Man of the people By Lawal Ogienagbon

buhariIt was a hard fought battle. President Goodluck Jonathan and Gen Muhammadu Buhari threw everything they had into the contest. Being the incumbent president, Dr Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had an almost inexhaustible war chest to prosecute his campaign. Name it; money, men and materials, he had them all.

But, Gen Buhari, an ascetic man by nature, did not have the president’s kind of resources. What he had going into the March 28 presidential contest was enormous goodwill. Many believe in Buhari because of his clean public record. They see him as the kind of leader that our country needs at this point in time. Nigeria is at a crossroads and many Nigerians feel that we need a man of Buhari’s character to take us out of the doldrums.

A vote for Gen Buhari was therefore a vote for the transformation of Nigeria. The election was Gen Buhari’s to lose. Even though nothing is 100% sure in elections, it was clear as daylight that Gen Buhari would carry the day in the March 28 poll. It was not an easy ride to the presidency for Buhari though. Thrice he contested between 2003 and 2011 and thrice he lost not because he did not have what it takes for the job, but because his time had not come.

Gen Buhari was fourth time lucky yesterday and his luck may yet rub off on Nigeria. Expectations are high from his fellow countrymen, who have been at the receiving end of bad leadership in the last few years. Nigerians will be impatient with him because of what they are going through under the outgoing President Jonathan. But we need not blame the president too much.

The president’s men failed him and the country. They were given an opportunity to serve their fatherland, but they failed to discharge this enormous responsibility to the best of their ability. They were interested in power, but were not ready to  give commensurate service. They were more interested in the perks of office and not the job itself. By the time of the election, Nigerians were fed up with the Jonathan administration. There was nothing they wanted more than for the president to go, with or without election.

When the election was shifted from its initial February 14 date to last Saturday, the electorate felt bad. They wanted nothing to stop them from exercising their rights to pick a leader of their choice.The six-week postponement on supposed  security ground did not save the president from defeat. Rather than stop the Buhari momentum, the shift fuelled the people’s anger against their president.

With the outcome of the election they have forgotten all about the postponement, which delayed their election of the man they believe would bring back smiles on their faces. Truly, these are not the best of times for our dear country, which is in dire need of  purposeful leadership, and the electorate chose Buhari over Jonathan because they see that quality in him.

Nigerians rejected President Jonathan at the polls because he lacks what it takes to reinvent Nigeria. For six years, he could not lay hands on the Nigerian problem, yet he wanted to remain in office. Gen Buhari’s emergence as president-elect, some will say, calls for celebration because it is the dawn of a new era, but painfully there is nothing to cheer about his election because things have gone bad, damn too bad in our country for too long. It is a time for us to ponder over the Nigerian project because the incoming president and his team have a lot of work to do.

The mood of our country to
day does not call for celebra
tion as such, rather we should be full of prayers for the incoming government. Gen Buhari needs our prayers to succeed. After giving him our mandate, it will cost us nothing to support him with prayers in the enormous task of taking our country to greater height. We cannot end this without commending President Jonathan for his show of sportsmanship in conceding defeat even before Gen Buhari was formally declared winner. With his action, Dr Jonathan has shown that he truly loves Nigeria.

As he prepares to leave office, we wish him all the best and pray that in the next few weeks to his exit, he will work closely with Gen Buhari to ensure a smooth transition. It was Gen Buhari’s lot, as military ruler,  to save us from a drifting democratic government in 1983 and he delivered. Thirty-two years after, fate has, again, thrust on him the arduous job of repairing the country. May God guide him right. Congratulations, Mr President-elect.

 

With elders like Orubebe…

The show of shame was watched globally last Tuesday. As Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Prof Attahiru Jega was about starting the business of the day at the National Collation Centre (NCC) where results of the March 28 presidential election from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were being collated,  former Niger Delta Minister and failed governorship aspirant Godsday Orubebe, who calls himself an elder, took the floor after being recognised. He and his accomplice, Col Bello Fadile, having seen the handwriting on the wall that their candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan, would lose decided to go for broke.

As if possessed, Orubebe started by pouring invectives on Jega. Jega, he claimed was partial. According to him, the INEC chief refused to receive their petitions challenging the elections in Kano, Katsina, Kaduna and Jigawa states, whereas Jega immediately raised a panel to probe the All Progressives Congress (APC) complaints about Rivers State election. Fadile stoked the fire, saying that he brought the petition, which Jega refused to accept. He also accused Jega of giving the election  results to APC before releasing them.

In the face of it all, Jega, who apparently knew their game plan, was cool and calm. When he spoke, he cut both men to the size. To Fadile, who is known to work with National Security Adviser (NSA) whose office engineered the curious six-week extension of the elections, Jega said : “I have not seen any results, I have not given anybody any results. For you to engage me on that issue, I think frankly it is not fair to me… how can I speak on something I have not seen”.  The one who calls himself an elder looked so ordinary after Jega finished with him. “Let us be careful about what we say or do and let us not disrupt a process that has ended peacefully and in a matter of hours, we will be able to finish it. Mr Orubebe, you are a former minister… you are a statesman in your own right, you should be careful about what you say or what allegations you make and certainly you should be careful about your public conduct”. With elders like Orubebe, how can the church and society grow? As for Fadile, we leave him to his conscience, that is if he has one.

NATION