by Johnson I Agbinya
History is full of lessons to be learned and more so the Nigerian history as it stands. The present political climate mirrors the conditions that existed in 1993. The Social Democratic Party in 1993 provided the political umbrella for the progressives who chose their Presidential flag bearer, a multimillionaire businessman, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola (MKO). He ran a spirited election campaign which floored the military government of the time. The armed forces then were vocally restless as it they are vocally restless today. There were elements of the armed forces and the political elite (a cacophony of corrupt military leaders and their civilian collaborators) who stood to gain by annulling the elections in 1993. In 1993 they wanted nothing to do with a popular politician whom many thought was able to change things for the country. As Ibrahim Babangida annulled the elections, he forgot that Nigeria was changing and they would not take such acts lying down. Jonathan appears to be itching to try the same old tricks by suggesting that the Presidential elections of February 14 not hold. Whatever his reasons are, he has not learned any lessons from our history.
Nigeria is once again at the same point in time when we have a hugely popular progressive presidential candidate and an equally popular deputy under the umbrella of the All Progressives Congress, Rtd General Muhamadu Buhari. He is nationally respected and has over the years maintained an unsoiled character, a trait that is foreign to most Nigerian rulers and politicians. This is precisely what the enemies of change may have seen. Buhari has so far drawn mammoth crowds where ever he went to campaign. Even in the enemy’s den, they have called him “the one” that would bring ‘change’ to the country. When a people fail to grasp the lessons from history, history has an uncanny way of repeating itself. There are ominous signs that the retrogressive agents which existed in 1993 have once again amassed themselves and are once again pursuing agendas which clearly are against the wishes of most Nigerians.
Over the last two weeks we have seen every type of mud thrown at General Buhari. Unfortunately for his opponents none has stuck. The muds have made him look very clean and ready to lead. The old mud of religion could not be used this time around because that cloak has been removed from the eyes of many. With that gone, they tried to use his leadership of PTF which backfired woefully on them as it was proved beyond doubt that indeed during Buhari’s leadership the PTF engineered change and reconstruction of more roads country wide. A dirtier mud was tried that during his Presidency he did not equip the armed forces which was quickly washed off by international records on arms shipment to Nigeria.
Those who used age as their mud forgot that Ronald Reagan was nearly 70 when he became US President. He became one of the most respected and high performing US Presidents in history. Nelson Mandela was another example who was 77 years old when he became president of South Africa. He too became the father of modern South Africa.
Others have used Buhari’s educational qualification as their mud, even daring to use a military general to accuse him out of line that he did not complete secondary school education, that his certificates were not found at INEC and that the army did not have his secondary school certificate. One wonders if they will now ask for his death certificate while he is still alive or his marriage certificate. They cannot, he and his wife are alive and kicking.
His military training in the US was called to question. That mud was quickly wiped off by the huge army of Nigerians online who quickly fished out evidence that he indeed studied and graduated from the famous US military school.
The next mud thrown was that Buhari is sick and going to the US for medical attention. That mud too was quickly removed as we find that he was indeed going to the US by “honouring an invitation by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies [CSIS]” (Premium Times).
Like children not tired of throwing muds, getting themselves dirtier, they took his secondary education as the next mud to throw. As Nigerians see Government College Katsina publish not only his certificate, his examination number, his transcripts, photos of his classmates including one of our ex-President (Musa Yar’Adua), one wonders what other muds would be moulded by the cabal. The secondary school education mud has not stuck. Once again this morning we read again that NCC apparently aiding and abetting the PDP authorised telecommunication operators to block or pull down APC SMS platforms that were set up by the party to receive donations from the masse. The NCC forgets that in 2014 such platforms do not have to exist in Nigeria for donations to be received by the APC. The SMS platforms may well be located anywhere in the world and still be reachable by any Nigerian with a connected mobile phone. The Internet has given every Nigerian a voice to be heard. It has also given them unquenchable people power to come together as one and make their votes count. Dictators cannot anymore silence or hinder their reach to global access. That knowledge is still lost or not apparent to NCC leaders.
Instead of throwing more muds, the PDP should tell Nigerians in plain words that it has no policies to declare and no plans for the future.
As we see riots and skirmishes in Bomadi, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, torn down posters in Katsina, burnt down vehicles, two deaths in Ikwo and money bags changing hands in PDP primaries, one wonders where all these are leading to.
Political desperation often results to political suicide and the PDP appears to have woven for itself a spider’s web from which they are unable to extricate themselves. Each time they pull one string of the web, many more come flying to give their catch more freedom and popularity. But political desperation also often results to social unrest. They forget that chaos feeds on chaos and cannot be controlled once it reaches a tipping point. Even missiles can be guided but we find misguided governors to the extent they wish death for their opponents and advertise it in national dailies with the peoples’ money.
As they push the country towards a tipping point, the armed forces are clearly restless. Smarting from their inability to rein in Boko Haram, the blame game is on. Many junior officers are being held in detention for going AWOL or abandoning their posts, or running from the enemy. Some senior officers are being court marshalled, others transferred or relinquished of responsibilities. But the government remains in its own web of intrigue and confusion. None of them seems to understand or care that they are propelling the country once again towards the same position it was in 1993 until 1997. As the President calls past and present rulers who are not in his camp ‘touts’ and disparage NADECO leaders who ushered that change from which he inherited power, he continues to stoke the fire for himself and more and more members of his party decamp to the opposition.
With all the muds thrown at General Buhari not sticking, they are once again resorting to muddling the requirements of the constitution that the Presidential election can and should be postponed. Those who suggest this are oblivious of the fact that postponing a populous election campaign in which most Nigerian youths and elders have clearly identified with will be equated to annulling an election result.
There is overwhelming consensus among many political observers that a change of the federal government could happen come February 14.
AT the PDP election web has helped to prove to Nigerians the integrity of General Muhamadu Buhari.
Nigeria is at a threshold when it can show the world that it is possible to be in opposition in Nigeria and defeat the incumbent. That has never happened in the history of Nigeria. The time is ripe for political maturity to be demonstrated and government operatives to give peace a chance. Nigerians will defend the constitution. Nigerians want change for once.
Johnson I Agbinya is Professor of Electronics/Computing) and Head, School of Information Technology & Engineering, Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia.