Between Muhammadu Buhari And Lamido Sanusi


When Mr Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and General Muhammadu Buhari(Retd.), former Head of State and presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change(CPC) , are mentioned in the same sentence, few words come to mind: discipline, austere, lanky, fair-complexioned, sharia, Fulani. These areas of convergence of the two men are very obvious. In other respects the two men differ remarkably. In the mid 1970’s when Buhari was already a Federal Minister, Sanusi was just a secondary school boy.

In other words, the two men are generation apart in terms of age. Furthermore, while the Kano prince is known for talking too much, the retired General is not a man of many words.

Apart from both being Fulani, their tested abhorrence for corruption and its various shades is perhaps the most striking similarity between these two men. Even before he became apex bank boss, when Sanusi’s name is mentioned in the banking sector, pen robbers and ‘book cooks’ shivered. His ‘let’s do it the right way no matter the consequence’ attitude was well known. Little wonder those that knew what he can do did everything possible, including, as we heard, raising funds running into billions, to forestall a Sanusi CBN governorship. Like a moving train that cannot be halted, the former First Bank boss trumped his adversaries and the obstacles they planted on his way. The rest, for the book cooks, is now history.

While Sanusi’s name sends shivers down the spines of these private sector ‘miracle workers’, the mention of Muhammadu Buhari unsettles both public and private sector thieves, real and potential. They know what he can do, having done it before. Unfortunately, majority of Nigerian politicians fall into this class.

Like the banking sector thieves did to Sanusi for which he triumphed, the lootocrats in the political space are already planting barricades everywhere to stop a Muhammadu Buhari presidency. They are okay with the status quo. They don’t want an end to the current kleptocratic system. They want our roads to remain deplorable. They want public service to remain corruption-infested. But I have a message for them: Hurricane Buhari, like Sanusi Tsunami, is unstoppable. The time for change has come.

Like Sanusi, Buhari has been accused of religious and ethnic bigotry. He will Islamize the economy. He has come to pursue a northern agenda. So they said of Sanusi. But just after a year, the same Sanusi became an hero. He became the most admired Nigerian. We saw his efforts, his sincerity even if he made a couple of mistakes. Media houses fell on one another to give him awards. Columnists and opinion writers praised him to high heavens. His efforts were recognized even at the global stage.

Buhari, like Sanusi, is also coming under widespread suspicion and mistrust, but I have confidence that the song will change too if Buhari is given the chance. Buhari is fearless, courageous, sincere and admirable. I am strongly positive that if Nigerians vote for Buhari, we will not regret it just as we are happy today that Yar’adua ignored the public outcry and went ahead to appoint Lamido Sanusi as the man in charge of the nation’s monetary policy.

Interestingly, the most incisive article I have read about the man Buhari was written by no less a person than Mr Sanusi Lamido Sanusi himself. In an essay titled ‘Buharism: Economic Theory and Political Economy’ , written in July 2002, in the run-up to the 2003 presidential elections, Sanusi, in his impeccable intellectual best, deconstructed the man Buhari and his ideals. Unlike previous writings on Buhari that dwelled shallowly on his personality and religious beliefs, Sanusi delved into his economic and political ideology.

The wide-read CBN boss, then a Manager in UBA, wrote: “The reality, as noted by Tolstoy, is that too often history is erroneously reduced to single individuals. By losing sight of the multiplicity of individuals, events, actions and inactions (deliberate or otherwise) that combine to produce a set of historical circumstances, the historian is able to create a mythical figure and turn him into an everlasting hero (like Lincoln) or a villain (like Hitler). The same is true of Buhari. There seems to be a dangerous trend of competition between two opposing camps aimed at glorifying him beyond his wildest dreams or demonizing him beyond all justifiable limits, through a selective reading of history and opportunistic attribution and misattribution of responsibility. The discourse has been thus impoverished through personalization and we are no closer at the end of it than at the beginning to a divination of the exact locus or nexus of his administration in the flow of Nigerian history. This is what I seek to achieve in this intervention through an exposition of the theoretical underpinnings of the economic policy of Buharism and the necessary correlation between the economic decisions made and the concomitant legal and political superstructure”.

“Within the schema of discourses on Nigerian history,” he wrote further, “ the most accurate problematization of the Buhari government is one that views it strictly as a regime founded on the ideology of Bourgeois Nationalism. In this sense it was a true off-shoot of the regime of Murtala Mohammed. Buharism was a stage the logical outcome of whose machinations would have been a transcendence of what Marx called the stage of Primitive Accumulation in his Theories of Surplus Value. It was radical, not in the sense of being socialist or left wing, but in the sense of being a progressive move away from a political economy dominated by a parasitic and subservient elite to one in which a nationalist and productive class gains ascendancy.

Buharism represented a two-way struggle: with Global capitalism (externally) and with its parasitic and unpatriotic agents and spokespersons (internally). The struggle against global capital as represented by the unholy trinity of the IMF, the World Bank and multilateral ‘trade’ organizations as well that against the entrenched domestic class of contractors, commission agents and corrupt public officers were vicious and thus required extreme measures. Draconian policies were a necessary component of this struggle for transformation and this has been the case with all such epochs in history. The Meiji restoration in Japan was not conducted in a liberal environment.

The Industrial Revolution in Europe and the great economic progress of the empires were not attained in the same liberal atmosphere of the 21st Century. The “tiger economies” of Asia such as Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand are not exactly models of democratic freedom. To this extent Buharism was a despotic regime but its despotism was historically determined, necessitated by the historical task of dismantling the structures of dependency and launching the nation on to a path beyond primitive accumulation. At his best Buhari may have been a Bonaparte or a Bismarck. At his worst he may have been a Hitler or a Mussolini. In either case Buharism drawn to its logical conclusion would have provided the bedrock for a new society and its overthrow marked a relapse, a step backward into that era from which we sought escape and in which, sadly for all of us we remain embedded and enslaved. I will now proceed with an elaboration of Buharism as a manifestation of bourgeois economics and political economy.”

In his concluding paragraph, Sanusi wrote: “Having said all this let me conclude by saying that if Buhari gets a nomination he will have my vote (for what it is worth). I will vote for him not, like some have averred, because he is a northerner and a Muslim or because I think his candidacy is good for the north and Islam; I will vote for him not because I think he will make a good democrat or that he was not a dictator. I will vote for Buhari as a Nigerian for a leader
who restored my pride and dignity and my belief in the motherland. I will vote for the man who made it undesirable for the “Andrews” to “check out” instead of staying to change Nigeria. I will vote for Buhari to say thank you for the world view of Buharism, a truly nationalist ideology for all Nigerians. I do not know if Buhari is still a nationalist or a closet bigot and fanatic, or if he was the spirit and not just the face of Buharism. My vote for him is not based on a divination of what he is or may be, but a celebration of what his government was and what it gave to the nation.” Interested reader may google up the full article.

I do not know whether Sanusi still holds this opinion about Buhari, but one thing I’m sure of is that his current boss will not be comfortable with this endorsement.

Like Sanusi promised ahead of the 2003 elections, I will also vote for Buhari. Not only that, I will mobilize within my very modest means to contribute to the actualization of Buhari presidency. Apart from Buhari’s impressive economic orientation stressed by Sanusi in his intervention, I believe if our national attitude changes, which a Buhari presidency can achieve, other things will fall in place. Now is the time for a bloodless revolution which the Buhari ticket represents. I spread the message of hope when there was widespread suspicion about Sanusi’s appointment as manager of the Nation’s economy, today I am proud many people have now seen what I saw earlier in Sanusi. Now it’s Buhari. Will you, dear reader, join me in spreading the message of hope again?

Suraj Oyewale
Victoria Island, Lagos
February 4, 2011


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