‘Fawehinmi directives on Buhari in 2007 guided us’
It is nearly three weeks to the first round of general elections and Nigerians are again at the threshold of a major resolution to decide who pilots the affairs of the country for the next four years.
This time, the major challenge is between battle-tested President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and long distance runner candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar.
Opinions are sharply divided among Nigerians on whether the president has done enough to fulfill his promises of fixing the economy, tackling corruption and providing security in the country. The electorate as jury is waiting anxiously till February 16 when they will be called upon to pass a verdict on the president’s performance so far and decide if he deserves a second term.
While public opinion tends to re-enact the change mantra that brought the present government into office in 2015 through a groundswell of voices also clamouring for change in 2019, one man, Emmanuel Umohinyang, has an unshakeable confidence in Nigerians to re-elect Buhari.
Umohinyang, convener of the Re-elect Buhari Movement (RBM), tells whoever cares to listen that there is no reason, based on existing performance indices, Nigerians will not vote for Buhari next month. RBM is currently involved in a nation-wide campaign to mobilise Nigerians for the purpose of re-electing the president.
Umohinyang, a lawyer and social commentator, hails from Akwa Ibom State. In a recent encounter with newsmen, he spoke on national issues, including why he wants Buhari reelected for another term of four years and why it is in Nigerians’ best interest to give Buhari another four years.
He said by adopting Buhari, RBM members were merely following in the footsteps of their mentor, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, who, in 2007, “called us and told us that, henceforth, we should give our support to the current president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari”.
While pointing out that Gani had endorsed Buhari for the 2007 election by raising his hand, Umohinyang declared: “So, we have equally taken our time outside that endorsement from our great mentor and leader. We have taken our time to look at Nigeria from 1999 to 2015. And we couldn’t fault that position taken by the erudite lawyer. We have watched events too. First, the coming of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999, that administration was there for eight years, and Atiku was his vice president. We also have watched the brief period (administration) of the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua; we also saw the five years of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. And I think the last administration gave us the zeal to say we mustn’t continue to sit on the fence. Let us also join and see to it that our country does not go the way the elite want it”, he stated.
“On that note, in June 2014, we felt we should see what we could do as a group to contribute in helping the country move away from this path of destruction that we find ourselves. And we threw our weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari as a candidate of the APC. To the glory of God and support of Nigerians, coupled with the technology that was introduced in 2015, he won the election”.
Explaining RBM’s involvement in the present campaign to get Buhari re-elected, he said: “Re-elect Buhari Movement (RBM) became a child of destiny. We sat down and decided that we needed to project the work of this current administration. As you know, RBM may be a political pressure group, but some of the members belong to different political parties; and some are not even members of APC. Myself, I am not a member of APC. So, we have a focus; and that focus is to support Mr. President to get re-elected.
“Not for any particular gain, but just to see to it that the pattern the government has taken to rebuild and re-shape our country is sustained. I think that’s one reason RBM was formed. And that is the reason RBM is in existence. And also I want to reassure you that by the grace of God, by the time we get Nigerians to get the president re-elected on the 16th of February, we will also hold a press conference where we will shut down the RBM as a platform because it’s not there to galvanise support for the governorship candidates of any party. The focus is Mr. President, and we will maintain that focus.”
Asked to assess the president after three and half years of being in office and to justify why he thinks Buhari deserves a second term, he said: “If you look at what the president has done between that period and now, you cannot compare it with the 16 wasted years of the PDP”.
Speaking on specifics, he cited ongoing road construction across the country. “We have gone round the country; we are not depending on government data to speak for government. We have structures from the national to the zonal coordinator, to the state coordinator, to the council supervisors, to the units of RBM. All we need to do is call a meeting, pass a message; go round your unit, go round your ward, your local government; send us pictures of what this administration has done. And we have those pictures.
“The Buhari administration has done creditably well compared to its immediate predecessor. Fortunately, I come from the South-South part of the country, even though I don’t play ethnic politics. In 2010, when the former President Goodluck Jonathan went to campaign in Anambra State, he stood at Onitsha Bridge and said if he did not finish the Second Niger Bridge by 2015, he was going on exile. Nothing was done but today, the story is different.”
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