2007 Election: The Buhari Challenge
Bello Gwarzo Abdullahi
It is reassuring to many Nigerians that General Muhammadu Buhari is now the Presidential candidate under the platform of the ANPP. This is due to the abiding confidence Nigerians have on his ability to salvage the nation from its predicament. His entry into the race is coming at a time when a situation is created that encourages crooks and scoundrels to be at the helm of affairs. That you have to belong to a cult of those whose only stock in trade is stealing of our national patrimony. For these reasons many Nigerians chose to resign to fate. Buhari’s entry is like a soothing balm and a morale booster that hopes are not after all lost. The Buhari personality is a study in courage, determination, purposeful leadership capability and sincerity of purpose.
Before delving in to the main crux of this write-up let me go a little bit personal. It was in 1985 I had cause to argue on why I was not in support of the palace coup that toppled the regime of General Muhammadu Buhari. I was then an engineering undergraduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. That time cost of meal ticket was increased from 50k to N1 and the change in currency caused a lot of hardship especially to the students. But those temporary hardships never prevent people from supporting the policies of the regime. It’s anti corruption stance, War Against Indiscipline and economic policies were all geared toward repositioning the country for greater heights. Another interesting thing is the genuineness and sincerity of the leadership.
When the coup against that regime was carried out we were not happy. Forget about the media frenzy the fact remains that the take-over was ill intentioned. Later this much was expressed in one of my articles published by the Triumph newspaper. With the benefit of hindsight the regime that toppled General Muhamadu Buhari is a major culprit in our current socio-economic predicaments. The foundation for the mess we are in was laid by that regime. Thank God the person who led that regime is still alive, and tastes the bitter and poisonous concoction he once administered to Nigerians. He now withdrew from the PDP presidential primaries and claimed that he did it on moral grounds. According to his weird logic he withdrew because Governor Umaru Yar’Adua is his younger brother and Aliyu Gusau his friend of forty years. He forgot that he did not allow late General Yar’Adua his friend to participate in his brand of transition program even while the patriarch of the family Alhaji Musa YarAdua was still alive. Now that nemesis has caught up with him he is singing a different tune. Even the claim by a magazine that he was able to ensure the return of power to the North is bunkum. This is because the credit of killing tazarce should go all Nigerians who stood up against it. What is happening to General Babangida should serve, as lesson for others that no matter how long it takes truth will triumph. It now behooves on him and his co-travelers to make amends now that an opportunity is knocking at their doors or else posterity will not be kind to them.
The 2003 ANPP primaries and the 419 elections have proved beyond any doubt that General Muhammadu Buhari was acceptable to Nigerians. His foray put a lie to the widely held notion that one has to employ manipulative, self-centered and cunning weapons in order to make it in politics.
The love, respect, adoration shown to him by Nigerians can almost be touched and it put a lie to the belief that you only get recognition when you amass ill-gotten wealth. Prior to the ANPP primaries in 2003 many people believed that he would be trounced and that his activities as head of state and commander in chief will be used against him. Not only that obstacles were placed on his way by sponsoring people to contest against him. But all these came to pass as he became very popular and widely accepted. His defeat which was contested up to the supreme court and the general belief by Nigerians and the international community that the elections was massively rigged in favor of the ruling party is another prove to his desire of entrenching democratic norms, values and rule of law in to our body politics.
The 2006 convention, which produced ANPP national exco, left a sour grape in the minds of many Nigerians. It was aimed at frustrating the presidential ambition of General Buhari. It is fitting to note that he correctly read the situation. In an interview he granted Weekly Trust few days after the convention he stated his resolve to remain in the ANPP and slug it out with whoever is interested in participating at the national convention to select a presidential candidate for the party. He correctly gauged people’s mood and stated convincingly that despite all the problems with the ANPP, it still remains the best party and that politicking is not about big names but a solid structure on the ground and that he is not in politics for opportunism. This was why he refused the hypocritical overtures from the PDP. His reactions and principled stand on issues and dogged determination not to be detracted or intimidated stand him in good stead as shown in the just concluded ANPP convention. In fact General Buhari is one General that most Nigerians are ready to follow to the battlefront blindfolded.
For all his travails his supporters stood their ground and it paid handsomely. The just concluded ANPP convention was a testimony of the confidence Nigerians has on him. The credit should also be shared among the party exco members who demonstrated an uncommon courage, honor and a desire to enthrone a leadership in the country that is focused and creditable to see us through the problems. They deserve our kudos and should never rest on their oars to see that the ruling party is roundly defeated at the polls.
It is a well-known fact that the General performed creditably in all the positions he held. And for someone who has gone through the greatest political fraud of our time- the 2003 419 elections and still nurse the hope of making it is a statement in resoluteness and valor.
Now that we are matching towards 2007 with the death of tazarce and the routing out of its proponents a lot of realignments and horse-trading are on going. An opportunity has once more presented itself to correct the wrongs and vote for an upright, serious and committed person who can see us out of the mess. Having seen the machinations of the ruling party, the discontents among its members and the very little time left for maneuvers we should brace up and vote for General Muhammadu Buhari. As for those who think they must always have their way let them know that their time is up and Nigerians are ready to protect their democratic rights. General Buhari is now like a moving train that cannot be stopped.
It is noteworthy that whenever you talk of General Buhari with others they only succeed in telling you that he is not a good politician. The reasons they normally give range from not being manipulative to being weak.
They told you that the credit for his performance should go to late Major General Tunde Idiagbon. They easily forget that effective leadership entails delegation of responsibilities to your subordinates and making sure that they are properly monitored. If late Tunde Idiagbon was a success it has to do with the total support of his commander in chief. Secondly to me being manipulative is a vice and not a virtue. For those whose stock in trade is manipulation they manipulate until they are manipulated out.
There is now a strong indication of a possible alliance against the ruling party. Based on its performance and the personalities involved there is likelihood that the biggest party in Africa will be booted out. But let no one be under any illusion that it will be a walkout. The PDP can be likened to a madman in a China shop and the way and manner arbitrariness has taken the center stage needs to be addressed. We should therefore leave no stone un-turned to ensure that by April 2007 necessary and sufficient conditions are created to make rigging an impossibility. Our votes must be protected from marauders. This time around they will find it very tough due to the determination of the people to see an end to electoral fraud and daylight robbery. The just concluded ANPP convention is surely a veritable evidence of what to expect. Now the struggle to actualize the aspiration of General Buhari is much easier because there is no way they can brazenly deploy their rigging machinations in the forthcoming 2007 elections as they did in 2003. They can no longer use religion, tribalism, regionalism and other base sentiments to hoodwink us. The level of frustration of the current arrangement is palpable and hence the battle readiness of Nigerians to use whatever legal means at their disposal to face the situation.
With the degree of unanimity among Nigerians for change and the emergence of the vehicle for the actualization of that change there is an urgent need for the Buhari organization (TBO), the ANPP and a combination of other democratic forces to come together and fine-tune strategies. The time is now as the Almighty Allah has provided a favorable climate. Let us hasten to seize it to salvage our country from inept, corrupt and inefficient PDP government.
Engr. Bello Gwarzo Abdullahi, MNSE
Gombe, Gombe State.