A President With Good Luck And General With Momentum - by Fola Ojo

In next month’s presidential election are nine people – eight men and one woman. Their mission is clear, their goal is overt; they are sure they have a lot to offer Nigerians better than what the sitting President, Goodluck Jonathan, has dished on the dinner-table for Nigeria and Nigerians. So, they are desirous to bring some kind of change, and they are promising, and campaigning, trying to unseat a President with good luck.

But only one of the challengers stands out with a big momentum on his side. Physically shoulder-high standing at over six feet. A bony, bold, venturous and venturesome retired Army General; a former platoon leader, former military governor, former head of sumptuous petroleum parastatals, and former Head of State and Commander-In-Chief of Nigerian Armed Forces. Gerrymandering geeks and masters of greed and graft in government hate him and wish he dies soon. But he is globally adjudged a man of unquestionable integrity who loathes corruption and indiscipline; and perceived a tower of threat to terrorism and lunatic Islamic insurgency. This is his fourth swing at the presidency, and he keeps coming back, and now in this election cycle, he has a monumental momentum. He is Muhammadu Buhari from the sleepy desert town of Daura, Katsina State, and he is the leader of the pack of those hungry for a big piece of Goodluck from Bayelsa.

To dethrone an incumbent President anywhere in the world cannot be achieved with a recumbent approach. To defeat Goodluck Jonathan next month can be likened to a 90-year-old man climbing a rugged mountain solo. Only one person did that in history. It was the biblical Caleb. But a lot of Nigerians believe this time it is doable; some even believe it is done already. Ask Baba Olusegun Obasanjo, the man who used to be Goodluck’s mentor and benefactor. He said last week; “I see Buhari as the next President and Jonathan is aware of that…a General is always a General…”

If you don’t want to believe Obasanjo, evidences abound in the General’s rallies all over the nation. Uncontrollable crowd, tumultuous and enthusiastic with boisterous shouts and screams; “Sai Buhari, Sai Buhari….” To many of these shouters, Buhari is a god who did not slither into human existence via the birth-canal of a woman. To some, he is not just a Muhammadu, he is a prophet; and to many others, Buhari is nothing but an old, brutish bully who is only desperate for power to stock up his Hausa/Fulani clan at all costs at the expense of a neglected, pillaged and deprived minority group.

Do not mention Buhari’s name too loudly in some parts of Nigeria; these are parts that love this President. The South-South zone where the President was born see the transfer of power to any other as a heinous heisting of their exclusive heavenly-endowed right to the presidency at least until 2019. Anything short of this, their acrimonious militants want us to believe, will be an invitation to pandemonium unimaginable. They have said it openly that the Nigerian Presidency is their exclusive property.

A former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, has declared, “We shall not allow the Presidency to be occupied by the opposition. It is our bonafide property in the South-South for now and we will not allow it to slip off.” The coordinating chairman of the Southern Nigeria People’s Assembly, Chief Edwin Clark, who is an unrepentant backer of the President recently said that the President has outperformed every president in history but “some unrepentant irredentists want him out of office. The simple reason is that as a minority, he is seen as an intruder to what rightly and exclusively remains a preserve of the Hausa-Fulani hegemony.” If the option of no-election is on the discussion table, the President’s men will jump on it like hybla-bees around stripped sugarcane. Unfortunately, in a democracy, elections are the hallmarks.

Mr. President’s stronghold, however, does not have the number to give him a clear victory over the opposition. According to figures from the Independent National Electoral Commission, the South-South (Ikwere, Ogoni, Kalabari, and all), and the South-East (Igbo) boast 17 million voters while the rest of the nation, the North (Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri, Tiv, and all), and the South-West (Yoruba) have about 54 million voters. To lock up victory on February 14, Jonathan’s Goodluck must shine throughout the North and South-West too, not just the areas where he is considered a son and an in-law.

From readings on our political barometer, a thrashing and trouncing may be lurking around at the polls for our President, except if something changes between now and Valentine’s Day, and except Buhari is less hungry for a big chunk and a piece of Goodluck in this election.

To the best of his ability, the President believes he has worked hard enough to unquestionably deserve to be re-elected. Anyone who says that Jonathan has achieved nothing is not fair to this President. He has done well in some road construction, the face of the vital railway infrastructure in Nigeria may still be considered Neanderthal compared to other nations of the world, but it is not what it used to be six years ago. There is no doubt that Jonathan has done equally well through his Agricultural Revolution. There are evidences.

However, governing Nigeria requires a lot of hard work, not just good luck. Living and doing business in Nigeria are a lot of hard work. Killing the viruses of corruption and dishonesty in public office is a lot of hard work. I believe the President has a heart to do good, but I also believe like many other Nigerians that he has assigned governance to some ogres whose hearts pant to serve self and self alone. What he boasts about as achievements do not measure up one scintilla bit to the people’s expectation of a President who promised so much just four years ago. With his own hands, he has created an environment for nine other contestants to challenge him and stay hungry for a piece of Goodluck.

In 2011, Goodluck brought the Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Niger Delta together under an umbrella. Four years later, the same Goodluck has torn us far and wide apart. The umbrella under which Nigerians expected help has become an umbrella of hell leaking untold pain and suffering on a nation in pervasive agony. If the President’s men had invested same amount of energy they unleashed trying to dig up Buhari’s 53 years old School Certificate on revamping electricity, silencing Boko Haram, and finding the Chibok girls, very few people will be talking about Muhammadu Buhari for president today. Jonathan had all the opportunities to be the greatest Nigerian president that ever lived, but today, he is a statue of ridicule that is detested home and abroad.

To this writer and many people I know, all the voices of approbation suffusing the air in favour of opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, is not about Buhari, it is about CHANGING how government works, CHANGING the mindsets of political office-holders that public service is not about the people serving a leader, but about the leader truly serving the people. Buhari is just the immediate beneficiary of the clamour for CHANGE, and Jonathan may be the unfortunate victim of the people’s sledge hammer of hunger for something different.

In this election, it will be too naïve for anyone of us to leave God out of the equation because only He rules in the affairs of men. That is why in a moment like this, you cannot count out anybody. Not just yet, especially if he is a Goodluck that Buhari the General is hungry to dethrone fifteen days from today.