2019: What A Vote For President Buhari Actually Means!

President Muhammadu Buhari

 Of recent, I saw a picture of a young boy who cried profusely on sighting the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during the contentious Trader Moni Empowerment Scheme exercise in the Southern part of the country. The poor boy was starstruck!

The image was reminiscent of how the Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha felt when he shook hands with the former U.S President Barack Obama while visiting the White House with President Muhammadu Buhari in July, 2015.

The picture was on a popular page on Instagram and many commenters were mocking the child. I was forced to rise to the child's defense. I boldly commented that I could do the same if I have a personal encounter with President Muhammadu Buhari. I love his personality but detest his leadership style. He is tall, handsome, funny, quiet and above all very modest. Being modest deserves some accolades especially in a country that culturally celebrates materialism especially unfounded wealth. I used to be a Buharist and I have no regrets about that. Life is a teacher, the more we live, the more we learn.

The President did no wrong in my sight till I started lying to myself to uphold the belief that my idol is the panacea to the myriad of challenges bedeviling Nigeria. I lost my objectivity, balance and professional scepticism in the process. These are the golden values that make or mar a journalist or academic.
The President who is being tagged 'Mr Integrity' might be a good man with sincere intentions as he is being portrayed by his party - All Progressives Congress but the million dollar question is if he is good enough for Nigeria considering the present tumbledown state of affairs. Honesty is an intricate leadership attribute but it’s pointless as far as its not accompanied by the competence to effect a positive change. Even his wife, Aisha Buhari has insinuated severally that her husband isn't in charge.
The former British Prime Minister, David Cameron had the honesty and competence to preside over the affairs of the United Kingdom but he resigned honourably in 2016 as his vision didn't align with Brexit. Theresa May took over to oversee the divorce of the United Kingdom from the European Union and it has been a wild goose chase all along with several of her top advisers namely Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, David Davis, Esther McVey, Shailesh Vara, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, and Suella Braverman apparently abandoning her in the snow without a jacket.

It is not debatable that Nigeria is terribly ill and it was in the dire need to rescue her life in the Emergency Ward that 'Doctor Buhari' was called upon in 2015 through the ballot box. But the question is this; is Nigeria showing any signs of recovery from her numerous ailments? The sincere answer lies in us. It’s time for us to undertake a truthful process of self-evaluation and introspection in order to take the right political decisions in the 2019 presidential polls. We need to do a comparative study of where we are and where we are coming from as well as our destination. The truth nowadays has not only been doctored, it has also been 'lawyered and engineered' for low-hanging political gains.

I have no issues with those who support Buhari on the basis of family ties or bloodline; I could have done the same if I were in their shoes. I hold no grudge against those who are paid to campaign for Buhari and launder his image, they are only doing their jobs diligently as professionals and they have their family members to feed. I also have no issues with those directly or indirectly enjoying the proceeds of a political appointment awarded by the presidency to their benefactor, it’s really hard to "talk while you are eating"; table manners should be duly observed.

My major grouse is with the die-hard supporters of Buhari who have tasted nothing close to good governance or personal benefits in the past three and a half years of his administration. I mean the 88 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty and the 20.9 million people who remain unemployed not to talk of the underemployed whose take home pays never take them home.

The issue of 'Uninformed Voting' is a huge quandary even in developed countries. It has militated against the efficacy of democracy. It is worse in Africa due to the challenge of illiteracy and rise in populism. Politicians tend to take advantage of the over 60 million illiterates in Nigeria. The fact that we have over 40 million people with mental illnesses in the country also threatens the 2019 general election. Who can vouch for their political judgement? We pray most of them don't have PVCs because they could end up voting for nothing. The level of poverty in the land has been a catalyst for vote-buying. Many opinion leaders today believe the Federal Government is the biggest vote-buyer in the country through its Trader Moni programme. The resultant effect of all these is the presence of an opportunist or unfit leader at the helm of affairs.

Buhari campaigned on three cardinal points in 2015 namely; the economy, fighting corruption and combating security. Can we sincerely say there has been any major upswing in these key areas? Unemployment is rocking the economy, the supply of electricity which is the lifeline of every modern economy remains short on demand, investment in infrastructures is only experienced on paper, the naira has continued to share the same value with a used contraceptive, cost of living is very high and there is food crisis in several remote parts of the country. Today, every Nigerian is dreaming of migrating to Canada for a better life. In the same vein, no fewer than 10,000 Nigerians have died between January and May 2017 while trying to illegally migrate through the Mediterranean Sea and the deserts according to the Nigeria Immigration Service. The European Union had also disclosed that 22,500 Nigerian illegal migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe between January and September 2016. We all know what is chasing them.

On corruption which is like Buhari's economic plan, it has become glaring that the president is fighting the opposition party under the guise of corruption. As far as the dollar bribe videos of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje who promised Buhari 5 million votes from Kano State remains accessible through Google amid his freedom, the anti-corruption fight remains a mere charade. Even the Transparency International scored the anti-graft war low. Eight prominent politicians accused of a gargantuan fraud of over N232 billion are also supporting Buhari's re-election bid. Buhari must be a magician to believe he could combat corruption in the face of abject poverty and weak governmental structures.

What about security? 3,641 people died in the last 3 years according to the embattled Amnesty International and a former minister of defence, General T.Y Danjuma (retd), alluded to the conclusion of the international body. With over 100 Nigerian troops reportedly dying in the infamous Metele attack in Borno, our soldiers now fear the Abu Musab al-Barnawi faction of Boko Haram sect more than their creator. Even as some of us prepared for Christmas, the sect killed 13 soldiers including a policeman in an ambush along the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway during the eve. What about the sorry plight of the Internally Displaced People in various camps across the country?
What about the regular massacre of farmers with their crops set ablaze by the insurgents? Contrary to the claims by the Federal Government that Boko Haram has been decimated and no longer holding territories, the  chairman of the House Committee on Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, Sani Zorro, recently gave a staggering revelation that 17 local government areas are occupied by terrorists and they are allegedly collecting taxes from the locals.

If the lives of Retired Major General Idris Alkali and that of Chief of Air Staff (retd) Alex Badeh could be cheaply taken away from them, then that means the ordinary citizens are not just surviving on the grace of God, they are only alive today because they are of no use to the assailants.
With the way Nigeria is competitively chasing the records of oddities across the world, I can see the road to Venezuela without the aid of binoculars. May that day not come when we will begin to feed from the dustbins and migrate in millions to other neighbouring African nations due to hunger and public unrest like we have in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. The convenient and effective excuse is that the purported 16 locust years of the  main opposition party - PDP led us to where we are and Buhari is cleaning the mess. But the truth is that the mess might be getting messier with lack of any visible headway. Today, Buhari nicknamed 'Baba Go Slow' even brags about his 'snail-speed' leadership style which is at the detriment of the people.

Below are other disturbing indices that you should consider before casting your votes in 2019 (credit to Clifford Ndujihe, Vanguard newspaper):

Nigeria is the 11th worst place to be born (2018), second worst country with electricity supply in the world (2017), third most terrorized country in the world (2018) of which, as of November 30, 2018, no fewer than 6,652 Nigerians had been killed through terrorism, Boko Haram insurgency; farmers/herdsmen, ethno-religious and cult clashes, and armed robbery among others.

Other indices include: One of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth and third country with the worst maternal mortality rate (2018), seventh worst country on World Bank’s Human Capital Index (2018), worst police in the world (2017), third worst city to live in the world (2018), worst country in the world at fighting inequality (2017), 10th worst army in the world (2018), highest number of children out of school – 13.2 million (2018), one of the most corrupt countries in the world (2018), the fourth country with the highest deforestation rate in the world (2018), the country with the highest number of road fatalities in Africa (2017, FRSC), and the 9th most dangerous country for women (2018), Nigeria is projected to be the highest importer of rice behind China in 2019, Nigeria to overtake India in open defecation with 47 million Nigerians lacking basic toilet facilities - UNICEF, 2018, the World Justice Project in its 2017/2018 Rule of Law Index ranks Nigeria 97 out of 113 countries. Nigeria made the list of the top 7 Sub-Saharan African countries with the highest foreign debt which stands at $22.08 billion.

Inasmuch as I agree that most of what constitute this muddle have roots in the past, and can't be resolved in 4 years, but can we beat out chests that there has been any major rectification in the last three and a half years? The truth nowadays is not the truth. It has become relative. It depends on who you ask and where the person stands. What some people call 'corruption' is what others regard as 'connection'. A vote for Buhari is an endorsement for the continuation of the present hurdles and it might get worse in the coming years as The Economist, HSBC, IMF, World Bank and other reputable bodies have projected for Nigeria. 

As we vote, we should think about the fates of incarcerated people like Sheikh Ibrahim El Zakzaky, Sambo Dasuki, Deji Adeyanju and the hundreds of people reportedly housed in the underground cells of the Department of State Security, DSS considering the fact that they remain innocent until proved guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.

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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on smile2georgex@yahoo.com Phone number: +2347053302356.
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