It is said that everything on earth happens for a reason, but no better had I understood this statement than on 15th October 2014 when General Muhammadu Buhari declared for the fourth time his intention to contest the presidential election. It so happened that day that I was in a hurry to pay off some boys who I had committed to do some menial job for me, but I couldn’t get my car to start. Obviously irked, I was left with no option than to board a taxi to convey me to my destination. The road was obviously busier even though it was an evening. It’s not the episode that I’ve found fascinating but the fact that the cab driver couldn’t wait for me to ask what the rationale behind the unusual “go-slow” was, as he poured out with much excitement that “General declared his interest today”; a fact within my cognizance. It was thus easily discernible that the poor cab driver was ready to lay down his life for the actualization of Buhari’s presidency - a fact he later admitted. After quite a reasonable time spent with the driver who transported me to and fro, I can say that i came face-to-face with a common northern Nigerian (who I see as a reflection of other northern masses) and his love for Buhari, who he sees as the “panacea to the corruption, injustice, insecurity and poor leadership ravaging the country”. I shared in his sentiments, at least since I am of northern descent, and I truly long for a power shift to the northern Nigeria. Thus, I tried as much as possible to reconsider a stance I took over a year ago when I wrote that Gen. Buhari will not be fielded to contest, or at best, win in the 2015 presidential elections, should he contest. But every attempt at that only culminated in reinforcing that stance, as I arrived at the conclusion that Buhari will have to weep again.
The greatest asset Buhari possesses in his presidential bid is obviously his reputation as a man of integrity, discipline and clean records. If elections were won on these grounds alone, then Buhari would have long been declared the president of Nigeria. Among all those bidding for the number one position in the country, he stands out as a man whose garment is without spot or wrinkle because of his impeccable record of military and public service, and zero tolerance for corruption. Unfortunately, emerging victorious at the polls comprise of issues far beyond these. So while Buhari is an embodiment of reputation, he lacks consistency, pertinacity, and a revolutionary capacity- which obviously is indispensable in the quest for a better Nigeria. As derogatory as this may sound to the General’s multitudinous admirers, my assertions does not hang in the air.
First, it was Buhari who made Nigerians believe that the 2011 general elections would be his last, when he said “this campaign is the third and last one for me since after it I will not present myself again for election into the office of the president”. What happened? Why is he still throwing his hat into the ring again? “His associates”, he will always tell us dragged him into the race again, but I guess that Nigerians deserve more than a puppet for a president, who will not be easily tossed to and fro by people who hide under his banner for the actualization of their selfish ambitions. If Buhari will not keep to his word, then what differentiates him from the other politicians? With regards to his age, I have no doubt that if only heaven would grant some supernatural intervention and he wins at the polls, his associates will definitely ask him to run for a second time since it’s all about their interest not that of his, or even Nigerians; and he will run, and Nigerians know this.
Buhari and his supporters are trying very hard at dissuading Nigerians not to think of the General as a religious bigot. The General gave room for this suspicion some years ago when he made an apparent gaffe in a gathering of the Hausa, to vote only for “their kind”. The statement could have been cured by a retrospective addendum of “…even if they are Christian”. Though he might have made the statement bonafide, it has created a great distrust that will go a long way in reducing his chances of electoral victory from the northern Christians who since then, see him as a threat to their religion and a vessel for the perpetuation of an Islamic agenda. This alone was a major factor why votes were splitted across religious lines between Jonathan and Buhari in some northern states in the 2011 presidential elections. To heighten the fears of this minority Christians in the north, and further reduce his chances, he is comfortable with a muslim-muslim ticket. Can’t our General read the handwriting on the wall?
On another note, Gen. Buhari is not running his campaign from mars or plato or any other planet. He lives in Nigeria, and has Nigerians as his campaign organizers, directors, party members and associates. These are men drawn from the political class- renowned for manipulations, dishonesty, and lack of probity. Some of them have even been indicted at one time or the other. To worsen issues, some are product of the contaminated ruling party where they received their political ideology and upbringing. Yet, they are the ones our General refer to as his associates and friends; and wines and dines with them. So how can Gen. Buhari who is hobnobbing with this people dramatically and swiftly turn up against them, withdraw himself and declare them wanted? Am afraid that even the most corrupt person in Nigeria has not lost the chance of a warming and welcoming embrace by our General should he decide to join the All Progressive Congress (APC), and be his supporter. I was amazed when I heard that Gen. Buhari bought his form out of a bank loan. The ensuing question every reasonable person should be asking is how he intends to run his presidential campaign, which we all know is highly costly. Let’s give him the benefit of doubt and hold him by his words that he couldn’t afford 27 Million Naira, it follows therefore that his only succor in running his presidential campaign will be the support and goodwill that he would be given from “his associates” who are not immune from corruption. So what do we have at the end of the day? - A holy Buhari, using unholy resources with an intention of waging war against his benefactors; how interesting! Needles to ask, if the foundation is faulty, what can the righteous do?
Buhari has also failed to understand that his incessant criticism of the Jonathan’s administration attracts him more enemies than friends. When every well-meaning Nigerian would be praying and believing for things to get better in the country, proffering constructive criticism, Buhari would be in one corner together with his party members, attributing every single unfortunate incident- caused by man or allowed by God- on the person of President Goodluck Jonathan. He does not come up with solutions but only succeeds in overheating the polity. Even if he is right, it’s about time he understood that as a principle of peaceful and harmonious co-existence, not all truth must be told. I am always tempted to say that if Buhari would not stand for presidency, he could as well fit into Lai Mohammed’s shoes.
Buhari contested and lost the presidential elections on three different occasions. First, against Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, then against Umaru Musa Yaradua, and later Goodluck Jonathan i.e. in 2003, 2007 and 2011 respectively. He has thus been able to figure out that he lost to these candidates because the process was fraught with irregularities and malpractices. One would have ordinarily expected that this will be reason enough to deter the General from adding a fourth futile presidential attempt to his profile, but it didn’t. Besides, the witch that hunted Tom is still alive and would hunt Jerry.
Buhari wept for Nigeria four years ago, and from many indications, his chances in 2015 are slim. He is a well respected elder statesman Nigeria can always resort to for the solutions to the woes besetting her. He has seen it all as far as leadership in the country is concerned (though in “Khaki”), but the odds does not seem to favour him. He has been disappointed countless times in the institutions and machineries in the country. His only fortune lies in the successful merger of the major opposition parties in the country and the strong indication that he’ll emerge victorious at the primaries - which he has never lost. Whether APC will trade him or not (as most of its stakeholders are members of the defunct ACN who were believed to have traded with their presidential aspirant) is not the factor that will ensure his electoral victory at the polls. In as much as I never wish to see that day, but our General may just weep again since not much has changed since the last presidential election he lost to Goodluck Jonathan - his possible top contender in 2015.