By Charles Onunaiju
Prancing across the country and making desperate stomp speeches, laced with bile and toxic invectives aimed at President Buhari –led federal government, former President Olusegun Obasanjo exemplifies the panic and fear that have gripped Nigeria’s traditional political elite about the prospects of President Buhari second term. Former military President, Ibrahim Babangida in the recent past has quipped that Nigeria will be better with a younger president who is digitally literate when it is doubtful whether Mr. Narenda’s Modi, who is leading India, world’s largest liberal democracy and making remarkable progress in reforming the economy is even computer literate.
Babangida, himself a former discredited military dictator, whose regime was known for the notorious culture of “settlement,” a derisive euphemism for massive state-directed corruption has his shadowy imprints in all the unfolding political shenanigans to stop President Buhari from winning a second term in office.
The poster boy of state-minted billionaire, former defence minister, Theophilus Danjuma has previously raised alarm, alleging army-directed pogrom against residents of some local communities. While he may have recently gone quiet, trenchant voices at the helm of stop-Buhari campaign, echoes his political body language.
From the n-PDP, r-APC to the recent political quake that rocked the national assembly in which a record number of the ruling APC legislators jumped over to various opposition parties, but especially to the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP), is the remarkable crystallization the trepidation that have dogged a section of the political class of a second term in office by President Buhari. The prospects of president Buhari second term in office is particularly stunning and terribly ruing, given that he was previously considered un-electable until the political elite completely squandered the very last of their political goodwill, forcing them to gravitate around Buhari’s famed credibility and popular appeal. In massively hitching a ride on his credibility and popular appeal they actually intended to overthrow the values he stands for, from within. Nearly three years into the unnatural cohabitation, the disgruntled elite are fast peeling away, coalescing around the power oligarchs in desperate effort to return the country to the familiar terrain where politics and public office holding makes the roaring returns of instant fabulous wealth.
Nearly one year ago, President Buhari was a total political write-off, struggling with health challenges and barely managed to survive his worst health scar, according to him.
His full-fledged war against corruption, the veritable mainstay of the political class has considerably heightened and started taking its toll. The putative but potent prophecy of the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mrs. Patience
Jonathan during the campaign for the 2015 Presidential election that a Buhari victory will haul politicians to jail at unprecedented scale is proving ominous. After running the rings around the judicial process for more than a decade, former Taraba and Plateau State governors, Messers Jolly Nyame
and Joshua Dariye are currently serving long jail sentences for corruption. In this instance, no corrupt member of the political class, worth his or her spine would sit idly by and watch President Buhari re-election for a second term despite party affiliations. The judges who are now actively dispensing justice and handing out severe punishments to political itchy fingers who vandalized the commonwealth did not drop from the sky but have been with us all along, only that now, they have sufficient political ambiance of non-interference and zero political backlash against their careers to discharge their duties according to the law.
To add to the worries and dilemma of some sections of the political class, President Buhari signed the Presidential executive order, no 6, the first-ever frontal assault on the humongous but dubious assets effortless acquired by most of the predatory and lousy elites. Since the publication and signing of the Presidential executive order, the public space has had to endure the fury of the political class and their allied commentariat.
The PEO-6 has been variously described as an assault on constitutional democracy, an attempt to a power grab and even orchestrated executive emasculation of the judiciary. But very few have taken pains to observe that the normal ambience of liberal democracy and its associated constitutionalism have deep technical holes in our peculiar clime, from which many soiled fat cats of our public life have happily escaped with their loots. It is undeniable that extraordinary circumstances required extraordinary measures to contend and contain. The section of the Nigeria political class adept at manipulating formal public institutions, taking advantage of their fragilities have maliciously up-ended the due-process, the core content of constitutionalism and any inclusive social order.
The fear of President Buhari second term is certainly raising the political temperature as the prospects look bright but given that the panic is only within some section of the political class, shows that the majority of Nigerians understood the imperative to consolidate the gains of bringing discipline and some order to politics and public life.
The APC leadership, including President Buhari should let all those who wish to leave their party to freely do so, without bothering to appease them because, in the long run, the ones who are convinced and believe in the core values espoused by President Buhari are far more useful than those with mere interests.
After the Cuban revolution, former brothel owners, who helped make Cuba, a Casino colony of the United State of America were eagerly sneaking out of the country.
But, leader of the revolution, Fidel Castro promptly threw the gate open asking any Cuban who could not reconcile himself or herself to the New Cuba to leave. Despite the number that left, the revolution survived and thrived, ushering in, universal literacy and healthcare to all Cubans. More than sixty years, even after the exit of its first generation leaders, the revolution is still standing.
President Buhari certainly in his first term that is gradually rolling to an end has not done everything right. While the pattern of criminal violence has kept mutating from one dangerous form to another, his security apparatus has not been sufficiently proactive in identifying and containing it and it has been very easy to lay charges of connivance against them. Official claims of political sabotage by detractors are too feeble to be taken serious.
Despite evident and palpable hardship among many Nigerians, government current economic focus on key fundamentals that could over time, create the enabling environment for inclusive and sustainable economic development is in the right direction.
A political will to sustain key current economic initiatives, accelerate the war against graft and steadily return Nigeria to Nigerians in all ramifications of freely choosing their own government and holding it accountable are part of the many reasons, most Nigerians are standing by President Buhari, despite the vacillation of some sections of the political class.
Mr. Onunaiju is a journalist and research director of a Think Tank based in Abuja.