NEITHER Hailer Nor Wailer
By TONY OKOROJI
MY piece, ‘I Miss Gani Fawehinmi’ published on this page last week seems to have attracted some reaction. Those who read Saturday Breakfast regularly know that hail me or curse me, I do not join in the conversation once breakfast is served.
It was clear to me however that many supporters of Nigeria’s immediate past president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan were celebrating as a result of the article. They were celebrating because they interpreted the article to be a ‘born again’ moment for a hailer. To them, someone they had long concluded to be their antagonist had just joined the wailer movement and it was time to bring out the champagne and clink glasses.
In case you do not know, in the peculiar Nigerian social media lingua, a hailer is someone sworn to praise and support President Muhammadu Buhari, come rain, come sunshine. On the other hand, a wailer will cry and complain about any action or inaction of Mohammed Buhari even if it results in one Naira exchanging for one US dollar.
It appears to me that some of the opinions I expressed prior to the last election may have created the impression in some minds that maybe I am fundamentally opposed to Goodluck Jonathan. I therefore must be a certified supporter of Muhamadu Buhari, possibly even a paid supporter. Nothing can be farther from the truth.
Let me say emphatically that I am neither a hailer nor a wailer. I am simply a lover of the nation called the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I will support whatever I consider is good for Nigeria no matter where it is coming from and my support cannot be bought for any amount of money.
I have seen the pain and suffering that can result from deep ethnic and religious divisions. I do not wish them on my kith and kin. I therefore pray to the Almighty not to use me as a tool for the promotion of ethnic or religious politics. I was repeatedly told that I was naïve not to support Goodluck Jonathan who came to power with a very weak platform. I was meant to support GEJ simply because he was the closest thing to an Igbo man in the presidency.
To me, Jonathan is an incredibly likable person. He had a great opportunity to take Nigeria out of the doldrums. Maybe, as a result of the circumstances of his rise to power or his background, political journey-men hijacked power from him and he thereby lost the support of millions of Nigerians who genuinely liked him. By the time he realized it and wanted to deploy the billions at his disposal to buy support, it was too late. To me, GEJ squandered a historic opportunity and in his moment of serious introspection, he needs to accept it.
On the other hand, Muhammadu Buhari arrived with a lot of expectation. His personal story appeared to fit into what a lot of Nigerians wanted: a man who would do what is right without caring whose ox is gored. Buhari is not your typical politician and many felt that Nigeria did not need a typical politician. But has the reality matched the expectations? I doubt it.
I believe that in his health struggles, a lot of vacuum was created. Since nature abhors a vacuum, some of his lieutenants made themselves deputy presidents. Buhari has not found it easy to retake power from them. The Babachir Lawal matter was a revelation. The Malami matter remains an open sore. The herdsmen matter defies logic. So much that is unexplainable has happened in Buhari’s name. The strategy or lack of it appears to be that if you do not address these issues, they will go away. Our president appears either too weak or too slow to change course. The narrative has become that of a feudal presidency in which ethnic or nepotistic interests surpass national interest. Can he change that narrative? It will not be easy.
There are millions of Nigerians who supported Buhari not because of Buhari but because of Nigeria. They desperately wanted our country to succeed. Many are frustrated and asking themselves, which way Nigeria? Some remember a Northern Muslim called Murtala Mohammed who with his relatively short tenure has remained Nigeria’s most celebrated leader till date.
There is this narrative that if you did not support GEJ, you are responsible for whatever Nigeria is going through. I disagree. The serious challenges of the Buhari government do not mean that Jonathan should have been re-elected. What if none of them is good enough for Nigeria?
Please, this guy is neither hailer nor wailer.
See you next week.
….Okoroji, is the chairman of COSON.