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Monday, 26 August 2013

Buhari: I can smell the cooking

By Femi Adesina (, 08055001928)
December 10, 2010
The aroma wafting from the political camp of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari is delicious. In fact, you salivate, as you perceive it. There is some finger-licking food waiting to be served, and that very soon. Between April and September this year, I wrote two major articles on the former military head of state and his desire to rule the country again, this time as a democratically elected leader. And in many other pieces, I’d stressed that the man is my number one preference for president next year. But also, I’d been practical enough to confess that Buhari’s road to the presidency is littered with daunting hurdles and obstacles. Formidable barriers and blockades.

Writing under the title, ‘Buhari: When integrity is sin,’ published on April 30, I’d said: “Whatever we say of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it is the nation’s largest party today, and whoever has the ticket of the party may be as good as being president. Of course, I don’t like that fact, but I must be honest enough to admit it. Therefore, to get rid of this army of occupation called PDP, we need a coalition, a broad based political alignment which was attempted through the National Democratic Movement… Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). Can this raise a finger against almighty PDP? The ANPP was the next largest party in the country. Buhari could not wrest power from the PDP on its platform. Will he now do it through CPC? Tough, surely.”

Again, in September, I wrote under the headline, ‘2011: Mistakes Buhari must not make.’ And what was I saying?
“Like a hurricane, the man who ran for president in 2003 and 2007 on the platform of the ANPP is blowing from one state to the other, particularly in the North-west and North-east geo-political zones. It is a good development, but therein also lies my worry… The cyclone called Buhari must blow across the country – North, South, East, West. That is the way to guarantee victory.”

Since three months ago that I wrote the piece, I’ve kept tabs on Buhari’s political fortunes, watched the people he frolicked with, the places he visited, and the things he said. And I think the ramrod straight Daura man is getting it right, and the auguries appear quite good. Now, Buhari’s CPC is holding talks with the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), the Save Nigeria Group (SNG), and many others. That is the way to go. Whether anybody likes it or not, Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s ACN is crucial to any candidate who wants to make an inroad into the South-west. Recent judicial pronouncements, which changed the governorship of some states in the region, have re-drawn the political map of the country.

Where the PDP hitherto held sway, the ACN now is in charge, and this will definitely affect the voting pattern. The ACN (and Tinubu, by extension) now controls Lagos, Osun, Ekiti and Edo states. The Labour Party government led by Olusegun Mimiko in Ondo, has ties of consanguinity with the ACN, and will likely follow whatever course the latter charts. Buhari is, therefore, quite smart to hold talks on a possible alliance with the ACN. The calculation is this: Buhari dominates the North-east and North-west where he’s blowing like a typhoon, sweeps South-west votes through an alliance with ACN, gets a chunk of the South-east with a strong running mate from the region as well as an alliance with Orji Kalu’s PPA and APGA (All Progressives Grand Alliance), and he’s as good as home and dry. From the North-central and South-south, what he needs is just a significant showing.

He then gets the required national spread, and Nigeria gets a president that can give honest, inspiring leadership. How wonderful this will be!
But a warning. In the talks with the ACN, Tinubu being running mate should not be on the cards. Not at all. My colleague and columnist with Thisday, Yusuf Olaniyonu, warned about this last Friday, and I agree. Nigerians are in no mood for a Muslim-Muslim ticket now. Nor a Christian-Christian ticket. It will be insensitive. It worked with M.K.O. Abiola and Babagana Kingibe in 1993, but it will not necessarily work now. In 1993, Nigerians wanted the military out of power by all means, and were ready to pay any price, including voting a Muslim-Muslim ticket into power. Today, the dynamics have changed. With the perfidy of some people working against the zoning arrangement in the PDP, suspicion has risen several notches higher in the land. Of course, ethnicity and religion are major factors, and CPC/ACN will be making a grave mistake if they present a Muslim-Muslim ticket. I believe they are smarter politicians than to make such blunder.

Buhari’s best choice of running mate is from the East. This is a country that is already naturally zoned, no matter what the covenant breakers say about zoning. The South-west finished an eight-year presidency just in 2007, and should not think of producing the number two man so soon, when other regions like the South-east and South-south have not produced a president or deputy in 45 and 50 years respectively. A Buhari-Tinubu ticket is simply out of it. An alliance, yes, joint ticket, no.
What then happens to presidential aspirants on the ACN platform? Former EFCC boss, Nuhu Ribadu, and Attahiru Bafarawa, ex-Sokoto State governor, have indicated interest. To be frank, I do not see any of these two as our next president. They do not appear at all in my crystal ball. Not even their shadows. Bafarawa? Not when he could not even win Sokoto which he had governed for eight years, with his then Democratic Peoples Party (PDP). And Ribadu? Well, does he strike you as a politician? An ideologue, yes, but politician, no.

Let me mention a major endorsement that Buhari received recently, which to me, is a salutary development. Did you read that interview Ibrahim Babaginda granted an online medium, Pointblank News, which Daily Sun and Nigerian Tribune reproduced? He said of Buhari: “He was my boss. He was an honourable man. I can say it anywhere.”
IBB has lied to Nigerians on many issues over the years. He lied on IMF loan. He lied on his economic policies. He lied on the terminal date of his administration many times. And he told the ultimate lie by annulling the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by M.K.O. Abiola. But today, possibly for the first time in his life, IBB has told the truth: “I respect Buhari. He was my boss. He was an honourable man, and I can say it anywhere.”

This confirms to us that the military coup that ousted Buhari in 1985 was a self-serving one. Why should you topple a “honourable” man, if not just lust for power? That was how Nigeria lost the fundamental good she would have received from the Buhari/Idagbon regime, which I believe would have been our best till date. However, we now have opportunity to get the man back into power via the ballot box. Hurricanes are very powerful, sometimes violent storms with strong winds and heavy rains. Buhari is now like a positive hurricane in the North. Can the typhoon also sweep into the West and East? It depends on the successes made of the ongoing talks with ACN, PPA and others.

The World Meteorological Organisation usually names hurricanes from a prepared list. That was how the world got names like Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Andrew, Rita, Luis, Allison, Floyd, Georges, Keith, Lenny, Michelle, and many others. The name given to any hurricane that is unusually fierce is retired, and never used again. Since 1954, at least 40 of such names have been retired. After 2011 polls, we should retire ‘Hurricane Buhari’ in Nigeria, and the best way to do it is to retire him into the presidential villa, for one term in office as he has promised. At least, this is one “honourable” man we can trust. I can say it anywhere.
From my mailbox
Atiku deserves it
Atiku deserves the compensation the Northern Political Leaders Forum gave him. He is the one that gallantly fought Obasanjo, which foiled the third term agenda.
H.O. Oguntade, Lagos
I suspect him
Atiku’s vaulting ambition to rule the country is suspect. Genuine leaders leave good legacies. But Atiku’s name is synonymous with alleged corruption and stubbornness.
Ihebinike Godwin, Owerri
Underrate Atiku to your detriment
Going by Atiku’s political history, I was expecting Jonathan’s godfather to be saying…I dey cry o... because this is a die-hard man that has brought him to his knees before, let alone his godson without any political muscle. Anyway, my own political calculation in 2011 is that Atiku will beat Jonathan in PDP primaries and Buhari will beat him in general election, then we will finally be free from our self-imposed colonial master called PDP.
Adewunmi Adesida
Atiku can relocate to Chad!
I’m not amused by your comment on Atiku’s political resurrection. This consensus rubbish is taking us back to the period of regional politics. Anyway, if the election is free and fair in 2011, neither Atiku nor Jonathan will win. In fact no PDP candidate will win in any election. Atiku can then declare himself President and relocate to Niger or Chad with Mallam Ciroma. I assure you, they wouldn’t be missed!
Toyin Ojora,
Atiku an armada? I dey laugh o
You have at last answered my question as to the North putting its best foot forward. You answered by saying that “Atiku is an armada”. Inasmuch as am not against Atiku (in fact I used to be sympathetic towards him during those monstrous days of Obasanjo especially during third term agenda), but no longer today because I can’t trust him no more. (From PDP to AC, and back to PDP).
Ali Kingsley,
Re: Atiku: Wasn’t this flag at half-mast?
He that follows Atiku and believes what he says will also believe that cheetah is leopard and that alligator is crocodile. He is like a child that believes a mirage to be a pool of water: deceived and hoodwinked.Ikenna G. Ikenna, 08063620983
Destiny calls
Outside Mandela, I have never seen or hear where an incumbent President in Africa has ever ruled only for one term. Atiku will not leave power come 2015, if given the mandate. So let us be realistic. Destiny calls. It’s God’s own zoning . Michael Rapulu,
I laughed
I laughed when you described Atiku as a victim of persecution, maltreatment and oppression. Your rugged, dogged, fighter from the north? That description does not fit at all! Truth to me is, Atiku met more than his match in Obasanjo. He was disloyal to his boss and got his arse kicked by the boss. Barrister Michael Orisabiyi,
You speak my mind all the time
I wonder why you always peep into my mind to ‘steal’ my thoughts. Atiku has always been my man. As an Idoma man from Benue State, I believe zoning remains our best bet of clinching the governorship position. Therefore any attempt to scuttle zoning is an attempt to keep my people in perpetual slavery. Ode Idoko,
I’m sorry for Atiku
I read your piece and felt very sorry for Atiku. One Igbo adage has it that a fly that refuses to listen to advice, will follow the corpse to the grave. My advice to Turaki is to rest for now. Nigeria  President is not do or die.
Nwankwo Dave
He was never dead
Atiku was never dead politically, he was only in a political purgatory.
I have this feeling that he may rule this country this time, the fact that Obasanjo dey laugh notwithstanding. Let’s see who laughs last at the end of the day.
St-Charles Akubor,
He can’t walk again
James Hardly Chase’s Make the Corpse Walk, showed that eccentric millionaire Kester Weidman, was suffering from acute psychosis, and of course, his brother’s corpse never walked!  Atiku cannot walk again.
Eze Chidi Ernest

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