As some rightly put it, on the 1st of the Fourth month of the year, Muhammadu Buhari became the Fourth elected President of the Fourth Republic at his Fourth attempt. Mere coincidence!? Certainly this ascension to the highest office in the land by the first Opposition leader since Nigeria’s Independence in 1960 is jinx-breaking. The advent of the Nigerian Abraham Lincoln has forever demystified the Almighty incumbency factor at the central government. The self-styled Africa’s largest political party, the PDP, taunted to rule for sixty consecutive years has been rebased to the “Africa’s largest opposition party”, albeit after just sixteen years. Perhaps they misheard their Seer’s prophecy and mistook six-teen for six-ty, or the said Seer is simply non-seeing.
One thing is definitely certain. Nigeria just opened a new page in her democratic history. A new dawn has broken. As the President-Elect aptly captured it in his acceptance speech : “You voted for change and now change has come”. And if these heavy-laden words are anything to go by, then Nigerians have just succeeded in replacing a bloody revolution à la Arab Spring with the broom revolution through the ballots.
Talking of averting bloodshed, and that will lead to the President Jonathan’s phone call, concession speech, and the subsequent heroism hoopla that trails them, records must be set straight here. Indeed there was a pre-presidential election and also a post-presidential election. Concerned citizens counseled President Jonathan not to thread the Gbagbo’s path and not to yield to unpatriotic pressures from the hawks in his entourage. Mr President hearkened to the warnings. And by that singular show of sportsmanship and display of humility in defeat, President Jonathan doused tension and saved the lives of innocent Nigerians. And if that is not commendable, nothing else should. President Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat in 2010 to his rival, President Ouattara. The consequence of which was a full blown post-election violent conflict which sent over 3000 Ivorians to their early graves within the space of four months. If we would condemn him for his obduracy and self-centeredness, and treat him as a villain, then for doing the opposite, Jonathan should be commended. Fairness and not being hypocritical require nothing short of that from us.
However, commendation has a limit. There was indeed a Pre-election Jonathan who descended to the lowest of low in his desperation to clinch a reelection. A President who, together with his spouse and their cronies, threw all known decorum, modesty, morality and Presidential restraints to the dustbin. Under no circumstance should President Jonathan become a national hero overnight and through the backdoor. That will amount to a brazen denial of the pre-presidential election and a sordid insult to our collective memory. Beatifying him as some have taken it thus far is tantamount to a reckless and heinous betrayal of the Chibok girls, the dozens of youths who lost their lives in the immigration job screening sham, the coldblooded murder of the Boni Yadi school boys, the over thirteen thousand massacred Nigerians, several millions others maimed, rendered homeless, hopeless and helpless therefore living as refugees in their own country and elsewhere, the stolen $20 billion and a whole lots of other financial frauds and scams under his nonchalant watch. The list is just endless. Unless we are a people who are so heartless as to forget their recent past, a people condemned to demand so little from those in to whose hands so much is entrusted, and cursed to celebrate and sing the praise of their underperforming callous rulers to high heaven.
His was a trying time for our nation, second only to our excruciating experience during the civil war. And we are so eager to turn this painful page of his and usher in a new era in our nation. And Providence, through our well-utilized votes, has confided that onerous task of heralding that national rebirth in to the hands of General Muhammadu Buhari. We believe he will not let us down. His several failed shots at the Presidency and his succeeding at the fourth attempt is a testimony that such a rare determination can only come from a patriot who has noble dreams and plans for his compatriots. For the first time, Nigeria got a leader who truly wanted to be one and toiled for it.
To succeed where his immediate predecessor failed, Mr. President-Elect only need to be the direct opposite of what Jonathan Presidency was. Our out-going President gave no damn. You, give a damn. His cluelessness went beyond what anybody could have a clue of. Sir, take a clue from that. His was Presidential insensitivity at its peak. General Buhari, be sensitive. He surrounded himself with confused sycophants who in his own words confused him the more. President-Elect, surround yourself with our best hands and our best brains. He was most unfortunately a spendthrift. Muhammadu Buhari, nothing stops you from being our Jose Mujica. He hobnobbed with fugitives, thieves and criminals and kept them within his inner-circle. Sai Baba, we know you can’t be comfortable in the midst of the worsts of us. In short, he was simply incredibly unpresidential. Your Excellency, be Presidential.
We can only imagine how far the legendary Pa Obafemi Awolowo, our first and foremost opposition leader, would have taken our nation if he had the chance that you have today. The same dream Late Chief MKO Abiola had and almost actualized but was denied of unjustly. This is a golden opportunity for General Muhammadu Buhari to become the Father and Architect of Modern Nigeria. A rare come-back and a chance to become the Nigerian Nelson Mandela and why not a Lee Kuan Yew that will put Nigeria back on the path of stability, growth and unprecedented development.
We have the All Progressive Congress party’s manifestoes and your various electoral promises held close to our chest. They will either testify for or against you. We will surely judge your performance based on your delivering on them. It did not take us more than 6 months in to the Jonathan Presidency in 2011 before we realized that we have entered “one chance”. He refused to declare his assets publicly and scornfully threw it to our face that he does not give a damn about it. His first derailment was shadow-chasing a self-serving six-year single tenure when the hope of the Nigerian masses who identified with his “shoeless” humble background was at all-time high on him. The rest is history.
One sure way by which you can achieve so much within so little time is forgetting about 2019. Be the President of our national reforms and renaissance. Bury the idea of a reelection and you will go far. It will make you care less about stepping on big toes, all for the sake of Nigeria and Nigerians collective interest, if the need be. Leave your reelection fate in our hands. Let us beg and implore you to go for it when 2019 comes. For this is because the historic March 28 and the heroic Professor Attahiru Jega have taught us that power indeed belongs to and emanates from us. We give it and we can as well retract it when we so will. And to whom much is given, much should be required.