By Obi Nwakanma
There are many watchers of this election campaign who are already seeing the desperation of the Buhari campaign, with regards to the vote of the South Easterners (and of course the South-South that made up the traditional Eastern Region). But let us concentrate on the Igbo of the South East. IPOB has mounted a campaign to boycott elections in the South-East. But the South East will vote in this election. Because not to vote gives undue advantage to Buhari, and many are those who wonder if IPOB is deliberately being recruited clandestinely to suppress South Eastern votes in order to give the Buhari campaign a numerical advantage.
Now, Nigerians must pay attention at the subtlety of the recruitments: first, at least two Governors of the East are working almost for the Buhari campaign, particularly Governor Obiano of the APGA. The party of Ojukwu spinned into a crisis when, inexplicably, the fortune of this party, with the promise of turning out the votes in Imo and Abia in this election, was radically subverted when a known Buhari ally, like Ararume was handed the party’s gubernatorial ticket “from on high” in Imo. Basically, Willie Obiano destroyed Ojukwu’s party in Igbo land, and has allied it with the APC.
APGA is as a result permanently dead in the South East. Second, Hope Uzodinma, the former PDP senator who crossed over to become the APC’s gubernatorial candidate for Imo is a man with a uniquely dark and interesting past. But now, his political fortunes are to be determined on the strength of his campaigns for Buhari in the South East. Recently he declared that the Igbo had met and decided to vote Buhari. That is an egregious lie. The South East will not vote for Buhari. Even the enticement of building the Second Niger Bridge, which his spin-doctor, Lauretta Onochie said will be the gain of the Igbo if they voted Buhari will not sway the Igbo.
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In fact, the Igbo now say, “if you like, build the bridge, if you do not like, do not build the bridge.” The Second Niger Bridge has been used to blackmail the South East for too long. Perhaps not building the bridge might finally compel the South East to begin to invest in river-transportation, through the Niger to the Atlantic. If the bridge cuts off, the Easterner should then face southwards towards life in the Cameroons, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, and on to Namibia’s Walvis Bay and the entire Cape of Good Hope.
Where one door closes another opens. So, if the Federal government likes, let them not build the Second Niger bridge. Let them cut off the East from the West African corridor, and divert the energy of Eastern business to the Central West African corridor. The ultimate loss will be to Nigeria’s economy. The Second Niger bridge is frankly not a gift to the Igbo. It will be Nigeria’s gift to itself. Building the Second Niger bridge no longer has electoral value, because it is not only the Igbo that would cross that bridge. So, yes, the Igbo of the South East will not vote for Buhari, even if he builds the Second Niger bridge.
They will not vote for Buhari because the Igbo have no respect for him, and the general Igbo electorate do not like Buhari, and their reasons are quite many. First, the Igbo regard Buhari as an incompetent man with inferior capacities. They saw through his “integrity myth.” They have never trusted his politics of primordial ethnocentrism. And they have no regard for his intellect or lack thereof. The Igbo are very cosmopolitan people. They judge a man by his real character, and not by where he comes from, or what he pretends to be, and Mr. Buhari, has pretended much, and presented a devious and fictitious face that belies his true self. Buhari began his presidency on a very dark and predictable note: he did not disappoint the Igbo. He said, basically, “I shall discriminate between those who voted overwhelmingly for me and those who just gave me 5% of their votes.” And true, Muhammadu Buhari has corrupted the Nigerian system of selection, through an official use of nepotism. Nepotism is corrupt practice.
This makes Muhammadu Buhari, perhaps the most corrupt president since the foundation of Nigeria, for there has never been any other time, when nepotism, the corrupt practice of favoring one’s closest kin and allies in the circulation of privilege has assumed such brazen prominence in public affairs. Under this president, the corrupt practice of nepotism was not only elevated to state policy, but it became the central lynchpin of the Buhari government and his parochial agenda. This president is not a Nigerian nationalist, he is a revanchist Fulani. And that is the judgment of history. Buhari’s “integrity myth” has been shattered. Blown to smithereens is his claims of incorruptibility.
This president, said his opponent, Mr. Atiku Abubakar, is a very corrupt man. Of course, Buhari’s party and supporters, and Buhari himself has been loud in calling Atiku and his party, the PDP corrupt for a long time. But Atiku Abubakar responded, and laid out the facts about Muhammadu Buhari’s corrupt history and past which revisionists have attempted to sweep under the carpet. This of course has rattled Buhari himself, who responded through his “chichidoo” –Garba Shehu, that Atiku’s allegations and is call for Nigerians to confront Buhari will “bring down the roof on everybody.” Well, at every key point of Buhari’s public career, his name has been associated with high corruption. His name featured prominently in one of the biggest financial scandals ever recorded in Nigeria, the missing N2.8 billion (now valued at N1.8 Trillion) from the NNPC accounts in the Midland Banks for which he was indicted in an investigation of the Nigerian senate then led by the late Olusola Saraki, the father of the current senate president.
His appointment to Petroleum Trust Fund as Chairman by the Abacha regime was equally riddled with corruption. For a man who has made a career of “anti-corruption,” and who presents the face of probity, all his true involvements in Public office have been marred by personal incidents of corruption and scandal, which his small but vocal supporters often try to sweep under the carpet. The point with Buhari on this issue of corruption is that what you see is not always what you get. And his opponent in this election has been bold in taking down Buhari’s claim by pointedly accusing him of corruption in spite of all the hokum about this president’s quite extraordinary claims. If Buhari is so not corrupt, and if he is all that effective as an anti-corruption president, the most alluring fiction on whose grounds he ran for president, how come four years later, Nigeria is still running a very corrupt system? Why is there still corruption in his government? Why hasn’t Nigeria changed substantially? The government is even more opaque and shady.
The president appointed himself the Minister of Petroleum. Nigeria’s oil operations is still without transparency. No one knows how much Nigeria is really making from oil. Contracts and appointments at the NNPC are still shady as hell. This president has enriched his family and associates using the worst kind of prebendal tactics according to his increasingly bold critics. Allegations of the corrupt use or misuse of procurement procedures against Buhari’s son-in-law, Junaid Muhammad, whom this president appointed to the sleaziest cash cow ever created in Nigeria, the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA) is only one of the strings of corruption charges, including the recent corrupt acquisitions of Etisalat and Keystone Bank, which has been leveled against Muhammadu Buhari. Now, the Igbo will not vote Mr. Buhari because he fires off a shot in the bushes, and comes out to the road nearby to ask, “who fired the shots?!” He is not a man they can trust. He is not a man of integrity, even though he has been falsely donned with the laurels of that virtue by his spin-doctors.
A slippery, deceptive, and Machiavellian character might appeal to some people, but the Igbo saw through Muhammadu Buhari a long time ago, took a stand, and they made a choice not to vote for him which has proved quite prescient. It will be immoral to vote for Buhari in this election, because under him, Nigeria has broken in ways never seen before. Poverty now travels Nigeria with cudgels. Nigeria is far more insecure than Buhari met it four years ago. Buhari’s brazen disregard for other people, particularly the South-Easterners, evidenced in his sustained pattern of discrimination in the last four years against them threatens Nigeria’s national security far more than any other time in Nigeria.
The Igbo do not expect justice in the court of the judges appointed by Buhari, or at the hands of the mostly second-rate policemen recruited by Buhari. Buhari’s intention might be to push the Igbo to a fight. And he may indeed have his fight. There is no doubt that if Buhari is elected again, the Igbo will confront his administration more directly, more defiantly, and in ways that will force Nigeria by all means necessary to either to enforce Igbo citizens right in Nigeria, or disintegrate. And that will be Buhari’s legacy: he will be remembered as either the last president of Nigeria, or as the man who fought the Igbo, and failed because the Igbo will still be there, when Buhari leaves the stage permanently, and he will leave the stage. Even if by some mistake he wins this second term, the Igbo will survive him, but he will be remembered as the worst, most incompetent man to govern Nigeria as president. That will be the judgment of history. People will look at his image and laugh at Nigeria, about how such a physically sick, and not too bright man ever was allowed to govern a great country.