Usman Usman: #IStandWithBuhari Should Have Stood By Patriotism

Majority of Nigerians by virtue of the outcome of the 2015 election and the general goodwill enjoyed by President Muhammadu Buhari already stand with Buhari. His integrity, years of resilient struggle and preparedness, his antecedents and his austere lifestyle when compared with other former Heads of State, endeared him to many. This was why he was able to beat an incumbent president from the largest party in Africa and in the most populous African Nation. This was almost an unreachable feat few years ago when the then ruling party boasted that it will be in power for sixty (60) years. The rest is now history.

During the campaign days, the Buhari Support Organization (BSO) was the umbrella body which registered the numerous campaign groups that worked assiduously towards the success of President Muhammadu Buhari and by extension the All Progressive Congress (APC). While the campaigns were ongoing, we heard about the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria another campaign body which was pro Jonathan. Never did we hear of the group #istandwithBuhari.

The battle has now been won and lost then suddenly, we heard about the hash tag #istandwithbuhari. T. shirts, Pee caps and branded vehicles sprang up from nowhere and the social media was bombarded day and night with the hash tag. The frenzy that ensued was such that those who didn’t give it much thought scramble to join. State chapters were set up and registers were opened throughout the nation at very short notice.

There is nothing wrong with standing by any leader anywhere in the world. Leaders need followers to stand by them through thick and thin in order to consolidate their power and influence.  But when that leader is Muhammadu Buhari, who contested elections four times and lost three, the tides turn immediately. Standing with Buhari should have been more during his trying times than now that he has conquered all odds to become the president. The Buhari Support Organization which stood by him throughout his political warfare is in a better position to mobilize Nigerians to stand with Buhari.

The brains behind the #istandwithbuhari group undoubtedly thought out a good initiative. The spoiler however was the fact that some of the leaders had antecedents that hold no water when placed side by side with what they intend to achieve. I must say that it is not a crime in itself to have worked for a different political party and candidate in the past but there arises moral questions when such individuals come together to praise sing a candidate whom they earlier worked against but later emerged victorious. This moral question prompted the social media activists, majority of whom, by the way, were ardent supporters of Muhammadu Buhari to staunchly oppose the #istandwithbuhari group.

What followed was digging up of past deeds and misdeeds between the activists who saw the #istandwithbuhari group as a collection of unpatriotic individuals who initially opposed the president and the #istandwithbuhari group. The consequence of this was the resignation of one coordinator after another and the eventual suspension of the planned nine million man march, reminiscent of the Youths Earnestly Ask for Abacha (YEAA) years, earlier scheduled to hold on the 31st day of March 2016. The group was labeled and a fraud and a scam.

To be fair to the #istandwithbuhari group, it could well be that the social media activists who resorted to name calling and labeling of accusations against them which eventually led to the downfall of the group, nursed grudges only because they were either not consulted nor invited, a right they feel they had, therefore were unhappy with the fact that these “smart guys” were about to hijack the victory they collectively worked for without involving or carrying them along in the least. It could also be as a result of their patriotic disposition which made it impossible for anyone to turn them into praise singers after nursing their reputations to the present stage. Whatever it was, they formed the first unorganized army that defeated the #istandwithbuhari group which eventually led to the final blow that snuffed out breath from the group; the statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

Excerpts of the statement reads:

“The Presidency formally disassociates itself from the #istandwithbuhari advocacy group and demands that the group should immediately stop claiming any alliance with the Buhari Administration”

“Among other reasons, we have found it necessary to distance the Presidency from the #istandwithbuhari group because it’s premature and ostentatious celebration of the present administration’s achievements is totally inconsistent with President Buhari’s philosophy of service with humility”

The last straw that broke the camel’s back was:

“The President prefers to give his fullest attention to addressing those challenges without the unsolicited and unwelcome distraction of untimely praise-singing from groups with dubious and questionable motives

And the rest became history. The social media activists rejoiced and celebrated this “victory” at every opportunity they had to make a post or comment while those behind the group found a new enemy in Garba Shehu while at the same time rolled up their mats to re-strategize on their next line of action.

The lesson here is that whatever we do, we must always put Patriotism and national interest first before personal and self serving ones. Knowing the antecedents of President Muhammadu Buhari, one will expect that praise singing isn’t one of the things he cherishes. It is true that through his impeccable records, he has been able to gather an informal army of followers who stood and are still standing with Buhari. This renders any formal attempt to stand with Buhari irrelevant especially as he is not faced with an unusual challenge as President at the moment.

If the brains behind the #istandwithbuhari group had extensively consulted most of the social media activists and other stakeholders in the Nigerian project before rolling out their mats, perhaps someone would have advised them to #standbypatriotism rather than #standwithbuhari. As for the later, he is human and fallible, as such, cannot always be right. So categorically standing by him is intrinsically wrong especially whenever he happens to err, and he will. It will only amount to sycophancy, attention seeking or out rightly seeking to latch on to the new administration at all cost in order to enjoy some privileges deserved by groups and individuals who braced all odds to stand with Buhari before now.

As for standing by Patriotism, it is influenced by love for the fatherland therefore, anything that clashes with national interest can be thrown to the dogs as long as the collective interest of Nigerians are preserved, maintained and protected.

Let us all begin to stand by Patriotism, that way, we expect neither benefit nor reward from anyone but accountability, equal opportunity for all and good governance for all Nigerians.

Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of nor its associates

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