Times are hard in Nigeria. A lot of us are physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially frustrated. Sadly, the only person anyone can kick in the shin right now is President Muhammadu Buhari.
But kicking President Buhari comes with great damage to one’s feet. President Buhari is a saint. You have to contend with fanatical Buharideens and Buharists who confidently believe that the man is God’s gift to humanity. You have to survive the onslaught of APC youths who absolutely detest free speech, freedom of expression or even rule of law. And then, most terrifyingly, you have to face your own people—the people to whom you preached Buhari in 2015—and try to explain to them that, all the gods forbid, you are not a “wailer”.
Or, maybe, you are just a known social critic and you want to score points for objectivity. Or, possibly, you are a generally nice person and—though heaven knows the fuel and power situation is killing you daily—you honestly don’t want to hurt the president’s fragile feelings.
Well, look no further, here’s how to criticise Buhari and still live to fight another day.
Start with PDP: Whether your criticism takes the form of a Facebook post, a series of tweets, an open letter, a full blown article or an inspired poem, always make like Lai Mohammed and start with PDP. Make it known from the outset that you positively hate PDP. Even if your knowledge of PDP started in the last 5 years–you must capture PDP’s sixteen years. (“16” is now a magic figure in Nigerian history.) This no-holds-barred anti-PDP stance is what will determine the “objectivity” of your article.
In APC’s Nigeria, PDP has no positives. And as far as APC people are concerned, the only objective critics of Buhari are the people who demonstrably supported Buhari. Those 12 million silly Nigerians who voted Jonathan are second-class citizens whose parents missed road in their upbringing. They have no right to criticise Buhari. Wailing wailers. Examples of how to start your criticism: “Everyone knows PDP destroyed Nigeria these 16 years…“, “When I voted Buhari in 2015…”, “In 2015, I supported the Buhari campaign…”, “If I had to vote again, I can never vote for PDP…”, “Let me be clear, I can never support PDP”. Of course, you may not have actually voted for APC or even voted at all on March 28, 2015, but that’s between you, your deity and INEC.
Commend Buhari’s efforts so far: Obviously, Buhari has not been lounging since he came into office. The man has been very busy. Take a look: he has enforced the TSA, routed Boko Haram, appointed excellent Ministers, prepared a Budget of Hope, solidified Nigeria’s foreign policy, and burnt a lot of aviation fuel. You have to acknowledge this hard work if you want to stay alive after your criticism. Look for something positive and praise it like the best thing since Olajumoke’s unsliced bread.
“I cannot help but praise your innovation in implementing the TSA…”. Do you even know what TSA does? Who cares? Just mention it. “As we look forward to the passing of the impressive 2016 Budget …”, “Your presidential poise in official photographs fills me with inspiration and hope for the future.”
Attack the other critics: You want to criticise Buhari and escape the whipping? Then make it clear that you are not one of them. By “them” you mean the wailing wailers–those 12 million Nigerians who voted for Jonathan and now have bellyache. You, on the other hand, are a genuine, objective, constructive Buhari-loving critic who wants nothing but the progress of the president. You do not want to be mistaken for those PDP anarchists.
“I know some people are happy that I am criticising Buhari, but they are mistaken if they think I am one of them”, or you can be very direct: “Fuck you, wailers. Don’t you dare think I am wailing.” You are merely advising the president. Honestly.
Play the “fighting corruption” card: If there’s anything that shows just how much you appreciate Buhari’s tenure, it is your stance on the war against corruption so far. Don’t you dare suggest the war is not shaping up. This is the only thing for which you cannot criticise Buhari. Anti-corruptuon is Buhari territory.
In fact, you have to go gaga on how overwhelmingly successful the fight has been. Here’s a secret: Buhari’s war against corruption is like the Emperor’s New Robes: if you cannot see it, then there must be something fundamentally wrong with your moral system. Or have you collected some of the Dasuki loot? You had better ramp up your appreciation of the amazing, glorious, and fantastic fight against corruption. “The war on corruption is a huge success…“, “I support the ongoing fight against corruption in our country…”, “President Buhari, the level of corruption in the country has dropped dramatically since you were sworn in!”
Beg permission for your criticism: Now that you have successfully demonstrated your loyalty, ask for permission to mention your concerns. Be polite. Buhari is not your daddy. Buhari is minding his business and you people and your problems will just come and be disrespecting him anyhow.“Dear Buhari, I know you are busy with more important issues like the Nuclear Summit, but allow me to mention this small issue of fuel scarcity…”
Criticise carefully: This is the dangerous part. Don’t rush in like a wailing wailer on a suicide mission. Don’t attack Buhari or blame him for whatever is worrying you. He is not the cause of your problem. He is here, like Jesus on the cross, to save you from the 16 years of your parents’ stupidity. So, watch your language. Keep the tone passive or pleasant. Also, make suggestions, don’t just criticise.
“Dear Buhari, sometimes we have to say the truth, this fuel scarcity caused by the PDP is becoming serious…”, “I wish to call the president’s attention to the recent Agatu issue…”, “I know the judiciary/CBN/NNPC/PDP/is not helping matters but I beg Buhari to look into the issue of…”. Acknowledge the stumbling blocks in Buhari’s path and suggest their removal. There are plenty to choose from: the CBN, NNPC, PDP, judiciary, rule of law, even the damn Constitution. “Buhari is king, fuck the Constitution…“. If you are desperate and your phone battery is about to die: “Buhari, epp us, plix.”
Reassure Buharists of your loyalty: Phew! That was close. If you did your work well, the Buharideens and APC youths will be in your comments at this point. They will praise your objectivity and constructive criticism. Your retweets and likes will be flowing like money into Dasuki’s account. You can go home at this point, but if you want to “kill them totally” just add another reminder of your faith in the Church of Buhari.
Repeat your attack on wailers and Jonathanians and, if you really want to go nuclear, Zikists, Awoists, IBBists, Abachians…. No, no. Don’t ever attack Abachians. Perish the thought. One mistake like that and you’re back in Wailerland. Don’t go beyond the 16 year benchmark. Buhari has a past too, so just stay in the present, or in the future. “I remain committed to the Change agenda…”, “I am confident in President Buhari’s abilities…”, “Under Buhari, I know Nigeria is destined for a great future…”.
Remind everyone that you’re the boss: If you are not feeling ashamed of yourself at this point, then congrats, you’re a first class sycophant! For the rest of us, normal citizens, we have our conscience to deal with. Knowing how much ass we have just kissed, we have to balance things by reminding Buhari that we elected him and we are boss. We will continue to criticise him. Hard. Next time.
“We are watching you, sir, and we will continue to be vigilant”, “In 2015, I promised I will criticise you, sir, and I am going to continue keeping my promise, sir”, “The office of the citizen requires that we do this, sir. Please, sir. Take note, sir.”
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Ayo Sogunro can be reached via Twitter on @ayosogunro