by Fola Ojo
It is official. Ageing and ailing 74-year-old sitting President Muhammadu Buhari has a burning desire to run for re-election 2019. Wow! Buhari is running. Okay! If you are a Buhari-basher, the announcement was not an auditory hallucination. It will possibly rile you up to bash Buhari some more. If you are a Sai Baba praise singer, you may be drudged and trudged on to praise harder in an increased decibel. Buhari’s media henchman, Femi Adesina, sent me this message from London in response to my call: “Running to win. God is involved”, Femi confirmed. The President’s team is focused on winning; not just running.
This is only the beginning. The real game begins when formidable, electable opponents soon show their faces. I am not expressing about those who are only making empty noises. I am not referencing those who are waiting to cash in, get paid off by one of the big political parties, and then jet out of Nigeria to enjoy their pay-offs. I am not expressing about those who have compiled motivational lines from Encyclopaedia Britannica; jabbering away in grammar that’s not part of requisite attributes for leadership in an intricate and complex terrain like Nigeria. And I am not alluding to popular thieves, famous and firebrand connoisseurs of corruption who have become nuisances during elections. I am hinting about candidates who want to win, who believe they can win, and who will walk an extra mile daring all odds, surmounting all obstacles to defeat Buhari and drag him back to Daura on the back of a donkey or a herdsman’s cow. Who falls into the latter category? There are innumerable talents in Nigeria who can make Buhari look like one running for a school’s Parent Teacher Association President. Are these skilled men running? Time will rend loose the vizards.
The strongest Buhari opposition may be from Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s CNM which will soon morph into a political party. In the 2015 presidential run, Baba was all out for Buhari. Now, he has shifted allegiance and wants us to be afraid that hell will break loose if the President is given a free pass to win re-election. But who is Baba’s candidate that has not stolen and that will not steal from Nigeria and destroy what remains of her dignity? Baba will soon tell us. We are getting our PVCs ready to do the needful; whatever that turns out to be.
Let’s keep to heart what Capacity Theory teaches: “People are entrusted with that which they have the capacity to handle”. If you entrust slave masters with power, slavery will continue as long as they are in power. If you entrust thieves with political authority, the people will be pauperised. If you entrust men and women of no or low knowledge with power, ignorance rules and reigns in a land of sages. If you entrust a person of shrivelled intellectual capacity with power, there is chaos in the land. Who will Nigerians trust with power in 2019?
Nigerians have been historically robbed, cheated, and pillaged by men they have always trusted with power. One lawmaker reportedly bought at least 22 houses acquired illegally. Nine in Abuja, two in London, eight in Dubai, three close to me here in Florida. Don’t quickly forget about the outrageous overcharge charade in running-cost freebies in the National Assembly. Nigerians have cried. And nothing has changed. The same annoying flagitiously villainous activities go on in state governors’ mansions, jackleg judges judiciary, and the executive. Money madness is an incurable disease in Nigeria. All over the place, money speaks adorably louder than common-sense. When it barks, people jump. Nigeria is like a weird child expected to walk at age 1, but still crawling at 58! The journey ahead of her is very far.
A nation so beautiful yet so bruised and battered by men the people entrust with power. Do the elites care about the people? No! To them, Nigeria is a business venture that a few vulture capitalists use and abuse to shield their investments. Yank off the investment interest part out of the Nigerian picture, less than one per cent understand or care about love of country. Who cares who’s running when politicians don’t show they truly care about poor Nigerians who aren’t asking for too much from their leaders? Not every Nigerian wants to drive a jeep or build a mansion. Not every Nigerian is driven by a morbid ambition of big bank accounts. But everybody wants food and a safe place to build a family. That is not too much to ask for in a country that has more than enough.
So, Buhari is running? Yes! For my ultra-religious brothers and sisters already singing from Prophet Nahum’s hymnals: “Affliction shall not arise the second time”, the coming election will not be about quoting relevant or irrelevant scriptures. The children of Israel suffered more than 20 afflictions in their journey to the Promised Land. Mobilising voters, getting them registered, and getting them to the polls on Election Day win elections. God will not saunter from His Throne to lend a helping hand if Nigerians are not willing, able, and ready to help themselves. If ordinary Nigerians are not sincerely tired enough of the condition of NOT-ENOUGH, there will never be ENOUGH for them to enjoy a life of MORE-THAN-ENOUGH. Nigerians will continue to have more than enough of NOT- ENOUGH until they are bold enough to say to the ruling and oppressive elites that: Enough is enough. If you hate morons making policy decisions while geniuses say “Yes Sir” in obedience and genuflection, get ready to vote. Anger alone does not win an election. Action does.
If you are a Buharist, please, don’t count on the ‘Incumbency factor”. It may be irrelevant in this dispensation. If you don’t believe me, book an appointment with a man called Goodluck Jonathan in Otuoke. He will tell you plenty about a 2015 farce called incumbency factor. Although I side with Buhari in some things he has done right, Nigeria can and must do better. I don’t belong to the Anybody But Buhari group that clamours for anybody to become president. The ‘Anybody’ syndrome has got Nigeria in the mess she is today.
We get angry at the incumbent; sometimes justifiably so. But we fail to carefully vet the replacement. And when “Anybody’ grabs power through the “Anybody’ sentiment whipped by everybody, ‘Anybody’ now dumps on Nigerians toxins in terms of policies, rules, and governance style. He later becomes a plague no one wants to touch. Then, we wake up after-the-fact and begin another frantic search for ‘Anybody’ as a replacement. Must Nigerians go that route again?
Nigeria, an island of wealth and a trough of tintinnabulating treasures. She is a penstock of prosperousness and a depository of abundant and abounding natural resources. The home of innumerable sages, an arsenal of intellectuals, a harbour of highbrows, and a human assemblage of geeks and deft double-domes. But when Nigerians are forced to choose between dunderheads and bubbleheads, thieves and larcenists, wicked and the weird parading as political candidates for sensitive political offices, then you know your country is in a conundrum. Buhari is running? Yes! Who else is? Very many. But we don’t know yet how fast they are. I welcome President Buhari to a fiercer, murkier, probably worse political race he has ever run. This one, this time, will be a marathon; not a cakewalk sprint.
Fola Ojo can be reached at email@example.com ot tweet at him: @folaojotweet
Originally published in Punch