18th November, 2014
By Joe Igbokwe
I am writing this article in my capacity as Joe Igbokwe, I am writing this piece as an author and writer and I am writing this as a public commentator on national issues. I am not writing piece this as the spokesperson of Lagos APC. I speak strictly for myself and I crave your indulgence to give me this liberty to speak at a time like this. Nigeria is in a deep crisis and anybody who wishes this country well must speak out now or hold his peace forever.
I have said it before that when a nation is in crisis, the people must search and fish out a great president. When a nation is at crossroads, a competent and strong hand is needed to restore normalcy. When a nation’s territories are being threatened by external forces, you need a president with military background to put a stop to the insurgency. When corruption, impunity and mediocrity ravage a country, you need a disciplined man with puritanical disposition to be on the driver’s seat.
General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB) has come of age in Nigerian politics since 2003. He contested presidential elections in 2003, 2007 and again in 2011. In 2007, he was mercilessly rigged out of power and he went to court to seek redress. The case went up to the Supreme Court where the three Supreme Court judges agreed that the elections were flawed while three voted against. It took the vote of the Chief Justice of the federation to save the country from national and international embarrassment. GMB accepted the verdict. In 2011, he returned to the ring to box again. This time the electoral thieves got bolder in the South East and South South. They loaded and loaded votes until they became satisfied with the number. A friend of mine who went to vote was told to go home because they had got the required number. Again the great betrayal by members of his party and the inability of members to work together created the room for PDP to retain power again. General Buhari cried. He wept for Nigeria, he wept for the state of the nation and the level of impunity and corruption ravaging the landscape and he wept for generations yet unborn. He wept because he reasoned that Nigerians do not want to fight for change. He wept because the few who were choking Nigeria work twenty four hours a day and seven days in a week while the majority and those who should know better go to sleep and pray 20 times in a day asking God to come down to do the talking for them. GMB wept because he considered that he has tried his best to help restore Nigeria. He wept because he saw no hope for this country when the evil ones are getting bolder. The rest is now history.
In the last three and half years the rapacious greedy lot in Nigeria, the corrupt, the meretricious mediocrity and the nitwits became bolder. NNPC, Immigration, Pension funds, NPA, etc became cash cows. It became a big scramble for these characters to pillage anything their hands could touch. NNPC could not remit all the money accruing from crude oil sales to CBN. When the former CBN Governor, now Emir of Kano, HRH Sanusi Lamido Sanusi raised an alarm, he was sacked with ignominy. Federal Ministers became laws unto themselves, attacking the common patrimony with reckless abandon, stealing what they do not need. The great threat to the nation’s corporate existence became the Boko Haram insurgency. Over 5000 Nigerians have been killed in the past three and half years. While the ruling party and the opposition continue to trade blames, the nation continues to go down. Mutiny reared its ugly head in the Army of Nigeria. Junior officers started disobeying their superiors and our combatant soldiers escaping to Cameroun for fear of the rag-tag insurgents called Boko Haram. In the midst of this, our infrastructure continues to decay. In 1999, our power generation stood at 3000 plus Mega Watts and after almost sixteen years we are now under 3000 Mega Watts after spending billions of dollars in that critical sector. Never in the history of this country has any leader played up the dangerous issues of Religion and Ethnicity as we have it today under President Jonathan. As the Vice President, everybody including this writer, fought so hard to make him assume his constitutional responsibility as president when President Umaru Yar’Adua died in office. He has put a knife on things that have held us together as one political entity. The president has systematically divided Nigeria along ethnic and religious lines, something unheard of in the history of Nigeria. Dangerously and tragically he moved from being the president of Nigeria to become the president of Ijaw nation. To make matters worse, some cowards and efulefus (nonentities) from his tribe took on other Nigerians, pouring invectives on them for asking questions.
I guess it was these errors of history that drove General Buhari to throw his hat into the ring once again to see if Nigerians can go back to history and take the right steps to right the wrongs of the past sixteen years. After giving up hope for Nigeria, GMB decided to return to take his last chance to help Nigeria out of trouble. I may not know what informed his decision to stage a comeback but I guess he knows what is wrong with this country and feels he knows what to do to reverse the trend.
I find it difficult to believe why the other equally good candidates in APC cannot step down for GMB given his antecedents, track records, history and character. No other former Head of State in Nigeria can be said to possess the discipline, honesty and integrity of General Buhari, all things considered. As a war time General, a former minister, a former Head of State, former chairman PTF and a fourth time contender in the race since 2003, I think that the man deserves all the support from all Nigerians to make it this time. Despite his dictatorial tendencies when he was the Military head of state, Buhari restored discipline and probity in Nigeria. His War Against Indiscipline (WAI) paid off handsomely and Nigeria is still reaping the fruits today. His intervention at PTF paid off too. His fight against corruption stood him out.
If today, the people at the corridors of power hate GMB, it is not because he is a bad man but the fear that some of them will end up in jail for corruption and impunity. They know that if GMB becomes the President, things may never be the same again and many of them will enter the next available flight to anywhere outside Nigeria. They know that oil subsidy looters will not go scot free. They know that GMB knows all of them. They know money does not mean anything to GMB and therefore he cannot be bribed.
Nigeria needs a tested and trusted Buhari now and this is the reason why I am pleading with all other APC presidential aspirants to step down for GMB. He is the most prepared for this office at a time like this. The little we saw of him in the 80s tells us that his wisdom, courage, discipline, strong character, fearlessness, etc. is what we need now to drive the new Nigeria of our dream. We must seize the moment. We must grab it with both hands or history will leave us behind.
Make no mistake about it, if we make the mistake of allowing President Jonathan to continue in office beyond 2015 we would have sowed the seed for this great country to go down. With all due respect, and without sounding immodest, President Jonathan has nothing to offer Nigeria. His emergence in 2010 was a big mistake. It was an error of history. It was something that could never have happened if we had known his innermost disposition, his training, his background, his philosophy, his ideology and his character. He cannot fight the insurgents, he cannot fight impunity, he cannot fight corruption, he cannot fight mediocrity, he cannot hold the country together and he simply cannot get it. The age of his ideas worries me to the marrows.
Let us help to get President GEJ out of the China shop to forestall further colossal damage. He has tried his best and has made history for himself and his people but his best is not good enough for the country. This country is far bigger than the ambition of one man and therefore President Jonathan should be prepared to go because he will be roundly and mercilessly defeated in 2015.
•Igbokwe wrote from Lagos.