BY DAN OWEGIE
THE die is cast. With the emergence of General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) as the Presidential Flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) through a very open and transparent presidential primary, it shows that the 2015 presidential election is a straight battle between the two contending presidential Candidates of the two major political parties-that is, Buhari and incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.
When people indicate interest to vie for a position in a democratic setting, what should come to our mind is: What are their intentions? What is their pedigree? Does the candidate mean well? Do they have the capacity to deliver on their promises? How will the best emerge? Answers to these posers should guide our choice in February 2015.
First, what are their intensions? For Buhari, every Nigerian holds him in great esteem. He has integrity going for him. While a former Military Head of State, he launched the War Against Indiscipline (WAI). He, along with his Deputy, General Tunde Idiagbon doggedly prosecuted the war and for the first time, Nigerians started learning how to be disciplined citizens. Under the programme, they went after all the corrupt elements both in the military and civilian populace and fought corruption head on. Those found wanting, past and present were apprehended, tried and when found guilty sent to prison just as their loot were recovered for the country. Nigerians cannot forget the diplomatic suitcase era, which was an attempt to repatriate the Head of Presidential Task force on Rice, Alhaji Umaru Dikko who fled the country in a desperate bid to escape justice. This is why most Nigerians believe Buhari is the only candidate that can lead a genuine war against corruption, a problem that has stunted growth and development in the country. If you also check his life style, he is not involved in primitive accumulation of capital. So, when you check his intension into government, it is clear, he wants to serve.
The same cannot be said of President Goodluck Jonathan. How did he emerge as the PDP candidate? He used his position and office to muzzle the political space within the PDP and brushed all aspirants aside. Before the commencement of sales of forms, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party has announced him as the sole candidate of the party and that was what they finally converged on Eagle Square, Abuja to rubber stamp through as stage- managed convention. Over four presidential aspirants within the PDP were not allowed a level playing field with Mr. President.
No doubt too, President Jonathan has been supervising the worst corrupt and inept government in the country. Several cases of corruption leveled against persons in his government have not seen the light of the day. Worst is the fact that he has been rewarding corruption. A shining example is the pardon he granted corrupt leaders who pilloried the state-Alamieyeseigha and others. What about the Oduagate? Mindless thieving in the oil and gas sector acknowledged by several reports of the same Jonathan’s administration, yet, no one is being punished. Where are the oil subsidy thieves that is pushing Jonathan to remove subsidy from petroleum from next year? How many have been convicted under Jonathan? What about the sources of funding of Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN)? Nigerians have been asking the source of fund and nobody is providing answers. Can the President Jonathan administration have the moral right to prosecute anybody in court in Nigeria for corruption today? The answer is an emphatic no. Anybody being prosecuted of corruption by Goodluck Jonathan’s administration is just being persecuted by government because it is morally debased to combat graft.
Now, when such a candidate gets another four years, what will he do with the mandate? It will be a government only by the corrupt, for the corrupt- a PDP new definition for democracy.
This desperation of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party to remain in power by hook and crook also played out with the appointment of a Board of Trustees Chairman through a flawed process and a man who is known not to have respect for democratic norms and rule of law emerging left observers wandering if the nation will not retrogress by more than 50 years if this present crop of elites in the PDP were allowed to continue to misdirect the affairs of this country beyond 2015. Alhaji Bamanga Turkur was forced to resign as its National Chairman and Alhaji Adamu Muazu brought in from the back door. Recently, Bamanga Tukur went to court to reclaim his chairmanship and met a brick wall. All these show the PDP as a party which does not believe in equity, fairness and justice. How can a party with these negative attributes produce the president of a country in dire need of change?
The PDP on its part had been afraid of the All Progressives Congress from its formative days. The seeming controversy that surrounded its registration as a political amalgam that was out to wrest power from the spineless PDP further exposed the treachery and perfidy in the ruling PDP as they eventually settled for a childish plot of rushing to establish more APCs.
Prior to the consummation of the merger, observers as well as some active players on the Nigerian political turf, mouthed that it would, like the previous ones, end in a stalemate. This, they explained was because it’s the coming together of strange bedfellows whose principles and political ambitions would not agree. But it later turned out that the personalities in the merger were unswerving in their commitment to proving all doubting Thomases wrong. When General Buhari was declared the presidential candidate, all contending aspirants accepted the outcome of the primaries and congratulated the Daura-born General, with all promising to join to his campaign train.
Clearly, the PDP remains afraid of that merger and it is doing everything using state resources to truncate the wishes of the powerful group. But no gathering of any armoury can stop an idea whose time has come. The PDP will continue to flee from its shadows till 2015 when they would be swept away from power for apparent reasons.
It is noteworthy that Nigerians had never taken interest in the coming together of opposition parties in their bid to square up with the government at the centre, which many believe has reduced citizen to vagabond status. Nigerians are apprehensive that basic needs of life such as health, education, water, electricity, food and other things are out of the common man’s reach. While PDP government officials and their cronies go about buying private jets for themselves, send their children and wards to expensive schools overseas, seek foreign medical treatment, supply their own water at homes, provide their electricity and eat balanced meals, the poor study in schools under trees, have no roads to their communities, no health facilities or use ill- equipped and poorly staffed medical centres.
Also, the country is enmeshed in insecurity of unimaginable magnitude while the PDP is busy borrowing foreign loan to fight insurgency, which has defied all of their efforts. Why do you then borrow $1billion? To steal more of it, and the slaughtering of innocent Nigerians both Christians and Muslims alike have continued unabated. The southern part of Nigeria and North Eastern parts are a haven for kidnappers, where even royals, celebrities, academics, sports heroes and heroines and even the poor public are afraid of their lives and the lives of their loved ones as they go about their lawful businesses. In the north, the insurgency of Boko Haram and menace of unknown gunmen make an average citizen feel very insecure. The PDP security chiefs have failed to address this problem and have no answer to addressing it. Nigerians believe that only General Muhamadu Buhari among the presidential candidates can deal decisively with the problem, himself a victim of Boko Haram insurgency.
Nigerians deserve nothing less than the best from its leaders, not endless excuses that have been coming from the PDP. The upcoming 2015 general elections presents a unique opportunity for the amalgamated political groups from all over the country which formed the All Progressives Congress to be enthroned into power to bring about the positive change that Nigerians have been yearning for. General Muhamadu Buhari has all it takes to deliver Nigeria from the shackles of the oppressing PDP.
Mr. Dan Owegie is a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Edo State.