Congratulations To Who? By Abdulhamid Al-Gazali


There are moments you are at loss as to whether to talk or keep shut, and today, make no mistake, isn't one–what is, obviously is to talk, and full: it is a moment for giving congratulations, for joy and for merriment. But what the challenge has become about now is not as to whether the congratulations are due at all, but about, bafflingly, identifying who had the victory. Granted there is a victor, but who? This is the first ever such moment where you know you are under obligation to give your congratulations, but don't know to whom.
Nigerians, on a date that has become already a history to remember, 28th of March, went to the polls and voted relatively peacefully–and notoriously for change. Even for that alone, Nigerians deserve a resounding congratulation, considering that some visionaries of bad tidings, had even fled the country, following, true to type, a characteristic vision of bad future. There are of course few incidents in Gombe, Bauchi and Enugu which the nation is unhappy about–but which it knew is, and already taken as the price, costly one indeed, for getting what they want. These are people who have been under domestic colonial control by small ring of exploitative opportunists who exploited and consolidated hold on them through regional, ethnic and religious 'divide and rule' tactics. Is it genocide, or theft, or failure of institutions that has not visited them? Thousands as at the moment stay not in their homes, as they lost it to domestic terrorist groups, but still thank God that, unlike the hundreds of thousands who have been maimed, they still have life–and yes, could vote! Amenities of life have become an exclusive preserve of few thieves and drug addicts parading themselves as paragons of virtue. Everything, including life, has gone down to a record-time low. In the midst, your tragedy is that of the child flogged by a bully, and stopped from crying, Nigerians could not rise above the phantom things that have locked them down in suffering: religion, ethnicity and sectionalism, to decolonize themselves.
But isn't it the few dogged and determined out of them who helped to awaken them to see beyond those limits who ought to be congratulated? It took some defying higher mortals to break the jinx of these colonial masters from within! Some of these men and women have been on it for almost a decade, defying all the odds, and standing resolute in the face of demoralizing situations. Some went to jail, some had to live in exile, some died–but still retained buoyancy of spirit and never gave in to despair: they call it a struggle to fix Nigeria. They continued to keep alive the thought that there's hope.
But what can be said about the person who has remained the source, and symbol, of this hope? Is he the one to congratulate? Here is a man who has been in the contest to "fix" Nigeria for over a decade–who in the course of which has been subjected to outlandish campaign of calumny, diatribe and even physical attacks. Unlike many of his ilk who left the country to take whatever course it wishes, Buhari is driven over and again by the belief that the country is so great that it needs care, needs leadership, needs to be led, not by itself, and offered himself to the task. And in it, he has proven to be the proverbial cat with nine lives: all the challenges made him strong, as the diatribe and character assassination campaigns made him a hero.
But Nigeria too as a country witnessed what obviously is one of the greatest things to happen to her since her return to civilian regime: change. It has remained a disgraced nation in the comity of nations. Its son and daughters are ashamed ofit, and its brothers are not proud of it, they call it: big for nothing. But for the record first time, it has seen change. On this not therefore, you don't know whether the congratulation is due only for Nigerians as a people to the exclusion of Nigeria or vice versa–or both; and on the other, whether is Buhari himself or those who continued to insist on change. It is obviously bothon both counts, which brings the question of hierarchy to fore–which also reminds one of the analogy of a coin with two faces to mind, in what relationship, or lack thereof, exists between Nigerians as a people and Nigeria as a country, likewise between Buhari and the agents of change: either face, they are the same.
But as a nation, we are Nigerians first, before anything else. Nigeria as a country is one most important identity we all share in common. As such, we must congratulate our country first. This victory is for Nigeria. We will continue to believe in the greatness bestowed upon you by God as His blessed land. May you live longer and be greater. May you never experience what you have experienced in the last 16years.
And Nigerians, congratulations. It is not about the congratulation, it is about the type, and how to do it. Is it the patience and tolerance to endure incompetence and failure, or the resilience to keep moving even when the riskis high, or is it for the struggle to fix the country, the polls, the peaceful conduct, or the change, that you are to be congratulated for? And it is all–and more.
And to the agents of change, innumerable but known, it is genuflection that we should go on. But you cannot NOT mention names. For instance, the compatriots in Facebook and Twitter and WhatsApp and the cyberia wholly deserve to be mentioned and congratulated–they were called names, some tagged them "BB patriots", but they pushed on. For instance, it is failing in my duty, as a commentator in Nigeria, if I don't mention the names of Dr. Nura Alkali, Jasper Azetulam, Petra Akinti, Safiya S. Musa, Barrister AminuGamawa, Barr. ZainabMagaji, Engr. AbubakarGambo, Hamza Ibrahim Baba, Abdulqadeer Musa, Princess Mariam Awolowo… The list is inexhaustible. These are our heroes, men and women of the moment. They're ordinary Nigerians who believe that in their different ways, they can bring change to their country–and did. They created internet-based groups, you have Buhari Support Organization (BSO), APC Mobilization for Change and what have you–and performed magic. The country celebrates you. May you live long and healthy to continue to contribute to the development of our dear nation.
Now, can you at this juncture join me in congratulating a man who deserves a universal recognition: General Muhammadu Buhari? After contesting  for three times, the man went for the fourth time, and victory was waiting–and he grabbed it, but said it was a victory for the nation, for the poor, the oppressed, the IDPs, the school children…for which, we celebrate him even more. We pray to God to guide you as you assume office. May you live long and healthy and wise. And your lieutenants, His Excellency, the Vice President, Prof YemiOsibanjo, H. E. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, H. E. RotimiAmeachi, Hon. Mal. Nasiru El-Rufai, Garba Shehu, Dr. Lai Mohammed and of course, Her Excellency, Mrs Aisha Buhari, our new first lady, and Her Excellency, Mrs Osibanjo. Also, we congratulate all those who have won election on various platf orms.
Yes we congratulate those who supported the continuity of the status quo. Plato in his elaboration of what he meant by "Knowledge is virtue", said there's an objective good for all, regardless of whether an individual recognises it or not, and identifiable only by the educated. If the pro-status quo have not understood what is good for them, I think enough is said. Congratulations to you, our fence-sitters and Africa and the world.
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