The Restoration of a New Constitutional Order in Nigeria Under Buhari
By: Sanmi S. Ola
A friend drew my attention to something profound that I had taken for granted. He said, “have you noticed that more people than before now queue up at the ATM to make withdrawals? I know you’ll say it is the cashless policy at work but my conviction is that the lower economic class now have more access to money under President Buhari even though people are lamenting about hardship because they have not even realized how much has changed.”
Upon giving it some thoughts I concluded that my friend was right in several regards. President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has changed a lot of things even when as citizens we do not realize how much has changed because the revolution has been gradual as opposed to being dramatic and disruptive. He has implemented a departure from the norms without making any noise about it, while those who do not have the insight to appreciate what is happening channeled focus to his health, a natural event that can befall anyone.
Let us take a look at the anti-corruption war, which was a major promise that earned President Buhari votes from Nigerians, who where rightly fed up with the old order of cronyism that put hard earned national resources in the pockets of a privileged few. Since Mr President assumed office, we have come close to appreciating the magnitude of sanctioned looting that preceded him with daily tales and images of stolen funds that are being recovered from the most unlikely places. There are even instances of the owners of discovered stashes not coming forward and the courts subsequently ordering their forfeiture to the government.
If nothing at all, Buhari’s anti-corruption war has killed the impunity with which high profile thieves celebrate their odious acquisitions. Although still in its infancy, there is a growing culture of people asking bold questions about wealth whose source is not easily or logically explained.
A second facet is that funds that cannot be stolen are now being spent on the projects for which they are meant. The low income workers and artisans that work on such projects are the ones that now flock to ATMs to withdraw the proceeds of their hard work. The same hard work is rebuilding the country without many of us noticing it. This set of Nigerians had survived before now mostly on the strength of handouts from those that pillaged their resources. Today they live on the proceeds of their sweat with the dignity that comes with such enterprise. They are thus able to thump down their noses at the yesterday’s moneybags who have since learnt that sleaze and theft are not ideal traits in a Nigeria that runs on law and order.
In the course of the anti-corruption fight, President Buhari has come out as the leveler, the one who ensures the man who stole seasoning cubes appears before the same court as the one trying the suspected thief of N10 billion naira. Gone are the days when we made jokes of how stealing big is the only guarantee of staying out of jail. Nigeria has moved from a society of men to a society of law and order where the scenario of small man and small law, big man and big law scenario has been eradicated in the last two years.
The noise over President Buhari’s health therefore makes sense once one correctly identifies the relationship between those that have been forced to close shop because of the anti-corruption war and those making issues out of Mr President’s health. In most cases, they are one and the same and their objectives include actively seeking to confuse the issues while at the same time wishing evil on their nemesis.
Even in the midst of the unnecessary bedlam inconsequential politicians raise about his health, President Buhari continues to slash away at the lawlessness they prefer. His towering image as a symbol of the fight against corruption has endured and thrived irrespective of the concerted efforts that have gone into making it appear as if the country is not making progress.
Ola writes from Bariga, Lagos.