A disclosure is expedient from the outset: I am not a fan of General Muhammadu Buhari. I think he is overrated and that he really doesn’t possess some of the qualities attributed to him and that the attributes that he has, are not enough to make him President of a 21st Century Nigeria.
However, since the All Progressive Congress (APC) picked him as its flag bearer in the 2015 elections, I have waited to see how this man would sell himself as able and capable of steering the ship of state.
Unfortunately, aside from the bandwagon frenzy on the need for urgent change,uBB either from his campaign rallies or documented manifesto.
Take the issue of corruption, which is perhaps the most formidable credential upon which his campaign his based. Buhari does not appear to understand the manifold dimensions to corruption in Nigeria not to talk of how to tackle same.
Speaking at the opening of his campaign in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, he promised that all corrupt people would be sent to Kirikiri if he wins the elections. He sounded like he would supervise the arrest of these people, put them on trial himself and then decide the prison facility where they would serve their term. How does an elected President achieve that? In any case, this would imply that people can cheat the country so far they do not get caught?
I agree that law enforcement is an important part of dealing with corruption but there are various sociological factors associated with the problem of corruption that no knee jerk approach would permanently solve. Questions like why do people steal in Nigeria? Is corruption really our most serious problem? And how have countries like china, Malaysia and Indonesia made economic leaps in spite of the level of corruption in those societies must be asked by anyone serious about tackling corruption in Nigeria.
I query the point that Buhari is courageous enough do anything to move the country forward without fear or favour. And I am going to explain. When he was asked about some of the draconian legislations of his military leadership in an interview with saharareporters.com, he attributed the promulgation of those laws to the collective decision of the Supreme Military Council (SMC). Understandably, he was just the head of the junta with only one vote and even if he stood against anything, the odds were that his colleagues would outvote him. That is fair enough.
But then there was one decision, possibly the only one left to Buhari to take by himself and Nigeria has had to pay enormously for his choice. By his own admission, the former head of state got to know that his colleague and friend Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB) was planning to topple his administration.
Buhari claimed to have invited IBB, “… sat and discussed it with him in my office.… I said Ibro ─ I called him Ibro because I was just senior to him by a few months ─ I said whoever wants to sit on this chair, let him come and sit here. And he decided to do it…” And that was it! That was how Buhari literarily vacated his seat for Babangida.
I cannot tell what informed Buhari’s casual treatment of this infraction, one which was against the nation. In my view, the decision to let IBB go on with his plan was due to either of two things namely, failure of leadership on the part of Buhari or some level of collaboration or acquiescence to this conspiracy. Either way, I do not see any display of courage at this very important moment and I wonder how many such infractions would be overlooked in the event of a Buhari presidency.
Then the most confounding of all is the issue of Buhari’s school certificate which has raged for the better part of the last three weeks. I get the point that Buhari did nothing legally wrong by not physically presenting his school certificate. The sworn affidavit in support of the attainment of the qualification and the fact that the “assumption” that the evidence was in the custody of the Military Board is weightier than even the certificate in question- as he would be guilty of a more serious criminal offence- perjury, If he is found to have lied on oath, as the incidence of his not having attained the qualification would portend.
I, however, do not understand the levity with which the former head of state treated the issue. Even when he addressed the press on Wednesday, Buhari carried on with his dismissiveness. Hear him: “I only consented to address you this morning because of the genuine concern expressed by many supporters and other well-meaning Nigerians that that the issue be addressed. Otherwise, I would have dismissed it for what it is – sheer mischief and would not have…considered it an issue worth the nation’s while…”
This reaction has also been aired by a lot of his followers is apparently borne out of the feeling that the rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is at the lead of those raising arguments about Buhari’s eligibility for the elections. But even then, having become public knowledge, the General has the moral obligation of explaining the correct situation and going ahead to prove his qualification to Nigerians whose mandate he is seeking.
This is more so for a man whose main proposition to Nigerians is change anchored on his much advertised integrity. Asking questions from leaders whether aspiring or incumbent is a basic responsibility of the electorate while providing answers to those questions is central to leadership which ensures seamless interaction between the two forces thus acting as a major lubricant for democratic growth
Apart from denting the image of the General, failure to address the issue would have been very disrespectful of Nigerians and totally contradict the transparency which should be part of the transaction of change which Buhari and his party promise Nigerians. I am not sure he sees that yet.
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