Deconstructing Buhari, the APC Presidential Candidate
Vanguard – General Mohammadu Buhari’s acceptance speech as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, showed a strategic deployment of words by the former Head of State to project himself in a new and acceptable light.
After more than 20 hours of an unprecedented live broadcast of democracy at play at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, the nation’s leading opposition political party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, came up with Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as its presidential candidate. The choice was so transparently done that one of the nation’s leading political veterans present at the occasion, Atiku Abubakar, remarked it as the most transparent process ever in the nation’s history by a political party in choosing its presidential flag bearer.
Indeed, to many, nothing spoke of the new spirit in Nigeria’s leading opposition political party than the unanimity in the speeches from the major gladiators of the party following the announcement of the result.
The crown of the speeches was the acceptance speech by the candidate. It was a speech that showed Buhari’s significant acceptance of democracy as a major instrument for social rebirth; and which also saw him trying to deflate the balloon of religious extremism strung around his neck.
No dividing line between Christians and Muslims
For a man who, as a military Head of State, was obsessed with a seemingly self-righteous zeal to cleanse the polity, Buhari was more willing, this time, to accept that he did not know it all.
“My nomination is not because I am better than any of the other contestants. I see it as a tribute and mark of confidence to carry the torch as we all join hands to rescue our dear country Nigeria, from those who have led us into the current state of insecurity, poverty, sectarian divide and hopelessness among our people,” he stated.
Though no one had ever really found him to be an extremist beyond the normal call of his Islamic faith, the concept of Buhari being a fanatic and an extremist has stubbornly been made of him by his political rivals.
He was quick to show himself as one conscious of the country’s multi faith and multi ethnic set up.
“What I say today is for all Nigerians: Christian and Muslim, southern and northern, rich and poor, young and old, man and woman. We are all citizens of Nigeria. There is no dividing line among us that I care to honour. Either we advance as one or fail altogether,” Buhari said.
Consider the order of his words. Christian before Muslim, southern before northern and rich before poor.
Buhari, who had been faulted as a Muslim extremist chose to put Christians before his fellow Muslims. Said to be a northern irredentist, he chose to put his southern brethren before his northern compatriots and the former Head of State, who has been hailed as a champion of the poor masses and a foe of the rich, in his speech, put the rich before his beloved poor supporters.
“My choice and my colleagues’ choice and wish are that we progress together. Preserving the nation’s future is a scared obligation to all of us in this party. Leaders should be wholly committed to fulfilling this obligation otherwise they have no business being leaders. Sadly, the current administration does not believe in this obligation. By their actions they are leading us to calamity”, he said.
A messiah cometh?
Buhari’s messianic aura is reflective of his intervention in 1983 and a seeming patriotic inclination to salvage the country from the path of calamity which, he says, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is determined to take the country through.
As Nigeria’s military leader, Buhari did not really have the time to play on the international stage as he, at that time, was more preoccupied with domestic challenges. However, not for him was the seeming relegation of Nigeria in international fora; nor would Buhari, who as an army commander nearly ran through Chad, would now be obliged to that country to help him resolve the country’s security challenges?
Nigeria’s leader, perhaps to him, should not be at the back in an international gathering and certainly should take a front position when it comes to Africa. As Head of State, Buhari espoused the doctrine first dictated by the Murtala/Obasanjo military junta that Africa should be the cornerstone of the country’s foreign policy. Noting the country’s present ranking in the international community, he said: “At international conferences, the Nigerian delegation is usually among the largest but at the same time the least effective. Our president should have the status and the voice of Africa’s largest nation. But in political influence we are among the weakest.”
Buhari, in his speech, touched on two sensitive issues common to most Nigerians today – Power and the Chibok girls. He merely asked a question on the issue of power:
“Shall we at home continue to live in a condition where the Power Holding Company and its successors seem only to have the power to hold us in darkness?”
Given that power has been the albatross of most Nigerian administrations including his own military administration, he certainly did not dwell much on it. He subsequently proceeded to dwell on the Jonathan’s administration’s perceived failures, notably on security. It was a short speech, but expectations that the general would make maximum mileage on the issue of the Chibok girls and the spate of insecurity were perhaps, limited by the exigencies of the physical stress that had come upon the candidate and many in the audience who had stayed through the convention for more than 20 straight hours.
Buhari asked: “Shall we continue in a situation where 250 of our daughters have been abducted and the government has been unable to rescue them or provide credible information about what steps they are taking?
“Shall we live in a nation where several people were trampled to death in search of jobs in a stadium and yet no one has taken responsibility for the tragedy?
After asking Nigerians to join him in the collective effort of salvaging the country, the APC presidential candidate made the solemn pledge of throwing up an egalitarian administration that will not be biased towards language or creed.
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