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Published On: Thu, Dec 18th, 2014

GMB vs GEJ: A mismatch made in heaven

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Buhari and JonathanBy Ali M. Ali.

Unless, by some cruel twist of fate, the impending presidential duel between APC’s duo of Buhari and Osinbajo, on one hand and PDP’s Jonathan and Namadi, on the other, is a mismatch made in heaven that will break a new dawn for a beleaguered nation. The selection of Professor Yemi Osinbajo as Buhari’s running mate, to me, is the icing on the cake in the determined match to free this country from the vice grip of a buccaneering leadership. By escaping the ‘same faith’ ticket otherwise called Muslim-Muslim’, APC, warts and all, is set to make history as the coalition that would rout the ‘behemoth’ PDP.

I had no quarrel with a Muslim-Muslim ticket 21 years ago. I do now.A ticket like that can’t withstand the propaganda of Metuh and Oritsejafor. If the party had succumbed to the temptation to field a Buhari and a Tinubu docket, PDP would just sit cross-legged and savour a victory in February. In today’s Nigeria, faith and face decide political fate.

In 1993, a ticket like that with Abiola-Kingibe as flag bearers of the SDP,was coasting to victory until the junta at the timetruncated it. I recall that the duo of late Abiola and Kingibe were simply unstoppable by the rambunctious propaganda mounted by the twosome of Tofa and Ugoh of the NRC. Tacitly encouraged by a dribbling military government in power, the propaganda was pointedly ignored by a much more informed and secured citizenry.In Kano, for instance,voters, traditionally leftist, voted Abiola to the shock of the son of the soil BashirTofa. At the time, Abiola as an individual connected with the people of Kano more than the haughty Tofa.

When Abiola and Kingibe ran, there was no Boko Haram. These so-called militants,all of them misguided, are the biggest threat to the corporate existence of our dear nation.In the past,the idea of a dismembered Nigeria was ‘thinkable’ but not ‘doable’, at least, not along the razor thin line of religion. Presently, the idea has taken roots in the minds of separatists, mainly for power.Twenty-one years ago, we didn’t have elders speaking like militants. There was, for instance, no Northern Elders Forum matching a certain Asari Dokubo vile for vile, threat for threat. We didn’t have a professor dignifying a street urchin with a response in language fit only for those bred in the gutter.

In 1993,there was no private jet owning, snazzy, junketing minister standing up to a ‘permanent Amrul Hajj’ Sultan not distinguished by scholarship or austerity.We didn’t have MEND or MOSSOB and, for the heck of it, Boko Haram. And we didn’t have social media where separatists across the divide liberally mix fact and fiction to bamboozle the gullible.

In 2015,it would have been decidedly suicidal to field a Muslim-Muslim ticketto rout Jonathan.Under his watch, the fault lines were and are still exploited to the hilt. A Buhari-Tinubu ticket would have been a dream in driving more wedges into a festering sore by the ruling party.

Both GMB and GEJ are running on their records. The former is banking on a thirty-year record of aniron-fisted ruler. He trampled on a lot of feet. As a military maximum ruler, he took no prisoners. In 20 short months, he stamped his authority as a no ‘nonsense’ strongman. His rule hit the elite more. That is not to say the downtrodden were spared. They were ‘whipped’ into line. The war against indiscipline made the masses tremble in fear of not queuing to board a bus. In Buhari’s Nigeria in 1984,it was a crime to litter the streets.

It won’t be the first time GMB will square up with GEJ. Nearly four years ago, an ill prepared Buhari went to the polls against a better preparedJonathan supported by a strong political party and stronger sentiments.One such was the shoeless hoodwink. Four years later, Buhari is squaring up against Jonathan, the latter progressively weakened. His party is debilitated. The voters have wisened up to the trick of sentiments. The current president promised big but delivered at the height of pygmy. In four years, he has frittered the goodwill he mustered. His biggest albatross is the moral burden of coming across as untrustworthy. In 2010, in the build-up to the presidential election, he promised to serve only one term but half way into his mandate, he began to show signs he is prepared to carry the cross of an apprentice politician whose word is not his bond.

The eggs heads in the APC should be jumping for joy. There are several reasons why they should beat the drums of delight. But three suffice. One, from this day forward, Doyin Okupe, a self-labeled “attack lion”, should be legally called a ‘bastard’.Recall his vow several months ago that should the APC last a year, his name should be changed to a ‘bastard’. In July 2015, it will be two years. Two, the party has managed the outcome of a keenly contested party primary election. The expected acrimony has not occurred to the chagrin of possibly ‘bastard’ Okupe. General Buhari’s ‘no contest’ resounding victory at the presidential primary was foretold. But the galloping win was unforeseen.All of us, ‘pundits’, gurus and charlatans never thought he would ‘sprint’ away with 60 percent of the delegates’ votes. As a political star gazer myself, I had predicted a “close call”.

I saw a tightly contested race between the former head of state and a former vice president and a sitting governor coming a distant third. But the primary shocked many. One, I am pretty certain, was Buhari himself. Two is Atiku and third, Kwankwaso. But all that now is history. The third reason for celebration is the choice of Osinbajo as Buhari’s running mate.

In shelving his ambition to be no2, Bola Tinubu has come across as a statesman for once. His cross is only one-faith. Had he insisted, the APC challenge would have been dead on arrival. But thankfully he has sheathed his sword of vice presidential ambition. Buhari and Osinbajo have a tough task if they eventually win. The pair is not made of magicians but from their profile and proven integrity, Jonathan and Sambo are no matches for the two. Their ticket is made in heaven.


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