The title of this article would come as a surprise to many, especially those who know me and how much I have supported the candidature of Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd) since the 2003 elections when he decided to join the race for the Presidency. But if they understand the saying that life is all about change, they will see sense why I have taken the position expressed in this piece.
I grew up to know Buhari as that Nigerian Head of State whose administration between 1983 and 1985 brought some level of discipline to public life, especially in the tackling of corruption that was prevalent at that time. I was to learn much later that Buhari also made gains in many areas that would have taken the country to greater heights if he were to remain beyond the August 17, 1985 date that he was overthrown by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
Buhari, for example, made gains in terms of reducing inflation by refusing to devalue the naira as advised by the International Monetary Fund. He moved to improve the nation’s economy by curbing imports of needless goods and introduced a barter trade policy where illegally bunkered crude oil seized from oil thieves were exchanged with the importation of needful goods like machineries to increase our industrial output and create employment, a policy that enabled the country to export above its OPEC quota.
During his sojourn as Chairman of the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund, a body funded from increased revenue earnings to pursue developmental projects around the country, Buhari demonstrated high level of transparency and accountability in the administration of the organisation. In what “New Africa” report in 1998 described as a rare success story, Buhari developed the country’s infrastructure in a manner that is unprecedented. Road and bridges were built, hospitals were equipped with drug and facilities, instructional materials were provided to schools at various levels but to mention a few.
Armed with this information, I had no difficulty throwing my weight in support of the General when he decided to contest the country’s number one seat in 2003 and still supported him all through to the 2011 elections. I campaigned in the little way I could to ensure his success, and till tomorrow, it is a decision I remain proud of.
Though I understand that Buhari’s regime between 1983 and 1985 when Babangida overthrew him had some serious issues of human rights abuses, such as passing of decrees curbing press freedom and allowing for opponents to be detained up to three months without formal charges, as well as the banning of strikes among Nigerian workers, I simply weighed the positive and negative aftermath of his regime to arrive at my decision. The selling point I saw is his uprightness and stance against corruption. With my belief that the number one problem bedevilling the growth and development of Nigeria is corruption, I see Buhari as that man who can effectively put things to shape in Nigeria by ensuring that corruption becomes a thing of the past
The hope and belief that I have about Buhari got bolstered barely two months ago when I had the opportunity to sit one-on-one with him in the company of other youths in Kaduna discussing how Nigeria got to where it is today and the enormity of work that needs to be done to pull her out of the mess. Answering to questions put to him, you could feel the passion and love for the country burning in his response. He told us that at the age of 70, he had nothing else to protect other than the interest of his grand children and the people of Nigeria. He told us how as a true believer, whether Christian or Muslim, you don’t give up in a cause you believe will liberate the people from hunger, poverty, deprivation etc and so won’t give up in his quest to see that Nigeria takes its rightful place as a nation whose resources is enough to make her one of the greatest country in the world.
If I did not know all this about the General, I would have been swayed by the campaign of calumny that has been mounted against him since 2003. Since the man made the bold decision of contesting for the president of Nigeria, it has been one form of mudslinging or the other. The aim is simply to damage the Buhari brand so that they can continue with the looting and destruction of the country. Those who are objective enough and have not joined the campaign of hate against the man might be wondering why this is happening, but the reasons are not far-fetched and I shall tell why.
In Nigeria, elections have become something more about sentiments and public perception; such that if you do not have these two factors in your favour, you are almost certain to lose no matter how good you are to man that office. Winning elections based on issues or what you have to offer is a far-cry from what we see. Take the emergence of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as the President in 2011 for example. Did he win because he was able to convince Nigerians that the country would be truly transformed as promised? Jonathan got the votes of Nigerians purely on the basis of sentiment and public perception in his favour. Factors like the fate he suffered during the health saga of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua where a cabal held the nation to a standstill, the thinking of many Nigerians that a Niger Delta person be allowed to have a go at the Presidency and propaganda campaigns like “I have no shoes” simply worked in his favour.
With Buhari showing interest once again in running for the number one seat in the next general election that is fast approaching and given the comments from certain personalities from the Northern and Southern parts of the country, there is nothing to show that the same sentiment and perception will not play a major role in who becomes the President come 2015. This no doubt is responsible for the renewed onslaught on the person of Buhari all in the grand scheme of swaying the public from voting him in 2015.
Buhari’s crime is all because he expresses opinions as a Nigerian most of which are misinterpreted to suit certain interest. This is one man who have been battling to correct the people’s perception about him, especially to the southerners and Christian population since the time he was erroneously misquoted as saying Muslims should vote for a Muslim candidate in 2003, only to be credited in recent time to a statement that seem to portray him as being in support of terrorism in Nigeria. The retired General was quoted to have said “They (the Niger-Delta militants) were trained in some skills and were given employment, but the ones in the north were being killed and their houses were being demolished.”
Personally, I feel saddened that Buhari made that comment, not because I know he meant it literally, but because as someone who has been bobby trapped, he needed to have been careful about the opinion he expresses so that he won’t continue to fall into the trap of the enemy. In my opinion, what the General meant was that there should not be double standards in dealing with those that perpetrate crime. Kind of if you must reward for crime, reward all the criminals and if you must punish for crime, punish all the criminals, but given an initial impression of who people think the man is and the need to nail him at every slightest opportunity by those whose interest it is, you will hardly find anyone who will read beyond what the statement credited to him actually meant.
Source: Nigeria Intel