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Olawale Rasheed

A great writer, Prof. Akpoedete recently wrote an analysis of the President asking whether Muhammadu Buhari is a snail or sniper. On close reading, he questioned the narrative of a snail at Aso Rock. Many colleagues disagreed with him then.

Now few weeks after and close to 100 days in office, I have been receiving calls. A new narrative is emerging. Overwhelmingly, a Buhari is now adjudged a political sniper in a heavily landmine political field. I cannot disagree as such due to many reasons.

A snail crawls but hardly makes a spectacular hit. A sniper may crawl for weeks but the hit is mostly star trek. A snail may be empty headed in term of strategy but a Sniper is in a world of his own , manoeuvring and out-smarting guards of heavily fortified figures and cliques.

Let assume the President is now a sniper. Then who is safe? Before I go to that, there is one dangerous analogy I want to make. Here I plead that our Fulani race forgives me.

There was a popular Islamic preacher at the ancient city of Ilorin , late Sheikh Raheem Oniwasi Agbaye. He once made analogy of Fulani style of silence and sniper tendencies in power wielding. A Fulani is an innate unobstructive tactician, looking helplessly but conjuring net of tactics to prevail.

Mr President once visited his farm in Daura. He personally tended his cows that day and our boss, Garba Shehu and other media handlers around the President released the pictures. I feel there is a metaphor in that visit which has not been deciphered. Is the president sending a message? Have you care to study how Fulani herdsmen navigate dangerous territories from north to south and across international boundaries? Isn’t there a measure of ‘sniperism’ in this unseen but vastly powerful and unique race?

But is a sniper really bad? A sniper has a target. In the political field , the targets according to the administration are the corrupt and lawless figures. Interestingly, the targets are heavily fortified and even believe they own the system.

No matter how skilful a sniper is, he must secure his point of operation. No matter how small the point of firing is, self preservation is the first law not just of life but for anybody who want to aim at nuclear armed target. How do snipers get the code operator before he presses the button?

Can this explain the reasons for the type of personalities selected to man critical points? Is that why the President is assembling is own breed of Spartan austere figures he had moulded over the years? Can that also explain the reasons why many are thinking recent appointees are some aliens from another planet imported to Aso Rock?

If the analogy of a sniper is accepted, the question is why a sniper? A reading of analysis and reactions from establishment forces in recent days may have provided answers. There is a spoken and unspoken consensus that the nation was in deep crisis prior to the last election. At a point, many lost hopes of the system getting reformed and becoming functional.

Corruption and bad governance were becoming accepted as norms we must live with. Attempted reforms are greeted with entrenched skepticism. Patriotic passion gasps for breath. If we want to be sincere, how many Nigerians truly have hope of reformation of the deeply corrupted and compromised governance structures in the country?

Something is happening to Nigeria that we cannot explain. A friend calls it returning Nigeria to factory setting. That analogy strikes me but I still could not make meaning out of it. I was asking which of the factory setting?

There is what President Barrack Obama called audacity of hope. In Nigeria, somebody has a dream of getting Nigeria back to herself, to make her governance system work, to make custom service corruption free, to restore integrity and efficiency of the Office of Chief of Staff, to place merit first in security and military appointments and to seek “aliens” who are saints to man critical sectors.

These are great hopes and dreams. Some analysts even mocked the Daura man on his quest for saints in making appointments. Reading those commentaries, one feels condemned as a irredeemable nation of looters and compromisers. When a people resigned to a level of irredeemability, only saints from alien land can feel the slots. That may explain the nature of recent appointments.

But who is safe with a political sniper? Yes, I believe we are all safe. Those who may be hit by the sniper can be classed into three categories namely those who believe the system cannot change, those who want to stop the change and those who aim at the sniper.

These are unusual times. There is air of unbelievability, there is a sense of bewilderment. I have those feelings too.

But sincerely Buhari has pressed the reset button. Who will stop a concealed sniper especially one with tremendous public goodwill?

Olawale Rasheed writes from Abuja

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