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Buhari’s Election: A Nigerian Victory

By Kingsley Ogbonda
03 May 2015   |   6:54 am
THE All Progressives Congress (APC) and Gen. M Buhari (rtd)’s supporters, or those who had for sixteen years wished to see PDP out of power at the centre, the outcome of the recent presidential election elicited boundless joy for them

Buhari**THE All Progressives Congress (APC) and Gen. M Buhari (rtd)’s supporters, or those who had for sixteen years wished to see PDP out of power at the centre, the outcome of the recent presidential election elicited boundless joy for them.

The success of APC was probably more satisfying for those who in some way campaigned for democracy, but saw gluttonous party, Abacha’s apologists of sorts assuming and remaining in power since 1999.

The wild celebrations that followed Gen. M Buhari’s (GMB) victory were over due. Nigerians duly deserved a change. But the celebrations about this very Nigerian success must remain devoid of triumphalism.

A thought must be spared for PDP supporters who are down with bruised ego and frail nerve. Reassuringly, the President-elect has alluded to this is his acceptance speech. Nigerians are not, just yet, going to forget this year’s presidential campaigns.

They were rancorous, vitriolic, vicious and bloodied. The speeches and advertorials in the traditional media – TV, radio and newspapers were indecorous.

The worst were to be found on the social media where hate mongers were downright condemnable with their comments. There, feral beasts hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet were vile.

Politicians, particularly of PDP ilk revelled in dangerous exploitation of the nation’s known fault lines of religion, tribe and ethnicity, ignoring the existing danger of the Boko Haram nihilists. Nigeria was simply tittering on the edge of a major crisis.

Hardly any one remotely interested in the corporate existence of Nigeria that did not fear the worst for the country, particularly, if the result of the elections were to be contested by the leadership of the main parties.

Like many other Nigerians, I had to raise my own concerns by writing to the British and American foreign affairs secretaries, Mr Philip Hammond and Sen. John Kerry respectively, on 21st July 2014 after I returned from Nigeria to England. I copied their ambassadors in Nigeria requesting that they take genuine interest in the coming elections in the country to avert likely political crisis.

Thankfully, all those who saw the danger a precipitous Nigeria posed, including African leaders, the British, Americans and others; spoke openly and in private to the various camps for peace during and after the elections.

These interventions, including those of key national and African figures like Gen. Abdusalami (rtd), Chief Emeka Anyoku and Mr Kofi Annan were admirable. These Africans have enhanced their reputation on the continent.

Gen Abdulsalami (rtd) may have unwittingly found a role for himself in Africa. The biggest thanks goes to Nigerians who having largely heeded the warnings against conducting flawed, disputed and inconclusive elections, managed to conduct fairly decent elections. Amazingly, huge numbers of Nigerians in and out of the country have been congratulating one another on the outcome of the elections, including foreigners congratulating Nigerians.

A few African friends tell me that Nigeria’s presidential election outcome has made them proud, and now accept Nigeria as a leading democracy in Africa. Apart from being of good conduct, the choice of Nigerians too is remarkable.

Despite huge financial inducement and flagrant abuse of power to skew the elections, yet, Nigerians were able to make the best choice out of the presidential candidates presented. Having surprised the world, GMB’s victory, I suggest should be seen as a Nigerian victory. It had been humbling to see Nigeria once refusing to act out a stereotype.

The western (governments) press, which had clearly indicated how and who it wanted Nigerians to vote for, were waiting to see if Nigerians were going to once again reject their friendly advice.

Although support of the western powers have not always been altruistic, it must be accepted that sometimes they find failed and very corrupt governments an embarrassment to do business with.

Nigeria was beginning to show that the country could not forever sustain the level of corruption and impunity in governance. The fight against Corruption DOUBTERS are not questioning GMB’s personal integrity, which is an essential requirement of an anti-corruption agent.

The question is about those around him who facilitated his ascent to power. It would be folly if Nigerians fail to be vociferous against corruption and expect GMB to fight it alone. It is every ones fight.

Gen Buhari’s role is to provide the leadership for the fight. The referred key figures in APC are Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Governor Fashola, Governor Amaechi, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, and Alhaji Lai Mohamed. Regardless of what is called their ‘‘antecedents’’, they should not be judged in a hurry.

Having helped us break the psychological barrier that a sitting Nigerian president cannot be defeated, I think they deserve some praise. I am not a spokes person for any of the above names, nor are mine qualified to speak on their behalf.

I will simply repeat what I have written before about them and a bit more. Asiwaju Tinubu – he was the governor of Lagos from 1999 to 2007. Back in that period, he was one of the few effective States’ administrators in Nigeria. In leaving office he worked hard for the emergence of Governor Fashola.

By all indications, Mr Fashola is one of the best performing governors of his time. Thanks to Asiwaju. Here’s a personal story, which Asiwaju would not have the faintest idea in remembering. During his time in NADECO-Abroad, on a Saturday, a meeting was being held at a place in Central London.

There was an estimated several millions of pounds rollover in the British national lottery to be won that day. Asiwaju, Dr Ola Soyinka and myself were imagining what each would do if we were to win the money.

We asked Asiwaju what he would do with his. Without hesitation he said that he would plough a huge chunk of it into the anti-Abacha struggle. I was impressed. Here is a man prepared to pay a fortune to democratise Nigeria.

Willing to commit one’s energy and resources to a good cause is an admirable quality in man Chief John Odigie-Oyegun – here is a man who spent four years in exile for a democratic cause. Unlike most of his contemporaries or colleagues in the anti-Abacha camp who were attracted to easy money offered by the PDP, he resisted the allure and remained in the opposition camp wishing to see a cleaner Nigeria.

My first encounter with him noticed a man that quickly dispels any miasma of elitism around him. I think most of us he met in London noticed that. Amongst his peers he was ever present and prevailed on the hotheads in our midst during the anti-Abacha era. Using the Nigerian political language, he is – a real grass root politician.

Governor Amaechi – In the late Nelson Mandela’s memorial gathering in Lagos, in December 2013, he said and I paraphrase ‘‘we steal because we have never been stoned by Nigerians’’.

If any invitation was needed for Nigerians to act against corruption, there it was. As an indigene of (Port Harcourt) Ikwerre, I would add this, ‘‘Governor Amaechi provided more infrastructural development in the land than his predecessor – Dr Odili.” Salute London No serious mind would deny that APC’s success is 99.9% due to the efforts of its supporters in Nigeria.

But having seen the commitment of few dedicated Nigerians in London, in the GMB and APC project, it would be remiss not to extend a thank you to them. In the period when PDP sought to characterise APC as an Islamist party and some British parliamentarians were beginning to buy into it, this group of Nigerians sought and gained audience with other parliamentarians to counter the PDP propaganda.

This initiative facilitated the invitation of APC in Nigeria to come and provide a counter-narrative. The same group petitioned and attended the British Prime Minister’s residence on three separate occasions demanding free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria. In fact, the group was in 10 Downing Street, London, when the rumour of the planned postponed election began to swirl around.

Members of the British parliament and the American embassy in London were not spared of these gentle requests for support. So was the Socialist International at their conference in Geneva, Switzerland, where a delegation was sent to make a case for APC to be given an Observer status.

This group of Nigerians within their means ensured that the international community was kept on the notice of the political events in Nigeria. Bar one, all the six weeks of the election postponement the group held a candle lit vigil in front of Nigerian High Commission.

All these may be regarded trifling efforts, but we must remember that from each we expect, according to his/her ability. Nigeria needs a viable opposition; PDP, please don’t decimate yourself. You can fight another day. Ogbonda writes from London.