NIGERIA’S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS: It’s retired General Muhammadu Buhari for Nigeria’s presidency – Tola Adenle

Nigerians in most corners of the country are in wild jubilation as thrice-rejected former army ruler of the country wins in a landslide over the incumbent.

Buhari’s message of the APC party that he led to this historic in more ways than one resonated beyond his Northern Nigeria place of origin, an important issue in multi-ethnic and religious divide across the country enabling him to win not only Muslim votes but Christian votes.

What changed for this ascetic former army general who had ruled Nigeria as a military man before trying to rule it as a civilian this fourth time around?

Nigerians yearned for change. Change from a system that has become so intractably corrupt and with impunity during the sixteen years that the ruling PDP has been in power after the military era that it had become apparent that the party and its leadership had neither the capability nor willingness to confront the deep-rooted problems of the country.

While great hopes had been placed on retired General Obasanjo – if not his PDP as most Nigerians, if truth be told never really voted for the PDP when it “won” – when the country returned to civil rule in 1999, and while rGO did seem to want to take the country from her sorry past, he was, by his second term, a man determined to squander the goodwill and support of most Nigerians.
Before he left office in 2003 after an ill-fated quest for a “third term” that is not in the Nigerian Constitution, corruption had gotten to a proportion perhaps as bad as under Babangida and his predecessor, the late General Abacha. While the former General was never really fingered for personal corruption, he had become one of Nigeria’s wealthiest people by the time he left office. He personally emasculated corruption-fighting agencies that he instituted, using the same agencies to fight those opposed to his party and person while leaving well-known looters who belonged to the PDP.

The Nigerian political situation that Obasanjo left in 2003 was a very weak, chaos-ridden, corrupt, inept and poisoned atmosphere that needed redemption but it wouldn’t come because the former president ensured that would not happen.

His hand-picked successor, the late Umaru Yar Adua – also from Buhari’s Katsina State – though terminally ill to Obasanjo’s knowledge, had his road to the presidency drenched in Nigerians’ blood after a massively-rigged election followed by the slaughter of hundreds of Nigerians who dared protest the election results. It stands as Nigeria’s most-rigged election in history, and that is saying a whole lot. Yar Adua’s illness would throw the country into near-constitutional crisis when his illness finally saw him smuggled out of the country for overseas treatment where he would die.

Even when Rumors of his death were rife, Nigerians were never given the true picture of the state of his health but made-up stories of his “improvement” and even near-good health restoration were planted by his close aides through presidential spokesman, Sunday Adeniyi (a former newspaperman) in newspapers. Various people in society asked that a delegation be allowed to see a man who, despite being nearly dead in a Saudi hospital but supposed to be very much in tune with goings-on in Nigeria that his spokesman once told Nigerians he left Abuja to watch a Super Eagles (soccer) match in Southern Africa to the delight of his boss!

Meanwhile, his wife, Binta Yar Adua and an inner circle became the de facto rulers as his Vice President, the same Jonathan who would become substantial president after his death, was shut out of governance. After serving out his principal’s term for about two years, he would score a much-disputed win over Buhari in another Obasanjo’s subversion of the people’s will. In both administrations that made the present president complete his principal’s term and then as President who “won”, Jonathan never displayed he had the capacity to lead a country that is as vast with different nationalities with different values, as well as a country that has a myriad of problems as Nigeria. NOR the willingness to learn, even if a bit, on the job.

His seeming turning up his nose at corruption – he famously not only refused to declare his assets as demanded by the constitution; he once declared that stealing is not corruption, he has ministers and close associates who were openly corrupt. And he never let go of anybody, no matter how openly corrupt. Right now, one of his former ministers whose alleged corruption was of such a scale that should see the woman in jail after being finally being divested of her massive looting despite the president’s unwillingness to do so for quite a while, is headed to the Senate, having won a seat! His Petroleum minister has been accused of massive corruption since the time he took over from late Yar Adua but the woman not only served out that first (half) time but has always grown more powerful and confident enough to get court injunctions of one type or another NOT to appear before the legislative body to answer questions from lawmakers.

What changed the fortune of Buhari this time around having been resoundingly rejected three times? What changed the minds of millions of Nigerians, especially in Yoruba’s southwestern part of the country where, only four years ago, anybody voting for him would be labeled ‘traitor’ just as the same label is generously used today for any who would vote for Jonathan?

It is important for non-Nigerians to understand the fluidity – pardon me, the non-ideology-based way politics goes in Nigeria. For example, the guy who may win a governorship in the Muslim North next weekend was the presidential candidate of APC, the party (then ACN) that adopted Buhari from his CPN! The criss-crossing from party to party by candidates looking for vessels to achieve their selfish ends is so dizzying that it is clear most politicians in the country stand for nothing. Even Buhari has had to play the game of party-hopping in his three presidential attempts: he stood for elections in 2003 as the candidate of the APP, then the ANPP in 2007 both of which deserted him in a country where campaign funding limits exists perhaps only on paper, and Buhari does not have the money needed to prosecute an election. By 2011, he had to found his own party, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), when this blogger would see him – the way such is described in Nigeria – as the only “messiah” that could “slay the corruption monster, despite my previous publicly-held views about him. With no funds to back his quest, and appealing almost only to core Northern Muslims, CPC failed despite attempts to attract Southerners by choosing Pastor Tunde Bakare as running mate and brokering a deal that fell through on details with the Action Congress of Nigeria, now APC, his new home.

This time around, he got a Southern party with wide acceptance, structure and the financial resources in the southwest that Nigeria’s elections have become – most Hausa/Fulani of Nigeria’s core North voted massively for him in 2011 as they would vote for ANY of their own – Buhari’s fortune changed because he is known as – sort of – “not one of them”, by the usually-discerning south-westerners. Attempts to tar him with association he now supposedly keeps therefore struck no chord in the Yoruba voters that he must win to get to the presidency.

Everybody who voted for him – and even many who did not – know that he definitely is “not one of them.”
The impunity – President Jonathan once announced he doesn’t “give a damn”, the now-entrenched god-fatherism that the whole system has bred, the failure in governance at ALL levels, the poverty of the people, the corruption not only at “federal” – the word is an unfunny joke and I’ve not been one to use it without quotes for many years – but at every other level, made Nigerians by the millions hop on Buhari’s train of change with the leading opposition party, APC. His old party was never going to get him victory not only because it was seen as a Muslim party but Muhammadu Buhari’s past as a military man who supposedly was a non-believer in democratic rule was a big baggage.

To all Southerners, the ‘National Question’, the idea of having the country restructured did not interest Buhari, who, to Southerners, was an irredentist believer in the North’s supreme position deliberately created by the British at independence. To divide and therefore continue to be able to have a strong foothold in Nigeria, censuses since that time when most rulers have been from the North, have huge numbers assigned to the arid North while the heavily populated South (East & West) combined supposedly has less people. Travels far and wide within Nigeria by air, rail or land show the impossibility of old Kaduna State – now Kaduna & Katsina States, for example, having almost 3 MILLION PEOPLE MORE THAN OYO (location for Ibadan) & OSUN STATES put together. All these (and more from Iboland in the East) had locked him out of the Southern mostly Christian part of Nigeria. It must be mentioned that Yorubaland has millions of Muslims but the religion as practised in that part is not the same as the Northern variant, a very conservative Islam.

This time around, his known ascetic and upright way made the rejected stone the foundation’s cornerstone on which, hopefully, Nigerians can build a nation, a reality that has eluded a people in over a century of booby-trapped British-ordained union and more than half a century of independence.

Echoes of the Biafra War still continue to plague Nigerians’ relationships as confirmed by the vote from the [Ibo] Southeastern which went solidly to Jonathan. To build a real nation, this would have to be worked on in a true structural adjustment of the political landscape.

Nigerians look to retired General Muhammadu Buhari to harness the can-do, never-say-die, resilience, hardworking, resourcefulness and hard work of the typical Nigerian AND the stupendous wealth of the country to START the country on the road to a destination to which it should have arrived a long time ago judging from the money it has made. The wealth the country has made has ended up mostly in private pockets of top politicians and their associates, top civil servants and their associates as well as a few others within a circle I named “Nigeria, Inc.” back during Obasanjo’s second term.

Nigerians hope an administration of Buhari and his running mate, Professor Yemi Osibajo would take Nigeria from a land of wealth where private plane ownership is now so high as to rank in single digit position in the world to a country where, if you own such and your known income does not justify such, YOU WOULD HAVE TO BE PRESUMED CORRUPT AS IN THE SINGAPORE THAT RECENTLY-DECEASED LEE KUAN YEW FATHERED.

Nigerians are hoping that a Buhari Administration would work at restructuring the country so that the lopsidedness caused by a non-“federal” system that makes the presidency a do-or-die affair, a system that holds some sections down while the wealth of the country goes another way … is corrected.

Today is a happy occasion that should not be bogged down by the arduous task ahead but these hopes of a long-suffering people who wish for nothing more than what people in well-governed nations take as natural, must be put forward even as millions rejoice that Nigeria’s collective “long nightmare is over”. Those words of late President Ford on ascending the US presidency after President Nixon’s exit is apt today.

I congratulate Nigerians as I do Muhammadu Buhari & his running mate, the APC that gave Buhari to us and plead that Nigeria’s various peoples, states and religions be governed even-handedly. Never must a Nigerian need – as in the words of a young lady who, among ten randomly asked by a BBC reporter what she likes about her country said to the effect that her country is one in which anyone who knows someone in power can “make it”.

THAT is not a positive but a problem that needs to be eradicated.

This election has many firsts principal among which are an incumbent being dislodged not through a military coup by a challenger but through the will of the majority of the people, and to most Nigerians’ delight, I am confident, that we are all relieved that this first time of the ascendant of a presidentNOT imposed by the will of a Master Godfather OR through “army arrangement should lay a firm foundation for the future.” We can never forget Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the genius of “Army Arrangement” and many other visionary prescient political utterances in his music.

TUESDAY, MARCH 31, 2015. 6:40 p.m. [GMT]



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2 Comments on “NIGERIA’S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS: It’s retired General Muhammadu Buhari for Nigeria’s presidency – Tola Adenle”

  1. Femi Aborisade Says:

    Dear Aunty,

    I have just found the time to fully read your article entitled “NIGERIA’S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS: It’s retired General Muhammadu Buhari for Nigeria’s presidency – Tola Adenle”.

    While I share your characterisation of Gen Buhari as an anti-corruption crusader, which made voters across Nigeria to vote for him, we should moderate our expectations of the degree of changes posiible under him. A key policy issue that will make a big difference in Nigeria today is income redistribution. I’m not sure his party can be relied upon to champion this cause.

    For example, would APC legislators be prepared to reduce their remunerations which are reckoned to be one of the highest if not the highest in the world? Also, would APC Governors and legislators now forego their Unconstitutional Pension Laws and bills which are being challenged in the courts by some human rights organisations? Clearly, Buhari as President under a constitution cannot unilaterally overrule the appetite of members and leaders of his party to loot public treasury through legislations at the expense of the people. Let us bear in mind also that Buihari pledged commitment to a market system in order to assure the imperialist West that they have nothing to fear.

    The APC Manifesto also plegeds APC to sustain privatisation programme. A fundamental policy change that is required to bring positive chamges to the material lives of ordinary people is reversal of the privatisation policy. Is APC the vehicle to bring about these concrete policy changes beyond the vote winning abstract “change”? These are the issues beyond the euphoria of change of governmentfrom the control of the PDP to the APC. Given your previous writings which you have recently made available on this blog, I know you are not under any illusions, I just wish to use your article as a basis to deepen the discourse.

    Femi Aborisade



    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Femi,

      Thank you very much for this.

      You are very right about the need to be cautious, especially as Buhari alone cannot be expected to make things work.

      Yes, you are also very correct about the purpose of the re-airing I’m giving a few of past essays that should show I’m a strong believer in eternal vigilance PLUS work by everybody as the key to total liberation for the long-suffering masses.

      One just hopes that our tendency to have collective short memory which is evident by the idea that the problem is all but solved once the election is over will not stand in the way of our standing up to the challenges that face the country.

      Sincere regards,



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