Buhari, the President Nigeria may not have?

The Almighty God will give us the best. He will give us what we deserve. If GEJ wins hurray but if he loses God has been very kind to him. Awolowo died without being president for one day, or hour that he so craved and begged for. MKO died fighting to be President. How many persons become president in a nation of 170 million in every four years? Precisely nine years ago I was guest to the Daura born General Buhari, at his home in Kaduna. The man by his nature has divided Nigeria across shades and opinion. Ask Soyinka, ask Obasanjo, whether Christians are talking or Southerners are-or the Northern establishment is talking, you feel the thing..ask me and I will tell you everyone is right and equally wrong in same measure.

The essence of this admonition is not to support, defend or malign the General, but simply an admonition. On that day nine years ago, I interviewed him in his capacity as presidential candidate of the now defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, and was ‘just’ 63 years, even at that point his age was still a matter of concern of debate. Ask Mallam Nasir El-Rufai.

Speaking with the General was rather a pathetic journey into why Nigeria cannot move forward. While I talked to a couple of his lieutenants it was obvious from their opinion that the General will not be the President except by a miracle…A lot has changed today and he is coming under the slogan ‘change’, he maintains old associates, but it looks a different ball and there seems to be optimism around his current party.

In that encounter the retired but not tired General lamented the situation of the country, he told me that by simply logic and everyday living he could not understand why a nation that has earned more in the last seven years than it did in its whole existence is poorer for it. He blasted an energy reform that cannot provide a steady electricity supply for 12 hours and when it tried to give 3, 4 hours of such it was punctuated by 12-15 minutes intervals of darkness. Today the situation remained the same.

He spoke with passion. He spoke like the elder statesman he is. On Northern agitation for power then, the General’s view was that the ordinary Nigerian wanted food, clothing, shelter, security of his life, and property if he had any. Not the nonsense of North/South-South or East agitation. I asked if he was going to probe “Big Brother Nigeria aka Obj. He stated that he was not obsessed with a probe of this and that, but as a pious Muslim he swore he would not turn a blind eye to any official complaint against Obasanjo backed by documentary evidence.

On IBB, he would not say much but then he smiles, “as colleagues at the Council of Former Heads of States, we are friends no wahala.” You could but notice that never will a marriage between Buhari and IBB occur – they are birds of distinctly different plumages. On being a power broker, he said “Oh no, I am not that kind of person”.

I tried to decipher the man behind the mask. Inside his eyes I saw a man that could instill a form of discipline into the system, I saw a man that could provide leadership that would ensure that one urinates by the roadside, that the Police do not collect money to buy pen from complainants before they can write their statements. But this was 2006, and even now it’s 2014!

We could not have finished our 30-minute conversation without discussing accountability and then it was same sad Nigeria as Buhari lamented on how his own local government spent N40m in welcoming the state governor and of that sum N1m was spent purchasing packaged water. The man I spoke with sure believes in something, and that’s where Nigeria needs to get it, we need to believe in something. He believed in his pursuit, which has taken him to CPC, and now APC.

And incidentally this is one of many reasons I felt that would deny Buhari that coveted sofa in Aso Rock, Nigeria is always producing accidental public servants El-Rufai said so, and could not be wrong. Sadly, those seeking the office as a result of conviction, to try and leave a mark, never get it. But with some 55 days away and as it is said in local parlance, “na wetin bird chop e go take fly”; I cannot sit on the fence, its either Buhari or Jonathan. Are we anywhere near change? Only time will tell.

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