Buhari and the death of myth in Nigeria’s politics .

Myth is a story of narrative we as humans tell ourselves to give meaning to our lives. They are something more than fables or ordinary stories because of their symbolic value as a means to arranging our understanding about reality or the role of events in our lives.

Nigeria as a country is a myth making factory . There are stories about pre colonial societies and the golden age of the past, when as a people we are more unified, more moral, more everything which stands as a rebuke to our current or present reality .

In the north there’s the myth of Islamic civilization and how the jihad brought civilization to a loincloth wearing people with animistic practices and a lack of knowledge of Allah. Similarly, in the south there’s a whole tradition of story telling which extols the virtues of Christianity whilst retelling the horrible histories of human sacrifices, the killing of twins and various forms of slavery . The alleged hero’s of all these stories are always from outside. Simultaneously denying Nigerians as Africans agency in their own history whilst extolling the virtues of other societies, other religions and other ways of being . The communitarianism And republicanism of the Igbo society is always overlooked or ignored because it has been decreed that Africans can or should never have a role to play in their own development . IFA philosophy is similarly discredited and its values left for the descendants of the Yoruba in far away Brazil and Cuba to preserve . To those Africans in the diaspora they see the value of their beliefs and clearly have gone some way to maintain a connection to their past as a way of making sense of their present and directing their sense is self as they plot their way into the future. Similarly the sophistication and industry of the Kano guilds and craftsmanship and artisans are lost in this narrative which dehumanises Africa in favour of other societies .

Unfortunately that is not the case for us here in present day Nigeria .

That televised debate has laid bare the emptiness at the heart of our politics . I believe the rupture or the myth of Buhari is greater than the myth of his messianism or his integrity or anything which has been built or sprung up around the man. In a way,one can read it in a number or different ways but to focus it on Buhari the man is a great disservice to our intellectual thought about what this society needs to move forward and develop. There is a sort of analysis paralysis which has encumbered our political space for many years . The idea or inter ethnic rivalry, the alleged regressive violence of the north and the constant and ever present danger or wanton bloodletting and the orgy of violence which accompanies our political disagreements. Despite this fear, Biafra remains on the top of NIGERIAN politics. But the myth of Biafra is. not about the people of the south and south. The myth suggests that the Igbo want power or want to dominate others or want to succeed but. what it really is about is that Nigeria remains a failing state which is trapped in a downward spiral of decline . An unrelenting death spiral which has continue for over 50 years since independence when the failed promise of development has. transmuted into an existential death struggle between three ethnic groups to the exclusion the over 300 ethnic groups in Nigeria . The eternal tussle between the Igbo Hausa and Yoruba is laughable, as are the claims of marginalisation when one considers there are countless other smaller ethnic groups in Nigeria other than these three groups . But the argument goes that numerical strength alone should be the determining factor in who leads Nigeria . Numbers, and democracy is not only a game of numbers even though our founding fathers were under the impression that it should be. The politics of the past, much of which still remains with us today, was seen as a winner takes all affair. This retardant thought still remains with us today . This is why we cannot have a proper census or national ID cards because we don’t want to know how many Nigerians there are . Any system such as Nigeria which has been devised, has always been about how to share money, or oil wealth . Any system created has always been fixated on how to share the cake rather than how to grow the cake or make sure there’s something to divide in any case. That’s much of what passes for thinking in this society . What has always been missing is the idea of justice. or fairness. Which is why Biafra represents a drama of a struggle for justice. But We are all biafrans, especially the huddled masses of the north who are trapped in ignorance and poverty and all the worst indicators any society can be measured by. Northerners are the primary Biafrans of the Nigerian kleptocratic state . Their resources are stolen by their elite, whilst the myth of Islamic superiority is used to keep them in line . Just like the inventiveness of Biafra is used to shore up the idea of Igbo exceptionalism . The famed Jewish roots like the Arabic civilisation association is also used to try and make northern Nigeria stand out, there can hardly be anything more destructive than being trapped in the myth of your own making .

Which brings me to Buhari and that shameful display of ignorance and ineptitude. One should try and say something different rather than simply rehash well worn facts . I’m going to challenge myself to say something other than the man is at the epicentre of the mediocrity of our politics.

I also have a mea culpa to make . I assumed that everyone agreed the point of Nigerian politics was to share oil money amongst failing states. That’s why I could understand the clamour to get rid of Jonathan. I assumed that everyone agreed to that power at the centre wasfor the purpose of distributing oil money to family friends and cronies whilst trading on xenophobia and racism to keep people in line. But apparently I was wrong and I do apologise. Things must have been particularly bad under Jonathan for anyone to imagine that Buhari would be an improvement on Jonathan and so for that I apologise.

I believe subconsciously Nigerians are aware that Buhari is a monumental failure , but perhaps there was no alternative than to take Nigeria from one set of thieves and to hand her to another set of thieves.

Which brings me to another myth that Fela was just a musician. Recently I have seen people comparing Falz to Fela and talking about politically conscious music . It is about time that NIGERIAN universities and intellectuals start to accord his political philosophy the respect and intellectual acknowledgment which the music of Fela needs. His music and philosophy has a powerful message which Nigerians need to hear and understand and maybe even apply. I have reservations about his positions on gender and a number of other issues but fundamentally when it comes to an analysis of Nigeria’s predicament, we are still discussing Obasanjo and Buhari and IBB, flip ITT for Dangote and we are still here. I cannot wait for the first Fela course to be launched in a Nigerian University. Only then will it become clear that we have started the journey to move away from out past.

I don’t think that debate has punctured the myth of Buhari. It should have been the final nail in the coffin of that story but it will not be because we are Nigerians. Many will wake up and say he gave a masterful performance. But the physical expressions on the face of Ameachi said all that we need to know . The tragedy is that some people still want to continue with this charade and I’m committed to understanding their reasoning more than I am committed to debunking the nonsense myth that Buhari is some kind of messiah . Only we can free ourselves. Maybe we will when we are ready. Maybe we will because only we can free ourselves from the myth that is Nigeria.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store