Friday, 26 June 2015

Buhari and Me (conclusion)

Buhari and Me (conclusion)
Tomorrow, Gen Muhammadu Buhari will be sworn in as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It has been some nine weeks since he was declared winner of the 2015 presidential election; the run up to which probably brought out the worst of us as a people in the way and manner both active players and their supporters conducted themselves. Finally, Nigerians spoke and it became clear – in spite of the huge sums of money and other less than honourable arsenal in the kitty of the outgoing ruling party – that citizens went for change after a sixteen year rule of the PDP. Thus, we shall have a new party at the helm of our nation’s affairs, never mind the cynicism over the persons that now people the APC.
During the nine-week transition period, I thought it would be interesting to serve you excerpts of our interview with the incoming president, which took place some five years ago when he was gearing for the 2011 elections which he eventually lost to President Jonathan. The essence of serving you that odyssey of an interview – in seven installments – is to present the reader with more insight into the mind, hopefully, of Buhari: how he sees Nigeria, his perception of how the nation has been governed and what is wrong with the affairs of the nation. As mentioned earlier, the interview was conducted in 2010; therefore, it will be left for you the reader to determine for yourself whether or not the man has been sufficiently consistent even to this moment when he finally, on the fourth shot at the presidency, won the contest. I have followed Buhari’s quest for the number-one position of Nigeria fairly closely, especially from the 2011 contest; therefore, I have an opinion on his level of consistency in general, which I will share here without meaning to necessarily convince any person who has a contrary opinion.
From 2002, when Buhari decided to run for office, up to the election of 2011, he largely anchored his ambitions on the will of the masses, the Talakawas. The political elites were never with him. He lost in all three occasions and he contested the results in court. Of course many believed he had cause to contest the elections which were considered far below par in integrity even though the Judiciary considered them okay in the light of substantial compliance, as contained in the Electoral Act(s). In any case it would appear that aspirations anchored on the Talakwa in Nigeria never see the light of day in spite of glaring evidences to the fact of mal-governance by the elite. A case in point is the late Mallam Aminu Kano, probably the truest nationalist to have emerged from northern Nigeria in his time.
But in all of this, Buhari’s political mantra has been to fight against corruption, which he considered the bane of the Nigerian society and purveyed actively in the fourth republic by the ruling PDP. In our interview with him, he was asked what the chances were for him to ever run on the ticket of the PDP. His answer was an emphatic “None!” In fact he stated that instead of him to join the PDP, they, the PDP, should come and join him in quest against corruption and bad governance. I remember, on that day while rounding the program recording off, I made a slip and referred to him as presidential aspirant under the PDP, instead of the CPC, and he quickly retorted “God forbid!” The slip was edited out.
I guess Buhari realized even by 2011 that he had to manage to close ranks with some of the political elites in the country to be able to upstage the PDP behemoth, thus the overtures to other political parties, particularly the ACN then. The hoped-for alliance never materialized then until in 2013, preparatory to 2015 when most of the opposition parties led by the CPC and ACN merged to form the APC. And prophetically too, many in the PDP decamped and joined him in the APC. The stage was set.
But one would expect that his message would change, perhaps to accommodate the many soiled fingers that have come around him; however, he has been steadfast. Again, I put the question to him, and many others before and after me did, as to his blueprint to tackle whether corruption, insecurity or the battered economy. In observed that his response has always been that he will do nothing special other than to “literally go by the book”; we have the constitution and other laws and we should get them working first before talking of some highfaluting theories that will not trickle to the man on the street at the end of the day. The man has been consistent in his credo; and the way he has gone about things and with the frenzy and sensation of the transition since his victory, he has shown indeed that he wants to go by the book.
In this round off on my interview with him, I had wanted to include a little more of the excerpt but I had no electricity to power the studio for me to retrieve that bit. Of course even with the two huge generator sets meant to power my office complex, no diesel to run them. I guess the new president has his work cut out for him. It’s a ramshackle country. I pray for him. No excuses; the last five years have tired us with them.

BLUEPRINT Newspaper; Thur. May 28, 2015; p2

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