The unprecedented rise of Muhammadu Buhari, whose incorruptibility and integrity remains unquestionable, is not only an indictment of the failure of leadership under Goodluck Jonathan but a validation of the visionless leadership that has remained elusive of the present administration. Indeed, the rise of the son of Daura is a reminder of the combined hopelessness that has engulfed Nigeria for the past five years. Reasonably, and for any avoidance of doubt, President Jonathan’s campaign should have been based on his numbers rather than the propaganda employed against Buhari’s past.
Muhammadu Buhari is flawed. Politics, for learners, is not a field of sainthood, and the repeated human right abuses under his otherwise forgettable past are constant reminders of our failed humanity. Countless times he has been asked to decry many of the decisions he took while a Military Head of State; all of the times he has showed he stood by most of those decisions. I do not totally absolve him of all his past decisions; however, given the state of the nation years ago, given the crime and untold corruption in 1983; any patriotic leader (with absolute powers) would go to lengths, even if it entailed death sentences; to rid the society off criminals.
Nigeria needs leaders who represent the interest of the people and not that of a select cult. Indeed the President Nigeria needs today is one who can make crucial decisions in important times of our nation and stand by it. Goodluck Jonathan is not only bereft of this, he unashamedly boasts about it. Countless irreverent statements from him lend credence to my views.
Recently, Jonathan declared that he underestimated the dastardly wicked group Boko Haram. The terror group, whose main mission is to eradicate western education, had led carnage against the Nigerian people, killing over 17,000 within a spate of 4 years. All happened under Goodluck Jonathan, a president who had the highest expenditure of security to the tune of over 4trillion in 5 years. What has Nigeria got to show for this? Our valiant army have been repressed and demoralized under Goodluck Jonathan, and only recently, (under a combined collaborative country effort) have they truly started repelling Boko Haram and reclaiming many Nigerian territories captured by Boko Haram.
Every form of public outcry against insensitivity of leadership has led to suppression of democratic freedom, castigation and public defamation by the attack dogs of Goodluck Jonathan. It took a little over 3 weeks before the President publicly accepted that the militant Boko Haram Group kidnapped Chibok girls. Till date, 219 of them remain captive. As part of the #BringBackOurGirls movement, I have witnessed untold embarrassment from the Nigerian Police; the same sworn to protect the people. Precisely on May 28, 2014, I was part of a group of patriots who were beaten by hirelings under the watchful eyes of the Nigerian Police. On other occasions, our place of assembly, the Abuja Unity Fountain, was cordoned off despite previous notification given for assembly.
Any utilization of public funds without accountability is a form of corruption. Transparency and accountability, a crucial hallmark of governance, regressed under Jonathan. He rebuffed attempts to declare his assets; he defended ceaselessly the corrupt allegations peddled against the sitting minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Alison Maduekwe. She presided over the fuel subsidy scam (about N3trillion), and NNPC remains a milking cow under her watch. Despite this and other corrupt issues, efforts by the public to prevail on the President to relieve her of office have failed. Worse is the fact that the President (with his late predecessor) inherited a healthy purse, now squandered, from former President Obasanjo. Till date, the nation remains in dark regarding how those funds were spent.
About 400,000 barrels of crude is stolen everyday in Nigeria, the sale of which would not only arrest many of the dire conditions of living in Nigeria, but restore broken infrastructure where they exist and build needed ones. Today, Nigeria’s medical and educational tourism is not only ridiculous but also shameful for a nation with such unbelievable resources and potential.
Nigeria today unfortunately has the highest total number of out-of-school children in the world; 10.5 million to be precise. Rather than embark on wholesome policy reform and revamp the educational sector through good governance practices, Mr. President appointed politicians who served his political interests. Like some of his predecessors, the academic community suffered industrial strikes that resulted in lull of academic activities for months. I have visited two of the newly formed universities; they, at best, are glorified secondary schools.
Our health sector plummeted. Late President Yar’adua promised 6 geo-political world-class health institutions to cater for the increasing needs of Nigerians. Today, they remained, as usual, failed promises. The maternal and child mortality rates in Nigeria are record high globally. Efforts by the world to bring Nigeria’s leadership to this dire condition has been met with stiff and outright condemnation rather than critical thoughtfulness and reflection on health policies and their genuine implementations.
I do not support Buhari because he is Muslim nor do I reject Jonathan because he is Christian. My choice is based on their proven competence and character of leadership. The tragic story of Nigeria is that the people have long been suppressed and lied to under the guile of religion and ethnicity. Given how vehement we line behind religion and ethnicity, it is ironic there are no Christian roads, or Muslim hospitals; neither are there Christian deaths or Muslim carnages. Deaths caused by terror and lack of infrastructure (health, good roads, first aid, amongst others) is consequences of bad leaders; whether Christian or Muslim.
The gradual acceptance of Muhammadu Buhari shows considerable progress within our political terrain; that our political discourse is centering on issues and a reminder to the bandwagon of religious and ethnic bigots who have condemned Nigerians to woeful leadership in the past should take heed. Steadily, the days of puerile sentimentalism are ebbing.
Goodluck Jonathan’s five years is summarily the story of bad leadership: failed promises, indecision and purposelessness. For someone who lacks empathy and who has failed to exhibit strong character in the face of adversity; he has shown that he cannot be trusted with the emergence of Nigeria as a nation worth boasting of. True, Muhammadu Buhari might not be the best candidate to restore the pride and glory of Nigeria to its true height; but he, today, represents the better candidate and the most important force to begin the reconstruction of the broken foundation and the redirection of our nation to the path of true greatness and awaken this sleeping giant from its deep slumber.