Here are my thoughts on the next presidential election and candidates;
I am pro-Nigeria, pro-democracy and pro-change. By change I mean change of party at the centre. We’ve had 16 years of a PDP government at the centre. That is long enough for any party to effect meaningful change on the polity. The PDP government during its custody did some things right and got some wrong – I won’t go into details.
Signs abound that President GEJ is fatigued. One only need look at his handling of Boko Haram, general insecurity, scandals involving cabinet members and especially the failure of his media/information team to articulate the President’s thoughts, his strategies and accomplishments. President GEJ deserves to rest, he’s done his best.
On Buhari, I am not impressed by his candidacy, primary campaign and manifesto. Truth be told, there are aspects of the manifesto that I agree with. However, all he did was copy and paste the same one he used in 2011. A few commas were moved, 2 changed to 4, 10% changed to 10-12% but other than cosmetic changes, it is practically the same document. Basically, Buhari couldn’t be bothered to try. In 2011, he developed a website to at least articulate his thoughts, on this occasion, he gave us two fingers. We weren’t worth it (if you’re one of his voltrons, feel free to disagree, it’s no less truthful). Compare that to Atiku’s campaign. Nigerians deserve your best effort every time you seek for the highest office in the country.
If one reviews Buhari objectively and against other performing public servants, it is difficult to accept that he is the best we can offer. Buhari’s insistence on himself being the only candidate capable of effecting change and an anti corruption drive is no different to what led Obasanjo to believe that he should seek a third term! Read that again, and now with less emotion (Buhari voltrons only). One would have thought, after vowing in 2011, that the General would have worked on developing a younger protégé. Further, there are as many people that recall Buhari’s tenure as Head of State with pleasure as there are those that recall it with disdain and trepidation.
So his past performance does not particularly swing perception of his record positively regardless of what his voltrons think. In fact Nigerians have soundly rejected him thrice with the 2011 rejection so emphatic that the General vowed never to contest again! In truth, it is President GEJ’s perceived ineptitude and inefficiency that is forcing people to line behind the opposition now. Unfortunately, the opposition has not given Nigeria a real choice.
Our democracy is very much in it’s infancy. For it to progress, deepen and mature, we need incumbents to lose elections from time to time. This will not only be healthier for our democracy, it is the only way to raise and/or improve the campaign bar, electoral promises, public inclusion & sensitisation and hopefully governance. Further, the raising of the governance stakes should, all other things being equal, eventually lead to the emergence of political ideologies. It is when parties begin to differentiate themselves by ideologies and campaign on such basis that the unhealthy focus on ethnicity and religion can take the back seat.
Is General Buhari better than President GEJ? Frankly and in truth, no one knows. He is different, but we don’t know if he is or will be better. So please vote for Buhari, if you must, not because he is better than President GEJ but purely because on the long run, in my opinion, having a different political party run the centre is better for our democracy. Finally, equally as important as incumbents losing elections is for the public to be fully engaged with their legislative representatives, that is the only catalyst for accelerating our democratic maturity.