OPINION: BUHARI’S REELECTION BID: MATTERS ARISING

President Buhari’s declaration to re-contest for second term as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a classic example of lack of principle on the part of Mr. President. It is also a manifestation of the postulation of Fredrick Forsyth which posits that: “sincerity and politics are diametrically opposed”. But whether in politics or other situations, the dignity of a man is in his words. When a leader or anybody whatsoever fails to honour his words, it smacks of dishonesty.

The ever revered first black President of South-Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela who served as President of that country from 1994-1999 promised to serve one term taking cognizance of his age. Mandela at the time of ascension to the office of President of South-Africa was in his 70s. He knew he had reached the age of weakness and to stay further would be a disservice to a country he dearly loved and was willing to lay down his life for. Despite the pressure for him to seek rerun, he allowed that love to take precedent over other sentimental considerations. Mandela bowed out honourably after the first term while the ovation was at feverish pitch.

In far away Tanzania, Julius Kamberage Nyerere left unalterable legacies as statesman, political philosopher and father of Independent Tanzania. He ruled Tanzania from 1961-1985 and voluntarily relinquished office arguably one of the few African leaders to do so. Nyerere died in 1999 many years after he left office but the moral influence he exuded is still being felt in the political life of that country.

General Muhammadu Buhari first came to power through a military coup as Head of State of Nigeria on December 31, 1983. He was young, daring, adventurous and idealistic. He ruled with iron fist and instilled fear in Nigerians. Freedom of all hues was severely curtailed and prison doors were ajar to receive many on phantom charges and unverifiable presumptions of corruption. His reign was despotic and dictatorial. Many Nigerians left the country for good. In August 1985, the draconian regime was forcefully replaced with the maverick IBB regime which engaged in wiles and manipulations.

While a Head of State, Buhari through his administrative style demonstrated manifest aversion for corruption. Before he was ousted, he had etched himself on the psyche of Nigerians as an anti-corruption crusader. His reputation in that regard bourgeoned and turned him into a national hero. When the Abacha administration made him chairman of Petroleum Trust Fund, the many underhand deals that are said to have been perpetrated within that agency could not be noticed because a towering reputation had already cast upon him a “saint figure”.

It was this reputation that General Buhari brought to the table in 2015, the fourth time he was vying for the office of the President in a democratic setting. It was perhaps this reputation which has however, turned specious that made people to believe everything he said. For instance, President Buhari promised that he would go for one term citing his age to be the encumbrance. He said that his age would certainly limit him and wished he was a little younger. But PMB has turned out not be a man of his words thus casting a slur on his integrity.

President Buhari’s decision to run in 2019 looks more like coercion from a cabal than one carefully taken by himself in his own interest. In 2017, Mr. President’s health took a turn for the worst. He was in London for a total of 158 days and did not work for 283 days. Rumours of his death were rife with protests taking place in London, Abuja and other cities as Nigerians demanded to know the true status of his health. Having gone through the trauma of that period, one expected Mr. President to finish the extant term, push for a younger successor of his choice and bow out at the expiration of this tenure to take a well deserved rest. Well, since according to Henry Kissinger who posited that “power is the great aphrodisiac”, PMB has decided to cling to it with the last fibre of his being despite a health condition that appears still tenuous.

PMB’s era has been unfavourable to Nigerians. The economy has been in dire-strait with inflation spiraling and burrowing through rooftops. Three square meals in Nigeria today is luxury and only affordable within the elites’ bracket. Before May 2015, a bag of rice was going for N7,500 but today it oscillates between N19,000 and N22,000. Garri, a household staple has also joined the list of menu of the elites. Perhaps one of the areas that has given impetus to the rising cost of items is transport sector where the Buhari administration callously increased the pump price of petroleum products. That single anti-people’s decision dubiously said to be occasioned by the need to remove subsidy on petroleum products but which curiously still subsist, has been part of the root cause of high cost of living in Nigeria.

In the area of security, the APC led administration can not be adjudged to be above board. When it came initially, it showed great promise with the way it tackled the maniacal Boko Haram. But with the passage of time, the vigour and determination that underlined the early approach began to wane with the group relaunching its attacks even though not at the scale previously known. The reduction of its scale of assault then has been adequately filled by another deadly group, the Fulani Herdsmen. People have been constrained to argue that Herdsmen have replaced Boko Haram with a script to prosecute the Islamization of Nigeria as well as conduct ethnic cleansing. Then came the Dapchi girls’ abduction, the return of the girls, the suspicion and controversy that have trailed the disheartening incident. Of course, other forms of criminality are still very well with us making the claim of any achievement in security hollow.

One of the areas in which the Buhari administration has ebbed to an all time low is the area of national cohesion. At no time has Nigeria been more polarized than now. In the Nigeria of today, regions, religion and tribe are emphasized more than our “Nigerianness”. The entire country is polarized along fault lines extirpating that nationalistic fervor that once defined the oneness of our nation. Today, people talk gleefully about disintegration because leadership at the national level has sown mistrust and proven that Mr. President actually belongs to somebody. Of course this is evident in the lopsided appointments of the Federal Government which Mr. President admitted that it is reward in line with percentage of votes cast for him and APC.

Many have said that PMB may not be the real culprit in this bid for his second term. They think friends and members of the kitchen cabinet of Mr. President who are goading him to contest are the real culprits. Such people hate Buhari and hate Nigeria. PMB was sick for about four months in 2017 and the country suffered gravely as it became almost rudderless. Are they thinking that the older the President grows, the stronger he would be? Are they happy with the pressure of office which debilitates the man’s health and exposes him to health vagaries? Why have they not allowed this man to take a deserved rest? Reason. They are benefiting from the system by taking advantage of the man’s precarious health which limits him while giving them limitless opportunities to plunder, pillage and rape the Nation. This is the time for Nigerians to stand up and insist on the type of government they deserve and rid our politics of self-serving cabals who do not wish the country well.

Written by Joe Iniodu, a public affairs analyst.

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