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Nigeria’s political landscape took a fresh turn as President Muhammadu Buhari announced that he would be seeking re-election in the forthcoming 2019 general elections. This he made known at the National Executive Council meeting of the All progressive Congress that took place in Abuja, shortly before his departure to the United Kingdom. Since the announcement, many Nigerians have took turns to show their displeasure in the President’s re-election bid. The reason being that Buhari’s administration, which officially began on May 29, 2015, have left many Nigerians worse off.
The economy has suffered a great setback due to Muhammadu Buhari’s economic policies that are greatly anti people, prices of basic commodities are on the rise although; the NBS statistics will say otherwise on paper, and many of the campaign promises pre 2015 have not materialized. These and many more have made the Nigerian people to lose interest in returning Buhari for a second term. Many have argued that the President is old and that he should retire to his home town, others have complained about whether the president is fit health wise, considering how he was away for almost a considerable number of months attending to his health issues.
Notable Nigerians of his generation like Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Former Military Head of State, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida have also echoed these various sentiments being expressed by Nigerians, and at various times in different letters, advised the President to retire from active politics and allow young Nigerians with fresh ideas and innovation move the nation forward. Particularly concerning the state of his health, former President Obasanjo wrote:
“Whatever may be the state of President Buhari’s health today, he should neither over-push his luck nor over-tax the patience and tolerance of Nigerians for him, no matter what his self-serving, so-called advisers, who would claim that they love him more than God loves him and that without him, there would be no Nigeria say. President Buhari needs a dignified and honorable dismount from the horse. He needs to have time to reflect, refurbish physically and recoup and after appropriate rest, once again, join the stock of Nigeria leaders whose experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the side line for the good of the country. His place in history is already assured. Without impaired health and strain of age, running the affairs of Nigeria is a 25/7 affair, not 24/7.”
Amidst all these criticisms, Buhari’s intention is now in the public purview and Nigerians can decide whether to return him or not. Let us journey back a bit into 2015 when former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan lost his re-election bid! The momentum not to return GEJ was already ripe, Nigerians were not willing to return Jonathan and his looting minions back for a second term. Everybody knew this except GEJ and those in Aso Rock. They kept telling him not to worry, and that Nigerians are all behind his back. As long as there is money to throw around, the victory was assured. So, the election came, and Jonathan lost to General Muhammadu Buhari.
But Jonathan did something that capture the hearts of many across the continent and the rest of the world. It was simply accepting defeat and relinquishing power willing without being coerced or force out of Aso Rock. This was rare at the time, for an incumbent President in Africa to willingly leave power after a major election defeat. In Ivory-Coast for instance, a deadly four month post election crisis follow Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to hand over power to Alassane Ouattara, in which over 2,000 people were killed. in April 2011, Mr. Gbagbo was himself forced out of office; captured in a bunker at the presidential palace by UN and French-backed forces supporting his rival Alassane Ouattara, internationally regarded as the winner of elections five month earlier.
It is a terrible trend in Africa that incumbents don’t always relinquish power peacefully. Even President Muhammadu Buhari in a meeting said he was surprised that GEJ conceded defeat. He narrated the conversation that took place between him and Jonathan when he called this way:
“I have called to congratulate you that I have conceded defeat. Of course, there was dead silence on my end, said Muhammadu Buhari, because I did not expect it. I was shocked. I did not expect it because after 16 years, the man was a deputy governor, governor, Vice President and was president for six years. “For him to have conceded defeat even before the result was announced by INEC, I think it was quite generous and gracious of him.”
It was a dangerous but positive precedence that former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan laid, for Nigeria and the rest of Africa. Since this event, Africa had witnessed Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia being forcefully shown the way out after a major election defeat, of which President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria played a significant role by sending troops. Gradually, Africa is waking up to peaceful elections and peaceful transition of powers. Ghana’s 2016 general elections that brought in the opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo is also a testament to this fact.
There is something happening right now in Nigeria’s political landscape that is similar to what happened pre 2015. The present ruling party have performed below expectation and Nigerians are ready to send them parking come 2019. Whether President Muhammadu Buhari would be re-elected or not is too early to say right now, but there are handwritings on the walls that his tenure may not go beyond 2019. Like the popular saying…”what goes around comes around.” If the president looses come 2019, will he willingly relinquish power and let peace reign in the land? Only time would tell.