I HEREBY announce my support of Muhammadu Buhari for President of Nigeria. He is credible, and capable of changing Nigeria for the better.
Is Buhari an angel? No. Indeed, I have criticized him in the past. I have expressed my disappointment that people of his generation and background act as if they are all that Nigeria has got.
That argument is still valid. At the April elections, however, he will be the best that Nigeria has got. Everyone knows that next month’s election will be the most critical in Nigeria’s history. It will show whether we have learned anything from our own history or not, and therefore whether we are determined to move forward or not.
Of the lessons we have learned, the elections will show, most of all, whether we have learned what I call the David Hill lesson. As editor of the London Weekend, Mr. Hill wrote a column in which he considered the question as to why people would do the same thing over and over again but expect different results. He wondered why a man who struck his own thumb with a hammer twice would expect not to experience the same excruciating pain the second time. That is the same question Nigerians must answer in less than one month from now.
My answer is: Yes, if you clobber your thumb with that hammer, you are going to feel the same screaming and searing pain all over again. Actually, the pain will feel worse the second time because—unless you are of considerably languid intelligence— your brain would have informed you ahead of time about just how much of a fool you are and how bad the agony is going to be.
Demographically, two kinds of people will offer their support to Goodluck Jonathan in April. The first comprises of beneficiaries of the incompetent, corrupt and unpatriotic system that has grounded Nigeria since 1999, and which Jonathan unapologetically represents. Of this category, no persuasion is possible. Such supporters are the golddiggers who dig for themselves and see in the atrocious manipulation that gave us Umaru Yar’Adua and Jonathan the perpetuation of that system. For them, there is no bigger picture, and no Nigeria.
But by themselves, they will not be able to put Jonathan back in Aso Rock where, while Yar’Adua lasted, he was so disrespected he was known as the “social prefect.” They will need the full cooperation of the second category: the fools.
This second category comprises of masochists who will vote against the best interest of their own children and their country by giving their ballot to Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). By doing so, they will be authorizing Jonathan to pick up that hammer the second time as they stick out their thumbs, telling him, “Hurt me, sir! Hurt me again! Hurt me, I am a fool!”
And Jonathan will. Jonathan will hurt the people of Nigeria because in the past 12 years, and through agents Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and himself, the party has proved that the mission of the PDP is the PDP.
The PDP provides privately for the PDP, and prescribes punishment for others. And it is because Jonathan will implement that agenda without question that he is carrying what his wife Patience Jonathan advertises at campaign stops as “umblerah” (umbrella). Obasanjo spent eight years carrying it, and he left Nigeria in the dark ages; Obasanjo is following Jonathan around to make certain Jonathan will not deviate. Anyone giving his vote to Jonathan gives him the permission to serve the PDP, to protect its army of crooks and looters, and to spend the federal treasury until it is empty.
A Nigerian may vote Jonathan for a plethora of “reasons,” but in the end, each of them will be found to be selfish or narrow. In the end, none of them will be truly an intelligent argument. The man has no record of character, patriotism or commitment. He is long on promises but extremely short on performance. As soccer coach Chris Udemezue used to say, [a player] cannot do in a match what he was unable to do in practice. Jonathan is not going to give Nigeria in May what he has not given since Yar’Adua died.
Buhari can stretch out one of his long hands and arrest the drift. At this time in our history, his candidature is the wisest, the most promising, and the most logical. He has honour, discipline and strength of character: attributes every great leader must have but which are not a currency of the PDP.
Furthermore, Buhari knows what is wrong with this country, and knows what to do about it, an insight he demonstrated when—as Head of State between 1983 and 1985—he led a memorable assault on indiscipline and excess in public life.
Nigeria needs in office a leader whose word will command respect; a leader who will not speak out of both sides of his mouth; a leader who will deploy power in the national interest and not in the massaging of his own bloated ego and the greed of his friends.
Nigeria needs a leader who is capable of holding himself and those around him to high standards of accountability and performance, not one who simply preaches about them in public.
Nigeria needs a man who has demonstrated he can stand up to Nigeria’s army of the rich and influential, not one whose friends, colleagues and mistresses are exempt from the law.
Nigeria needs a man who will be consistent from day to day, not one for whom right and wrong depends on the company or the time of day. Nigeria needs a man who can tell opportunity from opportunism; a man who can resist the greed, insensitivity and ethical nothingness that now defines the country.
There are many people asking to be president of Nigeria next May, but only Buhari truly meets these basic considerations. Only he answers the question: “Who is Nigeria’s best hope for halting and reversing the deterioration and decay?”
Only he can change the questions and seek new answers. He can bring in new men and women of character, and throw open a genuine new beginning anchored on public service. He can slam the doors on indolence and compromise, and unlock the cellars where the PDP hopes the bodies will never be discovered.
I wholeheartedly endorse his candidature for President of Nigeria because he has the capacity to bring a sense of responsibility and mission to governance. If he does, implementing budgets and policies will become standard, and good men and women will have a place in our nation head of the mob of monsters.
All of this is possible because Buhari has character. In Pastor Tunde Bakare, he has also chosen another man of integrity. Through action, not loud rhetoric, they can correct the principal weaknesses that have made Nigeria an underachieving and under-developing country.
I have never met Buhari or spoken to him. But I have observed him closely for the better part of three decades, and I know that what he offers is superior to the weaknesses those who fear his ascendancy are eager to cite.
Buhari is different. As I preached to complete strangers at Bar Beach in Lagos last week, he is the missing link, and he is an opportunity. I endorse him enthusiastically.