by Toks Ero
Who will win next year’s Presidential election and assume the position of President come May 29, 2015 is no doubt the most important issue to Nigerians at this time. Nigerians are hopeful for a President that will stem the tide of Boko Haram and provide lasting solutions to the long list of problems that plague the country.
Now that our choices have been narrowed down to incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari, the wise thing for Nigerians to do at this time is to carefully assess the antecedents, character and circumstances of these individuals and what they represent. Engaging in this task will be confusing; however, care must be taken to weigh the pros and cons objectively and as devoid of every form of emotion or sentiment as possible. President Jonathan sadly has presided over a very corrupt government that has proved incompetent and ineffective at tackling the nation’s problems.
Arguably though, at no time in Nigeria’s history have Nigerians experienced such turbulent times as to seek whatever immediate change is available. However, our quest for immediate change should not becloud our sense of judgment as to what kind of change is expedient. General Muhammadu Buhari as a serving military officer overthrew a democratically elected government without any subsequent plan of return to civilian rule. Nigerians bold enough to criticize his regime were hounded under a draconian Decree 2. One way to judge a person is by their utterances. Buhari has to his credit statements that indicate subtle display of sympathy for Boko Haram and calls for the promotion of Islamic Sharia law in a secular Nigeria. Buhari represents the age long northern mentality of “born to rule”. The unique selling point of Buhari is his supposed character and how that will influence his anti-corruption stance. Birds of the same feathers flock together is a popular saying.
Buhari’s character is as legendary as it is mythical and significantly flawed by his association and dalliance with the corrupt elements that hold sway in the All Progressives Congress (APC). I watched Buhari’s interview on the programme “Politics Today” aired on Channels TV and all I perceived was an old, slow, inarticulate and uninspiring man; most probably not one to herald the change Nigerians seek; certainly not one to represent Nigeria as President aside other world leaders in this day and age. I saw a Buhari that seemed to have no more than a pedestrian grasp of the issues that a presidential candidate should be able to debate and argue intelligently. Yes! We want change. But at what cost? Do we want change so much we fail to think that such change could be for the worse? Can Buhari effectively curb the excesses of the corrupt elements in his party if he becomes President?
Will these corrupt elements in the APC not have put in place a machinery to shield themselves from probable Buhari anti-corruption stance against themselves? Can Buhari sincerely say that he does not know that the intentions of APC bigwigs concerning Nigeria are not nobler than those of PDP’s? Will the emergence of Buhari as President not further strengthen the northern “born to rule” mentality which should be discouraged? How are we sure a president Buhari will not attempt to promote the spread of Sharia law to all parts of Nigeria as he once advocated? How sure are we that a president Buhari will not operate the authoritarianism he did in the 80’s? How are we sure that our National Assembly would be able to moderate the authoritarian and dictatorial tendencies of a president Buhari?
These are some of the questions Nigerians must ask themselves before casting a ballot in favour of Buhari. Our path to nationhood must be based on certain fundamental principles of equality, fairness, competence, justice, transparency and accountability, etc. Politics of ethnicity and religion must be discouraged. All Nigerians must strive to influence the electoral process such that our votes would definitely count. I feel sad being forced to choose between Buhari and President Jonathan. It is having to choose between a rock and a hard place; between the devil and a deep blue sea; a classic case of having to choose between two evils. However, based on my perception of both candidates and their circumstances, President Jonathan is a lesser evil. Dear Nigerian, Buhari is not the messiah!!!
Toks Ero blogs at www.toksero.org. He attended Business School in Switzerland where he obtained a Masters degree in Business Administration. He also holds a Bachelors degree in Philosophy.
Opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.