NIGERIA 2019: Let the people decide

About four years ago, Nigerian went through the election ritual, though the election was shifted by six weeks, for reasons believed were an excuse to get the ruling government better prepared to consolidate its grip on power.

Before long, the six weeks arrived, and there was no hiding place; the ruling party lost dismally. As things are looking now it seems the ruling party APC is not sincerely ready for the general election. Thus, the election was postponed from 16 February 2019 to 23 February 2019 because of logistical problems.

Despite the fact that all eyes are on Nigeria, numerous local and international observers and the world have been in the country for days to perform their various duties as observers.

As you know already, Nigeria is never short of conspiracy theories. These have been fuelled by strange events and activities that are occurring very close to the election day! For example, there have been reports of sporadic fire outbreaks in a few INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) centres, very strange indeed when one considers the proximity of such fires to the election date.

However, I have not seen much coverage explaining the magnitude of the respective conflagrations. We have also read reports of some sample ballot papers being found inside many sacks in Kano State of Nigeria. I wonder what any sane human being could be doing with sample ballot papers. The main thing is that the opposition party (PDP) is being treated to mind-games in this high-stakes plot, the end of one can only predict.                                                                                             I bear no grudge or personal animosity against President Buhari. I love him the way I love mankind and respect the office he occupies. I believe President Muhammadu Buhari has not reciprocated the massive goodwill bestowed on him in 2015 and that he has Nigerians with great contempt and disdain.

He has also not properly utilised his professional, competent and capable Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. Had he done so, maybe Nigeria and Nigerians will be better. This is not to cause any disaffection within their ranks, but every discerning Nigerian knows that this quintessential gentleman is the reason that there is any real noteworthy success for the present administration.

Otherwise, Buhari has embarrassed his supporters, endlessly, with his reckless, insensitive and uninformed decisions. What many of those supporting him in public today say behind him is unbelievable and unspeakable. I have heard of Nigerians who confess to private threats of business and physical annihilation and are thus forced to endorse a man they know can never take Nigeria to anywhere meaningful, even if given four terms. Time will surely tell.

I personally like Buhari. His personal attributes particularly his discipline and abstemiousness are worthy of emulation. He has demonstrated in the past that he is a credible person, although that has been put to question by some of the actions that his government has recently been taking.

There is a hint of desperation to cling to power which does not augur well for Nigeria or indeed the President himself.  I therefore will wish, and pray, that President Buhari meant every word he uttered in his various promises to the nation that he’ll execute free, fair and credible elections. I have no reason to doubt him. He is acclaimed as a man of integrity. This is the time for him to prove that he is indeed a man who is passionate about Nigeria and means his word that the country will not be broken up. 

God has been very kind to President Buhari and his family. He practically returned from the dead less than two years ago and has somehow managed to steer the ship of State from then till today. Nigerians have not complained too much about the situation they found themselves in. Rather, as is typical, they prayed for the restoration of good health to their President and their prayers were answered. Therefore, if Nigerians reject him at the polls, in a free and fair contest, he should thank God for the uncommon opportunity and grace given to him for the second chance to serve Nigeria as it’s supreme ruler. He should go home in peace, to enjoy quality time with his wife, beautiful children and adorable grandchildren.

The Presidency is nobody’s personal property. He should take solace in joining the commendable and enviable company of other incumbent Presidents in Africa, like Goodluck Jonathan and John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, who made no fuss before accepting defeat in good faith, no matter the secret pains. President Buhari should remember to call his successful opponent and offer his best wishes. I promise, this gesture will turn out to be an icing on Buhari’s cake for final retirement. His apotheosis would also have been guaranteed instantly.

On the other hand, if Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition party (PDP), fails in a free and fair contest, he should accept his destiny with equanimity. I can understand that it would be a difficult time for him because it has been a long arduous journey for him to eventually land the presidential candidacy and ticket of a mainstream party.

It is natural that he and his supporters will feel very disappointed having worked extremely hard to defeat and unseat President Buhari. Atiku should take solace in the fact that he has fought a good fight. Atiku must accept that in every contest, only one person can win. As long as the election is free and fair enough, the over-all interest of the country must be considered. Besides, there are remedies already embedded in the electoral act if there has been any unfairness. Justice may tarry, but it will come eventually, no matter how much people may try to manipulate the system and the judiciary.

My only worry is about President Buhari’s footsoldiers. From their utterances and body language, it is obvious that they are spoiling for war and are only ready to go down fighting. They do not seem to care about the outcome of free and fair elections as long as their candidate does not lose. They have boisterously announced to the world, and the President himself has echoed them, that no one can unseat him. That statement may be considered condescending and outrightly arrogant and capable of pouring petrol into the raging fire.

The day of reckoning is almost here. The People will have their say. The contending gladiators must also ensure that the People must have their way. Their choice must prevail no matter whose ox is gored. Nobody is bigger than Nigeria.

Opinion by Olusegun Agbeniyi who is a political, social and economic analyst. He writes in his own personal capacity.