Buhari, The Truth Is Bitter By Abba Mahmood
In Hausa-Fulani culture, the greatest calamity that can befall an individual is not to have someone who can tell that individual the truth when the need arises. That is why if anyone did anything unbecoming they would say “wane don rashin mafadi ne yayi haka?” meaning “is it because of lack of anyone who can tell the person the truth that he or she did that?” There is also a popular saying that the truth is bitter. Today, I intend to tell the bitter truth even though I am pained to do so. A time comes in the life of any nation or individual when there remain only two choices: keep quiet and continue to go on the wrong path or talk and act to get a solution. This is the time we are now, and the truth is always bitter.
On page 6 of Daily Trust newspaper of Monday, August 12, 2013, there is a story entitled “Buhari: Contesting in 2015 is an obligation” in which it is said: “Former Head of State General Muhammadu Buhari has said he will run for president again as the race for 2015 general elections begins to pick up momentum. ‘It is a must obligation on me’, he told a political group, the Kano State Political Movement, whose members paid him Sallah homage at the weekend in Kaduna”. Haba! Is it really true? Indeed, there is need to tell the bitter truth.
General Buhari ought to be reminded that his main asset is his integrity. He had come out in tears during the 2011 presidential campaign to tell the whole world that 2011 was the last time he would ever contest any election again. What has really changed between then and now to warrant his change of mind? Where is Buhari’s integrity if he could go back on his words at this time of his life? Does it mean that the merger his party entered into recently is just for him to contest for the presidency and not for any patriotic reason? The truth is bitter.
By 2015, it will be 40 years since Buhari became governor of the defunct North-Eastern State, now six states, under the Murtala/Obasanjo regime. By December 31, this year, it will be exactly 30 years since Buhari became Nigeria’s head of state! Does it mean for all these years he has groomed and mentored no one and that out of the 170 million Nigerians today, no one is worthy of continuing from where Buhari has stopped, such that he alone can do what he has in mind? The truth is bitter.
General Buhari contested against his senior, by age and military rank, Obasanjo in 2003. He then contested against his younger brother, Umaru Yar’Adua, in 2007. He again contested against one who could go for his son, Jonathan, in 2011. In all these, there were three different contests each: general election, electoral tribunal, and Supreme Court — making it about nine times — and in each he did not succeed. Why this desperation to be president to the point of “a must” obligation in 2015? Only God gives power at the time He wants. The truth is bitter.
Regardless of the constitutional, legal and moral constraints, let us come to the safe conclusion that President Jonathan is going to contest in 2015. And if Buhari contests again, it will be a repeat of the 2011 bitter contest between the two. Is the nation ready for that, and what are the consequences of that contest to national stability when we are yet to properly heal the wounds of the last one? The 2011 presidential election turned out to be the most divisive; we can only imagine what the outcome will be if the same actors repeat it. The truth is bitter.
The electoral worth of a politician is measured by how he or she is able to consistently win elections. When General Buhari joined the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2013, the party had nine governors. By the time he left for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the ANPP had only three governors! The CPC contested election for the first time in 2011. They ended up with only one state governor, Al-Makura of Nassarawa — even that was elected on his personal recognition and not any other factor. That is why the CPC has only four State Assembly members out of 24 in Nassarawa. In any case, Buhari’s party has never won in his home state of Katsina since he joined politics. These are facts and the truth is bitter.
There are two fallacies in the Nigerian political arena today. The first is that there will be renewed crisis in the Niger Delta if President Jonathan is not allowed to go beyond 2015. But, objectively speaking, with higher oil theft than at any time in the history of Nigeria, has the Jonathan presidency really solved the crisis? Oil bunkering and piracy are on the rise under this regime than at any time in the history of Nigeria. But the truth is better.
The second fallacy is that, politically, Buhari owns the northern states. Ambassador Campbell in the updated version of his book, Nigeria Dancing on the Brink, clearly states that most of the powerful traditional rulers in the north do not support Buhari. Even the British colonialists found it expedient to rule through the traditional institutions, the so-called “Indirect Rule”. How can anyone or even any government make any headway without them? The truth is bitter.
Gen. Buhari suspended the Ooni of Ife and the Emir of Kano, two of the most powerful traditional rulers in Nigeria, when he was military head of state. That is what the entire traditional institution has against him. If he doesn’t have the traditional rulers, then, is it his military colleagues that he has? Or is it the business class that he has? Or is it the religious class that he has? Or is it the political class that he clamped in detention as military leader that he has now? Tell me, if he does not have the support of all these, then, is it the street urchins who hardly register to vote or are not even properly taught how to vote that he has to win? This is the problem, but the truth is bitter.
Like the late Mallam Aminu Kano, General Buhari is an inspirational leader. He should remain a statesman, having paid his dues as governor, petroleum minister, head of state and PTF chairman in the past decades. The time for him to give a chance to others has come. He should forget about any contest again as he had earlier promised so as to retain his integrity as a man of his words. Believe me, regardless of any party, if it is Buhari, the outcome will always be the same because he is the perennial candidate that will always make the non-performing PDP keep winning, merger or no merger, because some people have already formed an opinion of him, erroneously in my view. And there is nothing that can change that opinion.
Only a fool will continue to play the same card over and over again and expect a different result. We have to really be honest with ourselves. It is only one who loves Buhari that can tell him the truth and this column which he cherishes is known for telling the truth, however bitter. God save Nigeria.
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