THE clock is ticking.The political atmosphere is turbo-charged.It’s barely ten days to March 28,the much-awaited Presidential election day in Nigeria.Even though elections to the National Assembly(Senate and House of Representatives) hold same day,the world’s attention is on the big prize,the Presidency,an office which ex-American President,George W.Bush described as a “shrine of democracy”. That’s perhaps the reason for the long and intense struggle,mudslinging,pernicious propaganda and outright lies and hate campaign we have seen for sometime now. No electioneering campaign in Nigeria in recent history has split the nation along partisan lines as this election,so much so that everyone seems to have taken a partisan position.Even foreign media and interest groups have taken sides,predicting who they favour to be Nigeria’s next President.
A few months ago, the London – based weekly news magazine, The Economist, threw its weight behind the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress,Muhammadu Buhari.That tongue in cheek endorsement further polarised the polity. And over the weekend,Eurasia Group,a global political risk research and consulting firm founded by Ian Bremmer in 1998,gave a vacuous,snapshot,piss-in-the-pant projection of a Buhari victory.
The good thing is that polls are not accurate predictors of election results.Research has validated that.Therefore,any politician who relies on that deludes himself.Buhari,beware.
There are several critical moments of truth we cannot run away from in this election.The truth is that the two leading candidates,President Goodluck Jonathan and the opposition APC presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari,offer real choices about real issues for the voters on election day.And that, for good measure, raises the stakes much more higher than at anytime in recent history.
If you want change, (depending on your definition of change), Buhari is your man.But,mind you,the change APC is offering is not renewal.It’s a change that comes like a bolt of lightning.To use the words of Thomas A.Stewart (Editor,Harvard Business Review OnPoint,2005),such a change is like a “fire that burns a forest to ash and forces immediate action”. In order words, beware of such change because it means not just abandoning old ways of work,old ways of seeing the world and old comfort zones,it’s disruptive and destructive almost in equal measure,say political historians.But,if you,the voter desires continuity that offers peace and prosperity,the odds favour President Jonathan to be re-elected on March 28.
To understand where Jonathan and Buhari stand on issues, consider their records,where they have been.It leads to two vital questions:will Buhari be a better Commander in Chief than Jonathan? Who’s the right man for the job? In order words, which man can heal the wounds of a divided nation? Again,go to their past records.The truth is that Buhari is already a polarising figure.Some see him as a candidate of the North,simplicita.And with such a hawkish politician in the saddle,the thinking is that investors will be scared.
I think one of the key questions in this election is not who,between Jonathan and Buhari has a better vision of Nigeria.The question is who will act to make that vision a reality.Nigerians should be ready for the truth,simply spoken.Both men have been tested and tried.Again, I say,go check their records.
There’s no doubt that Jonathan’s Presidency has faced a lot of challenges,the most hurting perhaps being the Boko Haram insurgency.That,of course,makes Jonathan a wartime President.In saner climes,the citizens should stand behind their President till the end.In our own case,sadly,not all.In a wartime situation which Boko Haram has plunged Nigeria into,no human being,not even the President,is ever able to estimate accurately the length or costs of a war.
Therefore,building a consensus under these conditions is clearly not easy for any President. However,it must be said that President Jonathan has shown in the last four years at least that he can govern from this office,when times and conditions are tough and still remain steady,without losing his focus.But whether Nigerians agree with the problems he has been up against and ready to renew his mandate,March 28 will decide.But,this much needs to be considered:the nature of the incumbent President,the effect that his character has had in the country,the freedom that we have,mirrors a sense of his moral compass.Some people may not like it,but it’s good for our democracy. The President Nigeria needs must be a fervent advocate of the rule of law and a committed democrat,not an iron-fisted leader.
This is where the odds favour President Jonathan.I have said it before,and it bears repeating that the Presidency is not a prize to be won,it’s,in the words of former American President,Gerald R.Ford,a “duty to be done”.
Therefore, in seeking for fresh mandate from the electorate, President Jonathan,better than any other candidate is coming with a record of performance.The record is one of progress,not platitudes.It is a record of accomplishments which the President should be proud to run on. If truth be told, the present insecurity predates Jonathan’s government and it needs the cooperation of all to defeat the insurgents.Happily,our military and coalition forces are now giving the insurgents a bloody nose,a dose of their own medicine.
It must also be said that the achievements of this government in the last four years have been grossly under-reported.I am not playing politics when I say these things.I have nothing to gain by these comments outside giving credit to whom it’s due.I see President Jonathan as a cool and rational leader who prefers that his accomplishments speak for him. The problem however is that every time the opposition mischieviously chooses to see the President as an Alchemist,someone who should have an extraordinary capacity to deal simultaneously with many complex situations at multiple levels.He cannot be.And no one is.
The truth is that power makes good works possible.As one writer puts it,”power brings love and gratitude which then provides the inspiration and vitality for further works.” Sadly,some people have deliberately refused to acknowledge and appreciate the administration’s accomplishments. It will be unfair,if not unkind,not to admit that, on a scale of performance,this President has done much more than his two immediate predecessors.That much is verifiable and can be seen in many sectors.But the President needs to do more.
Besides,a genuine reform of the agriculture sector is progressing with urgency.Everything points to food sufficiency in no distant future if government maintains the momentum.
In the final weeks of these unforgettable campaigns with the two leading candidates making their closing arguments,it’s time to step up their message across to the voters and how their vision can translate into reality,not the current hate campaign that has split our country down the middle. For sure,it will a close race,and on the whole, President Jonathan should be buoyant about his chances.Our country needs to be united again in the common pursuit of peace and prosperity.