Buhari and the 2019 Debate

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The Verdict By Olusegun Adeniyi, Email: olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com

Thanks to Speaker Yakubu Dogara, I was on the floor of the House of Representatives last Friday as guest speaker at a special session to mark the mid-term of the 18th National Assembly. I was invited to speak on “Image Perception of the Legislature: Causes and Possible Solutions” (http://wp.me/p7LdSh-t03). While, as I explained, individual lawmakers may be viewed favourably by their constituents, as a collective, the National Assembly has a lot of work to do before it can earn the trust of most Nigerians.

However, in his “vote of thanks”, the Deputy Speaker, Hon Yusuf Lasun chose to counter a portion of my speech that ordinarily should delight the members. “With such array of accomplished young men and women, educated from the best institutions in the world, I will like to see presidents of Nigeria emerge from this chamber, beginning from 2019”, I had said. But Lasun responded that my wish was too farfetched because, as far as the presidency of Nigeria was concerned, “there is no vacancy in 2019”.

Since it is a given that there will be a presidential election by 2019, the implication of Lasun’s declaration, which incidentally was not lost on his colleagues, is that President Muhammadu Buhari will be re-elected, almost as if Nigerians do not have any say about that. Meanwhile, Lasun was only re-echoing what some presidential handlers have been saying: that Buhari will contest again in 2019 when his current term—punctuated, as it were, by ill-health—ends and he will win.

Unfortunately, that Nigerians are being told that Buhari is even an option in 2019—in fact the only option, if you listen to some APC titans—speaks to a larger issue. With Europe increasingly becoming an aging continent, the people are also learning to trust their societies to young people not only in the choice of those charged with heading critical agencies but also now in those who lead their countries. That much was demonstrated with the recent election of a 39-year old Emmanuel Macron as the President of France and Leo Varadkar, 38, the new Prime Minister of Ireland. That is the emerging pattern around the world except in Africa, a continent of predominantly young people, where old and tired leaders—most of who also have a penchant for packing their cabinets with old men like themselves—are being recycled.

While I do not subscribe to the argument that old age necessarily impacts negatively on leadership and management, it would also be wrong to ascribe maturity, or sense of responsibility, to people on account of old age or length of service. Indeed, if ever any proof was needed that the wisdom of Solomon had nothing to do with the age of Methuselah, the United States today provides a good example. At 70, Mr Donald Trump is the oldest man to be elected American President yet in terms of maturity for the office, he would probably rank very low. What that suggests therefore is that there is no reason why leadership should be made an exclusive club of old men as we keep doing in Africa with terrible consequences.

At 93, President Robert Mugabe has already indicated that he will be seeking another re-election next year when the current term expires and the people of Zimbabwe have also been served notice that in the event that Mugabe dies before then, even his corpse would be good enough to stand on the ballot. President Paul Biya of Cameroun is 84 and everything points to the fact that he also will not let go of power until death do them part. President Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia is 90 though he has only been in power for three years. Of course the Algerian President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been in power for the last 18 years, is 80. And just last week, Thomas Thabane became Prime Minister of Lesotho at 78.

We can excuse Ellen Johnson-Shirleaf not only because of the circumstances that brought her to power after the civil war in Liberia but also because at 78, she is already on her way out of office with election due in October this year. But the situation in Guinea is quite different. At 79, Alpha Conde secured his second term of five years in October 2015 and there is nothing to suggest he may not go for more by 2020. In Malawi, Peter Mutharika has only been in power for three years but he is 77 while Hage Geingob of Namibia is 75.

On the continent, three leaders are in the “Club of 75”: Allassane Ouattara of Cote D’Ivoire, Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Teodore Obiang Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. Mbasogo by the way has been in power since 1979, the same year Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who is 74, became President of Angola. And finally, my charity must return home where our President, Muhammadu Buhari, is 74. He is only a year older than Presidents Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo Brazzaville, Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana who are 73. Nguesso and Al-Bashir of course are maximum rulers with elastic term limits. The long-term dictator of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni and Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta of Mali are 72 while Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea and Ismaila Omar Guellah of Djibouti are 71 and 70 respectively.

One can go on and on about the age of African leaders but I believe the point is already made. While experience counts in leadership, in the age of technology that we are now in, quick thinking, energy and ability to proffer quick solutions to difficult problems are what the times require. Those qualities are more available among young people. “There is something unmistakably common in Africa: the continent’s aging and long-serving presidents. Its five longest presidencies stretch between 29 and 36 years, adding to a cumulative 169 years. Their longevity in office is matched by their old age, ranging from 71 to 91 years, and a combined 390 years” wrote David E Kiwuwa, an Associate Professor of International Studies at Princeton University, in October 2015.

According to Kiwuwa, the continent has the youngest population in the world yet the people keep recycling old leaders. “Africa has a leadership age gap disconnect between the leaders and the led. To put it into context, 85 percent of Angolans were not born when Dos Santos came into power in 1979. 83 percent of Zimbabweans were born after Mugabe first came into power as prime minister in 1980, while 79 percent of Ugandans were born after Museveni took over power in 1986” said Kiwuwa.

Given the foregoing, I cannot understand why some Nigerians would believe that the way to the future is through the past. Beyond the age of Buhari, or perhaps because of it, he has little or no trust in young people as is evident in most of his appointments. That much was confirmed last week when the Senate, due to the president’s insistence, upturned its earlier resolution and confirmed retired Justice Slyvanus Nsofor as an ambassador-designate. When asked to recite the National Anthem at his first screening, Justice Nsofor shot back at the Senator, “Why should I do so? You should have sent me a syllabus.” Asked about his knowledge of IT, he responded: “What is IT? It’s for your age, not mine.” But the 82 year-old man, who was described as physically unfit for diplomatic job by the Directorate of State Security (DSS), is now going to represent our country abroad!

Incidentally, even when statistics are hard to come by, I am almost certain that about 90 percent of Nigerians were not born when most of the issues—including the “de-structuring” that now require “restructuring”—tearing Nigeria apart started with the first military coup of January 1965. But in a milieu where the political elite has perfected the art of dividing to conquer, millions of our young people who are already denied access to education, skills acquisition and jobs, now provide a ready army from which ethnic militias and all sorts of social miscreants are recruited. Yet, stripped of all pretensions, the greatest challenge in our country today is neither ethnic (regional) nor religious; it is a class problem between the haves and the have-nots with the former exploiting the latter to advance their personal interests.

For instance, it is easier for the son of Professor Ben Nwabueze—whose “greatest day in life” was his recent meeting with Nnamdi Kanu—to marry the daughter of Prof Ango Abdullahi—the self-confessed grand patron of the “northern youth coalition” threatening Igbos—because they can meet at Harvard, Cambridge, Yale etc. or at restaurants in Lagos, Abuja or Dubai. But Nwabueze’s daughter will never marry some okada-riding “Biafrans” in Onitsha nor will Abdullahi’s marry some Fulani herdsmen roaming the bush in Zaria. Unfortunately, what many of our old men, who incidentally enjoyed the best of Nigeria, are handing over to us are their bitterness and petty prejudices which also accounted for the presidential Freudian slip of “97 percent versus five percent” in federal appointments that ignited the fire we are now trying to douse.

I have been asked by readers whether I am backtracking from my earlier calls for restructuring and my response is simple. While I have for long held that Nigeria, in its current form, cannot fulfil its potentials, I don’t want my position to be confused with that of some hate vendors who unfortunately have hijacked the conversation. I have watched many of Nnamdi Kanu’s “Radio Biafra” video clips and listened attentively to the bile, threats and derogatory statements directed at Yoruba people. Meanwhile, some of his Yoruba “defenders” of today have also said and written very damaging things about Igbo people in the past. These are the leading proponents of “restructuring” which has become a licence to abuse, stereotype, insult and denigrate other people essentially because of ethnic, political and/or religious differences. I will not be part of such nonsense.

That our national discourse on development remains frozen at the level of revenue sharing shows that what we practice is an “allocative federalism” in which the essence of national unity is how to ‘share’ money earned not through productive activities but from the extractive sector. Until we can put an end to the ridiculous culture in which governors wait till the month-end to collect huge cheques from Abuja which many of them thereafter dissipate on trifles, majority of our people, whether in Lagos, Jos, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt, Kano or Enugu, will continue to wallow in abject poverty.

For sure, restructuring our country for the greater good of our people—North, East, West or South—is inevitable and majority of Nigerians will soon come to the inescapable conclusion that the current arrangement will lead us nowhere. But there are also certain aspects of our polity that has to change if we must progress like other societies. The idea that we can continue to exclude the generation of Nigerians born after the civil war—who are now in their forties and constitute perhaps more than 85 percent of our current population—from political leadership and critical appointments cannot for long endure.

To Hon. Lasun, therefore, while I pray for the quick recovery of President Buhari so he can return home to resume work, if he chooses to seek re-election in 2019, there will be a serious debate about whether we can continue to trust a 76-year old man, whose mind is trained to the past, with the future of Nigeria.

The Triumph of Kechi
It is a coincidence that Member Feese (the young lady who survived the United Nations building bombing in Abuja on 26th August, 2011) and Kechi Okwuchi (one of the two survivors of the 10th December 2005 Sosoliso plane crash in Port Harcourt) both attended Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja. But it is a testimony to their character that they have triumphed over their monumental adversities not only to complete their education with excellence, but also to become advocates of worthy causes. Last week, it was Kechi who was trending on social media following her sensational performance at “America Got Talent” show.

For those who may not know where Kechi is coming from, in February 2014, she had this to say about the day her life changed: “I left from Loyola Jesuit College with 60 other schoolmates to board a plane headed to Port Harcourt for the Christmas holiday. It was about 20 minutes to landing that everything went wrong, because what we thought was turbulence became something much more serious. Chaos erupted in the plane and I held my friend’s hand from across the aisle. The last thing I remember was hearing the painful sound, like metal scraping against metal, before I blacked out. I have no recollection of what happened between that moment and when I woke up a month later in Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa. I don’t think I should rehash every single moment of my recovery process, but I will say that it has been a physically painful and emotionally draining experience. One of the most difficult moments was facing the fact that none of my other schoolmates had made it. That day I understood the true meaning of grief…”

Notwithstanding that horrible experience and the visible (and other invisible) scars she still bears, it is remarkable that Kechi has refused to allow the tragedy to define her. What she teaches is that it is not the cards we are dealt by life that really matters but how we handle such experiences. Kechi is no doubt a role model who deserves the accolades she has been getting in recent days as I wish her the best in the singing competition and whatever other endeavor she chooses in future.

  • Orlando

    …Hon. Lasun, therefore, while I pray for the quick recovery of President Buhari so he can return home to resume work, if he chooses to seek re-election in 2019, there will be a serious debate about whether we can continue to trust a 76-year old man, whose mind is trained to the past…’

    Mr Adeniyi! Call a spade, a spade. Instead of beating about the bush, why not say a 76 year old man who in addition to all what you said, is battling serious ill health, has not recovered, is showing no sign of recovering and may not be fit to run in 2019 not to talk of leading a country of 180 million people. Is Nigeria so full of blind people that a one-eyed man is preferred to lead?

    The APC came, unprepared for leadership. I hope they are not planning to be unprepared for a candidate come 2019 for this Buhari that I see has already ended his presidency whether dead or alive.

  • mr fash

    That Nigeria is still one is not due to any altruistic reason but due to our collective greed

  • Yemi

    Silly article. If Dino Melaye (43 years), Abdulmuminu Jibrin (40 years), Yahaya Bello (41 years), Donald Duke (38 years when he became Gov) and Orji Uzor Kalu (39 years when he became Gov) are the examples of the youth in leadership, then age may not be our real issue. Segun never liked Buhari because he is an apologist and beneficiary of the corrupt mercenary journalism that was pionerred by Thisday and Nduka. You served and defended a sick and incompetent Yar’adua and now have the guts to talk about incompetence. Someone who cannot even professionally edit a newspaper or manage a presidential media office is talking about competence. Nonsense

    • Dayo Akom

      You need not reduce this to whether Segun like Buhari or not, the real issue is capacity and intellectual savvy which Buhari did not have. You that you like Buhari, can you please tell us any area of governance that Buhari shows competency?

      As per the issue of youth taking up leadership, what is you grouse with Donald Duke and Yahaya Bello. We should stop deceiving ourselves, Buhari and those in his age bracket do not belong to this generation and have no solution to present days problems.

      • Yemi

        I have my issues with PMB and his slow style of governance but on atleast 4 issues I give him credit. The BH issue which Segun’s boss so incompetently managed is already tamed. Segun lives in Abuja and cannot deny this. Fighting corruption has never been central to any govt in Nigeria as it is today. Compare PMB who suspended his SGF to Segun’s boss who haboured and protected Ibori. Today, Nigerians buy fuel at N145 almost everywhere without scarcity and no subsidy been paid. Segun’s govt follishly reversed the privatization of our refineries that could have solved this problem long ago. Finally, as Segun mentioned in his collum two weeks ago, the way this govt solved the fertilizers issue for farmers is unprecedented. Everywhere you go, there is fertilizer available to farmers at N5,500. I can mention more but there is no need. Even for those who live in Lagos and sleep and wake up talking about dollars, the thing don boku now.

        On Duke and Bello. Well Duke will forever be remembered for wasting billions on the single largest white elephant project in Nigeria’s history – Tinapa. Bello is just a lousy guy who cannot even pay salaries and spends his time on people like Dino

        • Orlando

          Book Haram is not tamed yet. We should stop deceiving ourselves and the masses.

        • Netanyahu

          Buhari is part of boko haram. What is the difference between the killing of southern, christian corpers in the north in 2011 when he lost election and the activities of boko haram? Why has he not arrested or prosecuted any sponsor of boko haram till date? They know themselves and playing games with Nigerians of the south. Boko haram is mischief gone sour. Yes they have chased out Jonathan (the target) but boko haram will chase them down south. Converting them into foolani herdsmen will not save them. Stop giving any credits to buhari because of boko haram that is still strong and alive.

    • Aleks

      Did you just include Donald Duke in that ignoble list? Please if you don’t know Duke, take your time to learn about him and his performance in the 8 yrs he ruled his state.
      Tinapa was not Dukes biggest project! Dukes performance in Rural Electrication, Agriculture, Road Infrastructure (urban and rural), Education and Healthcare delivery totally dwarfed Tinapa, but were unheralded because people naturally applaud things that appear revolutionary- like Tinapa. Tinapa was not a waste but was sabotaged by the Federal authorities who refused to play their own part in putting in place enabling regulations as required to remove obstacles against the functioning of Tinapa.
      One single thing that stood Duke out among his peers is the sheer quality of his project deliveries – be it in rural roads, schools, healthcare infrastructure or tourism edifices like Tinapa and Obudu Ranch Resort. Also his work rate – inspected all his projects thoroughly before payment, and because the contractors saw his sincerity, the delivered to standard and he ended up not owing anyone.
      So please when next you want to lump people together, research well and be sure that they all share the same characteristics. Duke was and still is an exceptional leader – one of the minute bright spots in the dark mass of Nigerian political leadership. Only an utterly unworkable entity like Nigeria can succeed in deeming the potentials of such remarkable stars as Donald Duke!

  • obinnna77

    This here, is a stellar example of Janus-facedness.

  • Maigari

    Thanks Segun. All said and done the problem seems to be a ‘localised’ issue than national. In that most of the grievances of the populace stem from the failure of the executive at the local and state levels than national. That said, one of the areas sorely in need if restructuring is the political party primaries. That is where the competent executive is lost to the money-bags and loud-mouthed elites who are far more keen to keep the people divided. Reform this and competent representatives will be elected to represent the people at the various levels of government and surely the impact will be discernible in a relatively short time.
    As to the restructuring of Nigeria, that is a really simple issue once the apostles of the restructuring can guarantee -demonstrably so- that the rights of the dissenting minority in their new enclaves will be protected from excesses. What we have seen so far does give room for optimism and that has to change first.

    • Obi Ike Sorres

      Leave that one. Restructure in all ramifications. Not just that one. You have only said political what about others?

      • Maigari

        Well I have said my own as I see it. As to the others you are fess to disclose whatever it is….

  • Netanyahu

    Typical “hafonja” from islamic state of Kogi. Speaking from both sides of his mouth. If you are not for restructuring, better come out and say it and stop being clever by half. This is a silly article. Let the northern cabal re-present buhari in 2019, that is their cup of tea. One other idiot the other day said buhari will be re-elected in 2019 even in a wheelchair. Who cares. He has already destroyed the economy, divided the country as never before and created a mass of unemployed youths that will take a genius and five decades to clear. Who would want to inherit this disaster. Let the north that want to die for power fix Nigeria. They systematically destroyed the country using one military goon after another until it became obvious that we had reached the end of the road in 1999. Nonsense.

    • Obi Ike Sorres

      You are too smart and intelligent. Is a pity people don’t see these things.

  • Mystic mallam

    There you go again Mr. Segun Adeniyi – always one leg forward, the other leg backward, trying to be too clever by half. It is not a bad thing Segun, to take a clear position and stick with it. You’re either for restructuring or you’re not, you can’t have it both ways. You’re right to announce that restructuring is inevitable if Nigeria is to ever realise its potentials, so why do you have to qualify your support for it. Don’t you want Nigeria to realise its full potentials? You don’t truly believe that what we are dealing with right now is a class problem between the haves and the have nots. Did you catch IPOB or NDA seeking out the rich to roast for supper, or did you hear the impoverished northern youths giving a quit notice to the Dangotes and Dantatas? Sorry dear friend, the challenges of ethnicity and religion in Nigeria are too real to be papered over and they condition the mindset that leads to what you, tongue-in-cheek, described as PMB’s ”Freudian slip” . You know it is no such thing as Freudian slip, but you did get one thing right though, it is that insensitive slip and its vicarious execution that has lit the fire that poor Osinbajo is flailing about to quench with gospel preachments and threats that lack credence. In fact you naile the cross on its head with your beautiful coinage – ”allocative federalism” that has place our country in a state of frozen development. With such clear headed diagnosis, one has to wonder at why you still prevaricate with coming out strongly to tell your NASS friends and Mr Osinbajo, that restructuring Nigeria away from allocative federalism is Nigeria’s only viable chance to secure that indivisibility they love to mouth ad nuseam. And thanks anyways for telling Mr Lasun [I can’t guess why you call such people honourable] some home truths about the exercise of power in the modern era and “76 year old men whose minds are trained in the past”. Let Buhari recover from his illness we pray, but it will be to his eternal loss if he represents himself for public office in any capacity whatsoever, in 2019 or after. It is not just a matter of old age and ill health, it also a matter of leadership deficit. he does not have it and he can’t give what he doesn’t have. That explains your Freudian Slip.

    • benedict chindi

      Hear Hear!!!

    • Uche

      Why are you surprised. That’s typical Yoruba! Speaking from two side of the mouth. After all Osibanjo, Tinubu, Fashola were all for restructuring and resource control before they got to Abuja.

      • KWOY

        The Yoruba does not believe in restructuring. Whenever they talk about restructuring, they do so just to project an outside image,& then hope & work to ensure it does not happen!

      • Mystic mallam

        Tinubu is on the return path to restructuring once again. Who knows what he knows!!

    • obinnna77

      Janus- facedness, is all.

    • “Korede

      You read between the lines. There are many versions of restructuring and Segun clearly stated the one he favors. Before some idiots will start their hate speech against ethnic group again, let them read re-read and reflect on the two quotes below.

      “While I have for long held that Nigeria, in its current form, cannot fulfil its potentials, I don’t want my position to be confused with that of some hate vendors who unfortunately have hijacked the conversation.”

      “For sure, restructuring our country for the greater good of our people—North, East, West or South—is inevitable and majority of Nigerians will soon come to the inescapable conclusion that the current arrangement will lead us nowhere.”

  • lanre lanre

    There is absolutely nothing wrong in having an ‘old’ man as president. If the old man is competent, experienced and de-tribalised, a father figure like Nelson Mandela, who has taken time out to ponder the way forward, and is ready to heal a fractured land like ours, with his words and actions. But what do we have, a 97% versus a 5% president, who will appropriate federal appointments according to his whims and caprice.
    Not tendering his resignation due to his ill health, with his hangers on contemplating fielding him in 2019 leaves much to be desired, it says much about the lure of power, and the psyche of our so called leaders. Will the ‘children of anger’ rise up and make a change?

  • Dunu Anselm

    This age thing about leadership amuses me sometimes. Segun, as you reeled out the old men of Africa and elsewhere in government I looked for a name but couldn’t find it. Ronald Reagan of the USA. He was an old man but go to the USA talk bad about him in art of governance and see the kind of response you will get. Reagan was a great POTUS. But he was old.
    The problem we are having with our Buhari is not his age. No. It is his incompetence and this is not age related. The man is just a dunce. You and your kinsmen writers were warned but for your incurable hatred of your fellow southerners you chose a certified pre historic relic for your leader. Now you want to divert attention to age. A dunce is a dunce no matter his age. This same man was not old in 1984 when he held sway as a military head of state. What did he achieve then.
    All the same, the problem with Nigeria can be solved with real restructuring of our mode of existence. Please stop confusing issues here. If you don’t want restructuring because some people you don’t like their faced proposed it, that should be your problem. I am happy there are still amongst your kins who can hold their own in understanding our problem and their call for genuine restructuring is very strident. It is better you align with them. Restructuring or outright dissolution of this nightmarish contraption called Nigeria.

    • ychukwuka

      Why will he want restructuring of a damaged country when he suddenly became a ‘rich’ man after lying all through Yar’adua days as a Lai Mohammed? That forecloses any chance of becoming a billionaire through the back door. Allow the saint to keep deceiving people who are quick to forget about how good, indivisible and indissoluble our country has been. Yesterday, he was for Buhari, a day before yesterday, restructuring, today-Buhari is old less than two years he campaigned for him, again no more restructure cos of kanu and co.Whither has all men of integrity gone?

  • KWOY

    1. When those who have dominated the press for ages use it for fighting their tribal/regional agenda/cause, & use it to pollute the space with lies, & to pull down their foes or canonize the devils among them, & use it to “write horrible things about other people” it is not hate; it becomes hate when they are reacted to.

    2. That the children of the elite intermarry in Havard does not make regional & tribal injustice not to be existent. Although Israelis as a rule do not intermarry with others, yet there was a case in 2015 about an intermarriage about an Israeli & a Palestinian. Even at that it is still Yorubas & other tribes who go after Igbo women, Igbo men DO NOT. Out of every 100 intermarriages, the probability is 99% of men of other tribes marrying Igbo women.

    3. U are only being forced lately to speak in favour of restructuring from time to time bcos u’ve seen it is inescapable. Nnamdi Kanu was not there when Yar’ Adua’s commiittee made its finding which u reported in POWER, POLITCS & DEATH but has always opposed.

    • olufemi koya

      Chukwuemeka Ike, Emeka Anyaoku, Pastor Agu, and many more I know have same thing in common; they all married Yoruba. It’s becoming more apparent day by day that this union is heading towards precipice, and it’s pertinent also to realise that the earlier we agree to disintegrate in peace the better. There is no other way.

      • benedict chindi

        We are not disintegrating anywhere….at least not yet. No need to burn down this house.

        Lets try restructuring with devolution of powers first; I refuse to believe this country is a lost course.

        Oh…..and you can add me to your list.

      • KWOY

        The Yoruba will NEVER agree to disintegration!

    • obinnna77

      Number 2 is waffle. My girlfriend is Yoruba, regal as Moremi. Doesn’t make me any less obstinate about Igbo self determination.

  • EzekielIwa

    Dear Segun, i enjoyed your article. I have 1 single advise for you and the likes of Simon Kolawole ((always avoiding govt appointment), Momodu Shaka, Onikepo Braithwaite to get involved with politics and tell us your experience(s) on the field. I also don’t think we should compare the ROW with Africa when it comes to POLITICS cos the young guys in ROW assuming leadership position have their eyes on the price and has gone through serious preparation in terms of education, networking, mentoring, service to humanity and also unshakable faith, patriotic and believe in their country that is devoid of religious and ethnic sentiments.

    To have the young men and women to assume leadership position in this country, there is need for re-orientation of our Values and sense of patriotism and love for this country Nigeria devoid of HATE & SUSPICION. Restructuring of the country just can’t fix it if these little things are not taken care of

    • obinnna77

      Avoiding government appointment? Don’t be naive, Sir. You know what signalling means, in psychology?

  • Ken

    “Mohammed Yakubu, a member of the national executive committee of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), says the north will vote President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 even if he is on a wheelchair.”

    Dear Segun, the above excerpt is culled from a statement made yesterday by an Arewa Chieftain about President Buhari’s presidential status come 2019. While the man might not have spoken for the entire Arewa (or North as the case may be), it speaks to the kind of leaders that this country has been churning out.

    Segun, your work is perfect save for one thing. Buhari is sick and we must accept that for a fact. You made mention of his age as a limiting factor. For me, that’s not enough. Some of the African leaders you reeled out their names are energetic and are still attending to state matters. Even with all the Trump’s misbehaviours, no one has accused him of failing to attend to state matters on account of age. Even Mugabe at 93 still rules Zimbabwe.

    Without meaning to justify the ages of those African presidents, the crux of my argument is that our own case is quite different from that of other African leaders. Here we have a president whose whereabouts we hardly know of. Here we have a president who is sick and has been unable to govern Nigeria effectively for a period spanning over a year (when cumulatively put together) out of two years he has been in power.

    I understand your difficulty in touching on the issue of his ill health. You could be accused of insensitivity to the health of Mr. President. I understand. But then, that speaks largely to our problem. We all behave like ostriches, burying our heads in the sand. We can’t continue to hide behind one finger. With President Buhari’s age, it is expected that whatever is the ailment troubling him will be a terminal one. That is the fact of life. You can’t expect him to get better. That’s nature.

    Having said that, are we then saying that we will keep having our President in a situation of incapacitation till 2023? That’s too bad for this country! Does any one ever think of the generation of this country that desires to see true leadership for the first time?

    In conclusion, I must excuse the Arewa commentators (and other political gladiators) who are already campaigning for PMB’s 2019 reelection. This is not because I subscribe to it. It is largely because it is the kind of politics we play in Nigeria. A certain Alhaji Mujaheed Dokubo-Asari once threatened that Nigeria would be reduced to rubbles if Jonathan was not reelected in 2015. If Buhari were Igbo, a certain Mazi Okeke would have been saying the same thing. Same goes for Yoruba. That is who we are! We are Nigerians! A country of ethnic jingoism.

    It is therefore against the above backdrop that I caution the Buhari-for-2019 agitators to stop insulting the sensibilities of Nigerians. Buhari has to be alive and fit to enable him govern us again. If some people feel that with PMB’S ouster power would slip out of their hands, let them be reminded that he is not the only eligible candidate from that region. Another fit and proper candidate from the area could still be dusted up to fill his space but Nigeria must move on. We cannot just continue like this!