By Emmanuel Onwubiko
Nigerians wake up daily to witness one form of political controversy or the other. It is fair to state that the polity is tensed up to a level that the North/South divide has become evidently manifest because of the near- total capacity of politicians to manipulate members of the public to perceive every development from the prism of ethnicism, regionalism and religious affiliations.
Governors of the Northern states met recently in Kaduna and decided that come 2015 only a Presidential candidate of Northern extraction would get the votes of the northern electorate. This bunch of unpatriotic elements forgot conveniently that Nigerians of other geographical entities still live in the North in spite of the torrents of terror-related attacks by armed Islamic fundamentalist group in the North.
Currently, one major tension that has built up all around the country is the groundswell of divergent opinions and interpretation given to the statement credited to Nigeria’s one time military dictator- General Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari has contested the position of the President of the Federal Republic under different opposition political platforms since 2003 and he has consistently emerged the runner up to the eventual winner. He has also had the honour of becoming the only Nigerian alive to have dragged eventual winners of three consecutive presidential elections from the lower election petition tribunals to the highest court in the Land-the Supreme court of Nigeria. Buhari lost in each of those hotly contested legal cases and in each of those times he experienced judicial misfortune, he is known not to have accepted any of the verdicts with equanimity.
For the powers-that-be in the Peoples Democratic Party, the fear of General Muhammadu Buhari is the beginning of political wisdom. After Buhari lost at the polls in the 2007 presidential election, he decided as usual to challenge what he assumed was huge electoral fraud at the election Tribunals but midway into the hearing of his matter which he instituted alongside his then running mate at the election- the now late Chief Edwin Umeezuoke, Buhari suffered a monumental set back when his once trusted running mate at the election and a co-plaintiff in the election petition decided to pull the rug off his feet when he shockingly withdrew from the matter at the presidential election Tribunal thereby exposing General Buhari to ridicule before his political adversaries.
Buhari never recovered from this disappointment which eventually made him to leave his then political family-The All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) to form his own party- Congress of Progressive Change (CPC).
From the above analysis, it is safe to adduce that General Buhari has had a dose of political misfortunes.
The Presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the 2011 presidential elections, major –General Muhammadu Buhari while receiving some of his party loyalists from Niger state in his Kaduna home tasked the Federal government to either organize free and fair election in 2015 or face the consequences of bloody revolt from the electorate.
According to Buhari, “…We have resolved with your leaders that by 2015, either they uphold the principles of justice in the election or it will be bloody. God’s willing by 2015 something will happen. Either they conduct free and fair election or they will be disgraced.” Buhari was even quoted to have stated that if election is rigged in 2015, monkeys and baboons will soak in their blood which is an expression that bloody violence will greet any suspected manipulations of the outcomes of 2015 General elections.
The above apprehensions raised by no other a person than Muhammadu Buhari regarding a possible doomsday scenario in the country comes the year 2015, goes to show that many important factors are at play here.
First, Buhari’s doomsday tale is substantially in tandem with a recent study by some controversial researchers under the umbrella of the National intelligence council in the United States of America who had about two years ago predicted that Nigeria may disintegrate by 2015 because of a combination of factors which may include religious; terror-related; political and regional conflicts.
Besides, the United States report which predicted the doomsday scenario by 2015 in Nigeria had raised a very critical point that; “other African Countries-including some failed states-plagued by poor leadership, divisive ethnic politics, decayed government institutions, geographic constraints, and a brain-drain may be unable to engage the international economy sufficiently to reverse their downward trajectory”.
The kind of regional politics most politicians play in present day Nigeria is a justification of this study by the Americans on Nigeria’s future comes the year 2015.
Secondly, a good look at the prediction of blood- bath by 2015 as made by the politician- Buhari would show that he has quality amount of historical body of evidence backing up his claim especially if we take closer look at the violence that preceded the Western regional elections in Nigeria in the 1960’s which snowballed into the first ever military over throw of government which brought in the then General Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi whose administration was toppled and he alongside his close military aides were gruesomely murdered.
Nigeria also fought bloody 30-months civil war when riotous Northern crowds executed what is still considered in some quarters as systematic genocide of the Igbos who lived in the Northern part of the country and the then Eastern regional military administrator-Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu [late] rallied his supporters to declare a separate political entity to protect the human rights of the Igbo speaking people who were at the receiving end of mass killings.
It is fair to say that Buhari’s doomsday scenario deserved comprehensive psychoanalysis to anchor it properly within faultless historical perspective.
Buhari’s submission ought to have generated deep introspection, retrospection, critical appraisal and should not be dismissed with mere wave of hands or with the usual angry tone with which the ruling People’s Democratic Party always treated criticism from respected quarters. It is a fact that wise persons when confronted by an upsurge of verbal firepower as has happened with the statement of General Buhari, the best way is for the people in government to be in their best of forms, restrain themselves into jumping into the bandwagon of verbal combat but should reflect on all the possible imports of such weighty comment.
Bill Newman in his scholarly book titled; “10 laws of Leadership”, rightly stated that; “wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge and experience to any given situation”. The same author further stated that ‘one of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency’.
The truth is that the current political leadership in Nigeria has not accepted the truth that our electoral system is rotten and therefore is in urgent need of comprehensive overhaul. I am not one of those that would be carried away by the false belief that because the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission Professor Attahiru Jega came from a labour union background therefore the weighty operational challenges confronting that electoral institution are healed overnight.
The fact is that Nigeria’s electoral system is bad and therefore a careful psychoanalytic reflection on the doomsday scenario in 2015 created by Buhari would reveal that this is possible if we do not unbundle the crises of credibility afflicting the Independent National Electoral Commission, a body that is anything but independent.
Samuel Anayochukwu Eziokwu in his book “Good governance; Theory and practice”, stated that “current method in Nigeria where the President wakes up and appoints a particular person to head the electoral body is becoming archaic and obsolete… a credible selection of the head of electoral body is a rudiment of any free and fair election.”
Charles Onunaiju, a public policy analyst had in 2006 stated rightly thus; “Any good constitution must think of the South African experience where members of the electoral commission are chosen through popular consensus and all political parties are represented and not one handpicked by the President and ratified only by the National Assembly”.
It is therefore imperative that the National Assembly should amend relevant sections of the constitution on the composition of members of the electoral agency and borrow the South African model if we want to avoid the doomsday scenario of 2015 predicted by Buhari. In the 2011 elections in most parts of the country, INEC officials followed the tune dictated by the pay masters in Government.
· Emmanuel Onwubiko, Head, HUMAN Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria writes from www.huriwa.com.