Tayo Balogun’s Column
I have decided to view the President Muhammadu Buhari situation from a football perspective. Using situation in the football club I support to illustrate the angst of those of us who feel that his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), has failed to help Buhari thereby making him appear incompetent and clueless just like Arsene Wenger was when he wisely resigned as coach of the most loved club in the world.
Let me start by stating that I campaigned vigorously, perhaps too much so, for the election of General Muhammadu Buhari four years ago. In the process I broke relationship with two of my very good friends. I didn’t stop my childhood relationship with another friend because I thought his advice on GMB was largely influenced by his loyalty to his erstwhile boss -General Babangida. And I can live with that. Four years ago he had told me that from what he knows of Buhari he was unlikely to make a good president. There was no way I was going to listen. I, like many, have become drunk on Buhari’s brew that easily intoxicates.
We had expectations. He was our Wonder Boy. Our life was going to be better. We expected change. But none would come. Buhari like Wenger began to flounder. Like it was with Arsenal under Wenger. Our country has continued to drift and going from bad to worse. Supporters of the club want their coach to gird his loins and effect drastic changes in much the same way ordinary and not so ordinary Nigerians want our President to improve our lot. Much like the Board of Arsenal FC the puppeteers of the President saw no cause to be mindful. And why should they be? It suits them to have a President that is on AWOL.
Arsene Wenger on the economic front was growing the club financially even when performance was mediocre. Puppeteers of our President are manipulating our country to their advantage, forming a government within a government. That served only their interests.
Last year, those who wanted Wenger out staged protests, boycotted matches and even took their quarrel to the air by hiring a plane to circle match venues flying ‘Wenger Must Go’ banners.
Perhaps copying that, penultimate week, one 26-year old graduate, Nura Iliyasu, decided to climb a 50-metre high mast in front of the Presidential Villa to start a seven-day protest against the President’s desire to stay in office beyond next year!
According to him, there is ‘bad leadership, national indirection, pervasive hunger and starvation, ungodly generic poverty… ‘ in our country. Iliyasu’s lamentation is not dissimilar to the protestations of fans of Arsenal who sadly had to watch their most beloved club lose honour by sliding on the league table.
It is instructive to note that the Arsenal Board was not going to be cowed into precipitated action. As if to dare the agitators, they rewarded Wenger with a new two-year contract. The rest is history. Fans boycott led to poor players performance. And Wenger had to throw in the towel. Not exactly in disgrace but definitely not in the way he would have hoped for.
Wenger like our President was highly regarded. And why not? In 22 years, he turned a highly defensive side playing boring football to the most entertaining club side in England in the process winning three league, seven FA, and seven Community Shield titles. But he got carried away by deserved adulation and never knew when to quit. Subsequently, he was watching his achievements being rubbished. He only woke up to realise that the train had taken him past his disembarkment point.
For our President, the situation is not dissimilar. He was expected to be our champion. Adulated by all as someone who will stop the rot we were in. He was going to fight corruption to a stand still. But months into his administration we discovered that our President has left our camp and has been taken over by those whose interests are more about what they can benefit from the system. Like the board of Arsenal FC, the President’s puppeteers have given him the go ahead to run for office a second time. But would Buhari for the love of our country do like Wenger -love our country more by stepping down- and subsequently stopping the hemorrhaging currently going on in our land?
Would we be able to find an Unai Emry even within the APC?