President ‘Okechukwu’ Buhari, By Tonnie Iredia
Nigerians are beginning to know more about our President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari. During the electioneering campaigns which preceded the Presidential election of March 2015, a repeated documentary profiled him as a candidate who did not meet the basic educational requirement of the West African School Certificate. After he won the election, a new documentary surfaced crediting him with a Master’s degree in Defence Studies. If he had lost the election, perhaps the new documentary would have shown how he didn’t get near a primary school.
Having emerged as President-elect, he has become an instant hero to all in a country where failure is an orphan while success is claimed by all. His admonition and that of his victorious party- the All Progressive Congress APC) that defectors to the party may get no welcome package appears to have fallen on deaf ears as many are scheming to get close. In any case, why should anyone want to remain in the former largest party in Africa which according to the Senate President, David Mark has since gone into coma? So, why should people not be falling over themselves to be seen and accepted as Buhari’s acquaintances? After all, didn’t Buhari present himself as a man of every group during the electioneering period, especially as he had to be adorned in several Nigerian attires for the campaigns? He could jolly well be an Ibo man.
Only last week, the Imo State Governor-elect, Rochas Okorocha was quoted by the media to have announced a new name-Okechukwu, for the President-elect. The incoming first lady was not left out as she too was proclaimed Hajia ‘Ogechi’ Buhari. As Governor Okorocha reportedly explained, both names confirm that his people are in a season where God has chosen to bless them with the election of General Buhari. Although no one should be surprised at the eulogies being poured on Buhari, some people may find it hard to understand why the Southeast where Buhari performed so poorly is at the forefront of those cringing and hustling for political patronage from the same President-elect. The story all over the place is that APC leaders in the zone led by Okorocha have already undertaken a strategic visit to Buhari with a specific mission to say: “we know that we’ve lost out in the position of senate presidency because we did not have a ranking senator elected to the National Assembly. We however appeal and we believe that you will be generous enough to consider the Southeast region for the position of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). The team was also said to have requested for the position of the speaker of the House of Representatives or its deputy.
Meanwhile, a committee set up by the APC to review the zoning arrangement is yet to conclude its work. If so, why is the Southeast caucus already lobbying for the post of SGF? In addition, how come members of the caucus have since gone into action to position themselves for the post? A former Governor of the old Abia State, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Senator Chris Ngige, a former Governor of Anambra State and Professor Anthony Anwuka, the current secretary to the Imo State Government are all said to be in the race for the post with none of them willing to cede the post to the other.
Under the circumstance, who says, General Buhari will find a conducive environment to effect the much awaited change to our political culture? The point must however be made that it is not everyone in the Southeast zone that is cringing. The famous Ohanaeze ndigbo, the Igbo apex socio-cultural organization for instance, has since stated through the President of its Anambra Branch Dr Chris Eluomunoh that it would not beg for appointment because it expects Buhari to give the Igbo their due.
The South-south zone which but for Edo State, made similar negligible returns to Buhari’s success did not toe the ndigbo line as a group which called itself the forum of former Speakers of State Houses of Assembly wants Pally Iriase of Edo APC, to be made the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Are these claims supposed to be made while the party’s zoning committee is yet to produce a blue print on the subject? Again if the zones where the President-elect garnered the least votes are aggressively clamouring for what they should get, what then happens to the old adage that ‘from whom much is expected much must be given? Here, we venture to say that for change to our self-centred political interest to end, political parties must learn to give little to those who brought in little. Nigerians need to, for once, see politics as a game in which losers, go back into their shell to strategize for the next competition. Indeed, the old practice whereby losers canvass for government of national unity which keeps them in government is one that must be jettisoned if our nation is to develop a democratic template which prepares good players to appreciate when to be in government and when to serve as a veritable opposition to a ruling party.
On this score, General Buhari’s attitude to the Southeast and South-south politicians in his party should be admonish them to concentrate on party organization in their zones for better future performance. He should not allow them to distract him with daily visits on lobbying for their personal gains; otherwise there would be no difference between those who performed well and those who did not. This will bring some sanity to the political landscape of Nigeria which will in turn help a new President to develop a good cabinet bearing in mind that at the end of a presidential election, the victorious candidate ought to function as the President of all. The posture would also assist the President-elect to embrace not just the letter but also the spirit of the provisions of Section 14 of our constitution which require him to obey the federal character principle by picking men and women of vision (not lobbyists) from all parts of the country.