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Buhari : Out With Me In The Cold

April 19, 2011

General Muhammadu Buhari ( GMB) was my preferred choice for the presidency heading into the polls which held last weekend. I mouthed his strong anti corruption credentials wherever I showed up.

General Muhammadu Buhari ( GMB) was my preferred choice for the presidency heading into the polls which held last weekend. I mouthed his strong anti corruption credentials wherever I showed up.

I reckoned a strong pair of hands (which the General was sure to offer) was just what the Doctor would have recommended for an ailing country like Nigeria with a history laced with corrupt leaders and a near abysmal way of conducting its affairs.

I was a one man, raving campaign squad. Then came the tears. As my hero broke down two days before the polls, I knew the centre was gradually giving way. I knew we were in for a bashing come Saturday. I took to a social networking website to praise the fact that at least he had some emotions and was far from the iron clad disciplinarian who alongside his number two in the ‘80s, sent shivers and trepidation down so many spines. As my friends took turns in ridiculing me, I pointed to the comparisons with Christ shedding a few tears of his own in the Bible. For me, it was ‘Sai Buhari’ all the way!

Before his monumental meltdown in front of the TV cameras, I had had a feeling Goodluck was on his way to a full presidential term. The planned alliance between the CPC and ACN would have given Buhari’s presidential aspirations a shot in the arm. But the planned alliance proved dead on arrival. With Ribadu already sold out and Goodluck Jonathan dining with Bola Tinubu in Lagos in and around presidential jets, ‘Sai Buhari’s’ presidential hope, as far as calculations and permutations went, hung by a thread. Whatever it now seems like, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) scored a deft political move by holding talks with Tinubu.

Horse trading still ranks as one of the biggest tools in politics. It happens even in the developed world. Safe in the knowledge that he would need the South West votes to make it to Aso Rock, Jonathan was on the next flight to Lagos soon after parliamentary polls showed the South West votes could be the tipping point. Once the alliance had hit the rocks with Tinubu getting himself a new pair of goggles and grandstanding on the pages of newspapers on why the CPC ought to have known who the big brother in the alliance was, there was only going to be one winner: Goodluck Jonathan.

Then came Friday, twenty four hours before the polls. I rang my mum who was busy gathering produce at a farm in rural Cross River in readiness for the Saturday curfew. “ Who would you be voting for, mum?, I enquired ready to do some last rounds of campaigns for the CPC candidate. “ Goodluck to Nigeria. He is our anointed in the South South. He is our man.” She would not be swayed. Undaunted, I dialled my Dad’s number, but he was also in the same boat, practically heading for the creeks. I tried talking to a few colleagues in the office and called a few of my friends: the message had hit me hard-- Buhari was a goner!

I carried out my own unscientific opinion poll, making calls and writing down who was for or against my candidate. Nine out of ten persons would be voting for Goodluck, they told me, and not the PDP or ‘my’ Buhari. Thank you. Reasons: of all the candidates on offer, he was the most appealing, had a gentle mien, hailed from the minority and oil rich South South geopolitical zone which had never produced a President and had a campaign jingle they could sing along to. I toyed with the idea of buzzing Buhari to let him know we stood no chance on decision day, but if I had his cell phone number, I won’t be here writing this piece: I would be out there with the rest of my CPC members condemning and rejecting the polls while looking for anyone to maim and whatever house I could burn.

Which is why I am not buying the idea ( for whatever it is worth) that irregularities marred the polls. Did people stuff ballot boxes? Yes, they did. Were there multiple thumb printing exercises? Yes, they were. Did the PDP rig? Who doesn’t know that rigging is woven into the PDP’s DNA and must be embedded somewhere in its party manifesto? But all of these real or perceived irregularities would not have been on a scale to alter the final results. GEJ may not have been on a cruise ( literally speaking), but credit to him, he struck the right chords, appealed to the right people and wheeled and dealt with all those who mattered. Whether it was down to the PDP’s financial war chest stripped from the peoples’ coffers or not, he ran a good and solid campaign. He was on my Facebook page everyday, telling me ( of all people) why he deserved my vote. He was visible on TV, kids sang the ‘Goodluck’ song everywhere and a few people I met were beginning to piss me off with one of his Ad opening lines : “ I am Goodluck Jonathan….I went to school without shoes…..If I can make it……..”

Everybody became Goodluck Jonathan overnight. People loved his grass to grace story. He was connecting with the voter base while my candidate was covering himself with tears and self pity on the stump grounds. But all is not lost, looking forward, for Buhari and me. I agree with him that this would be his last shot at the presidency. But the CPC still has a lot to cheer about. For a political party still at its infancy to sweep through the North the way it did, is a clear pointer to the fact that the CPC got a few things right. Four years is a short time in Politics.

Enough of the bloodletting and orgy of violence in the North. The CPC can get back on the negotiating table with the ACN and get that alliance or merger bit sorted out once the votes for the gubernatorial polls have tumbled in. The two parties could give the new party another name, keep their respective strongholds and test the PDP’s might yet again in 2015. With two strong political parties fighting for the electorate in 2015, Nigeria would be the better for it in terms of its attendant good governance.

‘Sai Buhari’ should head back to the trenches, get those youths ready to die for him right now, let them know they could channel that pent up anger and emotion into electing another leader on his party’s platform just four short years down the line, tend to his cattle between it all and get Tinubu to Daura on another jet. In 2015, we would be back. And the PDP knows it.


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