The Buharian Complex And False Consciousness! by Orike Ben Didi

The concept of invisible power and false consciousness will easily come in handy in analyzing the challenges associated with the Buharian political rigmarole around presidential power. False consciousness is the unwitting inability of the working class and poor people to perceive their real position in society, who in the process systematically misunderstand and undermine their interests in the production relations within the capitalist system. It is used for the way in which material, ideological and institutional processes in capitalist society mislead members of the working class. These processes in actuality tend to hide the true relations of forces between classes and the real state of affairs regarding the development of pre-socialist society. The term depicts a ‘careless’ inability of people to recognize inequality, oppression and exploitation which are on the checklist which makes the existence of social classes legitimate in a capitalist society.

This phrase first used by Friedrich Engels in 1893 was employed to pinpoint the fact that a detachment of thinking process from historical and social conditions by assuming an independent but superficial realm for the world of thought was a misnomer. Though not a category, the term is implied in the works of Marx, Lenin and later-day socialists and communists. Through false consciousness, people unwittingly aspire to paper over commoditization of labour in which value is detached from work and attributed to money. In capitalist reality, labour is a commodity bought and sold in the ‘market’ and this process defines the production relations existing in society.

False consciousness is a necessary consequence of commodity fetishism and a phenomenon in which people living in a capitalistic society construct an illusion of reality, misleading in fashion and having a natural tendency to misperceive how capitalism works. Its victims easily undermine class consciousness and progress of their disadvantaged classes for an ideological mess of ethnicity, racism, sexism, religious fundamentalism, messianism and colonialism.

The Buharian agenda sees the working class in the wilderness seeking change or transformation (or whatever) of the economic core and easily manifest itself in pretension to working class salvation. But it is done at the periphery and in hallucination. The agenda is neither a working class one nor is it nationalistic. It was, in the past, a ruling class agenda which subscribed to the betrayal of other ruling class factions. The agenda still remains that of the ruling class, but now shrinks to just of a tiny fraction of it, even when it claims expansion beyond the class which it belongs. But the Buharian faction remains a renegade among the backward Nigerian ruling classes.

December 31st, 1983 signalled the emergence of the Buharian agenda with its head invested with Marshall Powers to govern Africa’s most populous nation. Twenty months after the commencement of the agenda, other ruling class factions within the military found it not serving their purpose and summarily dismissed it. At its dismissal in 1985, the Buharian agenda was accused by the succeeding ruling class faction of “a systematic denigration of hope”, of “mismanagement of political leadership” and of deteriorating “standard of living, which had subjected the common man to intolerable suffering (which) were (not) the reasons for the intervention.” It was equally accused of undermining “the principles of discussions, consultation and co-operation which should have guided decision-making process” of the military faction of the ruling class and of fomenting “rigid and uncompromising… attitudes to issues of national significance’’ in solving the problems of “a diverse polity like Nigeria (which) required recognition and appreciation of differences in both cultural and individual perceptions…”. The faction was accused of arrogance and “absolute knowledge of problems and solutions, acting in accordance with what was convenient to it, using the machinery of government as (its) tool.’’

Thirty years after the emergence of the Buharian agenda, which was aimed at undermining political processes and destroying the economy, it is not yet done with its pet project called Nigeria. Now, it pretends to messianism before the lower classes and a structured development of the economy before the middle and upper classes. But it still remains what it is – a pretension. This is made manifest by the fact that the Buharian ruling class faction was and is still a destructive one – destructive of the economy and civilized culture and equally destructive of other ruling classes. It is also a murderous one and relishes in regurgitation of archaic economic experiments before a world in consternation. That is why the head of the ruthless faction has remained a military and equally an electoral failure. Dismissed from the military faction of the ruling class by co-conspirators, it has remained permanently unelectable by the abused citizenry.

Now, the tendency is dancing around with new non-ideas. Sensing that one of the factors undermining the economy is corruption, the Buharian agenda easily pretends to non-corruption. But it will be apt to state that if non-corruption is the only currency on which its agenda is sold, then Buharism is a corrupt political philosophy. Sensing also that the accusation of religious bigotry dangles over its head and was gaining currency, the agenda acquired a member of the ‘challenged’ religion, a pastor as a deputy presidential candidate in the 2011 polls. The agenda failed and at its failure unleashed its miscreants into destruction of innocent lives of ‘strangers’ in its zone of dominance.

The agenda easily pontificates on national security even when it is remotely, if not directly linked to the crisis in the North East executed by jihadist miscreants, most of who express allegiance to its recent vessel for power. At least, renegade comments from that ruling class faction has proven to be very troublesome to nationalistic sensibilities.

Buharism is false patriotism, a convoluted Christ complex, a kind of born-to-rule-disease, some advanced drum major instinct - a pretence to a pedigree which is non-existent. Some of-late analysts have been veered into a reductionist approach, into abridging the whole complexity of governance and society to the problem of corruption. They easily conclude that the strong center is weak, that the presidential hallowed chamber is awash with thievery. The Buharian tendency easily queues into this thinking for political profit. But who is the biggest thief? Who stole more than the Buharian agenda that snatched the whole levers of state power with the entire thievery going on right inside the state machinery? And if it is stated that corruption undermines economic progress, in 20 months of its romance with power, Buharism was discovered to be a deceptive political philosophy with a pedestrian economic content. So, where is the pedigree with which to win a debate on the national economy?

Coup making is an act of indiscipline and in the face of the law, a treasonable offence. In its earlier foray into power, the Buharian agenda invented the war against indiscipline. But this was basically due to the Buharian complex – a delusional pretension to a pedigree which is non-existent. Yes! The Buharian agenda is drenched in indiscipline and corrupt behaviour, but pretends to civilized tendencies without a benchmark. If there was ever a figment of a benchmark, it was Buhari. And the tendency dies with its political vessel if Buhari dies. So, the Buharian agenda starts and ends with Buhari! What a philosophy?

Engendering the Buharian hypocrisy into the political space in 2015 approximates an attempt at reviewing history and is an assault on memory. In this light, Buharists and their lower cadres, who are prone to committing electoral violence if ever their Nigerian presidential “saviour” losses the election, are nothing but victims of false consciousness. They deserve some pity for their ahistorical projections and lack of ideological clarity.
The concept of false consciousness, though being accused of elitism, has been able to explain the phenomena of blind consent and resignation in the dynamics of socio-political spaces. The concept is bifurcated into the ‘thick’ and ‘thin’ versions. The thick version presupposes that a “dominant” ideology performs ‘its magic by persuading subordinate groups to believe actively in the values that explain and justify their own subordination’. Meanwhile the ‘thin theory of false consciousness’, sustains its argument ‘that the dominant ideology achieves compliance by convincing subordinate groups that the social order in which they live is natural and inevitable.’ According to James Scott, while the ‘thick’ theory claims consent; the ‘thin’ theory settles for resignation.

False consciousness among members of the working class has never been known to lead to reasonable dissent. When it subscribes to violence, it is either to reinforce the subordination of oppressed classes or to re-invent the wheel of counter-revolution in a revolutionary situation. In whatever dimension it is viewed, working class people and peasants are being hoodwinked by Buharian messianism into revolutionary immobility. Such a bourgeois political philosophy, which has no clear economic content, in totality attempts at preventing the working class from transforming into the motive forces of history, from taking its fate from the exploiters and possibly overthrowing the state for its own purposes, which finally is the process of acquiring its long lost “invisible power” and defining progress of society in the image of the proletarians and peasants.

The apotheosis of Buharian messiahnism is a manifestation of false consciousness. It is equally provocative to patriotic sensibilities. Buharists need ideological rescue!
Long live the working and suffering people of Nigeria.


Orike Didi wrote this article in Nov 2014 at the period of the deceptive campaigns to install General Buhari as the president.



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