By Prof Akinyemi Onigbinde
The greatest thing Nigerians accomplished in the last thirty years was electing Muhammadu Buhari as president. If he had lived and died without being president, no one would push back when politicians fall over themselves to deliver tributes and call him the greatest president that Nigeria never had.
After six years of Buhari’s administration and with only two more years to go, all is settled about the rhymes and stanzas of Buhari’s elegy. Some thirty years from now, people will stone anyone who attaches “greatest ” to any tribute at Buhari’s funeral.
You may ask if anything is worth the cost of having Buhari as president?
Before you do, there is another reason why his election was the greatest accomplishment of the Nigerian electorate in the last 30 years. If Buhari had not been president, if his incompetence had not been exposed to the uninitiated, Nigeria would have continued its zigzag path. The one-step-forward, two-steps-backwards trajectory would have continued unabated.
Thus, Buhari helped the unrestructured Nigeria to confront its foreseeable future. That is Buhari’s first legacy.
Here is Buhari’s second legacy: It may not be clear yet to the Fulani people, but Buhari’s presidency has damaged them more than any other group in Nigeria. Buhari’s inability to have an objective view of what leadership entails in a diverse country like Nigeria and his propensity to side with his Fulani people even when every donkey could see the bias undermined the Fulani deeply. He diminished whatever legitimate claim they have in what is clearly a fast-moving degenerative Nigeria’s structural carnage. The Fulani were better off in Nigeria six years ago than they are today. That is Muhammadu Buhari’s second legacy.
In the context of Nigeria’s nationhood, Buhari’s second coming was a necessary evil: He came, he saw, and he hastened its ruination for everyone.
If Buhari had not been president, Nigeria would have been ‘managing.’ The Peoples Democratic Party of Goodluck Jonathan and Sambo Dasuki and Diezani Allison-Madueke would have been paying Dangote to rob Otedola, even as the country continued the slide down the valley of death. Buhari accelerated the collapse by taking the country on a bungee jump down the deepest part of the valley using a frayed rope.
The rope is breaking. Anyone with functioning ears can hear the splitting threads from miles away. High above the deepest part of the valley, Nigeria barely holds on to Buhari’s back. Two things will happen: Either Nigeria loses its grip on Buhari’s back and falls into the valley of death, or the rope rips and both Nigeria and Buhari plunge down the valley. Either way, death is the expected end.
The only miracle on the horizon is to get Nigeria to a place where it cannot fight the Igbo and the Yoruba nations simultaneously.
In a one-on-one fight, Nigeria may defeat any of its components. Nigeria may defeat the Igbo. Nigeria may run over the Yoruba. Nigeria may crush the Ijaw, the Ibibio, the Tiv, the Ijaw, the Kanuri, the Fulani, the Bachama, the Idoma, the Urhobo, etc. Nigeria cannot defeat the Igbo and the Yoruba at the same time. In a fight between Nigeria on one side and an Igbo-Yoruba alliance on the other, many ethnic minority groups will take the side of the alliance.
Whether the fight is in the physical or spiritual realm, whether it is in the democratic realm or the ideological realm, Nigeria has no chance of winning a fight against the combined forces of the Igbo and the Yoruba. For a table with three legs, one leg has no chance of keeping the table standing when the other two legs take a knee. The Igbo and Yoruba need to take a combined knee. That is the ultimate way to shake the table called Nigeria.
Nigeria needs to get to a point where it faces the prospect of fighting a united Igbo and Yoruba power. It needs to happen now. That reality needs to be clear, concrete, and ironclad. It is the only magic wand that can save Nigeria.
Is it easy to achieve? No. Is it possible? Yes.
What will it take to get Nigeria to that place where it risks fighting the Igbo and the Yoruba simultaneously?
The way to achieve this is for the Igbo and the Yoruba to embrace Thomas Jefferson’s greatest philosophy. The man who drafted the U.S. Declaration of Independence said, “I admire the dreams of the future more than the history of the past.”
The Igbo and the Yoruba must admire the dreams of the future more than the history of the past. They must do it not just for their children’s children but also for all those children from East to West, North to South, trapped in prisons of mediocrity and death, which are the only gift of an unfair, unjust, and dysfunctional Nigeria.
The Igbo and the Yoruba owe this to future generations of the people currently trapped in Nigeria. It is their responsibility. Posterity will blame the Igbo and the Yoruba in Nigeria if they fail to catch the wave. Thanks to Buhari’s misadventures, the awareness of today is total and overwhelming. Severe penalties await the Igbo and the Yoruba if they fail to act now and free unborn generations from the manacles of Muhammadu Buhari’s.
Professor Akinyemi Onigbinde
Snr Research Fellow
Institute of African Studies
University of Ghana