It will be difficult to guess what the situation might be today if opposition is itself not so fragmented and incoherent, with some pushing for secession, others homogenising the Fulani into a ‘Fulanisation’ agenda campaigners and yet others canvassing illusionary options. Does the president think that things would be what they are today if he were confronting a really formidable, radical nationalist opposition capable of conscientising Nigerians along popular democratic aspirations? He has been lucky there is no such radical nationalist force or the invincibility he imagines must have democratically been ruptured. Still, in a diffuse, deterritorialised world as of today, the globalisation of danger can be real. In that context, the generalised insecurity across the country today; the utter helplessness of the state in responding to it and the meaning of it by diverse constituencies in the country and outside can combine to produce any outcomes. Thinking that terrible things can go on happening without intended and unintended consequences is dangerous.
It is not possible that everything said against this government is true and correct. What is true is how the government itself almost always ends up authenticating/confirming all charges leveled against it as a result of its crisis of ‘regime complex’. Someone appears on television or takes advantage of a platform to play platform politics and the minute after that, agents of the government are all out for such a person. It is shocking that a President Buhari is not embarrassed by a law which suggests that a particular broadcast is inciting. There is absolutely nothing on any media platform, including pictures, graphics and whatever, that is not inciting. It is like teaching but all such stuff are inciting in a manner helpful to the society. How would it then not be true to charge any government which doesn’t see anything wrong with medieval notion of inciting/incitement with a hidden agenda of primitivising Nigeria?
To suggest that certain things are ‘no go’ areas or cannot be canvassed in the 21st century is the surest indicator of a primitivisation agenda. The unwritten rule of discourse is already there to take care of what anyone can say or cannot say at any particular point in time in any and every society. Anyone who fails to observe such borderlines risks being ignored or isolated. Other than that, it is the worst form of Bonarpartism to hint that certain things are already settled and should not be re-opened. The fluidity of meaning means that it is ignorant politics to say that anything is settled. Constantly defining and redefining of just about any subject at all is the only way of reinventing such a subject by breathing a quality of newness to it. The notion of boundaries of speech settled apriori can, therefore, only be coming from elements suffering from messianic self-understanding informed by residual militarism, to quote the original source of that phrase.
It is not surprising that transformative leadership has eluded Nigeria. Notwithstanding the sophistication of individual members of the Nigerian power elite, Nigeria itself is basically a pre-industrial society. Such a society is desperately in need of a leader who is a baby sitter. A baby sitter responds to the impotent assertiveness of a baby by trying to sing it to sleep rather than smash the innocent thing on the ground. The spirit of a president elected by all Nigerians is the spirit of the baby sitter. President Buhari would, in the opinion of most Nigerians today, be rated a failure in that aspect and in every other aspects, by implication. He threatens, he unleashes, he seeks to subdue and he has absolutely no capacity for that by which politics is defined – negotiated accommodation.
Seeing the irritant or the rabble rouser or the trouble maker in whoever does not see things his own way or in the way his government sees it, he has been so successful in provoking prejudices and regional stereotypes that predated him but which his predecessors were able to handle successfully to a great extent.
The government believes that its enemies (or is it opponents?) are at work, mobilising against it. But what manner of presidential leadership might be this who cannot reach accommodation with such opponents whom it is clear it can neither identify, name and shame nor subdue? Continue to allow ordinary Nigerians to perish n the current magnitude all over the country? That cannot be right, from whichever angles understood!