By NBF News

I didn't quite like the news when it first came on Monday. In fact, it was like a dampener to my spirit. Pastor Tunde Bakare of the Latter Rain Assembly, and convener of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) had been chosen as running mate to former military head of state and presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), General Muhammadu Buhari.

Why should I have such strong reservations about the emergence of Bakare, who is a Christian of the Pentecostal stock, just like me? Shouldn't I rather exult and be over the moon? The reasons were many, but the chief ones were that Bakare is not a regular politician, and he does not hail from the South-east, the region I feel in all fairness should have best completed the Buhari ticket.

Just Friday last week, I had made a prescription in the piece entitled 'A running mate for Buhari.' This was my submission: 'I recommend a strong Igbo running mate for Buhari… If Buhari has a strong running mate from the East, and the proposed alliance with the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) works, the West can also be rallied behind the ticket by Bola Tinubu's influence.' So, you see that my calculation was that the strong influence Buhari wields in the North would be complemented by a strong, colourful personality from the East, and the influence of the ACN in the West. But the permutation has not worked. The talk with ACN has not borne any fruit, and Buhari has settled for the charismatic preacher, Tunde Bakare.

Apart from not being Igbo from the South-east, I also said this of Bakare, last week: 'He won't bring much to the table in terms of votes. And you need the voters more than anything else at a time like this. You need a consummate politician, a compelling personality, who will further stoke the intensity of 'Hurricane Buhari.' But who? That is the big question.' Buhari answered the question on Monday by announcing Bakare as his running mate. I may not have liked it perfectly, but I've decided to accept it, and look at the silver lining in the cloud. What are the possibilities from a Buhari/Bakare ticket? What are the consequences for our politics, particularly in 2015 and beyond?

Solid integrity, unassailable, unimpeachable. That is what we will get in a Buhari/Bakare presidency. One is ascetic, Spartan, a man of proven honesty who has had many opportunities to steal us blind if he wanted. He was a military governor, a petroleum minister, head of state, chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF). In these positions, he sat on funds running into billions, if not trillions, yet he needed loan from a bank to build himself a house when he left office. He has no house in Abuja today, simply because he cannot afford it. We can trust him with the national treasury, it will be in safe hands.

The other is not exactly a poor man. He was a lawyer, businessman, now a full time preacher, and quite comfortable. He preaches righteousness, and lives it (as far as we can vouch). When members of the SNG visited the Jonathan regime in Abuja a couple of months back, they were given $50,000 for transport and welfare. They turned it down. He will not serve in government for what he can get, because he's already blessed, and righteousness will be his rampart and his rearguard. No doubt, Buhari/Bakare is a team we can trust in terms of rock solid integrity. It can bring the much sought after change in our country.

Again, people who had erroneously accused Buhari of religious fanaticism can sleep easy. He now has a gospel preacher by his side, who can moderate his thoughts and actions if they tend to tilt to one side. I definitely have no such fears. Like I've argued before, there's a difference between zealotry and fanaticism. Buhari is an Islamic zealot in the positive sense of the word, just like I'm a Christian zealot, just like Tunde Bakare is. We stand for our faith anytime, anywhere, ready to defend it no matter the cost. In fact, you must fear a man who has no zeal for his faith. He will fall for anything at the drop of a hat. So, if Buhari is committed to his religion, it is no crime. Insularity, parochialism and narrow-mindedness are what we should be worried about. And with two zealots in power, they'll balance each other out. No cause for worry.

No shaking. It is better than having those who mouth all the religious platitude, but steal us blind, and give us a 'business as usual' kind of leadership.

John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ, sent his disciples to ask Jesus a question, when he heard of all the signs, wonders and miracles happening: 'Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?' (Luke 7:20). And how did Jesus respond? Not verbally at first. In the presence of the emissaries from John, he just began to work miracles, and he then said: 'Go your way and tell John the things you've seen and heard.' So, is Bakare the one we really need to further stoke the intensity of the hurricane called Buhari?

He needs to show it. He needs to add value to the ticket. Without reducing it to a completely religious affair, he needs to kindle the confidence and trust of Christians and non-Christians alike to vote for this team. He needs to mobilise civil society groups, whom he has worked with closely in the past one year. Trust me, they'll get my single vote. I'll vote for a Muhammadu Buhari any day, because if he makes me a promise, I can go to bed and sleep with my two eyes closed. If he tells me he's running for one term only, I won't even need him to document it, unlike others who blatantly and brazenly renege on what they voluntarily signed.

Now, to the consequences of the present political configuration on our future, particularly the presidency in year 2015. Zoning is now dead and buried. If Jonathan wins, and leaves in 2015 (which I very much doubt), what happens to Sambo, the vice president? Won't he want to run? If Buhari wins, and spends just one term, won't Bakare then run for president? Where does that then leave our brothers from the South-east? I'm afraid, Ndigbo may have backed a wrong horse again politically, and they are already holding the shorter end of the stick. Won't the South-east cry again in 2015?

Who do we then blame, other than their leaders who drew a bad card? Hear how Che Oyinatumba, a commentator on national affairs puts it in an e-mail to me: 'In all these pairings, the South-east people have lost out again. It beats me that a people that prosper in all that they lay their hands on could be so naïve when it comes to politics and its permutations. Who deceived them that Sambo will not contest in 2015? Or that President Jonathan who suddenly remembered that his pet name is Azikiwe will hand over to onye igbo in 2015?…Is any group more in political disarray than the self-styled wisest men in the East?'

In his first incarnation, Buhari had Tunde Idiagbon as his number-two man (and some people say he was the powerhouse of the regime). Now, he has gone for another Tunde. Buhari tun ti de o. The man has come again, and we can safely follow him, knowing that we will not be led into a ditch.

From my mailbox
What Nigerians say about Buhari's running mate
Before Gen Buhari settled for Tunde Bakare on Monday, Nigerians had responded massively to my piece on the matter last week.

Let's take some of the comments, as much as space can allow.

Don't cry for us
Don't cry for us Igbos. We've been following the North for so long, what did we gain? Let's try our own brother who bears our name, Ebele Azikiwe.

Charles Ononiba, Lagos
Drinking hemlock
It is only in Nigeria that a Femi Adesina will prefer Buhari to Dr. Jonathan, a PhD holder, and Sambo, a world class architect. To vote Buhari is akin to drinking hemlock.

John Mgbe, Owerri
I concur
Thanks for the piece on Buhari's running mate. God knows that I concur 100%.

Mafe A. J.
I nominate Kalu
Orji Uzor Kalu will be good as running mate for Buhari. Nigeria will be the better for it.

Timi, Abuja
My fear about Buhari
No doubt Buhari is best suited to be our president now. He will work, we know. But will he allow non-Moslems to co-exist with Moslems? Will they share the same market stalls? Will their children attend the same schools? I suggest he goes for Bianca or Dora.

Pastor Livy Onyenegecha
I wish Dora was in CPC
Buhari needs help to confront the PDP mafia. I wish Dora was in his party, or can they draft Pius Anyim or Rochas Okorocha?

Ebere Edemeka
Our only hope
Should PDP win April elections, I and my family will go on exile till 2015. Nigerians, open your eyes, Buhari is our only hope.

Chief J. J. Ibeka, Festac, Lagos
It was a bomb
Kulikuli, you are at it again. The write up, 'Running mate for Buhari' was a bomb. Timely, explosive, incisive, thought provoking, and analytical. Keep the fire burning.

A. Jummai
We wait anxiously
We wait anxiously for the unknown running mate of Buhari. I hope that the process will not be a 'mago-mago' one like PDP's method of handpicking.

Ayo Moses, Ibadan
Ndigbo, who will you send?
I agree with your analysis. Ndigbo, who will you send? Who will go for you? Ugo eberela na mgbagbu. Our betrayers, please, betray no more. Buhari is reliable, and Ndigbo will not regret picking one of their sons to be his running mate.

Anyamele Samuel Chinaza
Why I'll vote Buhari
I'm a Christian, but I won't vote for Buhari solely because of religion. I believe in the man, and I don't like PDP.

Simeon, Abuja
The best running mate
The best running mate for Buhari will be Orji Kalu or Ken Nnamani. But if you want to get 100% vote from Igbos, pick Raph Uwazurike.

I'm ashamed
I'm ashamed of Ndigbo and their stand in Nigerian politics. Buhari is best man for the job. I agree with your 'sweet mix' for him.

Okoye Xander, Akoka, Lagos
How to trounce Jonathan
Let Orji Kalu be conscripted as running mate for Buhari: he has the followers, the experience and financial muscle. Together, they will trounce the puppet Jonathan/Sambo contraption.

Ida Bako, Abuja
Ndigbo better off
For long-term political strategy, Ndigbo are better off winning the confidence of the South-south than relying on the promises of the North.

Rowl Ibecheozor, Owerri
My choice
Igbos have lost out in PDP. Let Buhari and CPC please consider Orji Kalu or Ken Nnamani.

Pastor Opara, 08088109340
You got me
You are a good analyst, objective and articulate. Keep it up.

Ndabagi Abdullahi, Minna
I assure Buhari
I assure Buhari of my vote if he picks a disciplined, corruption-free running mate, irrespective of the person's ethnic or religious belief.

Ezema Simeon Attah, Onitsha
You should have named your candidate
Thanks for your excellent analysis. But you should have named your preference. Is it Ngige, Orji Kalu, Okonjo-Iweala, or Ken Nnamani? Anyway, more groundnut to your kulikuli.

Taofik Babs, Bauchi
How do we get this person?
Kai, you have painted a difficult picture for Buhari's running mate. How do we get this 'crowd puller, colourful and acceptable' person, especially as you have narrowed it to the South-east?

Onoh Anayochukwu, FCT
A stronger force at work
Buhari may not get a running mate from the South because nobody is interested. You can make all your predictions, it will fail, because there's a stronger force at work which you can't control.

Darlington Agomuo
Re: A running mate for Buhari
I firmly support you on the recommendation of a strong crowd puller as running mate for Hurricane Buhari. I also agree that this country has been naturally and divinely zoned.

A. Razaq M, Ogbomosho
You analysed well
On running mate for Buhari, you analysed well. Ndigbo has carried another corpse. Buhari may as well take your clear advice.

Dr. Oliver Hayes Onwudiwe, Obosi
I'm prepared to work for Buhari
I'm prepared to work as Buhari's strategist because I want the PDP eased out of governance at all costs to stop the country from disintegrating.

Seer Apollos
He'll get my vote
If Buhari can conjure a running mate in the mould of Idiagbon, he's got my vote. I like the way you write objectively.

Ucheibe Ogechi, Aba
Dictatorial credentials
Why don't we worry about Buhari's dictatorial credentials and his level of education? We saw it during the tenure of Obasanjo. Can a leopard change its spots?

Dr. Wilson, Ikoyi, Lagos
What have we gained?
What have the Igbos benefited for queuing behind the North in the past? God who remembered the South-south will remember Igbos. We shall have it through godly permutation again.

Iyke Austin Mbodo, Owerri
Why search further?
A running mate for Buhari: Why search further, Chris Ngige will do the magic. He's easily the biggest crowd puller in the country.

Utomi is it
I had earlier suggested a Buhari/Utomi ticket. What a breath of fresh air it will be.

Sadiq IBK
Disservice to Ndigbo
I'm Ndigbo, and I think governors who led PDP delegates to Abuja have done us a disservice. They are all fighting for second term, and their pockets.

Mr. C. Iroumunna
Accurate and superb
Your write-up is accurate and superb. The running mate should either be Ken Nnamani, Ngige or Okonjo-Iweala. Buhari is the best.

Henry Ola, Paix UK Ltd.
Honest advice
How I wish the South-east politicians and Ndigbo elders would head your advice on Buhari's running mate.

Alhaji Abu Abdallah, Abuja
Message to Ndigbo
Please tell our Ndigbo brothers that it will not only be business as usual under Jonathan/Sambo, but that they will have to wait the next 16 years before having a shot at the presidency.

Kyaande Felix, Gboko
I share your fears
I share your fears. With the Eagle Square abracadabra, the final nail has been put on the coffin of zoning, and it is my people, Ndigbo that are the greatest losers. Shame on Igbo governors.

Uche, Lagos
We love Buhari
Enough of PDP zoning. Ndigbo love Buhari for his integrity, which his fellow northern leaders are afraid of.

Onwuamaeze Ephraim O, Abuja
Not even Zik can do it
Ndewo Femi nwannem, Ndigbo agree that Nigeria is naturally rotated, and God has rotated the presidency to the South-south. No strong running mate, not even a reincarnated Zik, can get any slice of the East for Buhari.

Barrister Okoro
Igbos own worst enemies
The best Igbo choice for Buhari is Pat Utomi. But the Igbos generally are their own worst enemies, they have therefore become the laughing stock in Nigerian political clime. They've not learnt anything from history, and history is not on their side. They need to get their acts together to be taken seriously in Nigeria.

Prof. E. Igbinovia
Jonathan not weak
I agree with you that Hurricane Buhari, as you call him, will bring about the radical change that we desire, but I don't agree with you that President Jonathan is lilly- livered, weak. Events will still unfold to show that Jonathan is not weak after all. And you are forgetting that Jonathan's ascension to power has God's blessing, so let's not touch the anointed.

Ugo Onwuaso, 08033480110
You're appreciated
Your concern for the Igbo nation despite not coming from the South- east is well appreciated by true sons and daughters of Ndigbo.

You did this good piece for us, but please Ndigbo are expecting you to recommend for us a Vice Presidential candidate to Buhari, as this will dwarf all the mess by the South-east delegates/Governors who voted for Jonathan in the PDP primaries as they sold and threw away the last chance of Ndigbo to the Presidency through PDP.

Elder Gideon
Radical change
The Ibos should not delude themselves into believing that Jonathan will hand over to one of their kinsman come 2015. We need radical changes not business as usual. And the only credible candidate that will bring about this radical change and a break from the past is none other than General Buhari.

Peter Akenuwa
Re: A running mate for Buhari
The old North/East alliance has never benefitted Ndigbo. We have played the second fiddle for too long and if we decide in 2011 to go with Jonathan, it's well informed. There is no difference between Goodluck Ebele Jonathan the Ijaw, and Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, the Igbo.

Ogbonnaya Maurice [email protected]
Agreement breaker
How can you trust someone who denied having agreed with you even when it is on white paper? God help us.

Alex, 08064673585
Let them cry, even now. Majority of us are too self-centred, enriching our pockets and turning our back to the real issues of governance and diplomacy. How many Igbo Senate Presidents from 1999 till date? Look at Ogbulafor, Nwodo (former PDP National chairmen), how they were disgracefully removed from their positions.

Buhari and Utomi
Give us Gen. Buhari as President with Pat Utomi as the running mate, while Tinubu and other heroes of democracy give them maximum support, to lead Nigeria away from destruction.

This should be seen as a call to service and selfless sacrifice by all (ACN, CPC, ANPP et all) and their financiers.

Biodun Adeniran, [email protected]
I regret
In fact, I regret being an Igboman. We have lost out in the political power game.

First and foremost, Jonathan cannot guarantee an Igbo presidency come 2015 and even he will never honour such an agreement when he could jettison the one he appended his signature to. I pity our generations to come.

Re: A Running mate for Buhari
The message last Friday was timely, the shellacking at Eagles Square has come and gone but it has not made me to change my stand on zoning inasmuch as Atiku was not my preferred northern candidate.

After the semi-final, an Igbo man was given a red card (sign of what will happen in 2015 about Igbo presidency). I am advising us to pick the best eleven for the final match. Buhari /Akunyili ticket with an accord with ACN, ANPP, and APGA will bring the masses vote that will not be intimidated by the power of incumbency.

Our laugh may come last at KuliKulii Friday fellowship

Ekene O, car dealer, Lagos
I agree
I agree with you that you are an incurable believer in power rotation. I concur with all your submissions of Friday, January 28, 2011 especially as it affects my ethnic group Ndigbo. I am concerned as you are that the Governors and elders could not read a very bold handwriting on the wall. The same man who refused to abide by an agreement that he is part of is the one they have decided to deliver my zone to. What makes them think that he will abide by the unwritten verbal promise? How can this people turn around to support a man who by his words and actions has scuttled the chances of my zone becoming the president of Nigeria come 2015.  Did they not realize that if Jonathan had allowed the north to complete their tenure of 8 years, that it would have been the turn of the southeast since the west have taken their own turn? Wisdom is not in grey hair but in reading in between the line. History will put these men in their rightful places when the time comes. Thank you.

Ejikeme Nnaji
Can Buhari's north be trusted?
I doubt if you can publish this, because some of you are biased over certain issues. Your analysis of Buhari picking an Ibo man from the east as running mate is very wrong. How long can we remain running mate and second class in leadership in Nigeria?

Methinks the north should hold on for at least for 16 years before tasting power again, then let them know how others have been feeling it for the past 35 years of one military head of state to the other from the north.

Don Val, Accra- Ghana, +233243951864, [email protected]

It depends on Buhari
On this topic 'Running mate for Buhari' I agree with you totally. But it now depends on Buhari to make the right choices: making sure that the alliance with the ACN works and picking an Igbo man as running mate.

Kingsley Ali, Asaba, Delta State
I thought you'd suggest
I thought your article would have suggested running mate for Buhari in the forthcoming election. This would have gone a long way in making the search less tedious.

Keep the factual pen on paper even after the elections.

Edet Godwin, Uyo, A'Ibom State
Running mate for Buhari
I share the opinion of Dimgba Igwe on the suitability of Tunde Bakare as a running mate for Buhari. As much as I am pro-Jonathan, if the Tunde Bakare equation is brought in, I may hesitate and may just vote either way.

Keep writing. You make me look forward to Fridays.
Barrister Michael Orisabiyi
Buhari must get it right!
We have waited for a long time for this kind of challenge to the PDP, which has contributed nothing more to our national life than confusion and disillusionment. So Buhari must get it right and all of us will be surprised at the kind of support Nigerians will accord them.

Ndubuisi Commander Ezu