Why Buhari?

Opposition parties don’t win general elections, governments lose them – British adage

How does someone go from really disliking Buhari to openly supporting him in 4 years? I doubt I’m alone in this – certainly I know a good number of people who wont have touched him with a long pole a couple of years and are now just waiting for their ballot paper so they can vote for him. I think that Nigeria will have a new President come May 2015 and it will be Muhammadu Buhari.

The first thing to note is that Buhari is actually quite easy to beat in an election. He is a very popular politician and I doubt any other politician in Nigeria today can come close to matching his numbers purely on name recognition and character. The man is not a crook and in Nigeria of today, that counts for a lot with millions of Nigerians. But he has one big strength – anti corruption – which makes it easy to develop a strategy to beat him in an election. To put it another way, when Nuhu Ribadu was in his prime at EFCC, it would have been very difficult for Buhari to defeat Obasanjo in an election. It does not matter whether the anti-corruption drive of Obasanjo’s government was highly selective in picking targets, the main thing is that that Buhari’s strength in an election was blunted Obasanjo having a highly public campaign against corruption.

What has happened over the past 5 years is that Goodluck Jonathan has gone out of his way to make Buhari as attractive as possible to many more people, as if under a spell. That a 72 year retired General who has been in semi-retirement for the better part of the last 30 years now has his best shot at becoming President – at the 4th time of asking – really ought to make pause and reflect.

Let’s be honest with ourselves – Nigeria is one of the best places for a politician to steal public money and get away with it. We do not really punish corruption in the normal way that other countries do – throw offenders in jail. Except you offend someone or fall into the hands of the British courts, you get to steal and keep the loot. Even when you have the misfortune of actually going to prison, it’s usually for a short period and you come back to your life as it was before you left. There is no shame or loss of privilege.

Consider Bode George who actually went to prison for corruption amount to N100bn of split contracts. Here’s what happened while he was in ‘prison‘:

Saturday Vanguard investigations revealed that the Chief  Bode George and his colleagues had  been confined to the V.I.P. section of  the prison since they arrived Monday evening and have  started eating meals prepared by their families.

It was gathered that there were no signs of molestation by other inmates of the dreaded prison yard as the new very important inmates were being  accorded special treatment because of their former positions in the country.

As I recall it at the time, he was later moved to a ‘flat’ inside the prison with air conditioning. He came out of prison to a lavish reception that was shown live on TV and within a few months was nominating ministers that remain in government today. There is no evidence that he has suffered any loss of wealth on account of him going to prison and the current PDP gubernatorial candidate for Lagos, Jimi Agbaje, got the ticket because of him.

Why then did President Jonathan pardon Diepriye Alamieyeseigha last year? The point of the Bode George example above is to show that there really is no punishment for corruption even when you are convicted. Alams had served his time and had become influential again. There was nothing a pardon was going to do for him other than soothe his ego and perhaps allow him to convince himself that he was innocent afterall. Why did the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria use the powers of his office to grant such a pardon? Why?

After 4 years in office, this government cannot honestly point to anything it has done to at least stop corruption from over running the state. What we now have is a free for all. We have become numb to stories about Malabu or N123bn disappearing from the civil service or $6.8bn fuel subsidy scam or N28bn in pension funds going walkabouts. One time we even had receipts! The list is endless. Everyday there is one new theft or the other and some don’t even make the headlines. Even when there is a crisis or major incident that does not look like a corruption case on the surface, once the story starts to unravel, we see that it is actually corruption. A clear example of this is was the NIS tragedy that led to the loss of 17 lives because people were so blinded by greed. The Minister responsible still attends Federal Executive Council meetings in Aso Rock every Wednesday. And then there are the things we hear about the military about how our soldiers are sent into battle ill-equipped to face a deadly enemy because money continues to disappear before it gets to them. When he has managed to show some decisiveness, it is in sacking the Central Bank Governor for blowing the whistle on the cesspool of graft that is the NNPC. But he openly complains that his petroleum minister is summoned too often by the National Assembly at a time she was being probed (even if half heartedly) for corruption.

Goodluck Jonathan did not invent corruption in Nigeria – we have been at it since forever. What he has however done is take it to unseen levels that are difficult to explain. It is one thing to allow corruption to fester under your watch, what is perplexing is watching the President actively try to downplay by splitting hairs between ‘mere stealing’ and corruption. By arguing that corruption only exists as rhetoric, he seeks to convince Nigerians that what they see and hear everyday is some kind of an illusion. He does not believe that it is something that can totally corrode decision-making in a nation. He has no will to fight it.

The American Professor, Andrew Wedeman who has studied China for decades wrote a book called ‘Double Paradox:Rapid Growth and Rising Corruption in China‘. An excerpt from it:

Corruption in China more closely resembled corruption in Zaire […] But unlike Zaire, China punished around 668,000 members of the ruling party for corruption over a 5 year period and sentenced 350 to death.

We know what happened to Zaire. As countries go, it cannot really be called a going concern anymore. There is a real risk of state collapse in a country where corruption is allowed to roam free as has been the case in Nigeria in the last 4 years. Nothing useful can get done – indeed, if this government gets re-elected next year, it plans a budget where 91% of all spending will go towards recurrent items. Corruption helps to promote incompetence such that what is not stolen is wasted.

 ***

There is a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to George W. Bush’s ‘Bushisms‘. His grammatical challenges, combined with his Iraq misadventures helped to raise the status of eloquence in politicians aspiring for President in America to the point where they voted a former Law Professor with a silver smooth tongue to succeed him. Francois Hollande called himself ‘Mr Normal’ when he was campaigning for the French Presidency in 2012. He won. Why? Because Nicolas Sarkozy spent 5 years in office acting abnormally. He raised the status of normality to the point where French voters were happy to settle for a man who they pejoratively referred to as ‘Flanby’ – a kind of wobbly caramel pudding with a soft centre.

Were the Americans and French voters right to do a 180 turn from leaders who had turned them off? Well, we know the Americans had a chance to correct their decision in 2012 (if they felt they had been wrong in 2008) but instead stuck with it for another 4 years. The French will get their chance to make amends in 2017. As at today, it looks like they cant wait to kick him out of office but a week is a long time in politics, never mind 2 years.

Buhari has not much changed as a person over the years. It is Goodluck Jonathan who has raised his status. It is Goodluck Jonathan who has raised the status of a leader who can tackle corruption. And he has lowered the bar so much that if a President Buhari sacks just one Minister for corruption, he would have out performed Goodluck Jonathan. If he manages to supply the political will to send a couple of people to jail for stealing, Nigerians will feel like they did the right thing by voting him into office.

Nobody is going to vote for Buhari to come and put an end to corruption. Even in China where people are executed for stealing public funds, corruption has not stopped. It is to at least turn us in a different direction that makes people feel at least that we are not being completely overrun by rampant graft.  think Buhari did a decent job with the economy when he took over power in 1983 but even he will be blown away by the scale of the challenges today. With the various economic headwinds facing Nigeria, one can only wish the next President the best of luck.

Will Buhari turn out to be the best President Nigeria has ever had or be so bad that Nigerians will be itching for 2019 when they can correct their mistake? It is impossible to tell. But it is – at this time – definitely a risk worth taking. This is why those who are trying to accuse people of inconsistency for changing their minds on Buhari are running a fool’s errand. The times have changed and this will be reflected in the votes in February.

***

There are countries that have done well in terms of development under a monarchy – Nigerians who like to visit Dubai can attest to this. Some dictators have also done well for their countries – Thomas Sankara comes to mind. And of course, much of the Western world continues to develop while being democracies – Sweden being one of the best examples.

You can get a good leader under any system. The trouble starts when you get a bad leader and you then want to change them. You discover that under a monarchy you have to wait for the King or Queen to die or in a dictatorship you wait for another dictator to come and kick them out of office.

But democracy – ah – is the only one that guarantees you can change leaders you don’t like at regular intervals.

It is for this reason that I am now firmly a Buhari supporter. He is not going to win the election. Goodluck Jonathan is going to lose it.

FF

 

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37 thoughts on “Why Buhari?

  1. Sir,If you were (are?) a Professor, your students will be probably all be “A” Students.Except, of course, the GEJlites!RA Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone. From: AgùntáṣǫólòSent: Tuesday, 30 December 2014 11:00To: radeseun@gmail.comReply To: AgùntáṣǫólòSubject: [New post] Why Buhari?

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    aguntasoolo posted: “Opposition parties don’t win general elections, governments lose them – British adage How does someone go from really disliking Buhari to openly supporting him in 4 years? I doubt I’m alone in this – certainly I know a good number of people who wont have”

  2. “Buhari has not much changed as a person over the years. It is Goodluck Jonathan who has raised his status”.

    My thoughts exactly, I’d vote for an electric pole before I vote for Jonathan. Nevertheless, as you observed, Buhari has not changed much over the years. Maybe it is Osinbajo that is actually the game changer for most people because in truth, I can’t say Buhari deserves to be rewarded with office just because he shows up once in four years and does nothing else. I’m curious to learn what he has done in the last 30 years to push Nigeria or even just himself forward apart from read newspaper and collect his pension.

  3. Very convincing argument, so lucid, you didn’t have to try hard. It is left for Nigerians to decide if they are tired of this impunity or not.

  4. Reblogged.

    I never understood the pardon, nor the acquittal, nor the strange appointments of erstwhile robbers. Matter of fact, there are more things I don’t understand about this government than those I understand. And I agree with you on GEJ actively campaigning for GMB solely by his actions/inaction.

    I look forward to an exciting 2015.

  5. He is not going to win the election. Goodluck Jonathan is going to lose it. – This totally captures it for me. Thanks, Feyi.

  6. Aah, I’ve missed your write ups for sometime now. I agree a lot with what you’ve written, although I wouldn’t want to personally support or vote for Buhari. If you asked me, it appears once again Nigerians are being pushed to vote for ‘anyone but GEJ’. as opposed to bright minds and visionaries like Ribadu, Fashola and Dora Akunyili(RIP). The February elections are going to be one of the most interesting elections anyone has seen. The elections will be fought and won on ethnic and religious grounds like never seen before. I predict the following:- The Ijaws and South South East mainly Christians will vote for GEJ on the precept that “he is our son, it is our turn, and it is our oil!.The Northerner muslims will vote for Buhari as they still feel cheated with Yardua’s demise and feel they haven’t run their turn completely. The Yorubas Muslims from the west will also vote for Buhari, and a large percentage of the Yoruba Christians will also vote for Buhari due to Osibajo’s inclusion into APC and being an RCCG Pastor – a tactical move once again by APC(they tried it with Bakare before, it didn’t work, due to Bakare not having a large enough following like the RCCG which is the largest and fastest growing church in Nigeria so compellation to vote for APC is there). GEJ and PDP may then fight back using underhand means i.e. the 21 Billion Naira that was recently donated to the GEJ PDP campaign will certainly do a lot of Stomach Infrastructure appeasement for the massives as recently demonstrated by Fayose. Who knows how INEC’s Jega will play ball as he is coming to retirement. All in all, my prayer is that we have peaceful elections in 2015 with neither blood letting or blood ‘sharing’.

    1. That’s just your mere analysis but funny enough it doesn’t hold water at the election polls. There are states in the WEST controlled by the PDP and you failed to see that those states will vote for the PDP. The South East and the South South still remains GEJs stronghold. Up North, we have states like Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Adamawa, Kaduna, Nassarawa which would still go for a Jonathan rather than a sharia inclined GMB. Then you have those Generals who would still prefer a known Devil than an ANgel. You even forget the CIVIL SERVICE… Most corruption we claim to wanna erase is endemic within that sector, you think they would want to go left? It would be a close call but at the end, the incumbent would WIN!

      1. Tami, you got your analysis spot on! People just believe a 16 year old political behemoth like PDP will automatically collapse it’s structures and sit back and allow itself lose a crucial election. Jonathan will constitutionally in in 3 states in the Southwest, 6 in the South South, 5 in the South east and Christian votes in Kaduna South, Bauchi and Kebbi West. The middle belt determines this election on RELIGION AND ETHNICITY and I can tell you now that the core 5 states in those areas will never vote Buhari to win against a Christian. The pains and hurts they feel over the Fulani and Boko Haram killings are undereported. Jonathan will get his two thirds constitutional requirements to win and sail through. These armchair politicking doesn’t hold water to the realities on the ground. Feb 2015 will prove it.

  7. I like this article, it’s not endorsing Buhari, it’s simple. Becuase we do not have a better choice as a nation that’s the only reason Nigerians would vote for Buhari. This has been my thought for a long time now, honestly, if I was in Nigeria I wouldn’t vote either parties. on that day, I would chill at home, bring out my DVD player and watch movies. It’s time we match to the streets. but before we revolt, every citizen have to do self revolution. We are too scared. and scared people don’t achieve much until death.

  8. Who says our country is not blessed. With young people like Feyi showing so much insight into the situation in Nigeria in spite of their being abroad gives those of us on our way out that there is a silver lining in the horizon.
    The write up is spot on. More ink to your pen.

  9. Very well written Feyi.. Compliments of the Season!
    There is however one festering issue though – too many people don’t have PVCs.
    INEC lost a lot of voter data (whole PUs and LGs missing) and information dissemination regarding this as well as logistics for re-registration was extremely poorly managed. And now the supposedly ‘continuous’ voter registration is closed and I’m told I will not be able to vote!

    1. Sigh …this PVC issue is actually quite scary. I don’t know what INEC’s plans are but I honestly don’t see how we can have credible elections with this kind of disenfranchisement going on

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  12. Good job Feyi! I do not think many of us supporting the candidacy of General Buhari are under any illusion that he has the answer to all of the problems confronting the nation today, far from it. However, there is equally no gainsaying the fact that there is an urgent need to rescue our country from its current descent into barbarism and we must start from somewhere. In agreement with your well-considered opinion, I think Buhari’s candidature is a credible alternative to incumbent President for two (additional) reasons:

    First, his strength of character, competence and personal discipline are absolute necessities in addressing the hydra-headed monster called corruption, which sits atop every other problem bedeviling the country. Why do I say that?I doubt if there is anyone who will argue with the fact that there are quite a number of “stars” and “technocrats” in this current government, who, given the right environment, could deliver on their mandates. What is lacking is leadership, discipline and a good example (some call it body language) from the head. A leader must have the capacity to galvanize his team and people towards a goal. Mere rhetorics, unfortunately, cannot foot that bill – people must be convinced about a leader’s commitment and strength of character. Nothing drives a team and followers more than the power of a good example from the head. The incumbent President has been described as “someone who is lacking in broad vision and character”. This is why corruption thrives and impunity reigns.

    Second, Buhari’s commitment to picking the best team to work with is extremely important to his candidacy. This is obvious considering his age – coupled with the fact that he’s been out of government for about thirty years now. Judging by his history – as HOS and as head of PTDF – I have little doubt that he would allow his team to function effectively whilst he superintends the process of governance. His choice of VP shows that whilst political “arithmetic” was a consideration, merit and ability to effectively assist the President in executing his office was also adequately taken into account. From his choice of, as well as the character of Prof. Osinbajo, we can project that theirs would be a disciplined, anti-corruption and a reform-minded government.

    1. I was undecided but now, I fervently support GEJ. While I have nothing but respect for the good prof, I know quite well that the power resides in the office of the president. I honestly believe that GEJ is by far a better choice than GMB. I would be very happy if you can answer for me a few questions below because I refuse to be carried away by hypes;

      Why should it be Buhari?

      What has he done for the country in the past decade or so? We should judge him with his contributions 20years ago?

      What causes both locally and internationally has he supported or championed?

      Has he played a role in the united nations or is there anything to suggest foreign policy experience?

      Has he shown any evidence that he can function in a democratic setting?

      Has he shown any savvy in managing a complex human structure or organization (please don’t mention PTF except you want to hear the whole story)?

      Or is it because he presided over a supreme military council of under 10 people and ruled by decrees?

      Or is it because he overthrew a democratic government?

      Or is it because inflation was at its highest during his time(above 40%)?

      What really is it about him that makes him think that he will surface every 4 years like jack in the box and want to be president?

      Even in the army where he spent most of his professional life, who are his followers? Who did he influence? Who did he inspire? How many people like him did he recreate in the army? Go read about IBB.

      Can he really be that good with a Godfather like Tinubu? My strong guess is no.

      Again, I am worried about sectional and inciting comments credited to Buhari and the fact that in his last campaign he did not bother to visit all of the states of Nigeria. He is campaigning to be president of Nigeria and not the northern Nigeria.

      My sister, I know it is not popular among the so called informed middle class but I strongly support GEJ.

      Finally, allow me to suggest that APC needs to go to the grassroots NOW and not incite the masses post elections. Elections are not won on facebook or twitter.

      Regards

      Mike

      1. I think you should vote for GEJ as you’ve said.
        Just remember it’s not just a vote against Buhari (who hasn’t been president).
        Once you vote for GEJ, you’re voting for a continuation of everything that GEJ has done in the last 5 years. You approve of them. You want more of them.

        Too many wrongs in your questions above that I wonder if you want the facts.
        For example, from wherever you got the 40% inflation figure from, surely you saw the other figures there?

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  14. Very good article! We need Buhari in 2015. Our country is at the point of collapse. The incumbent president has a hidden agenda prioritized over his primary assignment as a Nigeria president. he has been using state resources to promote his hidden agenda. We should just pray that Buhari wins comes 2015. Otherwise, Nigeria might break under Jonathan before 2019. God forbid.
    Once Jonathan loses, all the hidden will be exposed. May God save our country from genocide.

  15. A well written article and spot on on many issues affecting Nigeria. Buhari has a better chance of win the next presidential election and I want to he will do far better than an inept and visionless Jonathan government.Nigeria needs a change. We will be doomed if we continue with another 4 years of Jonathan government.

  16. A well written article and spot on on many issues affecting Nigeria. Buhari has a better chance of winning the next presidential election and I want to believe he will do far better than an inept and visionless Jonathan government. Nigeria needs a change. We will be doomed if we continue with another 4 years of Jonathan government.

  17. I wonder why this article and others where you have discussed very intelligently issues that Nigerians should be concerned about are never reposted on blogs like Bella Naija, Linda Ikeji, or nairaland where there is greater traffic. Does this mean that Nigerians are just interested in gutter gist and news that will never positively impact them?
    I thoroughly enjoy your posts and pray that in the new year you will have the time to post more regularly

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