Few days ago, I read an article in one of the Nigerian Newspapers where the author pondered on how Shoyinka would vote, if the choice came down to Buhari and Jonathan. As all understood, Shoyinka had never concealed his thoughts on both men. He criticised the military administration of Buhari, for its human right violations, nepotism that bothered on arrogance, and others. Without a doubt, I share all of these criticisms and more. I have argued that Buhari’s administration lacked an economic focus, was inflexible and bothered on totalitarinism. On the other hand, Jonathan, the incumbent president, has demonstrated absolute ignorance to the mechanism of government, insensitivity to the responsibilities of the office of the president, and abject failure to the security and integrity of Nigeria.
In spite of Shoyinka’s criticism of the two individuals—and, which I believe the octogenarian will stand by, the question then becomes whom will he vote for, as it has become apparent. If the question is posed to me, the simple answer is Buhari. It is an unfortunate vote, which violates most of what I thought Shoyinka stood for. But, perfection and reality are not synonymous. Governance is about reality—nothing is ever perfect. Leadership is more than sets of principles or abstrations. As Shakespaer wrote in King Henry, “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”. As observers, we can only imagine the realities of the office of the presidency. But, between the man that fails to act and the man that acts, albeit incorrectly, the man that acts has advanced a cause.
Jonathan has failed miserably to act. As Yar’Adua became incapacitated and threw Nigerian into a consitutional chaos, Jonathan failed to assert his constitutional role. For more than two weeks after hundreds of our girls were kidnapped in Chibok, Jonathan was unpeturbed until Michelle Obama twitted “#bring Back our Girls”. Even, while the girls remain in bondage, Jonathan gave his stepdaughter in marriage, staging an elaborate wedding anniversary with 72 vehicles exchanging hands. A day after seventy-two innocent Nigerians were murdered in cold blood on the streets of Kano, Jonathan went out campaigning and dancing. Jonathan’s strategy to defeat Boko Haram has remained “we’re on top of the situation” while parts of our country exchanged hands between our army and the boko haram hoodlums. The first, second and third responsibilities of government are security. Abraham, the father of monotheism, knew this when he gathered his ragtag army to defend Lot, his nephew; ancient leaders knew this—they constructed walls around their cities to fend off enemies. Gowon knew this when he coined the phrase, “to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done” ; Jonathan’s failure to grasp this fundamental is inexcusable
Few years back, Nigerians—including the so-called political leaders, feared EFCC like Damocles feared the sword of Dionysius. For a short while, many Nigerians thought, if corruption could not be eradicated, at the least, it could be placed on a leash—that thought is history. Sanusi Lamido—the Emir of Kano, became a cuasualty of the greed that Jonathan has come to represent. Sanusi was fired from his job as the CBN Governor for disclosing that NNPC failed to remit $20 billion back to the Nation’s account. Neither the presidency, NNPC nor the Senate Committee that investigated the story has thought it important to tell Nigerians what happened to the money. Mohammad Abacha, the son of the blood thirsting despot, Sanni Abacha, now dines and wines at the presidential lodge; Alamasiegha, the crook that absconded from justice in England—disguised as a woman, is now an honoree at the Nigerian Centennial Anniversay. Even, if Nigeria does not deserve better, at a minimum, we deserve something different. And, that’s the reason that the choice is Buhari. If it is mainly for the perception of anti-corruption, Nigeria deserves Buhari.
Buhari has become a symbol and a statement for which Nigeria declares her revulsion against corruption. Nigeria is miserably trapped between the forces of corruption; neither forward nor backward is possible, and Nigeria must make this final stand, even if the outcome is skewed towards the odds. As the sons of Maccabees declared a final stand against the Roman army, in Buhari, Nigeria declares its final stand against the enemy of corruption.