Elderstatesman Isyaku Ibrahim, who was at the forefront of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the late 1970s and of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) two decades later, on Thursday threw his considerable political support behind General Muhammadu Buhari, whom he compared to US President, Barack Obama.

“For Nigeria and with General Muhammadu Buhari as President, a new dawn beckons,” he said in a statement explaining his endorsement, adding, “Fellow Nigerians don’t be left out!!”

Isyaku Ibrahim

“This new generation of Nigerians are not concerned by the campaign of calumny by the PDP on Buhari’s military past,” he declared.  “All they know is a man who is incorruptible, who was a former Head of State with no mansions and foreign bank accounts to his name, and a man who identifies with them. And so all they desire is change from joblessness, insecurity, and massive corruption of the PDP government.  In General Buhari, they see a messiah and a wind of change akin to the one that ushered in President Barrack Obama of the United States of America.”

Alhaji Ibrahim said that never in his entire political career dating back to the pre-colonial days has he encountered an individual as committed to a positive course as General Buhari is. 

“Politics to him is total belief, conviction, commitment and dedication and that is why he has been able to connect with the ordinary masses of our people. His message is service to the people and since 2002 when he started participating in the politics of our dear nation, General Buhari has not only opened up the political space, he has galvanized ordinary Nigerians to democratic ideals and consciousness like never before. 

“His cardinal principles of accountability, prudence, discipline and self sacrifice have connected with the populace and given our country hope. Indeed, the road has been tortuous and evil forces have not relented in trying to scuttle every good thing that he stands for.  But the beauty of his struggle has been his total reliance on the rule of law, democratic principles and due process, all hallmarks of a great leader.”

Full text of the statement:

WHY I AM SUPPORTING GENERAL MUHAMMADU BUHARI FOR PRESIDENT

Long before I became a founding member and chief financier of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), I had been a democrat all my life. And so, when the military over threw the civilian government of President Shehu Shagari, on the 31st December, 1983, I was the first Nigerian to condemn the coup, labelling it a Military junta. The Military as we all know it, is a cohesive institution, and so any action taken by them is always  collective and that was how I viewed General Buhari’s role in the  1983 coup against the civilian  administration of President Shagari  which  led to the termination of the Second Republic. 

Since that tragic event of 31st December 1983, we have had other Military coups (Military versus Military) and in 1999, a new political dispensation was born in Nigeria. Again, I was a founding member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling party since 1999. I organised the fund raising dinner in 1988 that raised N78million  towards the  Jos convention that led to the nomination of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as the presidential candidate of the Party. 

Soon after the inauguration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Party under whose platform he contested and won the election, started going downhill at a gallop! In what was a patriotic call to duty and a re-awakening, the then National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Audu Ogbeh, cried out in September 2002 on the excesses and self-destructive tendencies of the Party. According to Chief Ogbeh: 

 Our Party is troubled by a variety of crisis, new and fresh ones always emerging ... violence and  violent tendencies still tend to dominate the political landscape and the rest of society is petrified by the shadows of evil looming  over us.. .

That was thirteen years ago, but how prophetic today!!

As I watch the painful disintegration of the PDP, my mind was observing with keen interest , the seeming transformation of General Muhammadu Buhari from a Military dictator to a born again democrat. On the 4th of September, 2002, I received a letter from General Buhari informing me of his intent to contest the 2003 presidential election on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and soliciting for my support. What captivated my interest and imagination in the letter was the statement by Buhari that  “…. the solution to the failure of our democratic experiments must be located within the province of democracy itself, as a departure from our past culture of coups and counter-coups…’’

In my reply to General Buhari, I stated thus: “If I were to consider your military antecedents and mettle, you will not merit my support . . . but since democracy is all inclusive and with history replete with retired Army Generals who have risen to their country’s challenges and won elections through the ballot box, I admire your courage for daring to be schooled in political civilization…’’ 

My admiration for General Buhari increased after he contested and lost the 2003 Presidential election. I met him soon after that, and in our conversation, I advised him that as a true democrat, instead of allowing his supporters to take to the streets, he should take his case to the Courts if he felt aggrieved. Buhari adhered to this piece of advice and spent 30 months in courts, all the way to the Supreme Court to demand for justice, and when the verdicts came in, he respected and abided by the judgements. 

In July 2006, I also received another letter from General Buhari, again informing me of his intention to contest for the 2007 Presidential election and soliciting for my support. In his letter, he averred that “the creation of a just society through a transparent, competent and legitimate government is more urgent than ever before…’’ Again, in my reply, I stated that: 

I admire your courage and principled positions on matters of national interest such as good governance and accountability. Your dogged fight through the courts, namely the Federal Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court on the outcome of the massively rigged 2003 election is highly commendable. This singular act alone has greatly endeared you to Nigerians and added in no small measure to your credentials as a truly born again democrat… Even though the judgments did not give you what you prayed for, you respected both Judgments to show your belief in the rule of law, and your commitment to the flowering of democracy in our Fatherland… you deserve both my prayer and goodwill as you have demonstrated that in terms of service to the people of Nigeria, you can be trusted to do the right thing.

In the 2007 Presidential election, I was already a  Buhari convert and I gave him my vote. Soon after that election, I resigned my membership of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and when General Buhari formed the Congress for Political Change (CPC) in preparation for the 2011 general elections, I became a member and I have remained with General Buhari since then.

In my entire political career which dates to the pre-colonial days, I have never seen an individual that is so committed to a positive course than General Buhari. Politics to him is total belief, conviction, commitment and dedication and that is why he has been able to connect with the ordinary masses of our people. His message is service to the people and since 2002 when he started participating in the politics of our dear nation, General Buhari has not only opened up the political space, he has galvanized ordinary Nigerians to democratic ideals and consciousness like never before. His cardinal principles of accountability, prudence, discipline and self sacrifice have connected with the populace and given our country hope. Indeed, the road has been tortuous and evil forces have not relented in trying to scuttle every good thing that he stands for.  But the beauty of his struggle has been his total reliance on the rule of law, democratic principles and due process, all hallmarks of a great leader. 

The question must be asked at this juncture:  Why is General Muhammadu Buhari’s message resonating with the youths of this country? The answer lies in the record of dismal failure of the PDP led federal government in the last sixteen years. This new generation of Nigerians are not concerned by the campaign of calumny  by  the PDP on Buhari’s military past. All they know is a man who is incorruptible, who was a former Head of State with no mansions and foreign bank accounts to his name, and a man who identifies with them. And so all they desire is change from joblessness, insecurity, and massive corruption of the PDP government.  In General Buhari, they see a messiah and a wind of change akin to the one that ushered in President Barrack Obama of the United States of America. 

In the latest edition of the Economist of London, an influential news magazine, the editorial has this to say about General Muhammadu Buhari:  

…Mr. Buhari is a sandal-wearing ascetic with a record of fighting corruption. Few nowadays question his commitment to democracy or expect him to turn autocratic: he has repeatedly stood for election and accepted the outcome when he lost. He will probably do a better job of running the country and in particular, of tackling Boko Haram… 

Need I say any more?

For Nigeria and with General Muhammadu Buhari as President , a new dawn beckons. 

Fellow Nigerians don’t be left out!!

Alhaji Isyaku Ibrahim

9th February, 2015

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