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Should Buhari Become Another Best President Nigerians Never Had?

Color white has always been synonymous with purity and peace, or at least presumptively so. Nigeria’s edifice that housed the sitting government, the Aso Rock is painted white which supposedly symbolize governmental peace and national unity. However, the occupants of this mansion have stained and polluted it. They have redefined it to depict impurity, insanity and ……

Gen. Mohammadu Buhari (rtd)

Gen. Mohammadu Buhari (rtd)

None of its tenants from Ibrahim Babangida to Jonathan Goodluck is worthy of the mansion and what it personifies. Theirs should be a black house or dark dungeon. This is because they are nothing short of evil. Little did one wonder then when one of its former tenants described himself as “evil genius”. But this is not the focus of this article.

This writer intends to review whether there is or there will be a vacancy in Aso Rock in 2015. The incumbent or should I say the outgoing tenant will be contending the possibility of renewing his tenancy with Nigerian people. While the tenancy of the same mansion is being sought by another prospect – Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army general turned politician.

Buhari is not an unknown name in Nigerian military circle and political arena. This relatively unknown army officer came to lime light with the December 31, 1983 coup announcement by then Brigadier Sanni Abacha. The speech which gave insight to the vision of the Buhari led military junta read thus:

“Fellow countrymen and women,

I, Brigadier Sani Abacha, of the Nigerian Army address you this morning on behalf of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

You are all living witnesses to the great economic predicament and uncertainty, which an inept and corrupt leadership has imposed on our beloved nation for the past four years. I am referring to the harsh, intolerable conditions under which we are now living. Our economy has been hopelessly mismanaged; we have become a debtor and beggar nation. There is inadequacy of food at reasonable prices for our people who are now fed up with endless announcements of importation of foodstuff; health services are in shambles as our hospitals are reduced to mere consulting clinics without drugs, water and equipment.

Our educational system is deteriorating at alarming rate. Unemployment figures including the undergraduates have reached embarrassing and unacceptable proportions….. After due consultations over these deplorable conditions, I and my colleagues in the armed forces have in the discharge of our national role as promoters and protectors of our national interest decided to effect a change in the leadership of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and form a Federal Military Government. This task has just been completed”.

This speech was undeniably a clear summary of the problems which Nigerian political leaders bedeviled on their countrymen. However, while Buhari was still trying to have a good grip of power and to begin to address the reason for the military intervention, one of his own (Ibrahim Babangida) sprang up in a palace coup and overthrew the light skin and high handed general. His reason for the overthrown is not a matter for discussion at this point.

Across the board, Buhari was accused of been high handed, and that he ruled with tough decrees. What this school of thought seems to have forgotten is that soldiers are not democrats. Muhammadu Buhari was a soldier and he ruled according to the tradition of his profession. It was apparent that he did not rule in isolation, he had the support of the Supreme Military Council. He signed decrees and put structures in place that are necessary for his envisioned changes.

His vision was untimely busted by his supposed confidant, his Chief of Army Staff – General Ibrahim Babangida. But the fact of the matter is that within the little months of Buhari’s administration, Nigerians began to rebuild confidence in their nation and its leadership. Though Buhari was accused of many human rights violations, but he was not labelled as incompetent or corrupt. Never-the-less, questions surrounding the 57 brief cases that were imported from Saudi Arabia remains unanswered, $2.7 billion oil proceed from Operation desert storm was unaccounted for etc, It could be argued that if he stays longer in power he could have degenerated to the status of nonentity, and a self-seeking shylock like his predecessor and successors alike, but that is a probability. Its possibility is less than fifty percent. Once again I am not here to debate this.

Since Buhari was not found wanton of any financial impropriety during his leadership, and since the circumstances that necessitated his military intervention on 1983 are still prevalent, I think it is only logical to give him the benefit of doubt and the opportunity to rise to the call of nation building and complete the task that the evil genius terminated abruptly.

Now that the erstwhile Khaki general has learned a lesson that power does not emanate from the barrel of gun, and has submitted himself to follow the democratic traditions, he deserves to be considered on his merits and not to be judged on the mistakes of the previous thirty something years. I think he is more matured and experienced. Though the wise says that the wisdom of Solomon has nothing to do with the age of Methusellah, yet one can confidently say that Jonathan GoodLuck neither processes the age advantage nor the gift of wisdom. Whereas, Muhammadu Buhari have both. It appears that he is genuinely concerned about the plight of the nation whose seemingly adequate resources are being wasted and or plundered by its political marauders and misfits.

Buhari at 71 is definitely not a young man, but he appears healthy and have sound mind. No known medical history of his overseas treatment has been told or disclosed, it is my wish that this nationalist should be given the opportunity to serve our nation again and see if he will prove himself worthy. This is necessary otherwise someone from nowhere again might end up describing him as another “best president Nigeria never had”.

The 2015 general election is going to be a unique political battle between the two presidential contenders who are equally desperate to rule our nation. I hope Nigerians will vote on merit and not on sentiment. The resume of both political leaders speaks for themselves. Nigerians should use their political power (vote) wisely. They should with their vote usher-in a regime in a new day with a new vision as opposed to maintaining political status quo that offers same of old. For Nigerians to begin to enjoy life rather than enduring it, political decision should be made with sound mind rather than the influence of bag of rice; otherwise it will amount to an extension of political enslavement and economic depravity for at least another four years.

The incumbent president Jonathan GoodLuck is not unknown in term of what he represents, while Buhari need to proof himself worthy of the responsibility he is requesting to be saddled with. He must surrender himself and answer questions and concerns from Nigerians. Buhari need to declare his asset according to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is required to explain how he acquired his wealth to date. The general turned politician needs to explain to the nation how he emancipated and made economic transition from a man with less than five thousand naira in his bank account after his overthrown in 1983 to a presidential bidder who reportedly doled out N5.5 million of his own money for his party’s presidential primary ticket.

And if Buhari wants the nation to believe that the money, or most of it that he has spent are contributed or donated by his friends and well- wishers, he must tell Nigerians how this political investors will be compensated or better put, how they will not sit on his neck and truncate his so called good intention by demanding dividend for their financial investment on his presidential ticket. After all one good turns deserves another; and good intention alone does not get the job done.

Alhaji Shehu Shagari was described as an honest man, but he surrounded himself with corrupt political associates and he end up with a disastrously corrupt government. If Buhari becomes handicapped by fanatical and corrupt lieutenants, I would expect him to resign and maintain his dignity (if he has one) rather than allowing his record to be soiled. It is by so doing that he will stand taller than any of his predecessors and become hero of the Federal Republic – (HFR).

Let us make no mistake, Buhari of the 80s is not who Nigerians will see in 2015. Therefore let everyone me mindful and be realistic of their expectations. In 1983, Buhari ruled by force, now if elected he will have to follow democratic tenets, be diplomatic and build coalition of nationalists around himself in order to get or achieve his campaign goals. Any attempt to be erratic or inject element of despotism will be resisted to the last.

While the nation is matching towards the February 04, 2015 presidential election, it is my hope both GoodLuck and Buhari will not encourage or promote bloodshed. Both aspirants should warn their loyalists and party members and fanatics alike that politics is not and should not be seen or construed as a matter of life and death. At the outcome, the winner should accept the result and the responsibility in humility, while the defeated should be gracious in yielding. Blood must not flow! Lives must be saved, protected and not destroyed.

Let equity, brotherliness and fairness prevail before, during and after the election.

May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Dr. Tunde Ali is the President for Citizens for Good Government & Accountability – (CIGGAC)


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