Two Kinds of Buhari’s Supporters

Two Kinds of Buhari’s Supporters

By Azuka Onwuka

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria

There are two kinds of supporters that worked for the 2015 electoral of President Muhammadu Buhari. The first group is made up of those who supported the presidential bid of Buhari in 2015 because they genuinely wanted a better Nigeria. They were not satisfied with the administration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan, and believed that Buhari held the key to Nigeria’s transformation. They saw Buhari as a leader who would not condone corruption, nepotism, tribalism, mediocrity, wastefulness, flamboyance, and the like.

The second group supported Buhari for personal reasons. In this group were those who supported Buhari because he was their kinsman. They wanted their kinsman (or one who shared the same language with them) to be president. For them, it was their turn to rule Nigeria. Another section of this second group supported Buhari because his running mate, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, was their kinsman. The deduction was that if Buhari became the President, their kinsman would be the Vice President and make them close to power. And if anything happened to Buhari, like it happened to Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, their kinsman (Osinbajo) would become president. Another section of this second group was concerned with the fact that Buhari was a member of their party, the All Progressives Congress. They just wanted the People’s Democratic Party out and replaced with their party the APC. Then there was an arm of this group who saw Buhari as their idol that needed to be supported by all means.

Because the first group was driven by love for Nigeria, immediately Buhari was inaugurated as president on May 29, 2015, they started gauging his words and actions to see how they conformed to their expectations of him. Even though they were pointing out issues that were not properly handled (like the ethnic colouration of Buhari’s appointments and the long delay in the appointment of his ministers), they still believed that those were teething troubles. Some waited for six months to elapse, while others waited for one year before making up their minds about the suitability of Buhari as president.

By the end of one year, those who had expected that Buhari would be a different kind of president that would transform Nigeria began to criticise his actions and policies. Some of them were more ferocious than even Buhari’s opponents, because they had staked their reputation to support Buhari, quarrelling with their friends and family members because of that support for Buhari, spending their funds and resources to preach to people about the need to vote in Buhari, if they wanted to see a new Nigeria where corruption would be eliminated or suppressed, where tribalism would be downgraded, insecurity eliminated, and the economy boosted. Many actions and words of Buhari made members of this first group feel taken for a ride. They saw themselves as people with poor judgement because of their support for Buhari.

Conversely, the second group – motivated by personal interests – saw things differently. Whatever Buhari did was right. A justification was always given for it. If there was no justification, the action or inaction was compared with what happened under Jonathan or Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, to prove that it was nothing new. In some instances, silence was the answer – some less audacious members of this group would keep quiet and pretend not to notice that Buhari had done something below expectations or had failed to act as he had promised.

One trait of members of this second group is that anybody who is perceived to be against Buhari is branded an enemy. The person is demonised and lampooned. Even those who worked fervently to make Buhari win in 2015 are not spared. Stories are easily created to demonise these people as people who were compromised or people who changed their views about Buhari because they did not get a political appointment or a contract. The issues raised by them are sidestepped, while their personal lives and families are dug into to find something to twist to advantage and use against them.

Members of the first group see themselves as loyal to the nation, while members of the second group are loyal to Buhari, even though they still argue that they are loyal to the nation. It is members of this second group that give Buhari the assurance that Nigerians are behind him and are happy with him; therefore, he should continue with what he has been doing.

For example, the moment the news broke recently that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, would be charged to the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Monday, January 14, 2019, the reaction of supporters of Buhari was predictable. Their argument was that nobody is above the law. It did not matter that there is a subsisting ruling by the Court of Appeal that a judicial officer cannot be sent to a court for trial without passing through the National Judicial Commission, which will decide if the case has merit or not. When Buhari broke the Constitution to suspend Onnoghen, the same group promptly justified the action. The same reaction followed the police siege on the home of Senator Dino Melaye recently.

Buhari as a person has not helped matters. Buhari helps to fuel this division by his attitude to criticism and opposition. He sees anybody who criticises him as an enemy. Rather than focusing on the issue raised, he focuses on the individual. When his wife, Mrs Aisha Buhari, complained that those who worked for Buhari’s electoral victory in 2015 were sidelined and that it would be hard for her to go back to people in 2019 and ask them to vote for her husband again, Buhari ignored all she said and told the world that her wife belonged in “the other room.” The First Lady was perhaps lucky because of her relationship with the President. People like Mr Ayo Fayose (former governor of Ekiti State), Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Senator Dino Melaye, Mr Deji Adeyanju, and the rest were not that lucky.

This attitude has helped in dividing Nigeria like never before. Unlike before when Nigerians would unite after election and tackle national issues together, the division that existed among Nigeria during the 2015 campaign has been on throughout the almost four years of Buhari’s presidency. Early in his administration, Buhari widened that division by his comment about those who gave him 97 percent votes and those who gave him five percent votes.

Today, even in a discussion that has no connection with politics, someone would find a way to link your view with politics and determine if your comment about the weather shows that you support Buhari or oppose him. It is a sad omen for the nation. It needs to stop in this 2019.


  1. Uche Egbuna January 31, 2019 Reply
    • Azuka Onwuka January 31, 2019 Reply

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