Buhari And The Prophets Of Baal

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Buhari And The Prophets Of Baal – Abimbola Adelakun

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“They prayed to Baal from morning until noon, shouting ‘Baal, answer us!’ But there was no sound, and no one answered… At noon, Elijah began to make fun of them… The afternoon passed, and the prophets continued to act like this until it was time for the evening sacrifice. But no voice was heard; Baal did not answer…”

1 Kings 18:26-29.

This piece was written by Abimbola Adelakun. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.

In the past couple of months, I have read a number of media interviews, newspaper columns, commentaries and social media updates by former ardent supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari. They all have a few things in common: They deeply regret their support for his candidature in 2015; are sorry they convinced others to vote for him, and have repented of their lack of perspicacity.

These folks all remind me of my Sunday school days where we learnt the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. According to the Bible account, Elijah had summoned the prophets of Baal to Mount Carmel to test which God was the true one – Jehovah or Baal. The contest would be decided by which God answered by fire. As it turned out, Baal was mute when his prophets called on him. Jehovah God, however, showed up and was declared the true God.

According to my Sunday School teacher, the prophets deserved their death because they were false prophets who promoted a fake God.

Years later, it occurred to me that anybody who could have agreed to the kind of contest Elijah threw could not have been merely “false.” You had to be a believer who took the God you served seriously to stake your life that way. The crime of Baal’s prophets was putting their faith in a God who was a moral coward, one that could not justify his prophets’ level of faith in him when it mattered most.

These days, when I think of the state of the nation, President Muhammadu Buhari, and his regretful followers, my mind goes back to Baal and my Sunday school lesson. Buhari, to me, seems to have become a typology of Baal, the god in which prophets – professors, columnists, intellectuals, pastors, political advocates, poets, civil society activists, thinkers, man on the street, and millions of voters who wanted a change– put their trust. People put themselves out for Buhari; some folks invested the credibility they had spent years garnering to vouch for Buhari. Like Baal, as feelers from across the country these days indicate, Buhari has let them down spectacularly. He has been unresponsive at the time and place when it mattered most.

I have met some of the people who worked assiduously on Buhari’s campaign. Every single one of them I have spoken to told me they campaigned for him out of a sense of patriotism. They thought if Nigeria could get a chance under a different leadership, maybe, we might finally be set on the right course. They were not unmindful of the fact that Buhari was no policy wonk. It was obvious to them that he was as rusty as nails and he lacked the necessary curiosity to stabilise a flailing government in the 21st century. They thought that if Buhari assembled the right team, he could cure Nigeria of its malady. To me, that was not a lot to expect.

My friend went from door to door in Lagos, distributing flyers and preaching the gospel of Buhari to voters, telling them “change has come.” Today, he bites his fingers out of both hunger and regret. Another one of Buhari’s supporters I know took time off his job in the United States and returned to Nigeria to work on Buhari’s campaign. He told me he was happy to contribute his own share because he genuinely believed in Buhari. At the time, they said Buhari was broke. This man thought that for a former Nigerian president not to have a secret stash, he must be incorruptible indeed. Yes, he too had his doubts about Buhari but when he met the man one on one in Abuja, the passion with which Buhari talked about rescuing Nigeria for future generations won him over. He thought it was well worth the stake considering that Nigeria was running adrift under Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. Today, he is one of the many Nigerians regretting what has suddenly become in our very eyes the Buhari misadventure.

What was sold to Nigeria as Buhari’s “Spartan” lifestyle turned out to be a myth; Buhari’s “talakawa” mien has proved to be less of an ideological conviction. If he was ever “Spartan,” it was simply because he did not have enough clout to access the feeding trough where the ruling class regularly dip their snouts. His 2015 route to the Presidency consisted in befriending the same set of people he was going to flush out of Nigeria. As President, his government has been more about propaganda, hypocrisy, indecisiveness, and overall failure to institute meaningful policies that can stabilise Nigeria. Buhari has abandoned his party manifesto and its promises to restructure Nigeria and enthrone state police among other populist issues. Instead, he has majored on spectacular socialist promises, most of which have been shoddily executed.

In fairness to Buhari, he was handed a depraved system by his predecessor. However, Nigeria’s present state is wholly his failure, and he should take responsibility for it. He frittered away the energy and goodwill that he had accrued by May 29, 2015 when his administration would not stop moaning about how Nigeria had been sucked dry. At some point, Nigerians realised that pillorying Jonathan was the Buhari administration’s desperate attempt to hide their incompetence. Then, came Buhari’s nepotistic appointments; his justification for disregarding the rule of law; the budget padding fiasco and the shoddy way it was concluded; the Bukola Saraki saga and how all the hyperventilating turned to nothing; Buhari’s lifeless responses to the massacres of the Agatu in Benue State, the pro-Biafran protesters, and the Shiites. Nigerians thought they were getting a “strong man” character but this has actually been heartlessness. As things stand right now, Nigeria has been taken back a couple of decades. Someday, we will recover from this “present darkness” although I doubt if we will make a full recovery.

Whereas, if there is anybody in this world who should understand the Nigerian economy; who should have answers to what ails the Nigerian economy at his fingertips; the person who should have jumped right to work the very moment he was elected, it should have been Buhari. The man spent 12 years trying to be President; he contested four times until he won. What did he think the job entailed? Buhari’s supporters and jingoists who spent the first one year of his administration inventing myths of his “body language” healing the sick soul of the nation have all suddenly and painfully gone quiet. They must have realised that Buhari can be likened to the Baal that will let you exhaust yourself on his behalf and still would not show up to rescue you! The prophets of Baal, by this time, have realised that they can spend all day to call upon this god to prove himself but nothing is going to change. This is a god to never follow, he subjects even his own prophets to ridicule.

Most people have documented Buhari’s failures as President so far but here is one more: the crime of Baal. Buhari let people stake their lives and credibility for him to be President but he never mustered the will to work hard enough to save their faces. If there is one thing I appreciate about traditional African religion, it is the notion that a God must earn his keep. Any God that abandons his prophets at a critical moment gets destroyed by both the priests and the community. Each time I come across a fervent Buhari supporter expressing regret they voted for him and also encouraged others to do the same, I see another one of Baal’s prophets asking him/herself, what is the worth of a god that abandons his own prophets?

This piece was written by Abimbola Adelakun. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.

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