2015: Why Buhari Matters – Chido Onumah

To match Interview NIGERIA-BUHARI/


We must state unequivocally that we have no illusion about the present order. We do not think that the present system can solve the fundamental crisis in the nation or bring succour to our people.

The impoverishment of millions of our country men and women, the wanton abuse of rights, the unmitigated corruption, alienation, internal colonisation and exacerbation of the fault lines of the country, are not issues that the current political order can tackle.

As a first step towards addressing these issues, we recommend a national dialogue of genuine representatives of the people on the future of . How to force this all-important national dialogue – whether through a bloody revolution or otherwise – will have to be determined by millions of toiling Nigerians who bear the brunt of the present anachronistic social order.

Having made this clarification, it is important to note that we have to “play ” within the parameters of the current bourgeois democratic order. And that is exactly what we intend to do in this piece. This piece was inspired by Joe Igbokwe’s ostrich which has found expression in his rejoinders to our articles on what the opposition – the All Progressives Congress, specifically – needs to do to make an impression in 2015.

In his latest rejoinder, Igbokwe preferred to hide his head in the sand and instead of addressing the salient points we raised in our articles, resorted to name-calling as a way out of the political cul-de-sac he has found himself. Clearly, for Igbokwe, insults can get you votes and even win elections. Unfortunately, this approach only goes to show how patently untenable his position is. He accused us of starting a project of rigging Jonathan back to power “via such flimsy and laughable excuse as the opposition not being ready to wrest power from the ”. These are Igbokwe’s words not ours.

And to clear any doubts, he averred that, “Those who voted for Jonathan in the South-West (in 2011) told us (Igbokwe and others) how Jonathan moved from nowhere to become Deputy Governor, from Deputy Governor to Governor, from Governor to Vice-President and from Vice-President to become President and concluded that the man has some divine luck going with him. They told us that they want to tap Jonathan’s divine luck. That is how we got to where we are today”.

“Now where is the luck after four years? Where is the divine luck in ? Can we see it? Can we feel it? Where has this luck led to?, Igbokwe queried. We shall leave him to answer the question. And if we accept his thesis about the underlying reasons for Jonathan winning in the South-West, perhaps it is apposite to conclude that if voters in the South-West found justification in 2011 to vote for Jonathan, his antecedents notwithstanding, we are sure they will find reasons to do the same in 2015. This time around, it may not be a desire to tap into his imaginary divine luck, but to imbibe the virtues of patience.

Of course, we would be glad to see the back of the Peoples Democratic Party and Jonathan as far as the governance of is concerned. But just taking a stance as Igbokwe implored us to do isn’t enough. I don’t know where Igbokwe got the impression that we imputed that the is invincible. We are not in the party and we don’t intend to be. So it is a waste of time offering advice to a party whose implosion looks imminent. On the contrary, since we have a stake in the APC, we feel obligated to prime the party for the struggle ahead because 2015 is its to lose.

Clearly, the South-West holds the ace in the 2015 elections. As a geopolitical bloc, it is more cohesive than any other zone. But the popular sentiment is that the zone has had its “turn”. And before Igbokwe and his fellow travellers raise their voice in righteous indignation, let’s note that this is what bourgeois is all about. So, the APC has to look towards other zones. Apart from Imo State, all the other states in the South-East zone (just like the South-South minus Edo State) are or pro-/Jonathan. The likes of Prof. Pat Utomi, Senator Chris Ngige and Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu will have an uphill task making an impression in the zone much less in other parts of the country.

There is little chance that the APC can make any impact in the North if it picks a presidential candidate outside the three zones in the North. Nasir el Rufai has repeatedly said he is not interested in any elective post. So, that leaves us with Buhari, Nuhu Ribadu, Audu Ogbeh and Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau. These are viable candidates and reputable men who have made their mark nationally. However, Buhari stands out simply because he has a cult following in the North (at least the “core” North) which, if properly harnessed, will stymie any assault by the PDP (particularly, a much-weakened and divided PDP) in the zone.

The last man standing is Babatunde Fashola, the popular, young and dynamic governor of Lagos State. So, what do we say about a Buhari/Fashola pairing for 2015? That looks like an ideal choice for the APC moving forward. Fashola will draw the crowd that the APC needs in the South-West while Buhari will do same in the North. And with the mounting influence of Rochas Okorocha, the APC can make an inroad in the South-East. Fashola will complement Buhari in every area and offer the steady hands and moderating influence of a budding statesman that will give Nigeria the kind of leadership it truly deserves.

The only snag, some would say, is that it is a Muslim/Muslim ticket. But we have travelled this road before and it is nothing new. Agreed that this is not June 12, 1993, but we can draw some parallels between 1993 and now and between the APC and the Social Democratic Party from which M.K.O Abiola and his running mate, Babagana Kingibe, emerged.

This is where we stand. And we are willing to put our “feet, hand, head, heart, eyes into the project” as Igbokwe requested. He should be bold enough to give us the specifics of his position.

While he is at it, he would do well not to talk about the need for “internal ”. Between us, we know there is nothing like that in the present order. We can achieve the same thing by acclamation, which itself is an integral part of .

Chido Onumah Can Be Reached Via Email On [email protected]

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