations as well) were arm-twisted to support the general with a cult following perhaps never seen before in our contemporary political history.
For some of our elite, the fear of reprisal by his ardent supporters, most of whom have nothing to lose anyway, was palpable. Of course, a lot were also disenchanted with the way the then administration was being run, while some had fallen out of favour and, therefore, either no longer receive patronage or their egos were not assuaged.
Some wanted power at the centre having been lords of their respective manors for awhile. So they sought to make forays into a bigger political space.
But some among them did it purely for Nigeria. The mayhem of 2011 in the North could have led to a tit for tat in the South. While most of the victims of 2011 were Northerners and Muslims seen as turn coats, Southerners too were at the receiving end. However, to the credit of Southern leaders, they calmed down frayed nerves and implored their people not to repay evil with evil. Nigeria remained in one piece and calm peace eventually charted its way back.
Prior to that, specifically in 2006, the CIA had predicted that Nigeria would break up by 2015. This was chiefly the concern of those Nigerians who looked at 2015 from the prism of patriotism and foreign backers who had Nigeria at heart. The Nigeria’s breakup foreseen was not about negotiations or plebiscite but by blood flowing in the streets. God forbid. There was also the fear of how such catastrophe would affect our neighbours, Africa and the world at large.
They had a sober introspection and realised that CIA’s prophecy of doom may come to pass if what happened in 2011 repeated itself. The Southern leaders may this time lose control of their youths who had been promising fire and brimstone, especially in the social media and practically through various militias. The Northern elders had already lost the control of their youths.
All these reasons coalesced into one movement: ABJ – Anyone But Jonathan – to ease out the lame-duck Goodluck Jonathan and pave the way for a “focused, no-nonsense General”. Muhammadu Buhari was seen as a candidate who had a mind of his own, knew what he wanted, had a mission to make Nigeria great, but above all, a man who would never condone any form of corruption, including nepotism. The argument was that he was a man who could cut off his right arm and burn if it showed an inkling of corruption.
The have-nots, one of the two tribes in Nigeria (the other being those that have), saw in Buhari a man who would reduce the inequality gap by dealing ruthlessly with the kleptomaniac few who had been looting the public till. Many recalled Buhari’s strict regime between 1984 and 1985 with nostalgia.
However, it has not been a smooth ride for Buhari since he was sworn in 2015. At the moment, he has been losing ground so fast that it could eclipse Jonathan’s experience of 2014. One may be safe to say that instead of maintaining the votes he garnered in that election, he has been losing them.
Now, this is where his supporters come in. As Jonathan’s supporters acted when the gale of defections afflicted their party, that’s how Buhari’s supporters are behaving.
How can a person in his right senses say “good riddance to bad rubbish” to a governor’s exit, or senator, member of House of Reps/House of Assembly, local government chairman, councillor or even an ordinary member who has a vote?
A simple arithmetic is that if you and your opponent each has 20 supporters and just one of yours crosses over to your opponent, it means that you now have 19 while your opponent has 21. You must look for three fresh supporters to overcome him.
However, this brand of supporters behaves as if it is their gra-gra in the social media that would give their man victory. The unfortunate thing is that some of them call themselves educated yet they lack expanded vision that will aid them view things from different perspectives and address them with tact, facts and maturity.
A lot of people have been driven away by the attitude of these one-track-minded Buharists. A lot of people who sacrificed their time, sweat, blood, fortunes, reputation and even their future well-being to usher in Buhari have been shocked into silence, cowed into hiding or hounded out of the party, and then the supporters, in their small mindedness, have shouted in unison Allah raka taki gona! Gosh!
Perhaps they think taki (fertiliser) is rubbish only meant for gona (farm) hence “may God take fertiliser to its destination (farm)”. To them, the defectors are fertiliser and the party they are defecting to is the farm. Do these people really understand what fertilisers do to farms!
And the saddening aspect is that all this started when people, out of genuine concern for Nigeria and for Buhari to be a success, began (after given him all the excuses they can) pointing out areas of concern where they thought the president should do better. They were immediately branded “enemies”, “haters”, “wailers”, and many other unprintable names.
To them, even the democratic norms the president swore to uphold could be turned on their heads once he was the one. To them Buhari can do no wrong. If he said “good riddance” to Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, they would say dama Modu Sheriff Boko Haram ne (Modu Sheriff is Boko Haram) and if he later turns around to welcome Modu Sheriff, they say “Modu Sheriff is a political bulldozer”! What nitwits!
Does he agree with them? People may be right to think he did and that he probably started feeling he was infallible – because he never for once cautioned anyone who abused anyone on his behalf.
Well, Jonathan’s people also behaved that way and their behaviour somehow contributed to his eviction from Aso Rock. And they all accepted their collective loss. While some shifted base and continued to live life as usual, some went into their cocoons, some others licked their wounds, believing that tomorrow is another day to try again. Now they are undergoing metamorphosis and, who knows, perhaps the caterpillar will become the butterfly.
Nigerians are not in doubt about Buhari’s passion to make Nigeria rise to greatness even if he hasn’t quite achieved it in his first term, however, his supporters who think they are his only lovers are making things worse for him. They need to retrace their self delusionary steps in order not to harm his chances of winning the vote again next year, for Nigeria’s good.
But the big question is, will he and his supporters toe the Jonathan path if the vote does not go his way?