By Emmanuel Ugwu
Nigerians must resist the temptation to dismiss Lawal Gumau, the senatorial candidate now senator-elect who gave notice that his singular mission to the Red Chambers was to actualize the amendment of the constitution to make Muhammadu Buhari president for life as a wildly imaginative fellow miscast in leadership. He is an important herald. You can only ignore him at the peril of democracy.
Gumau’s heads-up is a dangerous omen. It indicates the existence of a conspiracy to crown Buhari the emperor of Nigeria. The seemingly ridiculous warning should trouble any sentient lover of freedom because the odds are good that the plan will succeed if it is pursued under the circumstances.
The Nigeria of today has a perfect storm for fascism. Our institutions are weak and easy to compromise. There is a reincarnated and unreconstructed dictator in the State House. He boasts a mammoth cult of personality which regards him as a man who is qualified to enjoy the divine right of kings. And he presides over a largely docile populace.
Gumau expounded the Buhari millennial reign agenda at his last campaign rally for the Bauchi South Senatorial seat last week Thursday.
He told a teeming crowd:
“I, Lawal-Yahaya Gumau, want you to know that the mandate that will be given to me on Saturday is to go and protect Buhari’s interest in the senate. ’This is the only mandate that I will be going to the senate with…
“By God’s grace, we will amend Nigeria’s constitution to allow Buhari to be president for the remaining years of his life. He will cease to be president when God takes his life.
It bears repeating that Gumau is an unhinged man. His revelation of a plan to ‘CHANGE’ Nigeria to Buhari’s fiefdom, though, merits alarm. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.
First thing to note is that Gumau flew the kite of Buhari-for-life-president scheme in the presence of five state governors: Bauchi’s Mohammed Abubakar; Plateau’s Simon Lalong; Kebbi’s Atiku Bagudu; Jigawa’s Badaru Abubakar; and Zamfara’s Abdul’aziz Yari. None of them distanced themselves from the idea immediately or afterwards.
Secondly, Gumau’s statement was replete with ‘’we.’’ He took it for granted that he would have sufficient buy-in not just to initiate the amendment process but to consummate it.
The strength of Gumau’s conviction in the magic of Buhari’s populism and popularity is evident in his certainty that the result of the election was a forgone conclusion. He talked about ‘’the mandate that will be given to me on Sunday’’ with a confidence that bordered on clairvoyant arrogance. He was cocksure that he would ride on Buhari’s coattails to the senate because of the blind loyalty of the Sai Baba sloganeers.
It is imprudent to assume that the bid to make Buhari a life president will fail. Our history shows that Nigeria is vulnerable to absolutist tendencies. General Sani Abacha had all but succeeded before he was stopped dead in his tracks by the grim reaper. General Obasanjo was close to setting the record before he was defeated by national consensus.
It is worthy to note that President Buhari, his spokesmen, and his party, the APC, have yet to denounce the hare-brained plot. Their collective silence speaks volumes. It may be a pointer to the shape of things to come.
About the author: Emmanuel Ugwu writes from Lagos firstname.lastname@example.org