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Published On: Wed, Oct 15th, 2014

Nigeria waiting for Buhari

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BuhariBy Ali M. Ali.

I know this sounds very partisan. Why should Nigeria wait for Muhammadu Buhari,the APC presidential aspirant? Why should Nigeria ask for a Buhari in 2015 when it is clearly 32 years too late? Thirty years ago,in 1984, this man,the Nigerian elite loves to hate, bestrode the nation like the colossus that he, truly, is.Now Three decades later, there is a palpable yearning for his return by,ironically,a vast percentage of the population that only knows of his rule via history books.

Thirty odd years ago, he and a very loyal deputy, the late Tunde Idiagbon,another dour faced General, attempted the impossible-build a fractured nation and fast track its development. In the haste to do that, they trampled upon powerful toes in and outside military circles. They made ‘honest’ mistakes. It didn’t surprise anyone that twenty short months later,the unsmiling duo were shoved aside by a ‘smiling ‘ order. Countless inquisitions into their iron fisted rule, found them unblemished.

The toes Buhari trampled upon, years ago are still hurting.The egos he bruised are yet to heal. These are the forces serially frustrating his bid to return to power. A Hausa proverb translated says, “Paupers don’t make a king”. This has been the lot of Buhari since he made the foray into the political grazing field 12 years ago.

His monstrous appeal among the grassroots has ruffled all political feathers across the Niger. In the north where he enjoys a cult following, it has raptured even ‘nests’.In 2003, for instance,his star appeals swept off a sitting PDP governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and installed a little known Ibrahim Shekarau in Kano. This was in addition to countless Senators and federal legislators who hung onto the Buhari ‘hurricane’ to power.

Why is Buhari so popular among the masses? Let me rephrase that.Why is Buhari so unpopular among the generality of the Nigerian elite?

Simple.The masses see him as capable of doing justice.The elite dread him because he has what they can’t possibly have –integrity. Ordinary folks trust him because they think that with him at the top their common patrimony is safe. And also their lives and property protected. Buhari as military head of state spared no one. At the time he took charge on New Year’s Eve of 1984,the country was on a downhill ride without breaks. He immediately halted the drift by taking the bull of corruption by the horn.

Corrupt public officers were tried and sentenced to long prison terms. In doing that he resisted the Rawlings option that only five years earlier in 1979 as Military Leader of Ghana ordered the execution of corrupt Ghanaian leaders among them eight Generals who superintended over the affairs of the state.

Ghana’s rebirth as a regional power in the west coast is attributed partly to Rawling’s radical decision 34 years ago.

Today Nigerians rush to Ghana, a nation of roughly 15 million people,for leisure, education and even healthcare.

Until last year, Ghana had experienced stable power supply.In 2011,it celebrated 10 years of uninterrupted power. Its democracy has become a reference point in conducting free and fair election. It has demonstrated that not all Africans in the west coast are desperate to remain in power. Twice, an incumbent President has lost election to the ochallenger.

What do we have here? Do-or-die politicians have serially denied the people’s wish. They have severally undermined and sabotaged the constitution, a document they swore to protect.

Yesterday Buhari performed the ritual of making public his presidential ambition. It was the fourth time, he would so declare. Three previous declarations had led to his emergence as flag bearer of his party. This time around, he has two very strong contenders and possibly a third. In all three previous attempts, ‘loss’ has been the predictableend.Curiously,the winners couldn’t openly celebrate their electoral victory. In all these contests, Buhari legally disputed the results. And in each of the verdicts, the Nigerian Judiciary emerged smelling like cow dung.

A pattern of electoral trickery was established from the days of the wily Obasanjo as president and foremost proponent of do-or-die politics. Results are merely announced and Buhari, the aggrieved loser, would be encouraged to go to the court where a judgment that has already been ‘purchased’ from a shamefully compromised judiciary,waited. I wonder if some of our judges who passed some of these verdicts ever sleep at night.

The last time Buhari went to court to challenge the 2007 election result, an assortment of traditional rulers and court jesters on the pay roll of the late Yar’adua government were dispatched to make him soft pedal on his planned legal battle. They bandied the ‘the Yar’adua is your brother card’ without success. Even the latepresident admitted that the election that brought him to office was flawed.

At the declaration yesterday, it is clear from the opening paragraph in a prepared speech, why he is throwing his hat into the ring, again.A person of Buhari’s generation would understand why he is taking another shot at the presidency especially now that he has joined the septuagenarian class.The gangling General will be 72 in December.Why run for president when there are clearly ‘capable’ fellow travellers in the mould of probably Atiku, Kwankwaso and Isaiah?

I found the argument that he is too “old” to be president outlandish.The same way I found the argument that the maverick publisher of Leadership newspaper group, Sam Nda Isaiah’s presidential aspiration, as being “too ambitious”, laughable.

Except for possibly Atiku, a front-runner in the presidential race,there is no politician who has been serially maligned and misrepresented like Buhari. None,I dare add,has suffered so much ‘labeling’ and indignity of setting the record straight severally like him.

Among the tags,and I dare add,none alluring, hung on his neck, like a deserved medal of honor, are ‘fundamentalist’, ‘extremist’, ‘bigot’. All these were designed by his tribe of haters to stop him from accessing power. His foray into the political grazing field in 2002 was not foreseen by the grandmasters that thought of him as too simplistic to be a politician.

This may be true.Buhari is not a politician.At least not in the Nigerian hue. He will not be caught in double –speak.He won’t call a spade a shovel.He won’t speak tongue-in-cheek. Those who treaded the same road politically found this and soon fell apart.

What confront the elite antagonistic to Buhari is this close your ranks and save the country and possibly yourselves disposition. Continue supporting the current chaos and soon you wont be ‘elites’ any more. As for Buhari, learn a little tongue-in-cheek. It pays. It is the language of politics worldwide.


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