The Buhari Experiment- Deji Ajare


This is 2015, the election year.  The Presidential election has agreeably become a race between the incumbent PDP candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan and APC’s Rtd. General Muhammadu Buhari.


The argument is on, different schools of thought from different perspectives and with varying motives, some revealed, others hidden. Some with merit others clearly out of line.

I have listened to some people say that the Hausa/Fulani tribes have dominated and marginalised other tribes in the country in the control of power and consequently, resources in Nigeria‎. For these people, it is over their dead bodies that a Hausa/Fulani should be voted for. I do not engage with this group of people, they are incorrigible and unconvinceable, there is no point, they will only take us back some 20 years ago.

Some persons have argued, on account of the difficulties in choosing between the two candidates, that they’d rather abstain from voting. I always remind them that an abstention is a vote for whoever wins and takes away any right to complain about the winner’s performance later.

There is a group who believe that the current President, Goodluck Jonathan has performed creditably well and should be given another 4 year chance ‎in power. I am unable to agree with any of the arguments put forward by this group. When you look at all the core indices, it would appear like this argument is coming from another country. Corruption is at its all time worst, Security is nothing to write home about, the economy is in shambles (in spite of fabulous figures being bandied about by the government and it’s apologists), Nigeria is sharply divided along ethnic lines like never before.

In defence of Goodluck, some have said the insurgency in Northern Nigeria made it difficult for the president to perform in his first term and some people even allege that the insurgency is the handiwork of some Northern leaders who have vowed to make the country ungovernable. To this, I say if he was unable to perform in his first term because of the insurgency, has the insurgency stopped or is there any hope of it stopping soon to enable the president ‘perform’? Of course the answer is No. More so, whose duty is it to bring the insurgency to an end? The president of course, so his inability to halt it, is in itself, a failure. This is despite the huge resources available to fight it. This therefore leads to a No, No vote for Goodluck Jonathan.

On the ‎other hand there are those who believe that Former military head of state Buhari is the Messiah we have been waiting for. This group see absolutely nothing wrong with Buhari and rate him only next to a saint. This is also disagreeable. The former military ruler came to power through a military coup, which many of his supporters claim he was not part of. The important thing however is that he ruled as a maximum ruler issuing decrees that clearly run contrary to universally accepted standards of rule of law and violated human rights in various ramifications. He is however regarded by friends and foes alike as an upright person who refused to enrich himself from the nation’s treasury, but rather hunted and hounded corrupt politicians and criminals and enforced discipline. His leadership at the defunct PTF also lends credence to this. Although several attempts have been made to smear his name with corrupt practices, none of this have really rubbed off on his perceived integrity.

Again, General Buhari has been accused of being a religious fundamentalist, but he has denied all the allegations relating to this. The campaign that he would islamise Nigeria has been debunked by his supporters on the grounds that, if he didn’t do it as a military ruler with a Muslim deputy, it is impossible that he would do it now under civil rule.

Be that as it may, the question I have posited to many especially those who are agreed that the current government has failed in meeting the expectations of Nigerians, but who also have reservations about voting in GMB is this: would you rather continue with the current state of affairs? Most answer No!

Now Buhari has come with a promise of ‘change’ and as much as this may not be certain, it would appear like this is the tiniest shred of hope there is, right now, of anything changing. There are fears that his government maybe hijacked by those who helped him in his bid to clinch power, it is also argued that he is an old man with archaic ideas and his health may fail. Specifically, many fear that, GMB’S ally, Tinubu would skim the Nigerian treasury through GMB’S proposed deputy, the Learned Professor Osinbajo. As undesirable as this maybe, I always retort that, I would rather have that, the same Tinubu ‘imposed’ Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, and is alleged to be milking the state, yet, BRF is regarded as the best performing Governor in the country, wouldn’t I rather have such a situation than have a President voted on sentiments who would continue with the current state of affairs? I would! 

Meanwhile, I like to think that the fear is unlikely to be real, the reason being that GMB is a firm man with complete disdain for sleaze, his deputy has also been described as a firm man, with deep knowledge of law, under whose leadership, the Lagos state legal system underwent the resounding reforms which places it a distance top from other states. It is also hoped that his knowledge of the law plus his impassioned dedication to it will help balance any fear of high handedness that GMB may be bringing to the table. 

The thought of a cabinet comprising of the likes of Babatunde Fashola, Adams Oshiomole, Oby Ezekwesili, Kayode Fayemi, Chris Ngige, Rabiu Kwakwanso, Abike Dabiri et al almost sends me to orgasmic frenzy. This is likely to be the face of a GMB government.

All said, one thing is clear, GMB may not fit on all fours with the description of the ideal President we desire, but in the absence of a better choice, it is only smart that in this desperate condition of ours, we cling on to any shred of hope left.

Now, what if GMB gets to power and fail us like GEJ did? I consider this unlikely, the reason is because if GMB wins, he would have come to the realisation that it is ‘people power’ that gave him his mandate, and that if he fails, the consequence is that people power will vote him out. It is only when you have a situation like this that you can say a democracy is truly maturing and has come to stay, but if indeed, GMB fails us, then we will vote him out and that the beauty of democracy, it’s an experiment afterall, even in the more advanced ones.

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