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Buhari and the 2019 poll

By  Iliyasu Gadu

In the run up to the 2015 election, many Nigerians in addition to their fierce determination to make their votes count fervently prayed for divine intervention for Nigeria to be rid of President Goodluck Jonathan and his Peoples Democratic Party.

Sure enough the Almighty God obliged Nigerians their wish and made it possible for candidate Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress to defeat President Jonathan in the 2015 election. More than anyone else, President Muhammadu Buhari knew that the outcome of that election was not by his power. On the three previous occasions he had contested, his efforts yielded nothing even as there were strong but unfounded allegations that he had won on each of those times but had been rigged out. It was on the fourth try in which he had nothing but a hope and a prayer having reluctantly agreed to enter the fray that he finally clinched it.

To fully appreciate the divine nature of Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in 2015, one only needs to look at the odds ranged against him at the time. He was challenging an incumbent who had everything in his favour to practically win the election; unlimited campaign funds against Buhari’s donations and pledges of funds, the security institutions against Buhari’s yan daba volunteers and vigilantes, government machinery all backed by the most formidable array of seasoned political figures massed in arguably the largest political party in Africa, the PDP against his mass but politically powerless following and disgruntled decampees mostly from the PDP. It was truly a re-enactment of the confrontation between David and Goliath in which victory to the former as it was in the scriptures was made possible only by a force greater than man.

Two years on, how has President Buhari fared on his covenant with his maker on the matter of Nigeria? The general opinion is mixed. He has brought succour to the war ravaged areas of the north east of the country by taking on and degrading the Boko Haram insurgents who had laid waste those areas leaving behind orphans, widows and thousands wounded and maimed for life.  It is also proper to acknowledge that there has been a salutary improvement in the general security situation in the country. This contrasts with the case status quo ante where there were frequent incidences of bombs and attacks by gunmen in several locations in the country.

He has attempted to tackle corruption, a no mean undertaking considering that the scourge had taken this country by the jugular, almost choking it to death. Although there had been no convictions yet from the several cases that had come to light owing largely to the suspiciously flawed and uncoordinated approach by the agencies handling it, Nigerians have nevertheless been alerted to the distressing reality and have learnt valuable lessons from the havoc that corruption has wreaked on the fortunes of the country.

Against this background, there is a strong temptation to suggest to and encourage President Buhari to run for a second term when the general election comes up in 2019. If he so decides, he is covered by the constitution, which guarantees him a chance to run as he is right now in his first term.

But circumstantially, a second run for President Buhari is fraught with booby traps not healthy for him and the country.

President Buhari came to power more by divine enablement than by the instruments of the constitution. The divine enablement that brought him to power as President in 2015 was principally to sweep out President Jonathan and his PDP in order to rescue Nigeria from the brink. President Buhari’s divine covenant was also to open the eyes of Nigerians to the acts of misgovernance happening under President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and his ruling PDP. All this is to prepare the ground for a paradigm shift in Nigeria’s political firmament ushering in the country’s much awaited political and economic transformation. By that same covenant, President Buhari was to midwife the process within four years and quit. The caveats and protocols of President Buhari’s divine mandate to rule this country which Nigerians fervently prayed for in 2015 ends in 2019 simplicita.  Fate has not designed him to be the leader that would undertake the task of transforming this country. On this score, President Buhari should feel and know that he cannot and should not present himself for re-election in 2019, no matter the temptation. 

Of course, there are people who would argue that having started the process, President Buhari should be allowed a second term to consolidate it. 

In this context, promoters of this line of argument cannot fail to notice that on-going events and developments within the country are shaping to render a huge question mark on President Buhari’s continuity in office beyond 2019. By 2019, the major issue that will confront Nigeria will be whether the country will survive as it is now or not. Not a few people would question whether he will be the person best suited to lead the country at a time of sharpening fault lines in the Nigerian polity. Indeed, unlike in 2015 when the neutrals joined his partisan followers to vote for him as the preferred alternative to President Jonathan, judging by the palpable sense of disappointment felt all round on the approach and handling of issues of national import by his administration, many will not readily be sanguine about the Buhari brand in 2019.

And then, of course there is the sensitive matter of his health. There are arguments going round that seek to compare President Buharis health challenges with certain American presidents who persevered in similar circumstances. Again, these arguments fail to observe that in America, there are strong, durable institutions to pick up the slack of presidential incapacitation. In the specific case of the American and other world leaders mentioned in this argument, they were not known to have left their countries for extended periods to seek treatment abroad, wherein the business of governance was almost paralysed.

As humans, we must necessarily empathise with the President on his health challenges. But by the same token, we must also do well to consider the health and well-being of 170 million people of this country who will be put in constant state of anxiety on account of the president’s continued battle with his health.

The final question will be if not President Buhari in 2019 then who else?

Gadu writes from Lagos.

The obvious answer to this is to say that the Almighty God who made it possible for Muhammadu Buhari to come to power in 2015 against all the daunting odds will bring forth the leader that will fit our circumstances in 2019 and beyond.

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