By Ignatius Arinze
Nigerians are becoming too excited because of the forthcoming 2019 elections. The frenzy this time around appears capable to dwarf that of the 2015 polls that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power.
The election indeed promises to be a thriller when it comes because Nigerians have all worked themselves up because of the varied interests at play, the most important being the ongoing rebranding of the former ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which is working hard and hoping that Nigeria would give it a chance to return to power after it lost the 2015 polls to corruption and maladministration.
On the other hand, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which is being buffeted on all sides for not keeping faith with most of its campaign promises, tells everyone who is ready to listen that it has not done badly and needs a second term to wrap up many of the laudable things it has ongoing arguing further that as a party, its candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari cannot possibly rebuild in a space of four years what took the PDP and all its majestic big men and women, 16 long years to bring to ruin.
In between these two tendencies, undue attention is being placed on the ambition of President Muhammadu Buhari and whether or not he will contest for a second term. The PDP particularly and most of its failed former leaders like former President Olusegun Obasanjo have made it a sing-song that Buhari should not go for a second term, as if their life depend on it. In fact, recently, in faraway Yenagoa, while carrying out one of his usual deceptive theatrics, former President Obasanjo threatened to commit suicide if all hope was lost with Nigeria. A friend of this writer asked, why the former Head of State and President did not commit suicide many years ago, when much of his life was still ahead of him. This friend, who incidentally hails from Obasanjo’s Ogun State argued that committing suicide at the ripe age of close to ninety would not amount to a big deal, in view of the role played by Obasanjo in bringing Nigeria to its present predicament.
It should be stated from the outset that all those who are having sleepless nights over the 2019 presidential ambition of Muhammadu Buhari, are idle people who do not wish Nigeria well. This writer and many Nigerians wish to state and let it be put on record that Buhari is not Nigeria’s problem and he has all the right in the world to contest again for a second term, if he so wishes.
Those canvassing for a Mandela option for Buhari are self- serving and are not doing so for the good of the country. President Muhammadu Buhari is an elderly man and a wise one at that. He can very well gauge the state of his health and ability to continue in office for another four years from 2019, if Nigerians were to return him to office.
The point is really that while many of his detractors and others jealous of his achievements are worrying themselves sick about whether he should contest again or not, the gentle and soft- spoken former military General has not yet uttered a word about his political ambition and future as 2019 approaches.
The current distracting debate on the political future of President Muhammadu Buhari championed by letter writers like former President Obasanjo and former military President, Ibrahim Babangida, show the two former leaders and their misguided supporters as power hungry and power mongers. No wonder the period of their stewardship as national leaders were wasted years. While Buhari or PMB as he is fondly called by his supporters is busy worrying and working hard to improve the country, these power mongers are busy worrying about the next election.
In the usual Nigeria way, President Buhari should have been the one fretting over the 2019 polls and not these other busy- bodies because he is an incumbent and has the right to contest on the ticket of his party, before any other candidate. Being a patient and wise man, he is not perturbed. Rather he busies himself with his team monitoring and fine-tuning his policies on the economy, employment generation, infrastructure and amenities and attracting more foreign investment and capital. Being a democrat, Buhari is not parading himself as presidential candidate of the ruling APC as the party and even Buhari acknowledge that the party candidate would be chosen by free and fair voting by party delegates at a national convention whose date is yet unknown.
On the contrary, those who have declared themselves Buhari’s opponents in the 2019 polls, namely Obasanjo and IBB are shouting themselves hoarse with concern. Even for the opposition PDP, where the likes of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar have signaled interest, the date for presidential primaries at which a presidential candidate would emerge have not been agreed on. This means that the people who will not contest both in the primaries of political parties towards 2019, and in the 2019 elections proper, are the ones becoming unduly worried by the prospects of a Buhari re-run, and possibly victory!
The level of concern of OBJ in the entire 2019 project has led him into plotting against the Constitution and the party system, by seeking to impose an alternative political platform known as Third Force on our political system. One hereby declares that Obasanjo’s Third Force, is doomed and dead on arrival. No Nigerian who can reflect on his failure in eight years in office to provide at least electric power for which he spent a whopping $ 16 billion would give Obasanjo a hearing. The man should rather be in jail in more ordered societies where accountability is the watch word. Former President Obasanjo spent much of his eight years in power fighting imaginary enemies and scheming for tenure elongation and was only prevented from becoming a Nigerian Mobutu by the alliance of honest democrats and a few men of goodwill in our land.
Second, as he is scheming to do now, Obasanjo imposed all the Presidents after him and in alliance with them, brought Nigeria to the current sorry pass. He was in Bayelsa State recently at the country home of one of the worst of the imposed leaders!
President Buhari, in spite of any shortcomings of his stewardship is sincere and has integrity and would not fritter away opportunities to make Nigeria great, the way Obasanjo did. Buhari’s problem as he has often acknowledged is age having lost election three times before victory came his way in 2015.
Buhari deserves a break from do- gooders in our midst who could not improve the country when they were in charge and all Nigerians viewed and treated them with awe. Whether PMB will contest in 2019 or not, is a decision for his party and its members, the APC, and himself to make.
Ignatius Arinze wrote from Abuja.