Buhari and Nigeria’s 21st century electorate, By Bamidele Adeneye
As the elections draw closer, emotions are rising. Choices are being made and tents are being pitched. In our country, politics seems to be an enigmatic subject. Many are completely ignorant of what they think they have total comprehension of.
No ideologies, no left or right, we choose our political leaders on nothing more than trivial extraneous and selfish factors – popularity, ethnic, or religious affiliation. None of the reasons given by most Nigerians, literate or illiterate, lettered or unlettered, educated or uneducated, can be decidedly referred to as intelligent. People from all cadres of life, from the university professor to the illiterate night soil man have one emotionally important criterion or the other a candidate must fulfil to get their vote.
In 2015, we shall once again exercise our only political power, our ability to choose who leads us and I am already seeing signs of our cyclical self determined suffering rearing its head.
The conditions shouldn’t be the same, one would expect that many Nigerians would have learnt from the reality experienced under the present regime, the same party that has been in power since 1999….16 years of nothing but a well fed bulldog named corruption to show for it.
There are already talks of who the candidates would be and Nigerians have begun the usual habit of pitching opinions against facts to justify emotiveness. Well, we’ve been on this road since 2009 and everyone can see where it has led us.
The claim is that he’s a religious extremist. They produce a written non-endorsed transcript of him saying Sharia must be implemented across the country. This is a statement that will make him lose followership immensely and I will be in the number when the saints March on.
But let’s take a look at the man. When he was the Head of State, when he had ultimate power, was he less of a Muslim today than he was then? I would like to see anyone produce an evidence for that. If he wanted to implement his religious desires, wouldn’t he have done that when he had ultimate power?
His cabinet contained a sizeable number of Christians, atypical for an extremist. Some of his domestic staff, in sensitive roles, are Christians. He was never heard before venturing into politics to have said anything that could portray him as an extremist. He recently gave an interview which successfully dispels the allegation.
Given the facts above and the possibility of it being a smear campaign, it is only reasonable to demand better evidence of him making that statement. Why will he want to lose followership? Why will he play into the hands of those trying so desperately to smear him so easily? He doesn’t have a history of it, why will he want to start now? Think about it!
Then there’s the age issue. Nothing much to say about this but a 20000 year old Buhari is far better than what we have as a president. Like the saying goes, wine gets better with age. Given his antecedents, he can only get better in his ability to lead. Therefore, age isn’t consequential.
“He was a military leader that truncated the democratic process”. Given what has been widely written, widely reported and widely accepted as true about the Shagari administration, the intervention of Buhari’s regime at that time was more or less a much needed blessing in disguise. We are talking about the total absence of law and order cum endemic corruption….similar to what we have today. Thank God someone intervened. Who knows where we would be today otherwise.
As far as options go, we have very few that are viable available to us. As at the time of this writing, Fashola is not an option, Donald Duke is not an option. We only have those who have indicated interest to choose from a la Goodluck Jonathan, Atiku Abubakar and Muhammdu Buhari. Who do you choose and why? Think about it.
For the change that we all pipe, the change we all parrot, to come about, there has to be a drastic turn in the democratic road we are taking. The “cycle of corruption” must be cut, severed along its major artery….an end must be put to impunity and institutionalized corrupt practices in our government.
We need to begin seeing elections as a recruitment process. We need to begin making our choices as stoically as we can muster, devoid of all tribal, ethnic or religious sentiments. We need to choose leaders based on their antecedents and potentials. We need to veer away from sentimentally motivated choice making. We have done this for years and it has never favoured us. Why persist?