— LEADERSHIP Newspaper (Oct 13, 2014 & Oct 20, 2014)
Sometime in May, 2013, I ran a series on this column. It was about why President Jonathan must not drop V-P Sambo as his running mate comes 2015 in the event of him re-contesting the elections. It was a 4-part series which I titled “V-P Sambo and Politics in the North”. It was against the background that some strong voices within the PDP were whispering the idea that the V-P should be replaced come 2015. I discounted the calls as having no measure of substance. More so when they were suggesting that such move will help the successes of Mr President or the politics of Northern Nigeria at the centre.
To that, many responded suggesting that my take indicated support for V-P Sambo come 2015. In this, I made the point that it was not so. As a public commentator, I must be seen taking sides with what I see to be right for Northern Nigeria, or individuals whose assignments or affiliations have direct effect on our destiny within and outside Nigeria. It is also in this light that I am interested in who emerges as APC’s presidential flag bearer.
Some pundits say General Muhammadu Buhari is not popular in some geopolitical zones. Yet the question should be about who is popular in all the six geopolitical zones? In fact Buhari can be said to have about three zones each in which he can surpass any other contender. I am saying this, of course, without prejudice to the ambitions of Atiku and Kwankwaso. But it is obvious that most aspirants can’t even cross the borders of their states when compared to Buhari. Agreed President Jonathan may cross the borders of his zone or two on such comparison. This projection, at least, is by some measure of previous records and perception and not statistics. Should one use faith or ethnic affiliation also, still a majority against General Buhari cannot easily be obtained. It is agreed though that some high tech politics, appeal to pseudo-democracy, and some economic ‘abracadabra’ can be used to deny the general a slice of victory.
For a discerning mind, Buhari is a phenomenon in Nigeria’s political history, far more significant than Aminu Kano and probably Ahmadu Bello (when he was alive), in terms of popularity and acceptability. In fact if national numbers really matter, as values placed on human opinions, then, the number on the side of Buhari far surpasses those of great heroes like Mandela of South Africa. Strangely, those arguing against Buhari on the ground of his age soon forget that he will only be 71 next year. Mandela got power at 72 and did very well. Yes! I would love it that my generation of Nigerians (those in their 30s) are the ones calling or should be calling the shots now but the reality is, from all angles, the confidence is just not there.
In the end, it will prick the conscience of Nigeria’s democracy for decades after, should Buhari die without seeing a government or election he approves. Sincere political actors and policy makers must come to terms with this truism and thread with caution.
2015: Buhari Needs our Support (2)
I had to do a second part to this. Because judging on the responses I received from the title last week, it seemed people have issues in my comparison of Buhari’s popularity and acceptability with that of the late Premier of the Northern Region Sir Ahmadu Bello and late Aminu Kano, the known champion of the emancipation of the Northern downtrodden. Also in the claim I make that “it will prick the conscience of Nigeria’s democracy for decades after, should Buhari die without seeing a government or election he approves”.
In this I will need to clarify that oftentimes our opinions are meant for policy makers who are assumed to have certain basic information about the subject of discourse. It then follows that we don’t go down too detailed to make our points.
Yes, it is true that I did not live in the times of Ahmadu Bello and Aminu Kano died while I was less than 6 years old. But written records of how they lived and what transpired are more than enough to help us gauge the times against ours and come up with some reasonable conclusions about our realities. Most records show that Ahmadu Bello and Aminu Kano are more appreciated today than when they were living and doing their good works. In fact, if it is by the series of essays written by late Prof. Yusuf Bala Usman, we can easily conclude that Ahmadu Bello, during his life time, had it very tough winning election across the North against Aminu Kano. In some instances the figures come with very slight winning margins. This shows that the North of then was more or less divided sharply between two extremes. This unlike now when its majority are with General Buhari.
The second point is the recent exportation of the popularity and acceptability of the General to the South West and other blocks of the country. This, also considering the fact that he is the only political or opposition leader in our history, who all others, have something very kind to say about him regarding fitness and pedigree. This, ranging from Obasanjo, Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan, they all at one point or another and in the heat of politics, had something very nice and fitting to say about Buhari.
There are many other reasons that space will not allow us to mention which make the General look like the most accepted and popular politician in our history. But if it is human nature to appreciate one more after their life, then it is easy for us to project and have a feel of what the future will look like if the General should die without approving a government or an electioneering process. In that I assure you the vision will not look rosy. It is why also we advise statesmen and policy makers to thread with caution in dealing with our present realities that our future will come with some guarantors. Sometimes people become phenomenon in the life of nations and when they do the better life of the nations and their destinies get tied to them for good or for bad.
Last week we said the age of Nelson Mandela when he took the oath of office as South African President was 72. This is not very correct. Mandela was 76 when he became President. Error regretted.