Buhari/Bakare Ticket: What is CPC up to?
Be not afraid of greatness. Some men are born great; some achieve greatness; and some have greatness thrust upon them.'-William Shakespeare. From all indications Nigeria looks set for the April General Election. Although one expects a hitch-free exercise, Muhammadu Buhari's recent warning against rigging and against the replication of the North African scenario in Nigeria bears amplifications. The days are gone when people like Alhaji Rahman Okene wined and dined with dictators while NADECO battled the same evil. Today, Nigerians appear more united and no longer can anyone take them for granted. I believe that the only revolution possible here is a progressive one and President Goodluck Jonathan has already kick-started it, unwittingly though. Thus as from April, we only require a proactive government in order to take it to the next level.
By sincerely promising free and fair election and by pursuing the same and refusing to echo the familiar refrain of the Obasanjo/Ogbulafor satanic Ballard which said that the PDP would rule the country for 60 consecutive years, Jonathan has unwittingly unleashed a tethered polity and thus encouraged liberal politics which has enabled even his ministers to resign and join parties of their choice without going mad-without being victimized. This to me is revolution par excellence. Today, the PDP must embrace reform or disintegrate like the Whigs suffered in 18th century Britain as a result of inexorable socio-political reforms necessitated by the Agricultural and industrial Revolutions, resulting in the emergence of the Liberal Party which took over control of governance for a long time from 1760. But since the end of World War II the Tories or Conservatives and Labor have taken over.
The ongoing realignment of forces has significantly enriched our politics. It has helped the Action Congress of Nigeria ACN to attract members who have broadened its outlook with the possibility of winning not just ordinary seats outside the southwest but also gubernatorial contests in places like Akwa Ibom, Plateau and Benue. Above all, the unleashing of the polity has ensured the emergence of the Congress for Progressive Change CPC-a party to watch and which may rule Nigerian politics in the future. In fact, I must confess that I am fascinated by the concept of the CPC and its presidential ticket. It appears to be the party with the most thought-provoking title and most profound message. The idea of 'progressive change' couldn't have been arrived at by rule of tongue. The change that could effectively take root in Nigeria, let me repeat for the umpteenth time; will be progressive unlike in North Africa where it happens by one fell swoop.
Therefore, I do doff my hat to Buhari and co for their wisdom, maturity and foresight. Buhari is a beacon. Even though for four consecutive years (1975-1979) he was in a position to amass wealth (as state governor and as Petroleum Minister/Chairman, NNPC and later (1994) as Chairman Petroleum Trust Fund) he was never swayed by material possession, perhaps believing like Chaucer that 'overplenty feeds the pride which poverty conquers.'Any one who has closely followed his political career will appreciate that though he is self-effacing and near taciturn, he is honest and resilient, consistent and courageous, patriotic, frugal, selfless and hardworking. Let me also confess at this point that I have never been enamored of the idea of any transformed military officer leading a democratic dispensation in Nigeria. But all that fades away in the faces of the hydra-headed troubles of the land.
It is true that President Jonathan is not doing badly in the face of all this, but to what extent can he cope in the years ahead? The office today requires a person with 'big biceps', if I may borrow the words of Femi Adesina. If Jonathan's biceps are not big enough, which of the other parties, beyond sentiment, can save us from a situation that calls for real courage, gumption, initiative, decisiveness and a measure of aggressiveness? President Goodluck Jonathan is of the mould of Jimmy Carter-a dovish kind of leader-whereas the contemporary challenges of the office call for either a Ronald Reagan, or Bill Clinton or a Charles De Gaulle since the Churchills are very rare breed. I would prefer a president like De Gaulle of whose image Buhari reminds me.
In 1958 France's many woes-domestic and foreign-forced the return of De Gaulle, a world War hero and highly disciplined leader, back to power. Thus was born the French 5th Republic. Conscious that part of the country's troubles stemmed from official ineptitude and colonialism, De Gaulle made up his mind right from the beginning to let go of all colonies. To achieve this he had asked for and obtained the enabling constitution plus the powers of executive president. He then systematically proceeded to out-maneuver the notorious French forces at home and abroad, decimated the OAS in Algeria, stopped political terrorism and in the end France stepped out majestically and was able not only to explode its own nuclear bomb in 1959 but also look NATO in the face and say no. Therefore, in view of the Nigerian situation which resembles that of France in 1958, I am inclined to think that between Jonathan and Buhari only the later can effectively manage here. The combination of Buhari and Bakare is novel and unprecedented in Nigerian politics. I don't know Buhari from Adam and though we find it difficult to forgive and forget his jailing of Tunde Thompson and Ndukka Irabor, he appears compassionate.
I was editor of Satellite the Enugu based National Daily, in 1984, when Buhari as head of state paid a four-day state visit to Anambra state. Governor Madueke had ordered the arrest and detention of my colleague and editor of Sunday Satellite Mr. Chigozie Ozim on the flimsy excuse that he published a letter to the editor considered to be offensive to the Anambra state government. All entreaties for clemency by the management of Satellite and other sympathizers fell on deaf ears. Mr. Ozim's Wife Urel was six months pregnant when her husband was arrested and had been delivered of a baby boy two weeks to Buhari's visit. The baby, because of the incarceration of its father could not be named. Mrs. Ozim thus seized the opportunity of Buhari's visit to cry out for help. With her baby in tow she came to the newsroom and broke down in tears. 'Please help bring the plight of my husband to the knowledge of the head of state, I have suffered a lot', she cried with tears flowing freely. Pointing at her baby, she continued, 'This child won't grow up a happy boy if he is reared in bitterness, agony and avoidable hardship. You can see this baby has no name because his father is not around and I have no access to him.' She continued. The next day, Monday September 24, we published the story front page, together with the picture of Mrs Ozim and her baby. The minister of internal affairs, Major General Magoro who was on the entourage of Buhari drew his attention to the story and Mr. Ozim was released even before the end of the tour. For a man who often appeared to be uncompromisingly strict in public, such manifestation of considerable personal empathy in private is an enamoring attribute of great leaders.
By Godwin Nzeakah