By: Basil Jide Fadipe
Medical Surgeon, Teacher, Social Commentator
Justin Fadipe Centre
Commonwealth of Dominica
Dear Mr president I recall with nostalgia exactly where I was the one and only time I’ve ever heard you on radio! It was one winter 1983, at a butcher’s shop in York, England. I had just left Nigeria then chasing apprenticeships in English hospitals . That particular day, tired of regular hospital canteen meals…Yorkshire pudding, roast beef etc. I decided It was time I was my own chef I had hardly stepped into the butcher’s shop few yards away from York City hospital when your voice came rather fiatistically on BBC! ” ….. this government will have no tolerance for the nonsense of litigation ….” You had just seized power in a military junta and was determined to body- work an undisciplined society into shape. You obviously felt the cumbersome speeds of the courts stood in uncomfortable contrast to the sweet swiftness of military decrees! With draconian zeal, you stared down everybody and anybody, determined to extract, as you would ore, a ‘shape up or ship out’ Spartanism from every level of society particularly the notorious public service . Your colleagues would not permit; another junta no sooner ousted you, promising a better less militaristic dictatorship.
They were worse…style, substance and outcome Whatever indiscipline they met , they multiplied several folds the result ? Nigeria tumbled down a tunnel, heels over head. It remains my own measure of your temerity, vision and patriotism that never once since those years, your humiliating removal from office and subsequent incarceration notwithstanding, have you lost the singular aspiration to remain relevant and come back and steer the nation the way you deem fit . You downed your uniform, for the political toga and sank your sinews… every fiber into electoral sportsmanship . And though you failed first, perhaps again a second, treaded the waters and wallowed in the trenches until the third attempt, you were crested into office. In spite the blasts, you remained you ; unshaken, patriotic, austere… ascetic even, the man in my view, sculpted for the national Zeitgeist . You don’t win democratic elections without all shades of promiscuity; …strange bedfellows good and bad, clean and dirty, long or short … in addition to bizarre horse trading, promises versus plausible deniabilities ; all these the more likely in a nation, multi-polar and variegated as Nigeria. Yet through it all, the emerging Buhari remains an unmistakeable reincarnate of the old.
The person and the persona stand converged at a point on the cusp where strength, resilience and propulsion combine synergistically to imbue every beat. ….every beat, that is necessary to reperfuse and reawaken a nation hanging extremis on a cross to which a hundred million nails by a hundred million hands … all her own citizens .. have fixed her heart and soul. Pity, same nailers, each self-exculpating lachrymose denier chose to give you such a wonderful chance only so late in the day, you now also have to carry a personal cross, largely the wear and tear of age and self sacrifice. Your medical rush into London was neither secret nor good news. So many times, the clinician in me tempted my belief I could take better care of you than can a million British physicians . Remember it is never the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog . Mr President, here is one dog with a hell of a fight inside !
If wishes were horses, you would have me right at your bedside, charging with equestrian zeal to kick at any of the demons threatening to rob Nigeria of a stellar gift … of its once in a lifetime taste of a forcefully directional leadership . Look a leader Nigeria can do without;
Nothing, known and unknown of you places you anywhere close to these redlines . There is a time in a nation’s affair when the right leader comes at the right moment . Every bit of me believes now is that moment ; Nigeria on the cusp of a determinative leadership. No doubt there are some Nigerians who loath a Buhari, for reasons outside natural political rivalries, only because Buhari spells for them the mortal contraction of a space, a shadowy cosm defined by chaos or only little more , the more Hobbesian its dynamics , the more expansive their scoop, the better the quarries. For too long these shadowy hangers-on have reduced daily life inside the polity to a dolorous stalemate, a constant duel between an immovable object and an irresistible force;
But the new force , the Buhari Calvary comes equipped, barbs and all, ready to punch holes in their bubbles, the deflated edifices to be entombed in ashen ignominy. But noble minded citizens must climb on board the chariot adding to it the feeder spring and energy font. …. and for the long haul . The Nigerian mess is mess, it’s complexity beyond the analytic reach of one man . Only a rich salad of ideas freshly picked, spliced and diced can make a dent into the nasty undergrowths. But for the first time, arrives a driver at the wheel with a lifetime schooling for the job. Buhari needs both the trust and the patience of all stakeholders ; unless given, the country may miss the chance of a lifetime . I have never had the luck of being anywhere near the Buhari terms. …his first reign I had just left the country and now again still out.
God knows I would have been one foot soldier too ready for the trenches decked in full combat colors to fight the cause of a leader whose total style…. sincerity, simplicity and commitment to goal has stolen my heart . But I’m getting scared …,the inpatient nature of Nigerians , …. the lawless instincts of many, and ….reckless political adventurism of a few this ‘red rose’ in Aso Rock placed in our hands by providence may wither right there only to be replaced by a new generation of Allison Maduekes, more pernicious, more invisible lethal vampires . That would have been such big tragedy, one for which none but Nigerians, and they alone deserve to be blamed. The only demand I now make of our president is … please refuse to die, no matter the odds ..