2019: Buhari and Nigerian political elites
“I served as a Head of State, Governor and Chairman of Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) but never looted the treasury unlike Nigeria's past leaders who own 20 to 30 houses while some Nigerians cannot even afford a room. I'm going to re-contest come 2019 and I will win by the special grace of God Almighty”,President Muhammadu Buhari expressing confidence in God for his expected victory in 2019 polls.
And I begin this one with a thunderous “Ameen”, expecting all lovers of Nigeria to say the same. The last few surveys I have made of Nigerians of different categories in connection to the reelection bid of the President in 2019 have been encouraging. I have surveyed the positions of the Nigerian traditional rulers, the Church and the Nigerian media. The positive response and support from these institutions give hope for a renewed Nigeria with the continuity of the current Buhari-led administration. The President’s quote above is not but the truth, though the best part of it is the full dependence on God Who has heard the heart-worries of Nigerians and their resolve to change their country, Nigeria, by themselves under the leader they so much love and trust.
I must assert from the onset that the Nigerian elites are divided over Buhari’s continuity bid. They are severely divided into two: the supporting side and the opposing side. There is, assuredly, a third group which is playing “the hypocrite”, neither with this nor with that, or secretly with one side against the other. It is politics, indeed. I must own up that some politicians who supported Buhari in 2015 with the hope that it is going to be “business as usual” have been disappointed. Some of them spent their money – some were loots from Nigeria’s treasury – thinking that they will be compensated with appointments to continue the looting-mania. But Buhari has remained himself, ever ready to right the many wrongs of past leaders against Nigeria.
That is notwithstanding. President Buhari should make new friends. Since he took over office, the President has largely depended on old friends some of whom he has so much trusted to the extent that he entertains no complaints about them. Yes, a lot of them have justified the trust he reposed on them. Governance is being redefined at the national level with a lot of inputs from them. Sanity, discipline, financial appropriateness and the true spirit of Nigerianism are gradually being instilled in Nigeria. It is something of joy, indeed. Generally, there is a tremendous change in government business. It is clear and many true patriots have testified about it. But all Nigerians, including the minorities and all parts of Nigeria are the President’s constituency. He told Nigerian at the inception of his first tenure that he belonged to all Nigerians.
In relation to the 2019 presidential race, there are comfortable reports that the Buhari-government is favoured by the upright Nigerian elites – those who have the compassion for good governance and democracy. Despite all said, Ahmad Bola Tinubu is one of them. He is a political colossus who has far-reaching influence in Nigerian politics today; a man whose wings can tame the dangers of some anti-Buhari political elites. The team that actualized the 2015 dream is still much alive and relevant. The team is still very ready to do it again. And there is very little doubt that they team will do less. Rather, there is hope that members of the team have been charged with the positive progress in governance and the achievements their efforts have earned the nation.
However, the greatest support for Buhari is the one expected from the 24 states he won in 2015 where the governors and Nigerian political elites from the states have resolved to give him another bulk votes. This position has been repeatedly declared by the Chairman of APC Governors’ Forum, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state. The 24 APC states: Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Edo, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara gave Buhari over 99 percent of the votes he needed to win. There is doubt of any surprise by the opposition to undo the APC in these states. Rather, there is hope that the APC may grab more states especially in the Southeast which is yearning to take over from Buhari in 2023 under the same party.
Buhari had a landslide victory over an incumbent President who had control over all the government organs and finances. With his high scorecard and the wobbling strength of the opposition, it is doubtable what possibly could stand against his victory in 2019, save Almighty God Whose grace he has always depended on. The opposition, basically the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seems to be telling Nigerians that the consequences of its defeat in 2015 will linger for a very long time. It is trying to correct its mistakes, most importantly by featuring a northern candidate against Buhari in 2019. But the acronym PDP has already, unfortunately, become detestable by Nigerians. Furthermore, it has become a brand associated with looting, wickedness and un-Godliness. Yet, the big question is: Who among the politicians in the north today can match the popularity and acceptability Buhari naturally enjoys in the north? And with money politics becoming less popular, a difficult task before the northern political elites will be how to convince the northern electorate to move against Buhari.
Furthermore, the Igbo elites seem to be realizing that they blindly followed the PDP for sixteen years on promises, though they had individually benefitted from the party. The party had all the opportunities to make a Nigerian president of core Igbo region. But alas! The deceit for which the PDP was based upon – now being exposed by the party stalwarts – prevailed all through their tenure. And today, from a critical view, a large chunk of those opposed to the Buhari’s continuity are in the states where APC colossuses are consciously waiting to conquer in 2019.
Apart from the PDP, the Obasanjo’s coalition and the gang-up of ex-generals are of concern, though the groups are made up, according to reports, of some Nigerians with questionable characters. Some of these personalities in the coalition have been accused of contributing in no small way to under-developing Nigeria and undermining her integrity. Some of them have caused pains of diverse magnitude to Nigeria since her creation or amalgamation. Some of them have wreaked havocs on Nigerians at different times when they were given the opportunities by the citizens to redeem the nation from the so many ailments it has been suffering. Majority of them are not but political prostitutes ever ready to dine and wine with anybody, even anything for power. They recycled themselves since 1999, say since 1960, treating the nation and Nigerians with levity, hatred and wickedness. How days turn! Now that the table is turned, have Nigerians really learnt? What difference does an opposition of very few past influential people mean to the will of Nigerians?
It is inexplicable that former presidents of Nigeria who, in many fora, claim to love Nigeria and Nigerians; that they supported Buhari for his integrity and political will to develop Nigeria just turned around after three years to be against Buhari. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, General T. Y. Danjuma and some retired top ranking military personnel have openly waged verbal war against Buhari and his continuity plan. Others like General Yakubu Gowon and Alhaji Shehu Shagari are yet not speaking out clear on it. Old and new generation politicians like Governors Ayo Fayose and Nyesom Wike alongside Fani koyode and the nPDP stalwarts are speaking from two sides of their mouths.
But why the gang-up of the generals and nPDP? Is it because Nigerians’ properties, including oil wells, are being collected back from them? Or that the leakages from the nation’s treasury, still linked to their investments, are being blocked? Or the envy against a president who is committed to lead Nigeria for eight uninterrupted years – not a leadership built-on despondency but one built on mass-support, courage and selflessness in service? Or the fear of more aggressive war on corruption which many of them have been accused of? Or because the real growth of Nigeria is a danger to the interest of the few individuals?
Chief Obasanjo seems to be the most desperate unrepentant politician who is out to stop Buhari. Initially, he claimed his coalition will never metamorphose into a political party. But he has tried hard to integrate other already existing parties into his desire but to no avail until he adopted one. He recently urged Nigerian to be war-ready to defeat Buhari. He also vowed to stop receiving constitutional payments as a past president from Buhari if Buhari wins in 2019. And of memory, he is known to be the architect of “do or die” politics in Nigeria.
However, the Buhari’s support team has been strengthened with many strong politicians like the former Abia state governor, Orji Uzor Kalu who has vowed to keep Buhari’s opposition at watch especially the likes of Obasanjo. And I feel obliged to advice compatriots to not to be deceived again. Any Nigerian, with sincere mind and clear sight, will know that since June 2015, things have been gradually changing for good in Nigeria. Thereupon, I thank Nigerians for our unity in diversity and plead with the religious leaderships in Nigeria again involving in anti-Godly endeavours. It is really un-Godly for men of God to hold congregational prayers against Buhari who is trying his best to repair our dear and only country, Nigeria.
Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja. E-mail [email protected]