By Dr Ugoji Egbujo
It was a timely message, poorly delivered. What Governor Nasir El-Rufai has in boldness, he lacks intact. It has proved a chronic handicap. But let’s keep the baby and throw away only the dirty bath water.
The hand writing is on the wall. A few powerful persons want Buhari out. And they want him out regardless of the outcome of the elections. And they are laying the building blocks of Venezuela.
But what is Venezuela?
A couple of weeks ago national elections held in strife-torn Venezuela. It was hotly contested.The results were disputed. The incumbent, President Maduro claimed victory. The opposition announced its own results.
The international community already fed up with the nuisance of Hugo Chavez-Maduro authoritarianism took sides with the opposition. America has recognized the opposition leader in the absence of Maduro’s willingness to conduct or repeat the elections. America has frozen Venezuelan assets. America is willing to hand over some Venezuelan money to the opposition. America has not ruled out a military intervention. Maduro is isolated, he has only Cuba and perhaps Russia. And no money.
Okay that’s Venezuela.
So how can Venezuela happen here?
Obasanjo already thinks anyone who supports Buhari is a moron. He doesn’t know if the morons are in majority. He doesn’t care. He has good contacts in the West. He flaunts his international stature.
Obasanjo has said that Buhari cannot win any free and fair national elections. Obasanjo has announced that Buhari is planning to clamp down on the opposition and rig the elections. Obasanjo is now the defacto leader of the forces bent on uprooting Buhari.
The opposition party identifies with Obasanjo’s positions on Buhari. The main opposition party presidential candidate submits to him. The opposition party chairman has spent a lot of energy wondering whether to join Nnamdi Kanu in his boycott of the presidential election. The opposition party has routinely, in recent days, cast aspersions on the integrity of INEC. Leading figures in the opposition are now publishing funny polls that suggest that the opposition is the overwhelming favorite to win the elections. It looks well choreographed.
That’s not all.
Social cultural paper tigers have joined the fray. Groups with very insignificant electoral worth have come out supposedly to save the nation from decay. Afenifere, Ohaneze and one Arewa group. These are PDP members in ethnic clothing giving their partisan rejection of Buhari a feel of national consensus. We know Afenifere, and what is left of its electoral weight now. But Afenifere wasn’t as unscrupulous as Ohaneze. The Ohaneze adoption of Atku was procured through subterfuge. The National Secretary of Ohanze and Anambra, Imo and Ebonyi state governments do not know when and how Ohaneze came to the clandestine Atiku decision. But all of that may not matter.
So how will the pieces of this jigsaw yield Venezuela.
Buhari wins the election. The opposition begins with complaints at midday on the 16th of February. As the results trickle in, the murmuring of the opposition grows into wailing. The opposition denounces INEC and rejects its results. The opposition may do a Fayose. Then it will run into a broad cast station in a state it controls and announces its own results. Two bands of supporters will run in different directions in the country celebrating victories.
In that melee, groups like the ineffectual middle belt forum, lame Afenifere and others could assume oversized international importance. They will gather and accept one of the contending results. INEC would become Buhari’s INEC.
Then a few angry bishops and some tired, retired generals may gather in the sun and air their grudges against the Buhari presidency. And they would all sound like freedom fighters. Any such support for the opposition in that confusion would be relayed to the international community as evidence of Buhari’s extensive unpopularity and conclusive evidence of his inability to win any free and fair elections.
This is a fairly straightforward ploy. Especially, after Venezuela. But it’s a recipe for monumental national disaster.
Once all the cylinders of organized dissent are firing, the opposition would hope that international pressure would win it huge concessions. It would hope the international community would go for broke. And recognize Atiku. But if that would prove an uphill task then it could seek a repeat of the presidential elections. A repeat election which Buhari must not conduct. And that is where an interim government would then come in. “Interim government in the interest of national unity.”
This is the summary of Venezuela in Nigeria.
And that is why El-rufai shouldn’t have allowed his message to be lost in translation. Nigerians are not violent. We appreciate the interest of the international community in our having free and fair elections. No nation can exist as an island in the modern world. It is the duty of the ruling government and party to explain its side of the argument to our friends. The international community knows that Nigeria is not Venezuela.
Buhari’s supporters may be morons. But democracy has given every man one vote, morons and geniuses. Let those who want Buhari out work very hard. Because they must contend with the determination of some morons to foolishly keep him in office. They can’t wish away the morons. The votes of morons must count too. They are valid votes.
We won’t need bodybags. It shouldn’t be a do-or-die affair. We have a nation to build. But no one should take the morons for granted. I suspect the morons will be ready to defend their votes with the fullness of their stupidity.
‘Naija no be Venezuela!’