In the history of Nigeria, no politician has ever become president on pure deception except Muhammadu Buhari. Everything Buhari claimed to represent, and was perceived to represent, before 2015 has turned out to be a sham, a total fraud.
“Sai Baba”, that saintly and incorruptible Buhari, the one who, as military ruler, jailed politicians for hundreds of years for corrupt practices, now fraternises with utterly corrupt politicians.
The Buhari who so hated drug trafficking that he publicly executed eight young Nigerians in the early 1980s now wants someone with a record of drug-related criminal forfeiture to be Nigeria’s next president. Politics in Nigeria was not so morally corrupt and decadent, as it is now, until Buhari created the climate for it.
Yet, that’s not to say that Buhari has no moral values. The problem is that when those values collide with political ambitions and desperation for power, they collapse, as they did when he wanted desperately to become president.
Three times, Buhari ran for president on strong values; twice (in 2003 and 2007) under All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP, and once (2011) under Congress for Progressive Change, CPC. These were purist parties that put moral principles on a high pedestal.
Nearly eight years on, with just four months left in office, Buhari is a monumental failure on virtually all fronts – the economy, national security, national unity, anti-corruption, poverty reduction etc
However, after failing to gain power in three attempts, Buhari abandoned values and principles and adopted a malleable “if you can’t beat them, join them” stance. So, he entered a marriage of convenience with strange political bedfellows, most of whom, as a military dictator, he would have given long prison sentences for grand corruption, for large-scale transfer of public resources for private interest
This time, however, personal ambitions trumped moral principles. But the genie was out of the bottle. The political alchemy that produced the All Progressives Congress, APC, changed Buhari’s attitude to moral issues, totally eroded morality and ethical standards in Nigerian politics and now puts Nigeria at a very great danger if Bola Tinubu, the APC presidential candidate, who Buhari is campaigning for, becomes the next president.
When the history of politics and party formation in Nigeria is written, the selfish interests that conceived, incubated and birthed the APC would be a defining narrative in it writ large. Rarely, anywhere, has a political party been formed purposely and singularly to actualise the personal ambitions of certain individuals. But APC was established purposely and singularly to actualise the presidential ambitions of Buhari and Tinubu.
Both did a grubby deal to pass the presidency of Nigeria around like a parcel. Under the pact, Tinubu would help Buhari become president by mobilising the South-West’s votes for him. In return, after eight years in power, Buhari would help Tinubu become president by “lending” him his “12m bloc votes” in the North. Tinubu claims he delivered his side of the deal: “I made Buhari president.” Now, he expects Buhari to deliver his own side too; thus, he and his supporters are saying it’s payback time!
But, as I said, the pact between Buhari and Tinubu was a mucky deal that put personal interests above the national interest. Both knew neither was fit to be president. Tinubu knew Buhari was utterly inept politically, economically, and temperamentally to run Nigeria. Buhari knew and still knows that Tinubu is too morally challenged, with acute character and integrity deficits, to become Nigeria’s president. Yet, both were prepared (Buhari is still prepared by supporting Tinubu’s ambition) to mortgage Nigeria’s future for personal gains.
Nearly eight years on, with just four months left in office, Buhari is a monumental failure on virtually all fronts – the economy, national security, national unity, anti-corruption, poverty reduction etc. Yet, Tinubu lacks the decency to apologise to Nigerians for foisting Buhari on Nigeria. Instead, he says it’s his turn to become president. On his part, Buhari says he wants Tinubu to succeed him because he “will continue my legacy.”
Of course, if Tinubu became president, he would continue Buhari’s legacy – a legacy of economic failure, of insecurity, of mismanaging Nigeria’s ethnic and religious diversities, of paying lip service to fighting corruption, of fostering morally bankrupt politics – name it! A Tinubu presidency would, indeed, be a Buhari third term!
Take the economy. Anyone who has read Tinubu’s manifesto pledge to “break the explicit link between naira expenditure and dollar inflows” and to “legislatively suspend the limits on government spending” knows that a Tinubu presidency would, like Buhari’s, decimate Nigeria’s economy.
That pledge means perpetual budget deficits, funded by continually printing money, which would cause hyperinflation, destroy the naira’s value, disincentivise investment inflows and, indeed, trigger capital flight. Well, just as Buhari did in 2015, Tinubu also promised to ensure dollar-naira parity if he became president. Utter economic illiteracy!
But, like Buhari, Tinubu is not relying on his outlandish manifesto promises to become president. Rather, he’s expecting APC, the first-ever Special Purpose Vehicle, SPV, in Nigerian politics, created to actualise his and Buhari’s self-interested ambitions, to secure victory for him.
Surely, given that the SPV, nay APC, underpinned by Buhari’s “12m bloc votes” and Tinubu’s South-West’s votes, made Buhari president twice, it should make Tinubu president too, goes the Emi lokan argument. Hence, Tinubu’s loyalists, including his “Jagaban Army”, want Buhari to campaign actively and mobilise his “12m bloc votes” for him. Well, Buhari is doing just that, telling his base to vote for Tinubu. Last week, Buhari declared that his support for Tinubu’s victory in next month’s presidential poll “is unquestionable”.
But where is Buhari’s moral compass, where are his values? Indeed, where is his patriotism, his love for Nigeria? Ironically, on the face of it, Tinubu represents the opposite, the antithesis, of what Buhari purportedly represents.
Take Tinubu’s drug-related past. As a military ruler, Buhari executed eight young Nigerians, under a retrospective decree, for drug trafficking, and as a civilian president, he has strongly supported the anti-drug trafficking campaign of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA. So, why does he want someone who forfeited $460,000 to US authorities in a drug-related property forfeiture to be Nigeria’s president?
What about corruption? Recently, Buhari said no one could accuse him of “illicit enrichment and inexplicable wealth”, adding that he has no asset outside Nigeria. But can he vouch for Tinubu, who has private jets and several properties abroad? Does Buhari believe a stupendously rich person, whose wealth Is unexplained and inexplicable, should be Nigeria’s president?
Read also: Nigeria needs ethical revolution to improve economy, politics – Osinbajo
Buhari says he wants to leave a legacy of free, fair and credible elections. But how can elections be credible when someone has enough slush fund to buy voters right from party primaries to nationa polls? Many prominent APC leaders have come out to say how Tinubu bought APC governors and delegates to clinch the party’s presidential ticket.
In 2019, two bullion vans entered Tinubu’s house on election day, with money purportedly intended to bribe voters. His response to inquisitive journalists? “if I spend money in my premises, what’s your headache?” Elsewhere, he would be arrested and charged with attempted vote-buying. Is such a person fit to be president?
What’s more, should Nigeria have as president someone whose real identity, origins and educational backgrounds are unknown to the public, and whose health is worrisome? By the way, why did Buhari reject a Muslim-Muslim ticket when he ran for president in 2015, but now supports Tinubu’s Muslim-Muslim ticket? Is it in the national interest?
Truth is, in supporting Tinubu for president, Buhari puts personal ambitions and party interests above Nigeria’s best interests. He carries a moral burden in next month’s presidential poll. A Tinubu presidency would be his worst legacy, a legacy of the morally bankrupt politics he helped create and foster in Nigeria.