The late story teller, Chinua Achebe, was very consistent in calling himself and contemporaries, the members of a lucky generation. As he travelled the world and lectured, he kept saying it. That was consistent with the Achebe character. He was a very modest and honest man. The more general attitude of mankind is to shake things out of the ordinary. The first man who travelled to Onisha from Nsukka returned and told his kinsmen that every route to Onitsha was tortuous and long. They gathered and admiringly looked upon him as a fabulous adventurer. He did not want another person to undertake the journey and return to render his accomplishment commonplace. Achebe would not do that. He would have told his kinsmen that Onitsha was not that far and that the journey was easy.
Muhammedu Buhari was among the lucky generation of Nigerians who had everything going for them. They had the benefit of world class education; economy, as well as an unlimited, dignified access to the rest of the world. They knew Nigeria before it went to the dogs, if that better describes it. I was in the N.B.A Committee which interviewed Dr. Michael Ajogwu, SAN. The 80-year-old told us that he was the first Masters student in the university of Nigeria, Enugu Campus. He lived in the Postgraduate Hall alone and had a large number of servants. When he was bored of staying in the PG Hall alone and moved up to the campus, the university authorities ordered that an entire hostel be vacated for him, his many servants carrying his belongings. When you compare this to the rat-infested and evil-smelling rooms in the hostels of the same school today, and the big task it is to even secure a room in these dingy places, you will have an idea of what it means to have been a member of a lucky generation.
Buhari has been luckier than most. He is a man who does not take blame for his actions. If he promised that he would fight corruption — as a first instance — and corruption festers, it is not his fault. He had the intention but the judiciary refused to corporate. If he had talked about making one naira equal to one dollar, and the naira plummets shamelessly in the exchange market, he remains blameless. His predecessors did a lot of bad things and he is not a wonder-worker.
As he sank the country almost inexorably in debt, he is still free from blame. Buhari cannot, if you must be fair, make bricks without straw. Let us even assume that anybody heard him promise to fight terror, and you have some of the world’s most brazen ransom-framing happening in the country; well, you know who to blame: the Army Generals. Buhari gave them all the support they need — moral and material. Do you expect the old man to join in the fighting? If oil marketers now halt distribution to protest the perilous state of federal Highways, Buhari has no hand in the pie. Jonathan and some other guys were president and could have done the roads.
The above are for those who love specifics. Hardcore Buharists (and isn’t everybody a Buharist?), have a blanket approach with which they shield him from blame. Nigeria is now a fiasco. She is unflinching in her march into becoming a perfectly poverty-stricken Banana Republic. But you must not blame the indifferent man who sits on her destiny. He had or still has good intentions. Moreover, he did not steal your money. He is only a tribal bigot and that is a misdemeanor, not up to what you could call a crime against public service.
Muhammadu Buhari, a lucky child, is still stretching his privileges. After leading Nigeria twice, first as a coup and military leader and then again as a civilian head of state, two epochs of absolute economic turmoil and retrogression, the last thing he wants is any post-retirement headache. He wants a tranquil time at Duara. And he is already sending out strident notes of warning. First, he does not want to be blamed for the outcomes of a possible Bola Tinubu presidency. Like every rational Nigerian, he feels a premonition of the looming disaster. “I did not elect Tinubu. The Delegates did,” he told a reporter and grinned. But, did Buhari forget that nobody blames him for anything?
He had warned also that he must not be summoned by any court to give testimony. I forgot to mention that Buhari has always lived above the law. He is not like Donald Trump whom you could disturb his peace for provoking a riot. Historically, the judiciary have always got on Buhari’s nerves. I am still wondering why he allowed one of his daughters to read law. “The nonsense of judicial proceeding,” he called it all with a cloudy grimace. He is not unmindful of the fact that his associates, since he became president, have been using the country essentially as a collateral for foreign loans. But you must not call him to testify before any court. Buhari is exiting the bustles of public life about which he has confessed his tiredness. He dreams of a pastoral life in Daura where he would be minding his moderate herd of cows.
What a life Buhari has had. Tell me if you don’t want to be like him?
– Okike Ezugwu is a legal practitioner and writer and can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org