It is common place to hear many who pride themselves as either politically sagacious or politically conscious to wish that ‘Now’, (the present) more than any other time should be the ‘prosperous era’ for our beloved but over-stressed nation, yet they, at the same time, harbor a notion that God Almighty, the Originator of the universe should rather be removed from the Nigeria’s political dispensation. But the recent event in the political life of our country seems to be putting a lie to that notion.
This notion is usually prompted, because of the unholy nature politics and sometimes due to the mis-notion or the illusion that man alone is responsible for his political actions and consequences, catastrophic or a megahit. They simply claim that religion (God) and politics should stand apart; claiming that prayer should not be brought into politics. Many do explain away this erroneous believe on realism, asserting that since we have been religious and prayerful over the years with no significant improvement in our polity, religion should be jettisoned and God be sidelined in the affairs of man.
Notwithstanding the above categories, a mass majority of Nigerians will say amen to my supplication as I pray thus: Oh God Almighty, please, make Now the Time. The time when Nigeria would be completely free of ethical chauvinism, when terrorism would only be remembered by how it was crushed, the time when corruption would no longer exist in our national lexicon, the time when the power failure would be a thing of the past, the time when there would be no news of depleted foreign reserves, the time when our national security would cease to be a flash in the pan but, an extolment of the past when Nigeria, as a continental power, virtually secured African. Let Now be the time when justice shall prevail in our land, the time when sixteen would never again be greater than nineteen, the time when six lawmakers will not brazenly attempt to impeach thirty-two others. Oh God of Mercy, let Now be when the peaceful co-existence of Nigeria would never be a thing of trepidation, the time when our lost honour and pride would be restored, the time when Nigerians will proudly say ‘I am a Nigerian’. And let this be the time when the Nigerians’ Messiah will truly have emerged.
The above prayers will definitely not come as a surprise to any good student of history. A careful look into the rich political history of the most populous black nation will show that Nigeria has been blessed with varying messiahs at different times.
The first messiah who surfaced in the mid-seventies inherited a divided nation that had just survived a civil war. With his positive policies; he united Nigeria via Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction. He was General Murtala Ramat Muhammed. In just six months, Murtala’s impart was felt in every part of the country. His plan to return power to a civilian government, unseated via January 1966 coup masterminded by Major Nzeogwu and his other ‘Majors’ (colleagues) made people to further love him. Muritala’s cancellation of the 1973 population census which was weighted in favour of the North (where he hailed from) further increased the trust of the southerners in him. Everything was going fine with ‘immediate effect’ until that fateful Friday afternoon when Muhammed met his tragic end in the hands of one Colonel Dimka in a futile and abortive coup.
God did not stop at one, after about a decade in the wilderness, He again sent another Moses. The second messiah came at a time when corruption has eaten deep into the nation’s fabrics, when unemployment rate was at its ascent, when Nigeria was fast losing her territory to terrorism; when national finances were deteriorating; and when religious and political violence was rampant, a group of soldiers led by Brigadier Sanni Abacha overthrew the failing civilian government. And the army appointed Major General Muhamadu Buhari as the Head of State. With this Moses was an Aaron- Major General Tunde Idiagbon who gave him a helping hand, Idiagbon was appointed Chief of General Staff, de facto second in command. As is now the case, Buhari inherited a near-empty treasury and huge trade deficit, accumulated during years of reckless spending.
Buhari didn’t waste any time before making his anti-corruption and economic revival plans public. Under his administration, there was no room for indiscipline; with War Against Indiscipline, WAI, everybody fell in line. Foreign debts were promptly paid and excesses in government expenditures were cut. The revolution was total.
The news of the incorruptible generals in town was spreading like a wild fire in the Savanna, with a holistic war against all forms of indiscipline as stubborn Nigerians became law abiding. With strict financial policies and long jail terms as punishments for corrupt officials, corruption was minimally reduced. Though the regime was blamed for actions that supposedly violated human rights, it brought sanity to the derailed country. But a tragedy struck on the 27th of August 1985 when Major Lawan Gwandabe led a team of Majors who were detailed under the orders of ‘Maradona’ General Ibrahim Babangida to arrest General Buhari. That marked the end of an era, so it seemed, or what Nigerians fondly called Buhari/Idiagbon regime.
Nigeria had to wait another twenty-two agonizing years before anyone nearing Murtala’s ideology or of Buhari-Idiagbon’s vision held the rein of our national affairs. Nigerians again went back to the polls to elect a new leader on the 27th of April 2007 after the outgoing president, General Olusegun Obasanjo lost his third term bid. Umaru Musa Yar’adua was announced the winner of the presidential election. Yar’adua, (May his soul rest in peace) was a distinguished gentleman, The master-servant as he fondly called himself was the only Nigeria president to publicly declare his total asset value of N856,452,892 (eight hundred and fifty-six million, four hundred and fifty-two thousand, and eight hundred and ninety-two naira). He also reversed the petrol pump price (75 naira per litre to 65) which was a ‘gift’ to Nigeria from the former president. Yar’adua shocked Nigerians, especially his political associates when he publicly acknowledged that the election that brought him to power was fraudulent and made moves to reform the `sick` electoral system. Umaru proposed a government of national unity and some opposition parties decided to join his government. All this happened in his first hundred days in office. So, if good governance is judged by the first hundred days in office, then Umaru would unarguably be declared the best president Nigerians ever had! But Umaru days after his first 100 didn`t meet many Nigerians expectations, perhaps because he had to settle his political `god fathers` or because of his ill health which did not allow him supervise many of the projects. He had to leave them in the care of his incompetent deputy, popularly acclaimed as a weak individual. Umaru was slow and steady, but he never won the race, he gave it up to pericarditis!
Yours truly, I make bold to say the names of these three men are written on a platter of gold when it comes to national issues in Nigeria. One major surprising but rather a common denominator about these three great heroes is their modest lifestyles in a clime where leaders take to the extravagant way of living. The other denominator is the sincerity of purpose in their approach to governance in an environment where public and political leaders simply aim for the loot.
If the above factors are surprising, the one that is rather baffling, mind-boggling and profoundly alarming is how these men didn’t stay long in office to accomplish their good plans for Nigeria. Their tenures were simply cut short. In as much as the military regime does not have a fixed tenure, their reigns (Murtala and Buhari) were disturbingly brief. Murtala spent just six months and Buhari’s was 18. More disturbing was the late Yar’adu, a civilian who had a stipulated time of four years but did not live to complete it.
It was at this juncture that I got more troubled, confused and puzzled. But in the pool of my bewilderment I realized that God has always been involved in Nigeria’s politics. He could have made any of these men stayed longer, but He never wanted then to be the Time. Perhaps, their ‘rough’ roads to power were their ‘sin’ (undoing). Both Buhari and Murtala came to office through the ‘barrel of the gun’ and the election that brought Yar’adu to office was fraudulent, by extension, a stolen mandate. Or, could it have been that Nigerians have not decided to change their cloudy ways? Maybe their brief stay was the reward for our unnecessary ethnical discrepancies.
Of all these Messiahs, there was a particular one many Nigerians, out of ignorance, wanted out of office during his reign. He probably took them into another world, dreaming and living three decades ahead of them. However, they have since regretted their actions after he was long booted out of office, especially with his recent re-election by a large chunk of the populace. Interestingly, he remains the only one among the three that didn’t die in office. General Murtala couldn’t survive the bullet that pierced through the glass of his Mercedes Benz along Ikoyi road, just as the sacredness and sound medical facilities of Saudi Arabia couldn’t secure the fragile Yar’Adua a day beyond May 5, 2010.
One other confounding fact is that it is this same only surviving hero of a leader that was not succeeded by his deputy. General Olusegun Obasanjo succeeded his boss just as Goodluck Jonathan assumed office after Yar’ Adua. But Idiagbon was not presented with such opportunity!
Could all these have been a chain of coincidence? The answer, of course, can only be but a capital NO. It is somewhat a message that Muhammadu Buhari still has some uncompleted mission to fulfill.
Oh God of Creation, on behalf of all Nigerians, I pray you to forgive our past misdemeanor, it was purely out of sheer ignorance. We have eventually got the Buhari’s message (although very late) and have responded to it carefully through his re-election. We have put our ethical discrepancies behind us, we have decided to change our dirty ways by returning your destiny servant, Muhammadu Buhari to power on the 28th of March 2015 through the best means, within the circumstance we found ourselves. If these are the ways to make-up for our `sins`, please accept it from us as the atonement of our misdeeds for we have turned a new leave.
Oh God of Mercy, if they are still other `sins` unknown to us yet, I beseech you to pardon us since You are the only perfect Being. Oluwa, please protect Buhari with something stronger than the walls of Jericho. Chineke guide the affairs of our President and bequeath to him the Wisdom of Solomon. Allah, bestow on him the strength of David and Moses. Save Nigeria through him as you liberated the Israelites through Moses, protect him from ravaging enemies as you protected Muhammad from the evil machinations of the unbelievers of Mecca.
And above all, our Dear God, Nigerians from across the six geo-political zones have come to accept (including those of us who did not vote for him) that President Muhammadu Buhari did not only need our support, he also deserves our PRAYERS. Therefore for the sake of our nation and humanity, make your anointed Buhari the Man (the messiah) and make ‘Now the Time we all have been waiting for; for we have waited for too long!’
Ibraheem Lanre; an Engineering student of the University of Ilorin, Nigeria writes from firstname.lastname@example.org