President-Muhammadu-Buhari-PMB

On getting into office, Buhari’s resolve to return Nigeria to the path of sanity was unwavering. Saddled with an almost intimidating range of challenges – from a crumbling economy, poor international ratings, corruption to terrorism, Buhari remained undaunted. His appearance at the Presidential Villa in Abuja seems to have cast a magical wand on the national psyche. Hope seemed to have been restored. Buoyed by local support and endorsements from abroad, he took his time to assemble a ministerial team that has shown promise by their very utterances. Take Ibe Kachikwu as an example.

This is not a treatise in hero worshipping. Neither is it an exercise in partisanship. It is a celebration of a man whose return to power was so clinically timed that it had the imprimatur of the divine. Against all odds and the postulations of bookmakers and pundits, Muhammadu Buhari’s victory at the polls will remain a case study for historians of modern African history. Facing fierce competition from an incumbent ruling party with a deep pocket that had vowed to retain power for the next 60 years, the task of unseating the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seemed as daunting as scaling the Kilimanjaro. And his eventual ability to vanquish at the polls on self-cognisance, and invariably change the course of our history stands Buhari out as my Man-of-the-Year.

With scant resources and an ascetic lifestyle plus two previously failed attempts, it was understandable why Buhari’s ambition to lead Nigeria again was easily written off by analysts. The patchwork that was the coalition of then opposition parties which morphed into the All Progressives Party (APC) on which platform he contested the March elections engendered little confidence in many Nigerians who seemed helplessly doomed and who had silently yearned for the exit of the ruling party that had for all intents and purposes enthroned impunity and mediocrity. Part of the reason for the shortage of confidence among Nigerians in the ability of APC to seize power at the centre was the eclectic blend of the core purveyors of the coalition and the provinciality of the idea. Given the perennial ethnic volatility of Nigeria, most observers of the Nigerian construct believed that the cobbling of these various interest groups was an exercise in political desperation, and was doomed to be dead-on-arrival.

It was not until one event followed the other, beginning with the Rotimi Amaechi-led revolt within the ruling party that Nigerians were forced to take a second look at the fledgling opposition, and the candidacy of Muhammadu Buhari. Poignantly, many of us knew that the tide had changed dramatically when the then President Goodluck Jonathan, who was most often ill-advised, was foolish enough to tick off the political machine of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. On the Nigerian terrain, the truth is that only political neophytes will dare underestimate the take-no-prisoner demolition power of the Obasanjo machine. Those who dared to bare this lion in its lair never lived politically to tell the story. Ask the likes of the Turaki of Adamawa, or the late Governor General of Ijawland, DSP Alamieyeseigha!

Undeterred by criticisms about his pace, the punctilious Buhari has remained focused on the major issues that had almost hobbled the system, chief among which is corruption. And he has not been coy about his preparedness to wage an all-out war against it. At the same time, he had to prove to be a stickler for the rule of law and an adherent to the letters and spirit of the constitution which has proven to be a tough balancing act.

With a groundswell of support from the grassroots, mostly from the youths, and the international community that had began to worry about the last administration’s capability to provide the type of strong leadership needed to join the ranks of governments around the world in the bid to contain global terrorism.

On getting into office, Buhari’s resolve to return Nigeria to the path of sanity was unwavering. Saddled with an almost intimidating range of challenges – from a crumbling economy, poor international ratings, corruption to terrorism, Buhari remained undaunted. His appearance at the Presidential Villa in Abuja seems to have cast a magical wand on the national psyche. Hope seemed to have been restored. Buoyed by local support and endorsements from abroad, he took his time to assemble a ministerial team that has shown promise by their very utterances. Take Ibe Kachikwu as an example.

Undeterred by criticisms about his pace, the punctilious Buhari has remained focused on the major issues that had almost hobbled the system, chief among which is corruption. And he has not been coy about his preparedness to wage an all-out war against it. At the same time, he had to prove to be a stickler for the rule of law and an adherent to the letters and spirit of the constitution which has proven to be a tough balancing act. All in all, he has shown doggedness in this fight and has vowed to prosecute any individual, no matter how highly placed, whose criminal acts endangered the interest of the generality of the Nigerian people. The tenacity with which his administration has gone after Sambo Dasuki and his other accomplices is a case in point. The arrest and re-arresting of the former National Security Adviser (NSA) is proof positive that Buhari will not sacrifice our collective good for the so-called human rights of an individual with such egregious charges and allegations of crime against Nigerians hanging around their neck.

On the home front, Nigerians have been made to endure hardship because the new administration inherited a hemorrhaging economy… To plug the loopholes and resuscitate the economy, Buhari had to take bold measures such as the shoring up of the local currency, control of the outflow of foreign currencies, and the stemming of the runaway inflation as ad hoc steps to steady the ship of state. Meanwhile, he had embarked on a campaign to recover stolen loots.

On the war against Boko Haram, we have seen the morale of our military restored with Nigeria’s military once again swiftly regaining its place of pride among her neighbours. Based on reliable and verifiable information, Nigeria’s military has physically re-taken lost territories from the insurgents who have desperately resorted to suicide bombings and other forms of urban guerrilla tactics.

His many overseas trips which have drawn sharp criticisms at home have been worthwhile and rewarding. These trips have won Nigeria partnerships on various fronts. Highly regarded all over the world for his integrity, the confidence level in the future of Nigeria overseas is fast returning. His trips to Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger to drum up multi-national efforts at combating the menace of Boko Haram instantly reasserted Nigeria’s leadership role on the continent. While in Germany, the United States, France and the United Nations General Assembly, Buhari garnered international support for the war on corruption and terrorism; at the G7 in Germany, he was the toast of the meeting as he made a case for Nigeria and Africa. In South Africa, he joined other African Heads of State for the regular summit of the African Union and later returned to Pretoria for the Sino-Africa Dialogue that earned Nigeria favourable trading deals with China. In India, his efforts at attracting investments and strengthening relations yielded equally substantial results and fixed a tottering relationship between the two countries; and the trip to Malta was invaluable as it marked the return of our prestige to that August body in terms of the public relations quotient. In Ghana, a country with very strong traditional ties to Nigeria, the President’s short trip resonated with the Ghanaians at both the security and economic levels.

On the home front, Nigerians have been made to endure hardship because the new administration inherited a hemorrhaging economy. That is a statement of fact. And those who believe otherwise are only being disingenuous. And seven months is too short a time to undo the calamitous damage inflicted on the economy by past administrations. To plug the loopholes and resuscitate the economy, Buhari had to take bold measures such as the shoring up of the local currency, control of the outflow of foreign currencies, and the stemming of the runaway inflation as ad hoc steps to steady the ship of state. Meanwhile, he had embarked on a campaign to recover stolen loots. In the process, Buhari and his team have had to deal with the maze of financial confusion under which the last administration functioned. Or malfunctioned. As the radical Emir of Kano and former Governor of the Central Bank told a correspondent of America’s PBS network recently in his usual no-holds-barred style: “In Nigeria, there is no accountability at all. And that’s why I think that corruption in Nigeria is worse than corruption in many parts of the world. It is the worst type of corruption. It is stealing”.

As a leader, Buhari has proven by his studied silence on these two episodes that as a stickler for due process, he has to allow relevant authorities to do their jobs thus demonstrating that no sectional or individual interest must be allowed to eclipse our collective and common good as a nation.

At various fora, Buhari has made it clear that we have to kill corruption or corruption will kill Nigeria. I could not agree more. So far, the campaign waged on this intractable Nigerian plague has began to yield dividends. I am almost certain that many of the suspects know that it is only a matter of time before the noose around their necks begin to tighten. As a matter of fact, it is only in Nigeria that celebrated thieves walk the streets, and prowl the corridors of our National Assembly and are allowed to make laws. Some of them even have the unmitigated gall to show their faces in public and spew garbage. Others have even attempted to use all sorts of underhanded tactics to compromise or blackmail the President.

This brings me to the provocative actions of the so-called Biafran agitators, and the recent face off between some Nigerian soldiers and the rabid followers of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky which have also provided occasions for his critics to tilt their hands. As a leader, Buhari has proven by his studied silence on these two episodes that as a stickler for due process, he has to allow relevant authorities to do their jobs thus demonstrating that no sectional or individual interest must be allowed to eclipse our collective and common good as a nation.

That is why I have voted Muhammadu Buhari as my Man-of-the-Year.

That is my story. And I stand by it.

Charles Anyiam is the Editor-In-Chief, The African Times-USA.