2019 Presidential Elections: Will Nigerians Save Nigeria and Buhari?

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“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it” – Mark Twain

   Without a doubt, the Nigerian 2019 Presidential election will be ‘make’ or ‘mar’ for the country.  Nigeria will either plunge into a dark valley of deeper clandestine proxy misgovernance or take a quantum leap into a sunny plateau of self-determined hope, progress and fulfillment depending on the results.

The above represents the scenario that will be unveiled if either of the 2 front-runners of the campaign, President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, wins the coveted seat. But Nigerians desire to ‘welcome’ a seasoned politician, talent hunter, wealth creator with a clear pan-Nigerian disposition and lots of energy for the job  if Atiku Abubakar wins the ballot and ‘goodbye’ to a flaccid Buhari presidency which was hijacked early on in the administration by a faceless cabal who  took full(unfair) advantage  (according to his wife Mrs. Aisha Buhari) of an obviously health-challenged Buhari, to push their narrow selfish agenda and  truncate the national aspirations held by even Buhari himself, his wife and the overwhelming majority of Nigerians, if Buhari loses.

   President Muhammadu Buhari came into office in May 2015. He has since seen first-hand the humongous challenges of governance in a democratic setting while coping with obvious frail health, but has failed resoundingly in conquering most of the challenges he promised to solve during the pre-2015 election campaigns and those he discovered while in office. So rather than leave office in a blaze of glory, Nigeria’s ‘most beloved’ and celebrated ‘anti-corruption’ president may, most likely, be leaving office in a sombre dirge of disappointment and vociferous angst. How did we come to this sorry pass?

   President Muhammadu Buhari shocked not a few when he did not hit the ground running in the aftermath of his historic declaration as winner of the 2015 presidential election. We did not see a spirited attempt to quickly put together a winning team of technocrats and seasoned politicians to develop and streamline strategies for the effective realisation of his lofty goals. For a man who had contested a record 4 times for Nigeria’s highest office, that was  not only baffling but developed into full shock when about 6 months into his presidency, Buhari was yet to put together a cabinet!

   Within this period, president Buhari never missed any opportunity to inadvertently de-market Nigeria at home and abroad when he continued to make a song of how corrupt Nigerians and Nigeria were (as though other countries do not have their fair share of corruption challenges) yet till date, apart from using the agencies and policies created by his supposed corrupt preceding governments, Buhari neither introduced any new policy, strategy or agency to fight corruption nor did he launch any major ethical revolution campaign in the country. President Buhari ought to have learnt from Henry Ford who said many years ago that “Don’t find fault, find a remedy”.

   Not surprisingly, the feeble attempt made through the minister for information for some kind of citizen mobilisation against corruption, ‘Change begins with me’, evaporated even before it could be served on Nigerians as it became a subject of plagiarism -a major corruption scandal in itself. As the government remained rudderless on this issue, systemic corruption took on a new life of its own with the Transparency International corruption index falling by over 10 points from the president Jonathan era of 136 to 148 in 2018! Meanwhile, Nigerians have continued to pay the painful price for this unabated corruption of our economy, systems and values.

   At best, the Buhari anti-corruption crusade had been hinged on exposing some targeted past and present serving politicians and bureaucrats mainly from the main opposition party, PDP, while suspected officials of the ruling APC party get their alleged crimes swept under the carpet with their signature APC broom. The truth however is that, no politician or public servant can steal government resources without civil servants, thus the budgeting system remains highly fraught with multiple duplicitous sub-heads, entries and figures that make an average of 40% of the nation’s resources end up in private tills every year.

   The opaqueness of the NNPC operations under Buhari has further compounded the anti-corruption war as fuel subsidy which Buhari had previously described as non-existent, was surreptitiously reintroduced some 3 years ago even without appropriation by the national assembly. Meanwhile, if only the president, took a lead from the house-cleansing that Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, JAMB registrar since August 2016 did on assumption of office who is on record of saving eye-popping sums of money by applying strict administrative strategies, then just may be we would be singing a different anti-corruption tune today if Buhari caused same to be applied to all other MDAs. Instead, it was ‘business as usual’

   The screaming failure of Buhari’s administration to check systemic corruption and come up with a robust working plan grossly affected its performance across all sectors since nothing could function optimally whether it is the economy, education, health, security, sports and nation-building. The few successes recorded in entertainment and a few sectors happened in spite of, not because of, the Buhari administration.

   It would be recalled that Buhari’s initial de-marketing  caused panic among foreign investors and led to huge capital flight from the country, subsequently leading to an avoidable economic melt-down and avoidable pressure on the Naira which fell to an all-time low of N525 to 1USD in 2017. The administration was never really able to win back the confidence of the international investors as rule of law was clearly not guaranteed from the actions and inactions of the administration.

   Critics of President Buhari have insisted that the reason for his administration’s poor performance on most of the key performance indicators (KPIs) is due to his incompetence. I shared this view until recently when I saw president Buhari on his campaign trail live and on national television. I suddenly realized that my president needs help. It is apparent to anyone with a modicum of conscience that President Muhammadu Buhari has not been in his best psychological, physiological and cognitive elements. Nobody can blame his for responding to the vagaries of ageing. What Buhari needs is rest, he absolutely cannot cope with the high-octane stress of running a business organisation not to talk of a country. Indeed, I have wondered in my quiet moments how some of his promoters are able to sleep at night, knowing the harm they are doing to his name and body as well as the damage to the nation. It should be worthy of note that unlike 2015, Mrs Aisha Buhari has been somewhat mooted in the Buhari 2019 campaign. She is clearly in an uncomfortable spot!

   Obviously, people have been doing things in the name of the president as we recall the sacarstic response of the sacked Secretary to the government of the federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal, who upon being asked for his comments when his sack was announced retorted “Which presidency?”. Re-electing Buhari, therefore would mean further empowering the faceless beneficiaries who have continued to perpetuate the well-worn corrupt system that have continued to stultify our development and growth and has now been scaled up to threaten our peace, unity and nationhood.

   As expected, the Buhari promoters are not going down without a fight. Nick Fewings, a motivational speaker, put it in perspective when he said “Often poor leadership is masked by those with the loudest voices and strongest opinions.” Thus, they have for long filled the social and traditional media with a campaign of calumny, bitterness and hate against Buhari’s critics, his major challenger and even fence-sitters. But they fail to realise, according to Chinua Achebe, that “A man who makes trouble for others is also making trouble for himself”.
 

   Atiku Abubakar is a former vice-president who has received a lot of darts on the issue of corruption but none has ever been substantiated. He was a major supporter of Buhari in the 2015 elections. He played a pivotal role in the administration of president Olusegun Obasanjo’s success in the telecom revolution in Nigeria and the general economic boom of the era, he is a believer in putting round pegs in round holes, as indeed he has done with his pick of his vice-presidential candidate, Peter Obi whose glowing records as Governor in Anambra State remains a reference point for educational, economic and infrastructural transformation in Nigeria’s growing democracy.

Under the circumstance, Atiku’s outreach across all sections of Nigeria, his political and business pedigree and his political party (PDP) puts him in the best stead among other candidates and offers the best chance of saving both Buhari and Nigeria from the clutches of men who would push Buhari on a painful, health-sapping campaign while waiting in the wings to plunder his goodwill, his office and our nation if he is re-elected. Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States’ declaration that “People who are truly strong lift others up. People who are truly powerful bring others together”. This position applies well to Atiku as he has the requisite political, physical and psychological strength for the job at hand.

According to Theodore Roosevelt, a former US President, “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country.’ I pray Nigerians will stand by our country, Nigerians must vote wisely during the presidential elections and indeed other elections. Let us take back our country while we can, let us vote Atiku for president. I stand with Atiku!

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