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Buhari’s second coming

Posted: Apr 5, 2015 at 3:46 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ekene Okoro Senior Correspondent, Lagos

The euphoria is still in the air. For members and supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC), breaking the 16-year stronghold of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the federal level of government has not come easy.

CoverChoice 1For Nigeria’s President-Elect, Muhammadu Buhari, it has also been a long wait spanning over 12 years and three consecutive defeats in the hands of three different candidates of the PDP.

Aside becoming the first candidate to beat an incumbent president in an election in the country, his victory over President Goodluck Jonathan implies that a new government under a new party, for the first time since 1999, will occupy Aso Rock, the highest seat of power in Nigeria, come May 29, 2015.

But Buhari’s victory at the polls holds so much for Nigeria’s polity in several ways. Nigerians will expect that the mantra of change, made popular by his party in the run up to the election, will come to bear when he takes up the mantle of leadership in about 55 days.

Turn of Northern power brokers

By May 30, 2015, Aso Rock will wear a new look.  In the last six years, President Jonathan, who hails from the South-South had presided over the helm of affairs of the country.

Jonathan’s entrance had sparked a tussle, albeit somewhat suppressed, between the North and the South, with the former insisting that it was yet to complete the remaining four year tenure which late President Umaru Musa Yar Adua did not finish.

Infact, a gentleman’s agreement between governors in the North and the President before the 2011 elections, had sparked off what became a cold war which political observers say was the beginning of the end of the PDP.

In the agreement, Jonathan had pledged to run for only one term as president, promising that his administration would end by May 29, 2015, and then hand power back to the north.

But as soon as feelers went round that Jonathan was warming up to run for another term, the northern governors kicked.

Those who could not stomach what they perceived as betrayal dumped the party, a move that deflated the strength of the PDP in the north, which had helped Jonathan on his way to victory in 2011.

It was therefore not surprising to see states in the North-East, North-West and North-Central unite to vote massively for Buhari, despite the PDP controlling some other states in the zones.

Buhari’s emergence, as much as Nigerians believe will engender change, is also expected to heal the wounds of the north.

Discipline, Aso Rock’s new watchword?

Buhari’s administration is expected to be distinct from the President Jonathan’s era.

Supporters of the President-Elect believe that his victory at the polls will signal the end of unaccountability and impunity in governance.

Those who hold this view, flash back to Buhari’s stint as Head of State between December 31, 1983, and August 27, 1985.

In order to reform the economy, Buhari, as Head of State, started to rebuild the nation’s social-political and economic systems, along the realities of Nigeria’s austere economic conditions.

The rebuilding included removing or cutting back the excesses in national expenditure, obliterating or removing completely corruption from the nation’s social ethics, shifting from mainly public sector employment to self-employment.

Buhari also encouraged import substitution industrialisation based on a great extent on the use of local materials and he tightened importation.

Jonathan, on his part, many opine, was more casual in his approach to governance, allowing several mishaps identified in his government go unaddressed.

At a time when the economy was said to be growing, there were feelers that the nation’s wealth was concentrated in a few hands.

The falling oil prices and rising foreign exchange rate, coupled with a growing number of Nigerians striving to afford the basic things of life were some lows of the government in recent times.

The perception, real or imagined, that President Jonathan was unwilling or unable to fight the scourge of corruption earned his government more knocks.

A widespread culture of impunity, a near absence of law and order, the threat of insurgency as represented by the rampage of Boko Haram in the north east of the country, which has taken not fewer than 20, 000 lives and made even a greater number helpless, portrayed President Jonathan as weak and indecisive.

The belated last-minute strike back in the past six weeks did little to redeem this image. The inability to rescue the Chibok girls who have been in captivity for close to one year is also a low point for the present government.

Buhari gave a hint of what to expect from his government’s fight against insecurity especially the Boko Haram menace, shortly after receiving his Certificate of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Part of his acceptance speech which he titled ‘The Die is cast’ read, “No doubt, this nation has suffered greatly in the recent past, and its staying power has been tested to its limits by crises, chief among which is insurgency of the Boko Haram. There is no doubt that in tackling the insurgency we have a tough and urgent job to do.

He said: “I assure you that Boko Haram will soon know the strength of our collective will and commitment to rid this nation of terror and bring back peace. We shall spare no effort until we defeat terrorism.

“Let me state clearly that President Jonathan has nothing to fear from me. Although we may not agree on the methods of governing the nation, he is a great Nigerian and still our president. He deserves our support and permanent respect by virtue of the office he has held. This is how an honourable nation treats its servants and conducts its affairs; and this is how Nigeria should be.”

Buhari also looks set to enforce an administration with little room for corruption to thrive.

The President-Elect has always carried a toga of one who abhors corruption. He did not mince words when he described it as a form of evil, worse than terrorism, pledging to lead a battle against the hydra-headed monster.

He had said: “Corruption attacks and seeks to destroy our national institutions and character. By misdirecting into selfish hands funds intended for the public purpose, corruption distorts the economy and worsens income inequality. It creates a class of unjustly-enriched people.

“Such an illegal yet powerful force soon comes to undermine democracy because its conspirators have amassed so much money that they believe they can buy government. We shall end this threat to our economic development and democratic survival. I repeat that corruption will not be tolerated by this administration; and it shall no longer be allowed to stand as if it is a respected monument in this nation.”

New personalities on the corridors of power

Buhari did not ride to victory on just his mass appeal alone. He needed a new wheel to ride upon. Having failed three consecutive times in his bid, it was time to rethink his strategy. This led him to join forces with other associates and political parties to birth the APC.

One of the main drivers of that move was National leader of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The former Lagos governor was the arrow head and master strategist who called the shots from the background, culminating in Buhari’s emergence as the party presidential campaign at the party’s national convention last year.

Tinubu’s romance with Buhari was obvious. Buhari’s block votes combined with the same from the south west was what was needed to unseat the PDP. Tinubu also had a hand in convincing Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state to join their team.

Knowing that the race was half done, Tinubu orchestrated a formidable campaign team that set Buhari on the path of victory. Last Saturday’s elections proved beyond doubt that the calculation of the APC stalwart was spot on as Buhari amassed the needed votes not just in the region where the party had a stronghold, but across the states in the South East and South-South region.

Amaechi: Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi is another arrow head to Buhari’s emergence and is probably be an integral part of his kitchen cabinet.

Though many had tipped him to emerge as Buhari’s running mate, he was however rewarded with the task to head Buhari’s campaign team as the Director.

Those who know Amaechi readily agree that it was a role befitting of him. After leading four other governors to defect from the PDP, his next mission was to ensure the party’s grip at the centre was weakened.

Amaechi left nothing to chance. Buhari’s campaign train coincidentally took off from Rivers State and criss-crossed the length and breadth of the country.

Though he did not deliver his state to the APC during the elections, he was instrumental to the victory of the party.

Fashola: Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola was also key to Buhari’s feat in the South West. Almost at the finish line of his second term, top of Fashola’s mind was the party’s charge at the centre.

Appointed as Director of the Fund Raising Campaign, Fashola did not limit himself to the portfolio. He took the message to every forum where he had the opportunity to speak, selling the credentials of Buhari and giving cogent reasons why Nigerians should vote out the present government.

Saraki: Former governor of Kwara state, Senator Bukola Saraki worked assiduously for Buhari’s victory in the North Central Zone. He deployed his political wits as well as his

At the end of the elections, Buhari’s ability to clinch three states in the zone, including Kwara, Benue, Kogi contributed largely to his victory at the polls.

Saraki also deployed his political  of political and other resources not only helped in the general’s sweep of Kwara State, but also in forming bonds with other major political players in the country.

Kwankwaso: Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State despite finishing runner up to Buhari in the APC presidential primary, used his popularity to rally round the APC candidate in a bid to ensure he got massive votes, not just in Kano, but in the North West region

Okorocha: Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha did not allow criticisms from his kinsmen deter him from throwing his weight behind Buhari. He led the south east campaign for the APC candidate, telling whoever cared to listen that Buhari was the preferred choice for Nigerians, urging Igbos to join the train. Though he also failed to deliver his state to the APC, the inroads made by the party in the south east can be traced to him.

Aside these men, the APC governors in Oyo, Ogun, Osun also contributed immensely to deliver their states to Buhari for the first time since 2003. Buhari who had never won a single state in the South West, made a clean sweep of the region, clinching five of the six states in the region.



Between Aisha Buhari and Patience Jonathan

By Nkasiobi Oluikpe Correspondent, Lagos

It was the late wife of former Military President, Ibrahim Babangida, Mariam, who made the office of the First Lady prominent in Nigeria.

Aisha  Patience

Aisha                                      Patience

Mrs. Babangida, through her Better Life for Rural Women programme, toured the length and breadth of the country and became highly influential amongst the womenfolk and in the political arena.

But recently, the office of the First Lady has come under heavy condemnation and criticism by people who see it as a waste of the nation’s resources, coupled with the fact that there is no constitutional backing for the establishment of that office.

Wife of incumbent president, Dame Patience Jonathan, in the last four years seemed to have emerged as the most vocal First Lady Nigeria has ever had. At every function the president attended, home and abroad, she was always in the picture.

Even though many will say that Patience Jonathan has not been of the best behavioural conduct since she assumed the position of the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, one point that many people understand is that her cultural background, contributed a great deal to who she is.

Critics of the First Lady readily point to her interference in political matters as one of her undoing.

In recent times, she had been linked to political tussles in her home state Port Harcourt as well as Bayelsa, where she once a Permanent Secretary in the state civil service.

Her perceived disagreements and public spats with Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi and Governor Seriaki Dickson of Bayelsa state have elicited calls on the president to call her to order.

Her role in the wake of the abduction of over 200 school girls in Chibok and her recent statements while campaigning for her husband’s re-election in the south west region, gave her critics more to feast on.

But the wife of the President-elect, Aisha Buhari, however seems to be coming on board with a different aura.

In the course of an interview, she submitted to knowing her limits. According to her, where the office of the First Lady does not exist constitutionally, she will limit her roles to the traditional functions of visiting orphanages and caring for society’s downtrodden as the First Lady.

Speaking further she said: “If the office of the First Lady is constitutionally recognised, my husband will not tamper with it, but if it is not that’s okay. Wives of presidents have some traditional roles, like receiving guests, visiting orphanages, helping the less privileged people.”

Unlike her contemporary, her conduct during the election campaigns endeared her to many people.

Herculean task ahead for Buhari

One of the issues staring the next government in the face is how to reconcile Nigeria, unite the nation, regardless of party, ethnic and religious lines and bring about the desired change Nigerians earnestly yearn for.

The task ahead of the President-elect will demand him to cut short the celebrations of victory at the polls, draw up his think tank cabinet and get cracking on the business of the day.

Indeed, Buhari will in no short time realise that the process of winning the election will be no match to the burden of leading the quest for a new Nigeria.

Presently, the nation is riddled with so much institutional and economic meltdown.

Buhari will be inheriting several challenges both entrenched and multifaceted.

He looks poised to inherit a challenging economy and dwindling national revenue as a result of dwindling oil prices.

He will have to gird his loins and quickly set out to work. There is an urgent need to construct architecture of national cohesion and healing.

Citizens must be made to understand what it means to be a Nigerian, rather than flaunt ethnic cards.

Buhari must steer the nation beyond politics of ethnic brinkmanship and face the gigantic task of nation-building.

Despite being in a new terrain of government, he is not unfamiliar with the task of conducting the affairs of the nation.

Buhari certainly knows that he cannot afford to fail. Anything short of meeting the yearnings of Nigerians will put his party at the risk of being at the wrong end by 2019.