Femi Aribisala is a certainly one of the clearest and most effective journalists and bloggers writing out of Nigeria. He is one writer who truly never seems to disappoint with his pen, be it a tweet or an essay for Vanguard or elsewhere. In a recent tweet Aribisala emphatically states @femiaribisala – March 13th 2016; “Buhari said he is a poor man during the election, now he says he is a rich man who can afford to send his children to school abroad.”
Before the 2015 elections millions of pro-Buhari supporters swore by his ostensible Spartan-lifestyle and self-imposed poverty as an exemplary model to be emulated by all for Nigeria to progress. Those very same people are now with violent vehemence and intolerance defending the entitlement of President Muhammadu Buhari to be a very rich man.
For most of President Goodluck Jonathan’s reign he was incessantly mocked as “shoeless” because he famously claimed that as a child he and his family could not afford shoes for him, and “clueless” for apparent presidential incompetence. However, Buhari has the legitimacy to become ‘Cinderella’ courtesy Nigerian coffers. Is this hypocrisy, schizophrenia or split personality of the part of the pro-Buharis? The only unanimous excuse for Buhari’s presidential incompetence right now is to wait and pray.
If getting rich while in office at the expense of the state is wrong, it should be wrong for everybody. However, Buhari is now a legitimate exception. He can send his children overseas for education while he and his minister for education allow Nigeria’s one-time meritorious universities to sink further under his watch.
There was a time in Nigeria, especially in the 1970s and 1980s when the children of the people who ruled Nigeria the Obasanjos, Yar’Aduas, Shagaris, the governors (military and civilian), the ministers, the senators, top bureaucrats, the professors and the top business people etc. all sent their children to Nigerian universities for their first degrees. That all seems have happened a long time ago now.
If Buhari is now a self-styled ‘rich man’ after getting elected into office primarily as a self-styled ‘poor man’, the only significant “change” Mr President has succeeded in achieving so far is a change in his financial status; from poverty to abundance. What an example that will present to politicians seeking office in future. I bet Buhari will leave office swearing he never saw a kobo while in office and once again revert to being a self-styled poor man yet again. I hail O!
Change has many many dimensions that are at the time they proclaimed are totally different from what electorates expect it to be or mean; only if they knew. Change can also have good and bad results. I have no regrets for being hoodwinked by Buhari.