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NOW THAT CANDIDATE BUHARI HAS EMERGED

By NBF News
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In recent weeks, I have written a couple of essays on presidential aspirant Muhammadu Buhari and why I considered and still consider him the best man for the job of president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as we approach the 2011 election. Reactions to this position have been pouring in, and it's highly elating that most share same position. The interesting aspect is the fact that Nigerians in the Diaspora are paying particular attention to the upcoming election.

This shows that even in their comfort in foreign lands, they still appreciate that there is no place like home, and that all hands must be on deck in the desperate effort to recover our country and return her to the path of greatness. Majority of Nigerians are of the opinion that a country roundly blessed has no business tottering at the brink of disintegration and collapse. Very few countries around the world can boast of the size of arable land available to this nation.

Quality human resources abound, such that we have been exporting the best of professionals to other countries over time. Varied mineral resources litter the whole place, including the black gold, forget the fact that we import refined petroleum products.

Back to the Buhari matter. I endorsed him when he was just aspirant Buhari, but today he is candidate Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change, making him a sure bet for the presidential election of April this year. This development brings a lot of factors into clearer perspective, and as we await other political parties especially the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to hold presidential primaries and come up with their own presidential candidates, we can begin to analyze candidate Buhari's chances vis-a-vis the likely outcomes of the presidential primaries of other leading political parties.

With the acrimonious struggle for the PDP presidential, gubernatorial, national and state assembly tickets, the party is going to end up as a weakened and fragmented entity with its flanks open, and quite exploitable. This scenario will be in the best interest of Nigerians who have struggled for eleven years to cope with the misrule offered by PDP as leadership to a country awash with all types of resources. No matter how it plays out, we are certain to have a weakened party at the end of the day. In a situation that the PDP survives the looming crises, it will still have angry and frustrated Nigerians to contend with during the elections. Nigerians desperately want a new lease of life, and unlike in the past when they showed so much lack of interest and allowed the P.D.P rigging machine to have a roller coaster ride through the Nigerian political landscape, things are going to be different this time, because they will not just register to vote, they will stay behind to protect the votes and make sure only the authentic results are announced at the end of the day. Rigging this time around will be frustrated by the mass of angry Nigerians who have been at the receiving end of kleptocracy.

Looking at the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and the array of presidential aspirants, one will normally conclude that some of them are very patriotic Nigerians, who share the progressive ideology of the party, while some could be described as opportunistic politicians who want to use the highly credible platform of the party to further their selfish political ambition and massage their bloated ego without bothering about the struggle in the land to create a credible opposition platform of progressives to give the PDP a run for her money. This considered, I agree that it will be in the interest of the ACN and other progressive minded Nigerians if Gen. Buhari is adopted, considering his clout, reach, popularity and pedigree as the candidate to be supported by the party.

Looking at the emerging scenario, one begins to see rays of light of an impending change for the better in our land. The ease with which candidate Buhari emerged unchallenged shows the level of love and support that he enjoys in the CPC. He was not the only presidential material in the party, yet other potential aspirants had to bury their ambitions for the sake of party unity and cohesion. That a lot of prominent politicians and other Nigerians have been trooping into the CPC is a testimony of the level of admiration of Buhari by Nigerians of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. My only worry for Buhari and the party is that they should be very careful as new members troop in, to identify fifth columnists who might be agents of the ruling party being planted in their midst to cause chaos. The CPC in alliance with the ACN and other progressive opposition parties can beat the PDP and whichever presidential candidate it presents in the coming election. This will be made much easier with the anticipated implosion in the PDP.

I read one funny article in Daily Sun recently, where the author was anticipating all the atrocities that a President Buhari will perpetrate if he makes it to the presidential villa, and I started asking myself when Nigeria developed such science or is it art of mind reading, such that the mind of a patriotic Nigerian like Buhari could be so easily dissected, read and understood and published in black and white. I wondered why the minds of other aspirants were not similarly read and made public, or are some people getting panicky and nervous and as such Buhari must be smeared, even if unjustly? People say they want issue based campaign, yet what we are seeing is name calling. Some people need to change their ways. Such hack writers have been busy propping up a governor in a south-east state, a governor generally acknowledged as the worst in the history of the state, who has done nothing meaningful to develop the state, but has unleashed his propaganda machinery to cloak him in borrowed robes of performers. Such writers should not be taken seriously, unless they change their ways.

Some people might misconstrue my endorsement of Gen. Buhari as hatred for President Jonathan, far from it. I see Jonathan as a humble, sincere and patriotic person, with the desire to put things right and return Nigeria to the path of greatness. My problem with his aspiration is his platform-PDP, and the horde of hawks surrounding him. I don't see him as having the necessary strong will to put these characters in their right places and call their bluff. The party has woeful record of performance at different levels of leadership in this country, and like the leopard can never change its spots. For the fact that President Jonathan is working to return most of the discredited governors of his party without paying attention to the yearnings of the masses of Nigerians for a new lease of life is a cause for worry, indicating that he hasn't the will to do the needful with regards to the nation's leadership. This is why he hasn't my support.

That Buhari has an iron cast will is not in contention. As a former head of state, he could have easily jumped into PDP, become a member if not the chairman of the board of trustees, receive oil blocks and other jumbo contracts and generally help them grow corruption, but he chose to be different. He equally could have remained in the ANPP, and stomach all the deceits and manipulations that were the hallmarks of that party shortly after the 2007 elections. What did he do? He called their bluff and left the party, formed a new party from the scratch without caring a hoot. That is the stuff Buhari is made of. That is the personality of a president that can dare both friends and foes in the fight against corruption, restore our lost value system, recover our country and put it back on the path of growth and development. Candidate Buhari is made of the right stuff, he has the will. Let's give him the necessary support to be our democratically elected president for the sake of posterity.

Dr Nwagwu, a public affairs
commentator, lives in Lagos.