Ugwuda: Buhari’s credentials for 2015 presidency

SINCE his foray into the murky waters of Nigerian politics in 2003, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) has proved that he is not only a true democrat, but has unquenchable desire to offer the country a desired leadership that has been missing since the return of democratic governance in 1999. On three occasions, Buhari contested the presidential elections and lost mostly in controversial circumstances, he had not resorted to violence or took law into his hand; rather he had followed due process to vent his displeasure. Before now, Buhari has carved a niche for himself as an incorruptible public officer and team player who believe in the well being of the people. 

   In his past three presidential contests in 2003, 2007, 2011, Buhari was the candidate to beat, but some evil forces that held the country down never see anything good in him. So collectively, they always truncate his ambition against the wishes of majority of Nigerians. Such nasty experiences were enough to discourage anybody, but the people tenaciously remained undeterred, knowing that the country needs help. 

 His tenacity paid off against all odds when he was overwhelmingly elected as the presidential candidate of All Progressive Congress (APC) in one of the most transparent party primaries ever conducted since 1999.

  Obviously and initially, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) never gave All Progressives Congress any chance of survival, right from its merger period to the emergence of Buhari as its presidential candidate for 2015 polls in a rancour-free primary. Again the choice of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as Buhari’s running mate was another masterstroke by the APC leadership.

   It was this development that appeared to have woken PDP from its slumber, having squandered its goodwill for the past 16 years. With a centre that can no longer hold following the intra party crisis that had trailed the outcome of the party primaries across the country, coupled with poor performance of President Jonathan in the last six years, it is obvious that PDP and its presidential candidate, President Jonathan are already agitated, angry and afraid ahead of next month polls.

   This can be deduced from the campaigns the president and his party are running which are lacking in substance and issues but had dwelled much on personality attack. While Buhari and his party have consistently campaigned for change and fight against corruption, President Jonathan and his party appeared to have developed Buhari phobia. So far in every of their campaign outings, they have dwelled much on Buhari’s personality instead of flaunting their achievements in the last six years. They have carefully avoided campaigning with the much touted power reform, having realized that it is a failure, despite all the promises they made to Nigerians. Today, Nigerians pay more for darkness because the government’s fronts to whom the power sector was handed over in the name of privatization lack technical-knowhow and financial muscles. They have through pseudo names and organizations awash the media with several meaningless and frivolous adverts on Buhari’s personality. PDP and its presidential candidate are raising unnecessary eyebrow in the media over Buhari’s certificates and qualifications, even when they know the appropriate channel to follow, as directed by the INEC.  PDP’s approach to the campaign has shown that the party is lacking in strategy and thinking ahead of the polls. If PDP and President Jonathan are sure that Buhari has no certificate as they wanted gullible Nigerians to believe, why not approach the court, join the schools Buhari attended and the Nigerian Army in the suit? Why has Buhari’s certificate become an issue now whereas Buhari apart from retiring from Nigerian Army as former Head of State and General had contested presidential election three times including against President Jonathan in 2011? Why the emphasis on Buhari’s paper qualifications as if certificate acquisition is the sure way of performance in leadership position? If so, why has a man with PhD not perform in the last six years?

   Before the certificate issue, the ruling party had tried to link Buhari with Sharia practice, but they have forgotten that Sharia practice has been there before now. Even the current Minister of Education and former governor of Kano, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau had during his stewardship in the state implemented Sharia law to the letter. Today he is a member of PDP.  Besides, how has the issue of Sharia law become the country’s problem at this point. It is obvious that it is the PDP’s indirect way of tagging Buhari religious bigot or fundamentalist. The religious card appears not to be flying, because in Buhari’s last three presidential contests, his running mates are Christians from the south. PDP has even campaigned about Buhari’s age, but historical precedents have shown that age is never a barrier in leadership performance globally. The likes of the late Nelson Mandela was an exceptional leader at old age after being in prison for 25 years. If younger people have done well in governance, why is it that the likes of former governor of Delta State, Mr. James Ibori is languishing in London prison after being convicted of fraud. Majority of those indicted in subsidy scandal are younger Nigerians.           

    Despite labelling and linking APC to Boko Haram insurgency, the PDP-led government has failed to provide evidence in that direction in the last six years. Even in the face of several promises, they have failed to tame the insurgency, despite huge annual budgetary allocations to security sector.

  Several Nigerians and international community have called for issue-based campaigns, but the ruling party and its presidential candidate appeared to be helpless as it is becoming clearer by the day that there are nothing tangible in terms of achievement to campaign with. In all their campaigns of calumny against Buhari and his party, they have not said that Buhari is corrupt and they have not linked him with ownership of any unimaginable property within and outside the country. 

  That is a big plus for Buhari, considering that corruption has remained and is still the bane of good governance in Nigeria. Saying that the present government has pampered corruption is an understatement as it is clear that all the anti-corruption agencies in the country have been rendered ineffective and incapacitated. No wonder the alleged subsidy scandal and pension scandal culprits are walking free on the streets today; some of them are sponsoring and supporting the party’s campaign. These are obvious flaws and baggage the ruling party should be addressing in the campaign. The ruling party’s consistent and preposterous attack on Buhari’s personality ahead of the 2015 polls is gradually working in favour of Buhari and his party.

  Observers have argued that if a party that has been at the helm of affairs in the last six years cannot show its verifiable scorecard, rather it has dwelled mostly on personality attack, it means the party and government have no direction.

  As can be seen, Buhari’s candidature in the last three presidential contests has not garnered the level of support it is garnering now across the country, even among the PDP faithful such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Governor Sule Lamido and others. For the first time since 1999, Buhari will be going into 2015 presidential election with the support of 14 governors, several National and State Assembly members. This is an opportunity like never before for Buhari. For the fact that even the elite whom many have accused in the past of conspiring to truncate Buhari’s presidential ambition are now supporting him shows that there is ray of prosperity and progress in Buhari’s presidency and Nigeria.

  Across the country today, the chant is Sai Buhari and it is blowing like wind because Nigerians want an incorruptible leader with strength of character to take firm control of the affairs of the country in 2015. Majority of Nigerians appear to be tired of a weakling who cannot control his home front talkless of the government affairs as leader. Many believe that such a leader is not a risk worthy of being taken in the next four years, as the future of 170 million Nigerians which is obviously uncertain now will be jeopardized the more. 

  Looking at the messy state of economy today, it is a public knowledge that whoever wins the forthcoming presidential election has a lot of job to remedy the bad situation. That is why the country needs a man with strength and fiscal discipline. There is no doubt that with unfolding events and campaigns so far, many believe that in Buhari these qualities lie. The decision is for Nigerians to take on February 14; and this is the best and last chance for Buhari and the opposition to dislodge the PDP after 16 years of mis-governance.  

• Dr. Ugwuda, a financial expert, wrote Maryland, USA.  

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