By Ochereome Nnanna
AFTER about four months of frenzied campaigns, we have just five days to the rescheduled presidential election 2015. I consider it necessary to make a few concluding remarks on the two major presidential candidates: President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, the flag bearer of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and General Muhammadu Buhari of the main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
Buhari, during this period, has made more headlines than the incumbent president. It all started shortly after he clinched the APC presidential ticket at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere on December 11th, 2014. From that moment on, he became the exclusive property of the Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) political camp, which has shouldered the bulk of his campaign needs, with the Director General of the campaign organisation, Governor Rotimi Amaechi, acting as a very visible and audible sidekick.
Missing northern political elite
Surprisingly, the political elite of Northern Nigeria in the APC quietly withdrew from his side. You name them: Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, Mr. Nda Isaiah, the three others who vied for the ticket with Buhari; northern governors on the APC platform, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who was briefly favoured by Tinubu until he withdrew in favour of the governorship seat of Sokoto State and top figures in the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) such as Professor Ango Abdullahi and Dr. Junaidu Mohammed, who openly declared that Buhari was the candidate of the North after he emerged. The only person from the North who is regularly seen with Buhari is the midget man from Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el Rufai.
They may have withdrawn from Buhari for tactical reasons, but you can be sure they are hiding in the shadows, just out of sight, waiting for the moment they hope Professor Attahiru Jega will announce Buhari as the winner of the poll. Then, they will show up in their full colours and numbers. If Buhari wins the election, we are soon going to be treated to rounds of Jeremiads from his current intellectual, financial and material backers from the South West.
They will complain that the monkey worked and the baboon is enjoying the spoils. This is by no means a prophecy. It is a statement based on empirical surmises. If tomorrow comes in Buhari’s favour, we will surely remind you we said so long before it happened.
The moment Buhari picked the APC ticket, it was pretty clear that the task of selling him must target the South, and more especially the South West. The choice of most people in Arewa North was obviously Buhari. He was already sold out there. Jonathan was already sold out in South East, South-South, and to an appreciable extent, the North Central and the Minority enclaves of the nation. It was in the South West that Buhari had to be rebranded for acceptability.
Overnight, we started seeing posters of Buhari, (a man who has only worn babanriga and kaftan since he retired from the army) clad in dinner black suit, white shirt and bow tie. Buhari has put the lie to this as he has never worn a suit since he started campaigning. He only wore an overcoat while in London for medical attention and the Chatham House appearance, but even at that, he discarded it for his usual flowing robes once inside the building.
The APC’s mantra
Buhari was advertised as the man who will bring about change, the mantra of the APC. I wonder what will happen to the mantra if APC wins the presidency. Will they still want change? The machinery of the South West media was fully mobilised, while an army of young internet bloggers was mobilised to extol the virtues of Buhari and his party, while savaging the PDP and its presidential candidate. They invaded every polling site and clicked like mad for Buhari, thus orchestrating a momentum for him.
This same section of the media was talking from a different side of its mouth when Buhari was contesting against Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003. At that time, what we heard was that Buhari was an anti-democrat who truncated civilian rule in 1994, a despot who jailed politicians and confiscated their property at his kangaroo tribunals.
We were reminded, correctly, how Buhari hastened the death of Yoruba political patriarch, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, cancelled the metro line project conceived and initiated by Alhaji Lateef Jakande to decongest the Lagos traffic, used draconian decrees to cripple the Press, which is the right arm of Yoruba political clout and did not initiate or complete a single capital project in all his twenty months in power. We were also reminded that Buhari, as Executive Chairman of the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) denied the South West its fair share of projects while massing projects in the North.
We were made to remember that Buhari never said a word when the struggle for the restoration of Chief Moshood Abiola’s mandate was on. Rather, he was a great fan of General Sani Abacha, who gave him the PTF job. Till date Buhari maintains Abacha never looted, but he has not told where those Abacha loots repatriated from Western banks came from.
He never contributed in any way in bringing about the return to democracy. Instead, he rode on the back of the Sharia uprising in Arewa North between 2000 and 2001, where he became its main political figure after embracing it publicly, vowing to ensure it was taken to all parts of the country.
These rebranders were the ones who took up Buhari’s battles when his certificate scandal broke open. People who set the pace in western educational pursuits and were ahead before others came up; people who always boast of their many professors and the commanding edge Awolowo’s free education gave them suddenly started saying that Buhari’s lack of school certificate “does not matter”.
Buhari was unable to pronounce correctly the name of his running mate, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; it did not matter. The message Buhari has projected throughout his campaign is that he will ensure the security of all Nigerians and jail corrupt leaders. When it became obvious that he would have no choice but to jail the same people who are bankrolling his campaign straight from the coffers of their state treasuries, Buhari decided he would only jail those who “steal” from the period he assumes office!
Someone should please tell him that a president has no power to jail anyone. He can cause corrupt people to be prosecuted. It is the judges that jail convicted people. He will not have the power to promulgate decrees. This is democracy!
Binding ideological ties
Up till this moment, Tinubu and Buhari have not shown us the ideological ties that bind them together in the APC. Tinubu says he wants true federalism. He wants state police. He wants states to control local governments under them. But Buhari has never promised anything in that direction. Buhari is against true federalism.
He believes in a super-strong centre, like most Arewa politicians. The only real tie that binds Tinubu and Buhari together is their hot desire to unseat President Goodluck Jonathan. Tinubu is not really bothered about dispensational change. Just change Jonathan, and he is ok.
But an old adage warns: “be careful what you wish for, you might get it”. The possessed masquerade always begins by flogging the man that dresses it up. If Buhari should win this presidential election, Tinubu will bite his finger in regret. His political kingdom will be taken away from him, and some of his loyalists of today will be willing tools in the hands of Buhari’s Arewa cabals that are hiding in the shadows, for now.