IT is only an insincere person that will say the Goodluck Jonathan government has failed. It is global knowledge that the administration has rebuilt the institutions on which a modern and prosperous Nigeria can thrive. If Nigerians think the president could have done better and want change, the question is: must it be change for change’s sake? If we want change, what are we changing for? My fear is that we cannot change for Buhari because his candidacy as a change agent is flawed on grounds of age, company, character, convictions and style.
Babatunde Fashola of Lagos, a leading APC governor, has already made this case against their candidate. He said that Agbaje at 57 is too old to succeed him as governor of Lagos. If a 57-year-old is too old to rule Lagos, one of the 36 states in Nigeria, why is a 72-year-old man not too old to rule Nigeria? No sane man appoints a man in his 70s as chief executive of a company. Anybody of that age is in retirement. I, therefore, cannot understand the position of those who see nothing wrong in handing over Nigeria with all its problems to a 72-year-old to run. Some people have argued that we need a tested hand. My question is what would happen to Nigeria in 10 year’s time when all the tested hands: Buhari, Obasanjo, Babangida, Shagari and Shonekan would no longer be capable of being called to lead Nigeria? Others have argued that Liberia’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (76) is old. Check out how she contained (or failed to contain) Ebola and it would be clear that Liberians made a mistake in electing her. Some have argued that Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Buhari’s running mate, is young and would make up for the age of his principal. Nothing can be more deceptive. Experience has shown that in Nigeria, the vice president is a spare tyre. He is relevant to the extent the president wants him to be.
Talking about the cabal, my other reservation with the Buhari candidacy is the company he shares. Buhari has been sold as Mr. Clean but as Sule Lamido, governor of Jigawa State, pointed out, he is surrounded by not so clean men. No one is ever greater than the mafia that brings him to power. How would Buhari deal with those in his company?
I find Buhari’s character flawed, thanks to the certificate scandal. The issue is not whether Buhari has a school certificate or not. The issue is that he either lied or had chosen to treat Nigerians with contempt. The matter is this simple: Buhari says he had a certificate and it was with the army. The army says he never submitted one but joined the force with a recommendation letter from his principal. He lied about this. To get around it, he has come out with a statement of result issued by his former school. That has stirred more controversy. What the General needs to do is ask Cambridge Assessment, the body that conducted the examination, to provide a copy of his certificate. If indeed he had a certificate but has failed to ask Cambridge Assessment for a copy, he is simply treating Nigerians with contempt, the same way he did when he refused to appear before the panel on human rights.
In Nigeria the man who said his ambition is to implement Sharia throughout Nigeria is running to be the president of a secular state like Nigeria. My question is: at what point did Buhari purge himself of this conviction? As Nasir El Rufai – former federal minister and now APC governorship candidate for Kaduna – once put it: ‘His (Buhari’s) insensitivity to Nigeria’s diversity and his parochial focus are already well-known.’ As a military leader, he was autocratic, when did he become a democrat. Which democrat cannot stand losing an election?
My last problem with Buhari is leadership style. When he first came to power, I was 16 then and remember that Idiagbon was the face I saw every day on TV doing so much that the government was known as Buhari/Idiagbon administration. In the history of Nigeria, there has been no such government. There was no Babangida/Aikhomu government. Even Gowon who was very young did not have a Gowon/Awo government. His inability to assume and take full responsibility for his mandates worries me. Does it mean that he would surrender the government to some other person to run: Osinbajo or the cabal?
I believe that the challenge of 2015 means we need an effective, strong and capable government.