By Clifford Ndujihe
WITH his declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of weekend’s presidential election, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), is fourth time lucky.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate landed the Nigerian prime office after a 12 year struggle and four successive attempts.
He started his presidential journey as a 60-year old in 2003, running as the standard bearer of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) with the late Senator Chuba Okadigbo, as his running mate. He was roundly beaten in that first outing by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a southerner, who was gunning for a second term on the plank of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He polled 12,710,022 or 32.19 per cent of the votes cast while Obasanjo had 24,456,140 votes (61.94 per cent).
In 2007, Buhari was on the prowl again. He re-secured the ticket of the ANPP and chose late Second Republic House of Representatives Speaker, Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke as his running mate. This time, his major hurdle was a fellow northerner from the same North-West Zone, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of the PDP.
In that election, Buhari got about half of what he got four years earlier. He polled 6,605,299 (18.72 per cent) while Yar’Adua ran away with an unassailable 24,638,063 (69.82 per cent) victory.
Undaunted, General Buhari ran again in 2011 using his new party, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). He chose the Southwest born pastor, Dr Tunde Bakare as his vice presidential candidate. He ran a good race against President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP. He got 12,214,853 (31.98 per cent) of the votes to Jonathan’s 22,495,187 (58.89 per cent).
After challenging the results of the 2011 polls to no avail, Buhari, who was then 68 years said he would not run for the presidency again.
However, following strident opposition to President Jonathan, clamour for power shift to the North and what some of his supporters described as ‘popular demand,’ Buhari, once again joined the presidential fray for the 2015 contest. Buoyed by the backing of former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and a couple of leaders from the North, South-South and South-East, Buhari was able to get four parties – Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), a faction of All Progressives Congress (APGA) ANPP and CPC to merge and form a mega party, APC, the vehicle with which he won the presidential poll at 72.