The senatorial candidate now senator-elect who gave notice that his singular mission to the Red Chambers was to actualize the amendment of the Nigerian constitution to make Muhammadu Buhari president for life is a prodigious buffoon.
But Nigerians must resist the temptation to dismiss Lawal Gumau as a wildly imaginative idiot miscast in leadership. He is an important herald. You can only ignore him at the peril of democracy.
Gumau’s heads-up is a dangerous omen. It indicates the existence of a conspiracy to crown Buhari the emperor of Nigeria. The seemingly ridiculous warning should trouble any sentient lover of freedom because the odds are good that the plan will succeed if it is pursued under the circumstances.
The Nigeria of today has a perfect storm for fascism. Our institutions are weak and easily compromisable. There is a reincarnated and unreconstructed dictator in the State House. He boasts a mammoth cult of personality which regards him as a man who is qualified to enjoy
the divine right of kings. And he presides over a largely docile populace.
Gumau expounded the Buhari millennial reign agenda at his last campaign rally for the Bauchi South Senatorial seat last week Thursday. He told a teeming crowd: ‘’ I, Lawal-Yahaya Gumau, want you to know that the mandate that will be given to me on Saturday is to go and protect Buhari’s interest in the senate.
‘’This is the only mandate that I will be going to the senate with…
‘’By God’s grace, we will amend Nigeria’s constitution to allow Buhari to be president for the remaining years of his life. He will cease to be president when God takes his life.
‘’Obasanjo tried all his best for the constitution to be amended to allow him to go for a third term, but God didn’t approve it because of its lack of sincerity. What is needed now in Nigeria is to protect Buhari’s interest and that is what we will do.’’
It bears repeating that Gumau is an unhinged man. His revelation of a plan to ‘CHANGE’ Nigeria to Buhari’s fiefdom, though, merits alarm. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.
First thing to note is that Gumau flew the kite of Buhari-for-life-president scheme in the presence of five state governors: Bauchi’s Mohammed Abubakar; Plateau’s Simon Lalong; Kebbi’s
Atiku Bagudu; Jigawa’s Badaru Abubakar; and Zamfara’s Abdul’aziz Yari. None of them distanced themselves from the idea immediately or afterwards.
Secondly, Gumau’s statement was replete with ‘’we.’’ He took it for granted that he would have sufficient buy-in not just to initiate the amendment process but to consummate it. He was giving full expression to the born-to-rule mentality that underpins the ideology of most
Northern muslim politicians.
Thirdly, Gumau’s manifesto reflects the current reality of Northern politics. One does not need to develop a platform that speaks to the needs of the local people. All you need do is glom onto the ferment of Buhari fanaticism and you win.
The strength of Gumau’s conviction in the magic of Buhari’s populism and popularity is evident in his certainty that the result of the election was a forgone conclusion. He talked about ‘’the mandate that will be given to me on Sunday’’ with a confidence that bordered on clairvoyant arrogance. He was cocksure that he would ride on Buhari’s coattails to the senate because of the blind loyalty of the Sai Baba sloganeers.
Gumau promised the people an infinite Buhari presidency. His reading of the craving of Buhari’s fans was accurate. The people want nothing else other than for Buhari to rule till kingdom come.
They don’t care about any substantial deliverable. The rescue of the uncountable legion of their out-of-school street children, their material poverty and their sub-human quality of life don’t matter to them. All they want is to exist under Buhari’s rule forever.
Gumau was exhibiting native wisdom when he proclaimed that his sole mission in the senate was to protect Buhari. He selected a theme that would resonate with Buhari’s believers. The person of President Buhari is the veritable religion of his besotted followers. If you canvass
for the longevity of his kingdom, the mob will add every other thing unto you.
Many Northern politicians believe that Buhari is the most powerful political phenomenon in the history of Northern Nigeria and that the fate of other politicians depends on his longevity in power. Governor Nasir El-Rufai alluded to this notion in a September 2016 memo to
Buhari. He wrote, ‘’Mr. President, it is clear to many of us that have studied your political career, that so long as you remain the political landscape, no Northerner will emerge successfully on the national scene.’’ El-Rufai posited that this was a ‘’divinely-ordained situation,
Northern politicians fear Buhari’s charm. Their life hinges on his favor. His endorsement is your victory. His denial is your defeat.
It was widely reported that women voters in Bauchi kissed their ballots and shouted ‘’Sai Baba’’ before casting their vote in Saturday’s election. Buhari was not on the ballot. But they had been told that the senatorial election was about Buhari.
It is imprudent to assume that the bid to make Buhari a life president will fail. Our history shows that Nigeria is vulnerable to absolutist tendencies. General Sani Abacha had all but succeeded before he was stopped dead in his tracks by the grim reaper. General Obasanjo was close to setting the record before he was defeated by national consensus.
The prospects of General Buhari’s transmutation to a life president is fair. Unlike Obasanjo, Buhari is the idol of a coalition of the illiterate majority of the North and pockets of semi-educated sympathizers in the South. They will be inclined to accept or tolerate the outrageous proposition that Nigeria needs Buhari’s leadership until the presumed paragon of integrity is certified dead.
Buhari is the messiah of the North because he has demonstrated an
abiding fidelity to ethnic chauvinism and bigotry, the likes of which other northerners have never dared to attain. Outside power, his support for the mainstreaming of Sharia law in Nigeria was counted for him as righteousness. In power, he has used brazen nepotism, the extra-judicial killing of Biafra protesters and his overt backing of terrorist Fulani herdsmen and their land grab crusade to consolidate his atavistic base.
Outside the North, his leverage makes attractive to all decadent politicians that prioritize political relevance. They will gravitate towards him for the sake of their own career. Which means he would have the critical mass needed to perpetuate himself in office, all things being equal.
Since he assumed office, Buharists have been trying to make an orthodoxy out of the myth that he is the only Nigerian-born man of integrity. He is the solitary upstanding scarecrow in field. Without him, a plague of locusts would ravage the land.
That bogeyman tale stakes the claim of the indispensability of Buhari.
He is irreplaceable. He is Nigeria’s guarantee of safety from corrupt plunderers.
It is worthy to note that President Buhari, his spokesmen, and his party, the APC, have yet to denounce the harebrained plot. Their collective silence speaks volumes. It may be a pointer to the shape of things to come.
Beware, Nigeria. ‘’Sai Baba!’’ is a potential open sesame to despotism!
Emmanuel Uchenna Ugwu
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