A little after a year into his first four-year tenure, the honeymoon between Nigerians and President Goodluck Jonathan had turned into bitter and acrimonious relationship. He failed to meet the expectations of the masses and fell short of satisfying majority of the ruling elite. Nigerians were convinced that corruption, which was rife in Jonathan’s government, was responsible for his arrested performance in power.
Every of the nation’s ills ranging from economic under development, insecurity and societal rot were attributed to corruption. The 2015 presidential election was not going to be decided on the sentiments of ethno-geographic and religious balance of power but on the pragmatic issue of the monster of corruption and how to tackle it.
And it came to pass that Muhammadu Buhari, at the time a man reputed for unimpeachable integrity and forthrightness, was elected over incumbent President Jonathan, whose image suffered from a corruption toga due to the widespread perception of his inability to tackle corruption or even condoned it.
Since Jonathan failed to kill corruption, it was decided that Buhari was the man that will kill corruption before it kills Nigeria. However, once again, Nigerians are beginning to express discontent about the leadership style of President Buhari
In almost three years as president of the Nigerian federation, Buhari has not been able to deliver on three of his key promises of fighting corruption, curbing insecurity and growing the economy.
Under the Buhari administration, corruption has assumed a more amorphous dimension with cancerous effect on governance. Similarly, security challenges have deteriorated to a state of undeclared war within the Nigerian territory. In addition to the Boko Haram insurgency, the menace of killer herdsmen currently ravaging Nigeria portends existential threats to its stability and coherence.
The economy was mismanaged by the Buhari administration in its early days due to poor or lack of sensible economic policies leading to a debilitating recession with high inflation rates, high exchange rates and higher price of energy as permanent scars.
The concomitant effect of Buhari’s economic mismanagement is a drastic reduction of the standard of living of Nigerians leading to widespread poverty and misery. Despite his abysmal performance in office and frail health, Buhari has indicated his interest to continue in power beyond 2019 if given the mandate by Nigerians. For lack of a clear justification to reward failure in governance with another fresh four-year mandate, Buhari’s handlers have advanced the absurd argument that there is no alternative to him from amongst 180 million people that populate the Nigerian geography. This stand point is not predicated upon any outstanding performance index but merely on hero worship of the Buhari persona.
For a President that has displayed a lack of proper understanding of his threepronged campaign promises of fighting corruption, ensuring adequate security of lives and properties and fixing the economy, hence failing to deliver on his promises resulting into diminished hope of a better Nigeria, there are millions of alternatives. Among the millions of Nigerians who are credible and capable alternatives to President Buhari in 2019, former vice president Atiku Abubakar stands out clearly.
If Jonathan’s high corruption perception index disqualified him from winning the 2015 presidential election in the court of public opinion, Buhari’s sectionalism is likely to disqualify him from winning the 2019 presidential election in the same of public opinion. Similarly, if Buhari, reputed for incorruptibility, was a credible alternative to a corrupt Jonathan in 2015, then Atiku, who possesses a nationalist credential, is the alternative to Buhari in 2019. From his personal life with marital ties to the four cardinal points of Nigeria, to his close political associates, business partners and public service, Atiku reflects a pan Nigerian agenda throughout. His pan Nigerian identity is quite discernible from afar. His antecedents in public service clearly illustrate a man at home anywhere in Nigeria and with everyone, irrespective of ethnogeographic origin or religious beliefs. Buhari’s sectionalism has left the country most divided in its history as a nation.
It has promoted cronyism and nepotism with massive economic and financial crimes as consequences. Similarly, Buhari’s sectionalism has elevated mediocrity over competence thereby hampering the economic recovery promise of his government. Buhari’s sectionalism has also comprised national security on the altar ethno-religious sentiments, which has left marauding killer herdsmen the freedom to destroy lives and properties across Nigeria. To put a stop to the current haemorrhage that is threatening the very foundation of the Nigerian state, Buhari has to be eased out through the ballot and bring on board an Atiku who has enough nationalist credentials to earn the trust, confidence and loyalty of Nigerians across all divides in order to evolve a pan Nigerian consensus going forward.
The unity and cohesion of any nation is a condition precedent for socio-economic development and an Atiku presidency will provide the essential balm to heal the festering sour along Nigeria’s ethno-geographic and religious fault lines Despite the inherent defects in Nigeria’s political culture arising from certain uniqueness of the ethno-geographic and religious configuration of Nigeria, which often results in the undermining of constitutional frame work of setting up democratic institutions and processes, civil democratic rule has been quite beneficial to Nigeria.
Notwithstanding prevalent cases of electoral malpractices and manipulations through vote buying, imposition of candidates and outright deployment of power of incumbency to rig elections, distillable from this chaotic mixture is that election to the highest office in the land had been largely a reflection of elite consensus as popularly championed by the masses. As corruption was the major campaign issue in 2015, the consensus opinion towards 2019 is the realisation of the danger of the existential threat posed to Nigeria’s unity and stability by unbridled sectionalism.