Nigeria is a land of plenty where the majority of her citizens live in sheer inadequacy. This incongruity is traceable to the activities of her visionless and rudderless leaders over the years. And in about four months from now, the nation will have yet another opportunity to elect a new set of leaders at both the federal and state levels.

Muhammadu Buhari

Given the strange kind of federalism that we practice, which concentrates too much powers and money at the center, it is certain that titanic battles will be fought, by the opposing political parties, to capture it. And at the moment, that battle has already begun. The PDP, the party that currently controls the center, and by extension our national wealth, is fighting tooth and nail to ensure it does not lose its hold on power.

In doing so, the party is employing ethnicity and religion as tools of mind control in order to ensure victory, even when it is clear that the party and the crop of leaders it produced in 2011 have remained incapable of delivering democratic dividends to millions of Nigerians who voted them into power.

Take, for instance, the electricity catastrophe in the nation. In May, 2010, when President Goodluck Jonathan assumed office, he promised that his priority would be to confront Nigeria’s age long electricity conundrum. On August 26 of the same year, The President came out with his elaborate power sector roadmap and assured Nigerians that noticeable improvements would be achieved in power supply across the nation.

In 2013, about three years after he assumed office, power generation, according to Prof. Chinedu Nebo, the regime’s Minister of Power, dropped from 4,350mw to 2,628.4mw. As of today, power outages have become the norm rather than the exception in most parts of the country, and uninterrupted power supply has turned into a mere wishful thinking of most city dwellers across the country.

Bear in mind that this situation is despite billions of naira that has been spent, and still being spent, by this administration in this sector, including the recently (September, 2014?) approved N213, 000,000,000.00 (two hundred and thirteen billion naira) facility as bailout for the power sector. You are compelled to ask: just where is the money going to? And this is just one of the many sectors that are receiving billions for resuscitation, but which have remained comatose.

I find it rather strange that some Nigerians don’t see any reason to ask important questions as long as their own slices of bread are buttered; or, as long as the President is their ethnic son or brother. The other day, Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) (whatever that really means) were practically falling over one another, in frenzy, trying to publicize all the transformational strides of this administration. Everything was as jocular as it was ridiculous. I think a leader that can’t give me an item that he promised me, even when all the resources – human and financial – are readily within his reach, is not worth being given another four years.

Don’t misunderstand me, I consider Mr. President a good man. His humble disposition when he was being pummeled by late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua’s men has not been forgotten. However, being a good man does not make him a good president. He appears totally overwhelmed by the enormous responsibilities of his office, such that delivering on his promises has become a difficult thing.

In this situation, looking for an alternative to President Goodluck Jonathan becomes obligatory. One of the persons that have made themselves available for the service of the fatherland is General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB). Since his declaration in Abuja weeks back, a lot of venomous invectives have been spat at him by PDP apologists. It has been claimed by those who are not comfortable with him that he is both, at the same time, an ethnic jingoist and a religious fundamentalist. This is untrue.

The first lie being bandied about is the notion that GMB is not acceptable to the electorates, outside of the northern states where he commands a cult-like followership. The impression that voters, across South-West, South-East and South-South states will find him repulsive, being an ethnic jingoist is nothing but a dirty lie. I am Yoruba, and if GMB stands for election today, I’ll vote for him. And I know in person a couple of individuals from other parts of this country that hold this view. Yes, I know he is Hausa, and yes, I know he is Fulani. You may disagree with me on this, but this remains my conviction, until that time when a more credible person than him emerges. Ethnic chauvinism therefore becomes the last consideration when choosing my leader.

The second lie is that GMB is a religious fundamentalist and that as a Muslim, Christians in Nigeria will not vote for him. I need to confess here that the PDP, to an extent, has recorded some measure of success with this divisive tool. The reality however, is that there is nothing to suggest that if GMB becomes Nigeria’s president tomorrow, Christians will run out of the country. Nothing suggests or supports that. He might not be a Christian, but he possesses what we need in a genuine leader at this point in our national life.

Let us, even for a moment, assume that we – from the point of view of the Holy Scriptures, the Bible – subject GMB to a critical analysis and then come to the conclusion that he does not know God, that he is not born again, and that he is not a Christian; does that mean he is not qualified to be used by God for God’s purpose? I dare say that he is still qualified to be used by God to achieve His own purpose. I will expatiate on this point shortly.

You see, we need to understand that God does not employ human sentiments and religious bigotry in executing His own plans here on earth. And God is still actively busy in His world, whether one believes this or not. His standards are unique and sure in all circumstances. He loves Christians and non-Christians alike. His love does not discriminate. That is the truth of the Holy Scriptures.

It is unfortunate that those who should propagate this distinctive and distinguishing disposition of God – His love for all men, and help to deepen our peace in the nation, are the ones helping to fritter away what little harmony that the nation currently enjoys. It is not right to utilize cheap religiosity to hoodwink gullible and unsuspecting souls, and make slaves out of them.

Unfortunately, this is what those opposed to GMB’s ambition are currently doing; trying to portray GMB as a dangerous religious zealot, a hater of Christians, and a plague that should be avoided by those who profess Christianity. But this approach by the PDP – the wielding of religious swords to further divide a nation that is already on the precipice – is not only failing, it is equally falling apart.

In the Bible, when God led and dealt with the Israelites, the enterprise of leadership was a very important thing to Him, and He used several persons to bring about the realisation of His purpose per time. One of those used was the King called Cyrus, a man who had nothing to do with the Covenant God made with Israel. In the Book of Isaiah 45: 1-5 (GNB), we read:

Isa 45:1 The LORD has chosen Cyrus to be king. He has appointed him to conquer nations; he sends him to strip kings of their power; the LORD will open the gates of cities for him. To Cyrus the LORD says.

Isa 45:2 I myself will prepare your way, leveling mountains and hills. I will break down bronze gates and smash their iron bars.

Isa 45:3 I will give you treasures from dark, secret places; then you will know that I am the LORD and that the God of Israel has called you by name.

Isa 45:4 I appoint you to help my servant Israel, the people that I have chosen. I have given you great honor, although you do not know me. (Emphasis mine).

Isa 45:5 I am the LORD; there is no other god. I will give you the strength you need, although you do not know me. (Emphasis mine).

Please observe that in verses 4 and 5, God specifically mentioned that King Cyrus did not know Him; meaning that he was not an Israelite (and if we stretch this further, it would mean he was not a Christian). Yet, God, the Supreme One, made use of King Cyrus to achieve His predetermined aim. Now, has God told anyone that He is not interested in using GMB to halt our nation’s free fall into decay?

For the good of our country, it is important that we dismantle the mountains of lies being built by those employing ethnicity and religion as a discordant, and by extension, an election winning strategy. After that, it then becomes needful to look closely at the man GMB with a view to finding out what he really possesses which ranks him higher than other contestants.

The single greatest malady threatening to strangulate this nation is corruption. It is both the nucleus and the lifeblood of all other disorder imperiling us as a people, and casting us in the mould of an unserious nation in the eyes of the world. It is from corruption that all other obvious backward-pulling forces derive their strength. To simply say it the way it is, most of our leaders are barefaced thieves. They are totally undisguised in their business of stealing the nation to stupor.

As a result, politics has suddenly become a rather alluring undertaking for every Tom, Dick and Harry, not because of the desire to serve the people, but because it is now the most profitable venture in the nation. It is common knowledge that millions, and even billions, of naira is being stolen quite unashamedly by these crooks who the nation is unfortunate to have as leaders.

It is in his ability to wrestle the monster of corruption to the ground and pull out the nation from its destructive grip that GMB shines brighter than all his opponents, whether within his own political party, the APC, or in the ruling party, the PDP. That Buhari is honest, scrupulous, and totally trustworthy is beyond disputation. There are those who hold the view that GMB, having held several positions at the highest levels of government in the nation, cannot be divorced from the widespread venality that has become our lot; but the view remains a mere speculation.

All along, while his enemies and detractors mouth this, not a single shred of evidence has been brought forward to put the parsimoniously reliable general to shame. And come to think of it, if the PDP is in possession of any such substantiation, why would PDP not have it released? It would have at least put the tough politician to permanent political oblivion. In GMB, we are blessed with one man that we can look at, among many that are currently eyeing the presidency, and rest assured that our national till will not be broken.

In addition to his admirable credibility, GMB is equally a man of resolve; a man with firmness of purpose who eschews frivolity, superficiality and silliness. And such a man is the one we need at this time. Why? Because it will take a man possessing inner strength, as GMB does, to refocus our drifting brigantine. Just take a look at the Nigerian political space, and you will see a lot of talkers who have not the slightest idea about how the nation should run. Being credible therefore is one thing, possessing the unyielding, well-founded determination to do what is right and walk your talk is another thing.

Now, it is possible that some people, particularly those wishing to profit from their romance with the ruling party, still hold certain grudges against GMB for whatever sins they think he committed years ago. They are free to do so; it is their choice. They can continue to stare at the back while attempting to go forward. But what is sure is that those sins do not include being a thief; they do not include being given to fickleness when the demands of your office require that you be manly and reliable.

In recent time, listening to our current crop of leaders tells me that they are tired. Tired, not in the sense of not willing to “rule” any further, for they enjoy that; but tired in the sense of being wholly drained of ideas as to how to move the nation forward.

Nigeria is destined to be greater than what she currently represents; her leaders, over the years, have been her drawbacks. Electing GMB into office is certain to put the nation on the right tract. Let’s hope the APC gives him the much needed ticket.

Pastor Gabriel Olalekan Popoola, a former University of Port Harcourt Students’ Union Leader, worships with Living Faith Church and can be reached at [email protected]

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