By Japheth Omojuwa
Goodluck Jonathan or Muhammadu Buhari? Muhammadu Buhari or Goodluck Jonathan? Both have their strengths and weaknesses.
General Buhari is running as a presidential candidate for the 4th time in a row. The only difference between his current effort and the three previous ones is the fact that this time, he goes to the polls as a clear favourite. Surely, there must be a reason why a man who, it looked like, never had a chance in the last 12 years is now solidly placed to win.
The reason? Two words: Goodluck Jonathan.
President Jonathan said he deserved credit for the APC becoming what it is today. The president is right, but he missed the irony in his own assertion. He wants the world to believe the APC exists because his government created an enabling environment for the opposition to thrive when, in actual fact, the opposition rose on the hills of Jonathan’s incompetence.
General Buhari has always been a phenomenon in the North – he still is – but the same could not have been said of the South until the run-up to the 2015 elections. Why is that? Because of the same old gee, Goodluck Jonathan. Nigeria’s current president has failed so many times many Nigerians are inclined to choose to vote for just about any form of matter over him.
Where exactly has Jonathan failed and why his failures should not be overlooked?
The president’s most telling failure is his inability to address the insurgency in the North. For many years, the president’s disposition to Boko Haram was: “they are killing themselves to make my government look bad.” This position was echoed by the president’s men and allies.
The belated response to the killing of 59 Buni Yadi boys in Yobe, the absurd delay in even believing the Chibok girls were truly abducted until some 18 days later, the Kano rally dance that came 24 hours after the Nyanya bomb blast, and several other shocking responses to Boko Haram’s activities sold the president out as being indifferent to the pains of Nigerians who live under the constant menace of terror.
Meanwhile, General Buhari’s history as a no-nonsense leader proves he will not approach Boko Haram with kid gloves or underrate the terror group, to which President Jonathan has confessed. Corruption and government accountability are major issues in this election, and understandably so.
A November 2012 report says some N5 trillion was either misappropriated or outright stolen under the Jonathan administration. At least N1 trillion was stolen under the guise of fuel subsidies, if the House of Representatives’ report is correct.
There is the $20 billion the then-Central Bank governor and now Emir of Kano, HRH Muhammed Sanusi II, said wasn’t remitted to the Federation Account. Two days ago, he was on CNN’s Amanpour insisting the government’s explanation for that was not satisfactory.
Another former CBN governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, insisted some N30 trillion has been lost due to the current administration’s mismanagement. As these words get written, the government has not issued a reasonable response to his charges. They offered a lot of emotional tantrums through President Jonathan’s campaign and the Ministry of Finance.
On this front, Buhari comes out on top again because of his reputation of never being the one about amassing wealth or using his privileged position to loot the country. He is generally perceived as upright. His choice of Pastor Yemi Osinbajo helped to cement that perception.
The third major deciding issue for this election is the economy. The Nigerian economy is walking on tightropes. The government likes to claim it has made Nigeria Africa’s No.1 economy. The economy was rebased in 2014. All the government did with the “rebasing” was to account for the inclusion of new sectors like the entertainment industry and telecoms into the calculation of the country’s GDP.
This was accumulated over the previous 20 years or so, but the government has sold this as one of its achievements.
Pictures of Cameroon were presented as completed road projects of this administration, and an image of a housing estate in Lekki was used as that of completed housing projects in the Northeast.
Four out of every five Nigerian graduates are out of jobs. Extreme poverty is unacceptably high, the naira is seeing worst trading days ever. Perhaps, the greatest picture of that reality is Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, losing $7 billion in November 2014 alone; since then, he has lost enough money to make another person the 2nd richest on the continent.
Nigeria’s foreign reserves continue to take a plunge. Its debts, local and foreign, continue to rise. It is all a mess out here.
This is what the elections are about. It is a direct Yes/No referendum on President Jonathan. Not a few people voting for General Buhari will do so just to vote against President Jonathan.
Voting Buhari is the right thing if this really is about the future of Nigeria. Of the two available options, President Jonathan is a failed president. In a sane world, he would not even dream to be a candidate, let alone become one.
General Buhari used to be a dictator. He has since learnt democratic tenets having, without resorting to violence, trusted the courts three times after losing previous elections. It is obvious he is in this because he firmly believes he can be the wise old man who sets Nigeria on the road to socio-political and economic recovery.
General Buhari gets my vote. Easily. It is the most logical decision. In a country where money and materialism hold sway (including in the so-called religious houses), those who are able to share dollars will certainly turn many heads. What will matter in the end is how much Nigerians want “change”. Another four years with Goodluck Jonathan would be a disaster for Nigeria. It is time for Buhari.
Mr. Japheth Omojuwa is a social media expert, columnist and Naij.com contributor.