One Thing I Ask Of Buhari

by admin


Saturday, February 25; dateline Daura in Katsina State, Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari filed out amidst many other Nigerians to cast his votes in a crucial presidential election that, in recent times, did not have his name on the ballot.

The president pressed his thumb confidently and consciously on the ballot paper and raised it for the world to see before he dropped it into the box.   Whatever was his reason to do that remains in the innermost recesses of his noble mind.  But, that singular gesture did not fail to be a subject of national discussion during the course of the election. Its legality, its morality, its implications with regards to influencing the voter, the spirit behind it and the effects of the action were all put into consideration by pundits.

No matter the direction of the discussions, the president had done it. It also gave social media miscreants the room to doctor what he showed and so placed the people in doubt as to who the president voted for. President Buhari had struggled tirelessly over the years past to occupy the Aso Rock, the seat of power in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, and finally became successful in 2015 when former President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat in that year’s general elections to make way for the realization of Buhari’s lifetime ambition. 

Expectations were high as Buhari, an acclaimed puritan, assumed office on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).  The administration, however, got on a wobbly start. Most remarkable was that the president wasted time in choosing his cabinet. For that delay, the people named him Baba go-slow. He was, however, undeterred, and told the nation that he was taking his time.

A long time he took, indeed, for a nation that needed to catch up with the world that is moving at a jet speed. We are not strangers to the eight turbulent years of President Buhari, up until this moment, ranging from the transformation of the Boko Haram insurgency to banditry and Fulani herdsmen menace across the nation. A badly hit Benue State has cried itself hoarse about the several attacks from these terrorists while the federal government played the ostrich.  It has not been rosy for the nation economically since Buhari got into power as the inflationary trends had galloped so high, such that a generality of the people have ascended the poverty hierarchy while the unemployment rate has risen astronomically. In the foreign exchange market, the naira had fallen far below an acceptable rate against the dollar. 

The implication is that the balance of trade has remained unfavourable to Nigeria in the international scene.Socially, the nation had not fared well, what with the all time high record of strikes by various labour unions in the country.  Students lost almost one session to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike and health workers dragged the nation years backwards in their brawl with the government. The fight against corruption which was supposed to be the forte of the new sheriff in town fell flat on the face as the rate of sleaze in the administration reached a nauseating point, such that “snakes and monkeys” swallowed money and went scot-free. 

The government has a record as the biggest international debtor.We can go on listing the various points to show the disappointment of the nation in the APC government of President Muhammadu Buhari. Much later is the cash crunch arising from the redesigning of some denominations of the naira which has rendered the people’s purchasing power weak while the government claimed it was redesigning the naira to curb votes buying and to control the amount of money in circulation. That brings this discussion to the most critical issue in the life of the nation, which is the election of a president for the country. 

A cursory look at the conduct of the pools has revealed unpardonable anomalies, contrary to the assurances of the umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the exercise was going to free and fair.  There have been reports of voter intimidation, especially in Lagos and Rivers, as well as disenfranchisement in the south eastern states, including votes buying in both the naira and the dollar all across the country. 

Remarkable is the fact that the INEC which had assured of electronic transmission of results to collation centres fell back to the manual transmission, in complete violation of the 2022 amended electoral law.Poll watchers have indicated instances of gross irregularities where voting took place in people’s homes and notices boldly placed to signify that only voters sympathetic to a particular political party were welcome to such polling units.The Arise and Channels televisions had videos of places where INEC displayed gross dereliction of duty by arriving at polling units much later than scheduled, sometimes without complete materials. 

In some instances, it was reported that INEC officials disappeared with the results, giving room to suspicions of manipulations of the results. Thugs are known to have invaded polling units and either destroyed ballot boxes or collected them for stuffing with fake votes. The sour point of the exercise had been the failure of the electronic transmission in many cases.  This, as a matter of fact, makes the results vulnerable to litigations as INEC officials by law ought to have uploaded the results electronically. What about places where manual accreditation had taken place as a result of the purported failure of the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) which had earlier been adjudged infallible? 

Are we also to consider the last minute change of collation centres in certain states and the shutting off of election observers from such centres?    It would be an unenviable record for the president to leave trails of controversy over the conduct of the polls and to go ahead to hand over to a candidate that cannot be seen as a true reflection of the heart and mind of a majority of Nigerians. We recall that the Olusegun Obasanjo government had a seamless handover to the late former President Umaru Musa Yar Adua and no bloodshed was recorded after the polls.

Considering the huge amount available to Nigeria, it would have been much more transparent to go full blast electronic where the voter presses a button and the vote is recorded straight on the INEC platform.  Nigeria can afford that level of technology only if its managers can wean themselves of the usual reluctance to do things right. Of course, to them, there should be room for manipulation.Now is the time for President Buhari to prove that he is for nobody and for everybody, to re-echo his famous statement on ascending the throne. He must give us a president that truly reflects the choice of the people, not the one that the cabal has decided upon. On the twilight of Mr President’s stay in Abuja, it won’t be demanding too much of him if one asked that he takes steps to give Nigerians the president they want and satisfy the masses, in the interest of peace. And that is capable of making him a hero, regardless of the failures of his administration.

Dr. Odu can be reached through

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