The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmund Burke
Political history of Nigeria for 58 years is history of why good people follow bad leaders. Why do bad leaders rise to the top? Why do we keep following them? Why do we keep electing them? Nigeria is a country where bad leaders attract blind followers. Bad leaders have done irreparable harm to our country, yet they have faithful followers.
Nigerians have tons of knowledge about how Nigeria should be, but everything, I mean everything, in Nigeria remains more dysfunctional, chaotic, and ungovernable. Yet, Nigerians nominate bad leaders as presidential candidates of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). How is that even possible?
Some of the characteristics of our bad leaders include: believing that they are the greatest, and others don't matter. They engage in corruption directly or indirectly. They have no concern about hurting others. They are incompetent, and they threat anyone who stand in their way of power or accumulating wealth. They use state organs or structures such as the police, the army to interfere, subjugate, suppress, and oppress others. They have the tendency to over control by instilling a culture of fear, reprisal, and isolation. They appoint puppets in key and important portfolios so they can be controlled and manipulated.
A leaked audio recording in which the Minister of Transportation and Director General of President Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organization Rotimi Amaechi allegedly described Nigeria as helpless and hopeless, exposed the incompetence, foolishness, aloofness, stubbornness, arrogance, and dumbness of President Buhari has since gone viral.
Here's Amaechi talking: “This country can never change, I swear. The only way this country can change is if everybody is killed. When Magnus (Abe) was my SSG, I told him that this country is hopeless and helpless. He said “Oga, stop it now. Coming from a governor, don't be saying that. But two months in Abuja, Magnus said this country is hopeless and helpless. I said why? He said, you are right, the only thing they do in Abuja is share money, they don't work. The president does not listen to anybody. He doesn't care. You can write want you want to write. The president doesn't care. Does he read? He will read, he will laugh. He will say “come, come and see, they are abusing me here.” “In fact, there was one case of somebody in Onitsha, a trader in Onitsha who couldn't sell his goats during Sallah. And I was with Oga on the plane and the man was busy abusing Buhari. He said “Amaechi, come, what is my business with Onitsha goat seller.?”
Before the Amaechi leaked audio, I've been thinking and asking myself why are some Nigerians still supporting and following bad leaders like Buhari and Atiku? Good old fear is one reason why people still support the Buharis and Atikus. Fear of Buhari's and Atiku's formidable opponent – Omoyele Sowore presidential candidate of African Action Congress (AAC) of disrupting for good and for ever, our old purposeless politics.
Contempt is another reason. One of the tactics of Buhari's administration is scapegoating his failures and incompetence on past administration of President Jonathan. Saying things like “I met an empty treasury,” “I didn't know the situation was that bad,” “There's less corruption in my government than Jonathan's,” “Buhari administration has fulfilled all its promises to Nigerians,” “Boko Haram has been decimated,” “We can't fix 16 years of PDP rot in four years,”
Lies is yet another reason. It's amazing how blatant lies can be believed. Once Buhari followers accept certain lies such as “We have created two million jobs,” We're moving the country in the right direction,” “Buhari is a man of integrity,” “Buhari is doing his best but the National Assembly is the problem,” “We have constructed so many miles/kilometers of roads,” “We have empowered ten million women through Tradermoni,” “We're producing more rice than we can consume.” Because of these and other numerous lies, Buhari supporters do their best to support him with confirmation even when it's not true.
Followers of Buhari thrive on fake news and lies. It was Nero who promoted the fake news that Christians had burned Rome when he was the one to blame. Lying about it strengthened his power and moved his agenda forward. Similarly, from small falsehoods and omissions to sprawling lies and intentionally deceptive schemes, Buhari has been hoodwinking his supporters who are willing to be deceived because they like what is being offered.
Promises make supporters of Buhari follow him. False hopes create false pictures about the past and the present, Buhari offers glowing images of the future, saying “Follow me to the NEXT LEVEL!”
We are weeks to the presidential elections, so what do we do? The most important skill of leadership is to lift up people and tackle major challenges. Nigerians this time around, must be wise in finding the best candidate and support him rather than defer to the Buharis and Atikus and follow them blindly. We must be cautious and do due diligence on the three major candidates – Sowore, Buhari, and Atiku – before following, supporting, and voting for them. We must remember that we need a candidate who can tackle challenges of governance and improve the debilitating socioeconomic conditions of our people.
What gets measured gets changed. It is instructive to remind supporters of Buhari and Atiku that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. When results of their past are measured, no doubt Buhari and Atiku candidacies are not good for Nigerians.
With the record of Buhari and Atiku, Nigerians should and must reject them at the polls. We must consider the skills needed of a good president: strength, vision, compassion, and humility... Let's go there!