When he popped out of his mother’s womb 79 years ago in rustic Daura, now in Katsina State, nobody could have predicted that he would bestride the country, nay the world, like a colossus.
Who could have predicted that a honest man, Mai Gaskiya, had come forth? Who could have foretold that he would rule the country twice, first as a soldier, and later, as a civilian, a democrat? And who could have prognosticated that he would perhaps be the politician with the greatest crowd in the history of the country, for a long time to come?
But we’ve had all these, and more, in Muhammadu Buhari, the child of destiny, who turns 79 December 17, 2021.
This country will never forget this President, will it? And for good. He came, he saw, and he’s conquering.
I’m a student of Muhammadu Buhari. I study him like a book. I plumb his depths, and learn from him daily. And what are the lessons? Many. Very many.
Attaining stardom, reaching the highest rungs of the ladder in life, is not determined by the circumstances of your birth. You don’t have to be born with a silver spoon.
Doubtful if baby Buhari even had a wooden spoon. He grew in the plainest of all areas, and ended at the very peak of the military profession: a General. He has been round the world, as a professional, a head of state, a retiree, and a two-term elected President.
The auguries didn’t tell these about the baby, but it has happened. You can get anywhere, attain any height, if the divine powers are with you, irrespective of the circumstances of your birth. Vital lesson.
‘Honesty is the best policy,’ I can recall my father, that great educationist, drumming it into the ears of his children daily. And he lived it, showing us an example.
Today, I’ve seen another honest man, the Mai Gaskiya. He has been everything possible, held positions which could have made him stinking rich: Governor of a territory which now covers six states. Minister of Petroleum for over three years. Head of State.
Chairman of Petroleum Trust Fund, with billions of naira in his care. A civilian President, running out his second term of four years each, in another 17 months. And yet he remains a man of modest means.
Let me tell you a story. Have you been to the Buhari home in Daura? Modest, modest, modest, is what the structure shouts at you, as you approach. The furnishing; modest.
The locale itself; modest. The appurtenances; modest.
It is said that President Buhari had used a carpet in that house for almost 20 years. He knew every bit of furniture and fittings like the back of his hands. And then, one day, in his first term as President, he visited home, and a new carpet was in place.
Who changed my carpet? That was the first question he asked, as he stepped into the house? Imagine the President of Africa’s most powerful country, the largest economy on the continent, having time to ask about a carpet that had become old and threadbare? But that is Muhammadu Buhari for you. Simple man, if ever there was one.
We know of the 50 bedroom hilltop mansion (even if slightly exaggerated) where his former colleagues live.
And we know of presidential libraries and other mansions built by somebody else, through what Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, called “executive extortionism.” But not all these trappings for Buhari.
Scant regards for material things, what I recall my father describing as “shadows of life.”
Devout. Faithful and committed to his God. That is Muhammadu Buhari. Some people, who have not attained one-third of the heights he reached, would already have their shoulders permanently up, kicking at God, saying: “Is this not great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” (Daniel 4: 29, 30). Godliness with contentment is great gain.
We are mere actors, playing on a stage, having our entrances and exits. “Out, out, brief candle! Life is but a walking shadow.
A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It’s a tale told by an
By Femi Adesina.