The February Presidential election is a golden opportunity to break away from our iniquitous past, writes Sonnie Ekwowusi

We can no longer leave the fate of our country and our lives in the hands of political misfits who don’t have the foggiest idea that political leadership basically entails improving the welfare of the people. Almost everyone you meet these days in Nigeria says it, and, I dare join today in saying it: now is our chance to recover our stolen common wealth. To this effect, many Nigerian voters across the different divides (the Nigerian young inclusive) have, unlike in the past, irrevocably resolved to vote for a presidential candidate of their choice who will build a new Nigeria, all things being equal, on February 25, 2023.

The current Buhari government is a waterless cloud, carried along by the winds; a fruitless tree in late autumn, a wild wave of the sea casting up the form of its suffocating smell; a wandering and wicked crescent for whom the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved for ever. For nearly eight years the Buhari government has brought an unspeakable ruin to Nigeria and Nigerian families. For instance, the inability of President Buhari to defend and maintain Nigeria’s territorial sovereignty as well as secure the borders of Nigeria from internal and external violation in consonant with sections 1 (2) and 2(1) of the 1999 Constitution. Muhammadu Buhari, no doubt, has gone down the anal of Nigerian political history, if not the Guinness World Records) as the worst political leader in Nigeria. His inability, pursuant to section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution, to protect lives and property of the citizenry and to suppress internal insurrection, banditry, secession threats, murder, anarchy, tension, fear, suspicion and disorderliness has enthroned the reign of anarchy. Nobody seems to be in charge of Nigeria at the moment. The Hobbesian bellum omnium contra omnes (war of all against all) characterized by barbaric bloodletting, communal bloody feuds, kidnaps, banditry, gun-running and so forth now reigns supreme in different parts of Nigeria. Uncertainty, confusion, fear and apprehension rule the lives of many in Nigeria.  We now live in a free-for-all country where nobody seems to be in charge. We go to bed and wake up itching to hear the sad news of another bloodletting abduction or kidnapping. In 2017, Nigeria was ranked as the third most-terrorized country in the world. In the same year Nigeria Police was ranked as the worst Police in the world. In the same 2017 Nigeria was ranked by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a country with the 3rd highest infant mortality rate in the world. In the same 2017 Northern Nigeria was ranked as the worst region in the world with the highest number of illiterates.  

On July 25 2018 the BBC reported that “Nigeria has the largest number of out-of-school children, totaling 13 million, in the world.” In the 2018 Global Rankings of “Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index” of the OXFAM and Development Finance International (DFI), Nigeria was ranked 157 out of 157 countries. In the same 2018, Nigeria overtook India as the country with the highest number of under-5 deaths in the world.  In the same 2018 Nigeria was ranked as one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth to and the 4th country in the world with the worst maternal mortality death rate. In the same 2018 Nigeria was ranked among the worst malaria hit countries in the world. In the same year, 2018, Nigeria was ranked by the World Bank among the seven worst countries on the World Bank Human Capital Index. In the 2018 Global Hunger Index (GHI), Nigeria was ranked as the 103rd hungriest country in the world out of 119 qualifying countries. In the same 2018, Nigeria was ranked among the worst malaria hit countries in the world.

In 2018, the African Development Bank (AfDB) revealed that the World Poverty Clock named Nigeria as the poverty capital of the world.  According to Mr. Constant Tchona, a representative of OXFAM in Nigeria: “The number of people that live below extreme poverty as at April 2018 was 91,501,377 thus reaffirming that Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world. As if that was not bad enough, six months later, the number jumped to 94, 470, 533 people meaning that 2,969, 158 Nigerians have been tipped into extreme poverty. The latest is that the National Bureau Statistics (NBS) has revealed that no fewer than 133 Nigerians, representing 63 per cent of the Nigerian population, are currently living in multi-dimensional abject poverty. At the moment the national currency is having its worst free fall. For the first time in our political history we have now become a suicidal country. In 2018 Nigeria was ranked as a suicide-prone country.Today Nigeria is ranked the fifth in the world among countries whose citizens are prone to commit suicide. A bag of rice now sells for N45,000, the salary of many Nigerians. 

What is most nauseating is that, amid these calamities, President Buhari keeps gallivanting from pillar to post, beating his chest in the euphoria of triumph and telling those who care to listen: “I am not a failure. I am a good man. I will not leave office a failure”. Is this not laughable? A President who had already failed is giving himself a pass mark. Anyway, two things, in my view, are deductible from Buhari’s gloating. First: Buhari forgets the time-test aphorism credited to Sheikh Uthman Dan Fodio that conscience is an open wound and only truth can heal it. Pricked by the pangs of his conscience, Buhari has been placating his conscience and telling those who care to listen that he is not a failure. He forgets that only truth and justice can heal wound: Second: Mr. President is not in touch with reality otherwise he cannot be giving himself a pass mark. The President has refused to read the mene, mene, tekel, upharsin emblazoned on the walls of Aso Villa Presidential Building, Abuja. He can’t understand that his eight-year stewardship has come to a pathetic and ruinous end. He seems not to understand that about 99% of Nigerians had already judged him a failure and that there is nothing he can do to reverse their judgment against him.

Consequently, the February 25 presidential election is a golden opportunity to break away from our iniquitous past. To those regretting and sorrowing for committing a mortal sin in 2015 or 2019 by voting for Buhari, I say, February 25 2023 is the day of salvation. It is the acceptable time. Therefore, they should make amends and atone for the sin which they committed in 2015 or 2019 by voting for candour, content, competence and character in 2023.   Let us make amendments today that grace may abound.  We are the children of the light, not of darkness. Light has nothing in common with darkness. There is no doubt that Buhari has endorsed a stooge to succeed him in 2023. Therefore let us resolve to make a complete break with Buharism. We should be aiming to breathe fresh air in 2023. Don’t tell me it is impossible to break away from our iniquitous past. All things are possible to those who believe. The Kenyans did it this year by electing William Ruto, 55, who ran for President for the first time. In fact Ruto fell out with political godfather Uhuru Kenyatta. As a result, Kenyatta backed Mr. Raila Amolo Odinga to succeed him in office. But Ruto came from behind and won the election.

 Ekwowusi writes from Lagos

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