The past few days will probably be a turning point in the relationship between President Buhari and some of the most ardent supporters of his candidacy in the 2015 elections in the country.
At least four key supporters from this group – Eniola Bello of ThisDay, syndicated columnist Sonala Olumhense, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka and Sahara Reporters publisher Sowore Omoyele – indicated that their romance with the retired General was over.
In a very critical article published in ThisDay of February 5, 2017, Eniola Bello threw well targeted and bareknuckle punches at the man he had promoted vigorously with every capillary in his vein.
“At the inception of the Buhari administration, expectations were indeed really high just as there were celebrations when Buhari sacked the Shehu Shagari administration on December 31, 1983.
“Twenty months on, however, have there been any significant changes in the national economy? Of course, but for the worse!
“With the unendurable exchange rate regime, it would be little surprise if Nigerians were soon forced to deal with scarcity of commodities, or queue for essential ones, as happened during Buhari’s first coming in 1984.
“On the strength of his performance in office in the last 20 months, there is no question that Buhari is very weak on the economy, and does not have the capacity to fix Nigeria.
“His failure is our collective failure to critically evaluate the abilities of candidates for elective offices based on their background, achievements, knowledge, and emotional intelligence.
“We all, politicians and electorate alike, were blinded by the failings of the Jonathan administration to have accepted just anybody to occupy that office.
“That was the only reason why a Buhari could have been elected president, despite his provincialism; his failure to broaden his social and political network; his refusal, since he was sacked as military leader, to acquire fresh knowledge and develop himself intellectually; and his politics of intolerance and exclusion for the 12-year period he contested and failed to win the presidential election.”
Sonala Olumhense who made no bones about his support for Buhari during the 2015 elections and after, packed even heavier punches and delivered lethal uppercuts on the same day as Eniola drew out knives for the Daura General.
In a piece entitled ‘The Fall Of Buhari, And The APC’, and published (coincidentally?) on the same February 5 2017, Olumhense wrote:
“As it has turned out, every one of us who stepped out of our comfort zone to support his leadership is not merely disappointed, but betrayed.
“Buhari’s words have proved to be emptier than a basket of water.
“Every hope that he would bring enough with him for Nigeria to build on has drowned in a sea of poor policies, no-policies, and cynical manipulation.
“To think about Buhari since May 2015 is to observe how power affects individual holders.
“Sometimes, a man takes office and becomes a prime instrument for building that nation or that community or that era.
“And then sometimes, a king assumes the throne clothed in layers of gold and the finest linen but only to expose his nakedness. Buhari appears to be the latter…..
“ Yes, Buhari is ailing now, but in nearly two years in office, it is not an absence of health that has held him back but an absence of will, temperament and capacity.
“The president is not leading with strength; he is being led by his weakness.”
Meanwhile, popular musician Tuface (Innocent Dibia) had on January 24 2017 announced plans to organize a protest to register Nigerians’ dissatisfaction with the performance of the Buhari government and the increasing impoverishment of people under his government.
He planned the protest for February 6, which was to coincide with the date the President was initially expected to arrive the country from his medical/holiday trip in the UK.
Though Tuface eventually cancelled the planned protest, it did hold despite the cancellation.
And among those who participated in the Lagos protest was Sowore Omoyele, whose online newspaper Sahara Reporters feverishly promoted the Buhari candidacy and until recently vigorously defended his policies.
Again Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, who was courted by the Buhari government and had supported both his candidacy and defended his policies until recently, suddenly regained his voice as a professional social critic.
Soyinka used harsh words in condemning attempts by the law enforcement agents to stop the Tuface’s planned protest against the government.
There are important observations and lessons for the government from the events of the last few days:
One, taking together, the events of the last few days raised the question of whether all these were spontaneous outpouring of citizens’ dissatisfaction with the Buhari government or whether there was some orchestration behind it.
But whether orchestrated or not, the point is that when the President returns – yes he shall return home hale and hearty in Jesus’ name – he will simply learn that the music has changed and so he must also change his dance step.