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Opinion: Buhari, Osinbajo And The Nigerian Duty Call

Gen. Buhari unveils Prof. Osibajo as his running mate for 2015 election

By LAOLU AKANDE, Empowered Newswire, New York  – Our dear nation is not going to get a Messiah who will come and make all things perfect. The one and only Messiah there is has come already and is coming again. (Now that is another line of my profession.)

Gen. Buhari unveils Prof. Osibajo as his running mate for 2015 election

Gen. Buhari unveils Prof. Osibajo as his running mate for 2015 election

What we can get however are dedicated mortals who have a sure resolve to do the noble thing it takes to fix Nigeria. By this I mean, people of character, of competence who are equally able and ready to strike the political alliances necessary to orchestrate a truly reformatory government and a morally reinvigorated society. It will take more than desire, declarations and denials of the true state of things in the nation. Desire must be matched by will, and will, must be backed up by sustainable goals and verifiable actions on a fairly regular and consistent basis.

In fact we as Nigerians may not just get our most ideal candidates and individuals to take the reins of government and bring about the changes. That is often left in the realm of utopia. Nigerians also don’t seem to be cut for a revolutionary overturning of things. Not that such by itself can automatically deliver the Nigeria of our dreams. As history has shown us, revolutions and such dramatic overturns of a political class, has its own way of pandering to new weaknesses and going in different directions from those the revolutionaries had advocated.

What it seems Nigeria can get and should get is an installmentally progressive political class which can sustain the quest on an ongoing basis until major remedies in the body politic, and socio-economic fabric of the country are in place. We have seen examples of this in a few States across the land with some governors leading the pack even in this last 15 years of civil rule. The democratic space is certainly forging itself out by hook or crook as the nation enjoys its longest stretch so far of uninterrupted civilian rule in Nigeria’s history.

Now that we have before us another presidential election in about a month’s time, it is important for us as a nation and a people to understand what the Nigerian duty call is saying.

That call is not for the perfect candidates. There will be none. That call is not for angelic politicians clad in celestial robes, for there will be none. But that call is also not for those who have tried all they could do in the last several years and have shown the limits of their capacity. Nigeria should not have to be further delayed because of the sheer limitations of human beings as revealed and clearly well-known at this point.

I speak of our President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the first PhD holder to keep that high office. He is not a bad man. He has his own strengths and his own weaknesses. I will not deny him his fair share of credits if I see conclusive proofs in specific instances of growth and developments that have been recorded in the 6 years he has held sway in Aso Rock. But our dear brother and incumbent president has already tried his best. And the issue is that there is nothing new we can reasonably expect of him as president.

I am arguing that 6 years is enough to showcase your resolve, your vision, your ideas, your competence, and so on. Dr. Goodluck has nothing left to offer Nigeria short of needlessly sitting out and whiling away time in Aso Rock. We are therefore left with option of General Muhammadu Buhari and Professor Yemi Osinbajo. And this option is quite a worthy one.

Personally speaking, Dr. Goodluck has done a woeful job in two critical areas and this is why someone like me is not sitting on the fence on this election cycle. One is the breakdown of law and order in the northeastern parts of Nigeria. Whatever we have to argue about the details of the problem, the buck stops at the desk of the president. He must take responsibility.

When an administration can no longer secure the life and property of its people and terrorism attacks become as constant as daybreak, Nigeria needs to try another hand. When a presidency continues to fumble and gamble on the fate of over 200 schoolgirls whose abduction shocked the world, then it is critical to facilitate change of leadership. The yet-to-abate  Boko Haram terror spree and the inability of the Jonathan presidency to curtail or curb the evil is the most devastating nailing point for him and his party’s 16 years of occupation in Aso Rock.

Secondly, it is a disgrace that corruption has now become one of the abiding ‘institutions’ of state and nation in Nigeria. It does not need too much of an argument as most Nigerians can easily agree about the rot that corruption has brought about in several facets of our live as a nation and people.

Few instances here will suffice. We have serious allegations about intense corruption in the oil sector, especially in the activities of the Petroleum Ministry. Very damning scandals have been alleged, yet the president ignores the matter. Under this presidency, a federal government agency perpetrated a murderous scheme where poor Nigerian youths were scammed in a money-for-job interview scandal, yet the President never considered a serious probe or fire the minister or any senior official who masterminded such a disastrous contrivance!

Besides, what message did the presidency expect people to perceive when he pardoned the former governor of Bayelsa State, who by that time was the global face of Nigeria’s political class corruption? And why would you do that at a time that you needed to show your resolve to fight corruption? I am not opposed to redemption; in fact as a preacher of the gospel, this is a central point in my ministry. But change and a turning away also needs to happen, apart from the time factor, which was lavishly miscalculated in the case of said former Governor.

We could also talk about the management of the economy with the recent depreciation of the Naira and the bad news that Nigeria is again budgeting to spend about a quarter of its income on debts!

Now on the other hand, the Buhari-Osinbajo ticket offers tremendous strength in the two most important areas of the nation’s need today and the failing points of the Jonathan presidency.

But there is a full disclosure: I have written critically of General Buhari in the past. But next month by the grace of God, he will get my vote! What has changed? In my judgement, General Buhari has redeemed himself and has been redeemed from many of the errors of his past. Like I wrote about the former head of State eleven years ago of his political challenges after he lost the 2003 presidential polls “only he can resurrect (his politics) if he chose.” I can now say he has actually done so now, and brilliantly too.

Even then, none of Buhari’s problems as a politician or public official bothered on corruption today or in the past. I reject the attempt to tar his unassailable record in that area. It is a very simple proposition: in today’s Nigeria’s political class as it is presently constituted you will not get many cleaner politicians that we know, especially among his peers.

By that I mean, among his contemporaries, i.e. those who have had a part in governing Nigeria in the past and those who are sufficiently prominent enough to offer themselves reasonably for national office, Buhari is in the topmost ranking when it comes to honesty, discipline and personal integrity. I concede that the Nigerian situation will need more than those. Yet that is a wonderful start for a leader who can assemble a serious, competent and character-intensive leadership team. Buhari can lead our dear nation back to a time of national order which the widespread corruption of the day has done so much to erode.

Equally, of the two leading candidates,  we have in next month’s presidential vote, Buhari is the one who can take fresh shot at the insurgency in the northeastern parts of the country. Not just that he was a General, but he has had specific successful experience in dealing with the same extremist Islamic fundamentalism in the past. I reject claims that Buhari is a religious fundamentalist. Yes, he has been quoted in the past expressing certain insensitivities, but that is not enough to label him an Islamist extremist.

In the past, he was tyrannical because he was a military ruler for a while. But so, too, is former President Olusegun Obasanjo. And in any case, Buhari has been steadily evolving as a savvy political player in that he is building new alliances with past opponents indicating his personal democratic maturity. He has had his fair share of dissent since after he was removed by the same forces that brought him to power, up till the early 2000 and beyond when he started campaigning for president in a civil rule setting. But Buhari’s ability to eventually work to build a formidable opposition party in the APC with the likes of redoubtable politicians like former Governor Bola Tinubu, Governor Rotimi Amaechi and several others across ethnic and religious divides is nothing but a resounding credential we cannot deny him.

Finally, the choice of Professor Yemi Osinbajo as a running mate is simply a masterstroke. For me, when Buhari picked Pastor Tunde Bakare in 2011 as his running mate- it was a turning point in my estimation of who Buhari is politically. There and then he won my heart and changed my own perception of him. He was already a changed person and politician by then. But now that he has even gone further to choose a pastor for the second consecutive time, Buhari has earned my support for next month.

Osinbajo’s huge personal credibility, comprehensive professional competence and formidable political grouping are assets that a Buhari presidency will cherish if and when God grants the grace of victory in the next presidential elections. No one can reasonably deny the fact that Professor Osinbajo is one of the best visionary technocrats and good men and women who have been involved in public service since the return of civilian rule in Nigeria in 1999.

The conclusion of the matter is this: Buhari and Osinbajo don’t have to be Messiahs. But they are both dedicated men who have a sure resolve to do the noble thing it takes to fix Nigeria. Both of them are persons of exemplary character, of competence who are equally able and ready to strike the political alliances necessary to orchestrate a truly reformatory government and a morally reinvigorated society. That is what the Nigeria duty call is asking for today. Our incumbent president has become the face of the status quo that has not fulfilled our minimal yearnings and expectations in the last six years. We should “celebrate” him away!

Akande is an international journalist, preacher and college professor in New York


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