Let me make it emphatically clear that this is not a clarion call to crucify President Goodluck Jonathan even though he has been likened to the Christian prophet Jesus Christ, who was “crucified” on the cross. It is a call to massacre President Jonathan’s identity, his party and everyone associated with him strictly with the weapon of the ballot.
About one year ago, I would have advised General Muhammadu Buhari to take a back seat and groom personalities like Nuhu Ribadu and Nasir El-Rufai as capable political materials for future endeavors. Having seen the political immaturity displayed by Nuhu Ribadu in his political prostitution of convenience and El-Rufai in his holier than thou account of his stewardship under President Olusegun Obasanjo however, I have come to my personal and subjective conclusion that the political scene – far and wide – presently lays bare, a glaring shortage of a worthy poster child to rescue Nigeria from Jonathan’s brazen political assault.
General Muhammadu Buhari is by far, not the best presidential material any right-thinking individual will be unreservedly proud to present to Nigeria in these turbulent days in spite of some exemplary character traits that should make him the envy of the neighborhood. I will address this issue later in this discourse. So huge is the ballast that Muhammadu Buhari’s legacy contains that he should ordinarily be scaring the wit out of any sane mind, who wonders which destination this stern and rigid-minded “fanatic” of fortune may end up taking Nigeria. Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka beautifully cataloged some highly disturbing evidences in his urgent appeal to Nigerian voters in 2007 that were made manifest during General Buhari’s days as our military leader.
One clear example was seen in Buhari’s apportionment of blame and punishment for members of the helpless and rudderless government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari that he overthrew in a coup that was led by one Brig. Sani Abacha in 1984. Wole Soyinka explained it thus:
“The head of (that) government, on whom primary responsibility lay, was Shehu Shagari. Yet that individual was kept in cosy house detention in Ikoyi while his powerless deputy, Alex Ekwueme, was locked up in Kirikiri (maximum security) prisons. Such was the Buhari notion of equitable apportionment of guilt and/or responsibility.
There is no mincing words that General Buhari spoke the minds of many ordinary Northern Nigerians when he made several statements in the past that could be understood as a sentimental appreciation of Boko Haram. Indeed, there were times, in which many Nigerians understandably considered Muhammadu Buhari as a possible sponsor of Boko Haram, who sought to use the group to make Nigeria ungovernable under Goodluck Jonathan who General Buhari considered as ruling on a stolen mandate. His comment that “…dogs and baboons will be soaked in blood” if elections were rigged did not mark him as a moderate statesman. It all came to a head in the early days of June 2013, when President Jonathan finally ordered a military crackdown on Boko Haram probably without knowing the extent of the involvement of elements of the military in Boko Haram’s atrocious activities.
General Buhari had flipped and deteriorated as far as characterizing any attack on Boko Haram as an attack on the North. He had condemned the collateral killing of civilians in the hunt for Boko Haram fighters without condemning the repeated killing of innocent Christian worshippers at the time. General Buhari had compared the senseless and brutal and mass killing of innocent people by Boko Haram terrorists with the kidnapping for ransom, murder and sabotage activities of the former Niger Delta insurgents that were rehabilitated into mainstream socio-political life by the late President Yar’Adua. The resultant call for the arrest of General Buhari by Christian leaders was largely acceptable to many observers in the South at the time. It therefore came as no surprise that Boko Haram publicly announced the name of General Buhari as a mediator that would be acceptable to it.
Until early to mid-2014, when General Buhari began speaking out more clearly and fearlessly, many Nigerians still considered him – at best – a quiet supporter of Boko Haram. In May 2014 however, he came out in the clearest terms possible, calling Boko Haram a bunch of “mindless bigots” who he did not regard as “followers of God”. This indeed, was the turning point in the general perception of Boko Haram across the board. Even in Twitter interactions, where Northerners were hitherto generally perceived as not feeling quite comfortable with criticisms of Boko Haram, a sense of rejection and defiance began taking hold.
In spite of the general sympathy that General Buhari often showed for the North for several years, seemingly as a matter of priority over the rest of Nigeria, there now seems to be an understanding on his part that he will have to rule over entire Nigeria and not the North alone if he is ever elected President. Today, a completely refined General Buhari is a party man who will not seek to smash a hole in the wall with the force of his head alone not giving a damn, what others may want. He will not pick a Muslim-Muslim ticket because his party has reached a collective decision not to do so. The Buhari of past years (much like the Sanusi Lamido Sanusi of the Central Bank days) would have done more to appease his northern constituency before anything else.
In a sober reflection of the reality of our time, everyone now seems to have realized that Boko Haram represents a disaster and no ideal whatsoever, neither for the North nor for the South. The actions of the Islamic State in the Middle East, which seems to inspire more gruesomeness and savagery by Boko Haram and other terror organizations all over the world, now seems to have woken our Northern compatriots to a new dawn of hope for the corporate existence of Nigeria. It was such an emotionally overwhelming proof of this realization to read that over 200 northern volunteer youths came together to protect southern Christians worshipping on the Christmas day of 2014, from the now customary Boko Haram attack on churches in the North on Christian festive days. It marks the beginning of the end of divisive politicking.
It also marks the temporary peak of the systematic transformation of General Muhammadu Buhari, which seems to resonate positively with a large section of Northern followers.
Indeed, no right-thinking individual will object to passion for any religion or geographical region. When the interest of an entire nation is however subjugated to the rulership addiction of a geographical region however, there is a serious reason for hatred. General Muhammadu Buhari’s personal intransigence, sometimes accommodating no leniency or compromises as detailed in Wole Soyinka’s submission, his antecedent of acting more in favor of the northern trajectory when a choice is to be made between the north and the south as the example of Alex Ekwueme and Shehu Shagari exemplified, are reasons enough to simply hate General Muhammadu Buhari’s guts.
Unfortunately however, President Goodluck Jonathan has done everything within his power during his four years of clueless rulership (not leadership) to make the hard and stringent side of Gerneral Buhari the conspicuously marketable character and one that is acceptable in polite society. The result is that Nigeria now needs a leader and President with a personal character and strength that is roughly equivalent to what Buhari has. A president with the guts and stubbornness to fight the mafia of the oil sector hands-down! A president that will dare to take on Generals in the army, unveil the political manipulations that have undermined the efficiency of our military that was once the envy of a continent and reorganize the system altogether! A President that will be ready to take hard decisions against the resistance of powerful interest groups not one that chooses the easier option of removing fuel subsidy to avoid confronting the criminals of the sector! In the public arena today, only two characters stand out with the credentials to dare such onerous task and succeed – Olusegun Obasanjo and Muhammadu Buhari! Ibrahim Babangida would be too busy maneuvering and outwitting his opponents to succeed in such a task that requires brute force and stubbornness.
Since Olusegun Obasanjo is not on the ballot and would not even stand a chance of winning if he was, the only candidate that every lover of Nigeria should support and vote into power today is just Muhammadu Buhari. It is a hard choice and there are many like me who are simply praying today that the gamble may work and that Buhari does not turn out to a be a nightmare for the corporate existence of Nigeria through excessive stubbornness and negative partisanship. As it stands in the present moment, the continued presence of President Goodluck Jonathan beyond 2015 will be the death knell for Nigeria’s existence.
General Muhammadu Buhari’s modesty and personal rejection of unnecessary, to say the least of excessive material wealth simply serves to further underscore why Nigeria needs a man of such character sooner rather than later. This will be a President that will not require a foreign contractor to first build a church or a mosque in his own village as a prelude to awarding a government contract. It is a man that will not empower a Boko Haram commander to play Asari Dokubo because the man has guts himself. It is a man, whose staffs and others working around him will have a hard time reeling in a frenzy of corrupt enrichment.
Muhammadu Buhari is worth hating in every sense of the word. Confronted with the choice between him and President Jonathan however, only sycophants and people feeding and surviving on Jonathan’s free-for-all looting at the top will prefer Jonathan. I know no man of intelligence and honor that will pitch his tent with President Jonathan with his proven lot of cluelessness, incapacitation and wanton corruption. If voted President and I have no doubt, he will be no matter the odds, I dare predict that Muhammadu Buhari will end up being more hated than Olusegun Obasanjo because he will be ready to step on toes and probably more brutally than Obasanjo did. It remains to be seen however, if he will be ready to pay the ultimate price of letting Goodluck Jonathan and his criminal clan off the hook in the interest of maintaining peace and fostering unity on Nigeria. After all, judging by widespread public sentiments, not even the dangerous calculation of not holding elections in three states of the North on grounds of intensified Boko Haram activities will help Jonathan at the present moment.