• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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BusinessDay

Buhari: Lies, fiction and propaganda (1)

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To be sure, this piece may not dwell much on Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s antecedents but a little rehash of his past statements and utterances on the polity would suffice to set the agenda for the discussion. I have always been advisedly circumspect while discussing Gen. Buhari’s stand on some national issues. Reason being that I have always chosen the path of restraint when it comes to a bandwagon stereotyping of people. But a cursory look at some of Buhari’s recent utterances on some critical national issues tends to lend credence to the public perception of him. Some feel he is suspect when it comes to matters of religious fanaticism. Others feel he is too autocratic to be allowed to govern a democratic Nigeria. Whatever informed these conclusions about him is not the task of this writer, but one fact that is crystal clear is that as a diverse nation, it should not be lost on us that in matters of politics, perception matters more than reality. In very many cases, it is someone’s public posturing that determines how he is perceived by the public.

It is against the above backdrop that I would approach the myriad of alleged public utterances that have been credited to Gen Buhari and how his party, APC, has capitalized on our collective amnesia as a nation to rebrand, repackage and reproduce a brand new Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of 2015. This is a man that Nasir el-Rufai, one of his ardent followers of today, once described as being “perpetually unelectable” due to his narrow-mindedness. While not trying to cast aspersion or impugn the integrity of the general, it is nonetheless pertinent that history is revised to help shape both our present and future politicking. Talking about Buhari’s narrow-mindedness, nothing typifies or speaks more volumes of his lack of broad knowledge of Nigeria than his reference to his presidential running mate as ‘Osinbade’ rather than ‘Osinbajo’. Even more damning is his lack of knowledge that there is a state in the South East called Imo State. Having risen to the top echelon of Nigeria’s military (and even ruled the entire Nigeria in the process), such blunders are inexcusable.

It is, therefore, a joke taken too far that some selfish rascals could in the name of politics try to dust up the image of a man who was once quoted to have said in 2001 that “I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria. God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country.” Those were strong words emanating from a supposed nationalist in a secular Nigeria.

Also, his much publicized interview in Liberty FM, Kaduna, wherein he was quoted to have alleged that the Federal Government was slaying his people (Boko Haram) who took up arms against the state whereas their Niger Delta counterparts were treated with kid gloves is, to say the least, as awful as it is unbecoming of a frontline presidential candidate.

It beggars belief, therefore, how Nigerians have suddenly forgotten that it was the statement credited to Gen. Buhari in the build-up to the 2011 elections that precipitated the avoidable carnage that claimed the lives of about 800 innocent Nigerians, including corps members. Buhari was widely reported in the media to have exhorted his followers thus: “You guard, protect, escort to the collation centre and wait till the result is counted. Anyone who stops you, kill them.” What? Is this for real? Also closely related to the above is his outburst (in 2012) that “if what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood”.

All this, and many more, constitute the story of the man who has been so repackaged and sold to the unwary as the messiah we need at this point. While I concede that most of his utterances were predicated on rigging, the question the general should answer is: who determines when elections are rigged if you fail to submit to the only institution (the courts) legally authorized to determine if elections were indeed rigged?

Having dwelt much on the above, it is time to dissect some of the most recent lies told and sold to Nigerians by APC on the person of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. Some of these lies which adorn all social media platforms have been told over and over again and if left uncontroverted may begin to wear some semblance of truth. Nothing could better describe Buhari’s (or APC’s) influence and popularity in the social media than the statement credited to Governor Sule Lamido on Tuesday, 17thFebruary, 2015 when he aptly captured the situation by stating that if one followed the social media, one could be deluded to think that APC had won 99 percent of the votes.

The lies told about Buhari’s heroics are too many that the former head of state even had the cause to come out openly in one occasion to correct some of the disinformation being peddled about him in social media. For instance, in an attempt to market him, some persons have circulated messages that Buhari’s daughter is married to an Igbo man. Those who invented the rumour had a good intention: beyond trying to make him have a national appeal, they also wanted to prove to the world that he is not a bigot. But Buhari, perhaps more honest than his handlers, has denied it. He said none of his children is married to an Igbo man. Interestingly, the rumour was attributed to Obasanjo by one of the broadcasters!

Ken Eluma Asogwa