If he's looking for evocative literature as well as a break from Nigerian politics during his ten-day visit to London, President Muhammadu Buhari should read 'The General in His Labyrinth' by Gabriel Garcia Márquez. One of the late Colombian writer's most political novels, it tells the story of General Simón Bolívar's efforts to unite South America. Márquez retells how Bolívar gets trapped in the labyrinth of sectional and regional interests.
Almost two hundred years on, there are some important parallels
with contemporary Nigeria. Many had hoped that Buhari's epic journey
from stern general to born-again democrat and finally presidential
election winner last year with a massive popular mandate would open a
new chapter for Nigeria.
Goodluck Jonathan, the
defeated incumbent, was also in London
this week hosted by Bloomberg News, arguing for a Bill of Rights for
all Nigerians. Yet when Africa
Confidential asked him for his views on
Buhari's anti-corruption campaign, he demurred and aides whisked him
into another room. A few days earlier, Jonathan and another
ex-President, Olusegun Obasanjo,
had met Buhari in Abuja to discuss the
increasingly fractious political climate.
Continuing clashes in the north-east and Middle Belt, and a
determined campaign by militants known as the Niger Delta Avengers to
close down the oil industry are undermining Buhari's mandate. Uniting
the country again has become top priority if this general is to break
out of his labyrinth.