Douglas Anele: Dear Buharimaniacs, nothing can change my decision to vote Jonathan as president

by Douglas Anele
buhari
In fact, the speech he delivered at Chatham House on Thursday, February 26, creates the impression that the retired general has not thought through systematically how he would confront the challenges of governance as a civilian President
Dyed in the wood Buharimaniacs seem oblivious of the fragility and dangers of APC’s excessive reliance on Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s reputation for electoral success. No matter how incorruptible a presidential candidate might be, democratic governance is a complex undertaking that requires coordinated efforts from various individuals at different levels of authoritative decision-making to make a meaningful impact.

Thus, it is disingenuous for the opposition seeking to wrest power from an entrenched ruling party to put all its eggs in one basket, so to speak, because democracy is a team effort, not a one-man show. As a corollary, incorruptibility in leadership is good but insufficient: it must be rooted in clear vision, creative imagination and cool passion for wise management of human and natural resources to achieve positive economic and social transformation. Anti-corruption orientation without bold innovative ideas about sound economic management will not take us far on the road to poverty alleviation for suffering Nigerians.

Still on the issue of corruption, Buharimaniacs manifest a disappointing degree of naiveté about what it takes to reduce corruption to manageable proportions in the country, which makes me wonder whether they genuinely understand the magnitude of the problem. They still nostalgically cling to the jackboot approach Gen. Buhari used against Second Republic politicians. Initially, I also thought that the method was appropriate, but now I am not so sure.

With advancement in Information and Telecommunication Technologies, the mechanics of corruption have become so sophisticated to the extent that only rigorous forensic investigations by experts spanning several months or years can reveal both the perpetrators of corruption and the quantum of public funds they stole. In other words, given the subtle mutations in corruption, a “strongman” like Gen. Buhari who probably would rely on the outdated strategy he used in the mid-1980s cannot achieve much.

What is needed now is creative synergy between institutions set up to combat corruption and the men and women who run those institutions: a hundred Buharis cannot tackle corruption unless there are smart institutions powered by ICTs to complement their efforts. Even so, have Buharimaniacs really thought about how Gen. Buhari without cognate democratic experience would fight corruption effectively if corrupt politicians and judicial officers respectively dominate the National Assembly and the courts? When he becomes President, how will Buhari deal with the cabal of agbata ekee politicians propping him up presently? The simplistic belief that Buhari would deal with corrupt APC chieftains when he assumes office ignores Nuhu Ribadu’s warning that “when you fight corruption, it will fight you back.”

It is difficult to imagine corrupt APC kingpins folding their hands and doing nothing while Buhari moves against them or dismantles their avenues for corrupt enrichment – they certainly would resist him. As a result, if Gen. Buhari becomes President and puts his purported anti-corruption reputation into operation, he definitely would meet a brick wall with prominent APC beneficiaries of corruption supporting him now. I foresee serious confrontation between him and the band of corrupt politicians in his party.

It is unfortunate but not surprising that Gen. Buhari, whose party is campaigning on the platform of change, has not spelt out in concrete details how he hopes to achieve the items in his party’s manifesto or, more accurately, wish list. This could be due to his inadequate scientific knowledge of the fine details and technicalities required to get the job done or to the tacit assumption that things “would sort themselves out with time.” In fact, the speech he delivered at Chatham House on Thursday, February 26, creates the impression that the retired general has not thought through systematically how he would confront the challenges of governance as a civilian President: it is filled with general statements of hopes and aspirations without specific details about how at least one of the items in his to-do list can be actualised. Moreover, some of his claims contradicted what he said earlier at different occasions.

For example, he acknowledged that democratic transition in Africa is problematic; yet, he and his party leaders have severally threatened anarchy and forming a parallel government if the upcoming elections did not favour their party. On the Boko Haram insurgency, Gen. Buhari promised to deal with the problem decisively if elected President and commander-in-chief; but he was the same person that recommended amnesty for the Islamic terrorists and sharply criticised President Jonathan’s government for attacking them militarily. He claims that he is a former military dictator who has now become a democrat willing to govern according to constitutional norms, but his incendiary remarks epitomised in the threat that if what happened during the 2011 elections should happen again “dogs and baboons would be soaked in blood” paint a different picture altogether.

It is contrary to well-known principles of psychology that a rigid seventy-three years old retired soldier and devout Muslim who had imbibed the command-and-obey mentality of the military can completely metamorphose into a democrat without residues of the former attitude lurking somewhere in his subconscious. So, despite the insincere claims of Buhari’s supporters in this regard, it is simply unrealistic, based on what is scientifically known about the psychology of entrenchment with advancing age, to think that Gen. Buhari is completely free from his dictatorial proclivities. As the saying goes, a leopard does not change its spots overnight, which means that Gen. Buhari would still manifest authoritarian tendencies if elected President.

Let me gradually close this discourse by calling attention to the shameful, slothful, and hate-filled attitude of Buharimaniacs to President Jonathan and to anyone who questions the hyperbolic myth that one man, Gen. Buhari, can bring about the kind of positive change Nigeria needs at this time without restructuring the lopsided federation we have now. Clearly, there is no doubt that Jonathan has made several mistakes for which I have criticised him over the years in this column. I still stand by those criticisms. But Buharimaniacs take criticism to an absurd level when they claim that Jonathan has achieved nothing since he became President; that a man who rose from the obscurity of a nobody to become President is clueless, weak, and unintelligent.

The campaign of calumny against Mr. President is so severe that I cannot but be thoroughly disgusted by the incapacity of Buharimaniacs to see any of his positive attributes or acknowledge his achievements in agriculture, infrastructure, power sector reforms, education, minimisation of the phenomenon of federal ghost workers, political re-engineering and so on. That is the major reason why I support his quest for re-election, and he deserves plaudits for absorbing the campaigns of calumny with humility, grace and philosophical equanimity.

As a corollary, Buharimaniacs believe strongly that anyone who does not support Gen. Buhari must have been bribed or is looking for political appointment! Only those fanatically supporting Buhari are clean and morally upright. All that is nonsense; it is symptomatic of intolerance of the ISIS kind, constipated imagination and intellectual kwashiorkor. Faceless scallywags have insulted me for preferring Jonathan to Buhari. But why should any rational person expect everyone to support Jonathan or Buhari exclusively? In a complicated matter like choosing a President, must everyone prefer the same candidate?

Why do Buharimaniacs insult and hate those who question Gen. Buhari’s suitability for President at this time considering his age, errors of judgement and dictatorial antecedents? Part of the answer is the kind of cult following Buhari attracts to himself; another is APC’s single-minded agenda of dislodging PDP from power at all cost. Buhari and his cohorts are so focused on victory, so intoxicated by sloganeering and adulation from crowds at campaign rallies that they have neglected the imperative of formulating realistic and implementable programme that would effectively differentiate APC from the ruling PDP. For me, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, inspite of his mistakes, is preferable to Gen. Buhari for the position of President; no amount of vicious obloquy will make me change my mind on this. Concluded

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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