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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Buhari: Right choice for opposition consensus

BuhariPhoto: Sun News Publishing
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If the opposition political parties are serious in their quest to dethrone the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the presidency and produce the president in the 2011 general election, then they must come together in a form of an alliance and present a credible, popular, detribalized and generally acceptable candidate, who will fly their flag on the platform of one of the opposition political parties. Such a candidate should have the clout and following to face the PDP.

For the opposition to match the PDP which at the moment is occupying the governorship seats in about 27 states of the federation, and has an overwhelming majority in both chambers of the National Assembly, it must pool its resources together, take a look around and come up with the best person that can be a consensus candidate. Fortunately, the opposition has been making progress in the South West of Nigeria, where the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has been recording one court victory after another in the quest to recover the stolen gubernatorial mandates from the PDP. A close look at the major opposition political leaders will show the likes of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the leader and founder of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), General Muhammadu Buhari, the governor of Kano State, His Excellency Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, former EFCC boss, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and the former governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Atahiru Bafarawa etc. For obvious reasons, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is out of it as presidential candidate, and this leaves us with the rest, of which General Muhammadu Buhari stands out.

Why General Buhari?
Buhari is a whistle clean military/political leader, who has never been associated with any form of scandal, be it financial or otherwise. Going through his incorruptible personality will be like restating the obvious. He is a household name, having served as a head of state of this country between 1983 and 1985 with a fantastic scorecard and having on two occasions contested elections for the office of the president and lost, not because he was not the popular choice, but due to the manipulative tendencies of the ruling PDP and the electoral commission as attested to by international observers who monitored both polls. There were credible indications that General Buhari actually won both polls but INEC and the courts thought otherwise.

A look at the rapid growth, acceptance and following of CPC Buhari recently founded, especially in the northern part of the country where the incumbent governors and other elected government officials are getting jittery, attests to the clout and popularity of the General. Putting CPC on the scale with other young political parties will reveal that the party has been growing like harmattan fire, attracting both the elite and members of the grassroots, all because of the personality of the presidential aspirant. So, I solicit for a form of consensus to be built around Gen Buhari with the active support of the political leader of the West, Asiwaju Tinubu and the ACN, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and its leader Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) and its leader Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and others like the Labour Party.

The details of the proposed alliance could be worked out in a serious discussion involving the leaders of the different opposition political parties, including those mentioned above. I know that in this part of the world, it is often difficult to get politicians to make compromises and forgo ambitions in order to reach a consensus of national importance and for the general good of the masses. A sincere effort devoid of selfishness and self-interest as well as ethnic and religious sentiment would go a long way in resolving the difficulties associated with consensus building. Position and office sharing would be resolved during such interactions and patriotism and the general desire to put an end to the misrule of the gluttonous PDP should serve as incentives to achieve the desired goal.

Mutual respect and recognition for all the political parties in the consensus arrangement as well as for the different major political leaders will be very necessary in assuaging the egos of the personalities involved, and help in the drive towards consensus. Areas of strength of the different political parties must be recognized and concessions in terms of producing candidates in such areas for other elective positions save for the presidency must be made, and such candidates and their political parties mutually supported during the elections. The ACN and their candidates should be supported by all the associated parties in the South-West and Edo State, the CPC and her candidates equally supported in the North, same for APGA, PPA in the South-East etcetera.

The mobilizing powers of the several leaders of the alliance in their respective areas of strength across the country should be deployed to get Nigerians to see the consensus candidate as the only option they have in seeing the PDP and her failed leadership off. Imagine, the kind of resounding support Gen Buhari will have in a state in the South-west at a rally where Asiwaju Tinubu raises his hands. A similar situation will play itself out if Gen Buhari is introduced to the people of the South-east by say Dim Ojukwu, the support of the General will be a form of mass movement, in fact a revolution of a sort, such that no electoral manipulation can stop him from coasting to victory in the election.

Is the consensus option achievable? I think the answer is yes, but it requires personal sacrifice from all the individuals and parties involved. My worry is that the average Nigerian politician tends to gravitate towards the ruling party. We have seen public office holders elected on the platform of opposition parties saying one thing in the daytime, while romancing with the ruling PDP in the night. Care must be taken in recognizing such characters and isolating them to avoid having moles in the midst of the alliance, as they will be willing tools in the hands of PDP to cause crisis and scuttle the effort to build consensus.

If Nigerians really desire to see the back of the PDP, which has so far wasted 11 good years that it has spent on power, then they must support the consensus arrangement and its flag bearer in the person of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari who is tested and trusted, and has the wherewithal to win the president for opposition and for the growth of democracy and its institutions, but most importantly for the improvement of the well-being of Nigerians.

For the sake of true democracy, national development and progress of the nation, the real opposition political parties must come together and poll their resources together in a battle to rescue our country from the shackles of PDP misrule. There is no strong democracy anywhere in the world without a formidable opposition that has the capacity to take over government and execute policies and programs different from the ruling party thereby offering the masses alternatives.

The bane of our democratic experiment so far has been the absence of a credible opposition, which has turned the people in government to some sort of gods, before whom we mortals must bow down in worship to receive morsels from their dining tables. Nigerians are certainly tired of the current abuse of our country in the name of PDP leadership and are desperately yearning for a change. This desired change is represented in Gen Muhammadu Buhari, and his presidency is achievable if the credible opposition parties and their leaders bury self-interest, embrace unity and rally round the General.
•Dr Nwagwu writes from Lagos. Email:

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