On Buhari I smell some good luck-By Fola Ojo

Tomorrow morning, (Saturday, March 28) the sun will rise from its 94 million-mile abode on Nigerians as they choose a path; and it will later set in the evening as they chart a course. Tomorrow, we will find out if sitting President Goodluck Jonathan will be the ambassador of choice leading us beyond these trying times, or he will be regarded as just another flaky, flicker and flutter in history, and one who deserves nothing but a cold bye-bye from Aso Rock. Tomorrow will not be another ordinary day in this country; it will be an extraordinary dawn.

Politicians have hounded us for support and votes. Lies were told, arms twisted, money spent, mean utterances made, people killed, blood spilled and tension is now at an all-time high. Truly, this election will not be about Goodluck Jonathan who four years ago promised us we would all soon be cat-walking in Eldorado where there is no pain and sorrow. It will not also be about his arch-challenger, Muhammadu Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress who is promising us that heaven will collide with the earth at a cloying intersection and we will all be happy- forever-after if he becomes president. This election will be about Nigerians who were created by God and placed in a land filled with plenteous precious stones. It will be about a people who have sought for help since Independence from their leaders but have been besieged by bleeders and dealers who think they are leaders. This election will be about over 80 per cent of Nigerians who are living but “dead” as a result of pervasive, rampaging poverty that many have accepted as normal in our abnormal clime.

Nigeria is rated the sixth largest producer of petroleum in the world, the eighth largest exporter, the 10th largest in proven reserves, and one of the highest economic growth rates of about 7.4 per cent. Between 2009 and 2011, a total of N22.165tr ($143.5bn) was earned as revenue from the oil and gas sector alone. In the first seven months of 2013, Nigeria recorded earnings over $20bn from sale of crude oil. the National Bureau of Statistics told us that, “On annual basis, the total exports of Nigeria stood at N17.204 trillion at the end of 2014, representing a rise of N2.959bn or 20.8 per cent over the level of 2013”. We are a blessed people!

But what do we have to show for it? Almost 100 million people (61 per cent) still live on less than $1 a day, and 92 per cent on less than two dollars a day. Nigeria’s debt was $4.53 billion six months after this President took over leadership, but today the country’s debt stands at $66.99 billion and is rising. The inflation rate in Nigeria was recorded at 8.3 per cent in July of 2014, and Nigeria Import-Export ratio stands at 97:3 in favour of imports. There are more statistics of stagnation and backwardness to which answers have not come.

A former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, said this recently in a treatise about my President: “…His greatest challenge is how to save himself from the stranglehold of his largely provincial palace jesters who tell him he has done better than God…”

Mr. President seems to be held hostage by an agglutination of mean businessmen and ghoulish politicians who have successfully woven and caricatured him into an elephantine cash-cow and money-spewing machine. Many of them are audaciously bold duplicitous characters who spin through the crevices of government after government. They are wheelers, dealers and egregious Erebus in the piazza of power and they have turned Aso Rock into an odoriferous and bizarre bazaar-plaza where bonanzas in different currencies are shovelled out in bails and bundles. No thanks to them, Nigeria is now in a hot-bath of economic kamikaze; all things are falling apart. Those are the people that Soludo was talking about. If Goodluck goes down losing this election, it will be partly because of these sycophantic characters.

For Buhari, this election is far from settled in his favour. His opponent remains an incumbent president who is presiding over a GDP of about $500bn, active duty personnel in three armed services, totalling approximately 200,000 troops and 300,000 paramilitary personnel. He still has a lot of love because of what his backers call incomparable achievements, mainly in agriculture. Twenty nine state governments have accessed N33bn under the Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme, and about 165,000 jobs were said to have been created. Those quiet lovers of Jonathan are also those who love his Growth Enhancement Scheme which provided financing for 299 projects in agro-dealership totalling about N230bn. This President has done well in the agricultural sector, and you can’t throw that out of your window of partisanship.

But words spoken behind closed doors in many homes and businesses are that we can do better than these two people running. How can Nigeria at this stage of our evolvement be forced to settle for a weak Jonathan who has no cue or clue, or a stiff and ageing Buhari who has no charm or pizzazz to lead us into a glorious and glowing future? Is this land not filled with a plethora of young, skilful men and women of integrity and character who can hold their own on the world stage and command blessings to come for a nation that seems accursed? Is there no balm in Gilead that we have to settle for one of these? Who among them has the Midas’ touch to truly transform and change the climate? Some think none.

Maybe, they are right that Buhari is not particularly a thriller candidate. If we are voting charisma, charm and pizzazz, it will not be Buhari. If we are voting soothing, mesmerising speech machinist, it will not be this General. But what is missing in charisma he has gained in character. The world knows him to be a modest man who goes not after filthy lucre; a knowledgeable man who understands the military terrain in these days of insecurity, and a man on whose contact list you will not find gluttony, graft, or maddening amassing of wealth. He has a history of ruthless military dictatorship; but he wants us to believe that has been retired when he was forcefully retired from the Army.

When desire comes in a head-on collision with guts, you have a cohesive, unstoppable rainbow coalition. When Buhari met with Bola Tinubu, the lyrics of the song that Nigerians now sing came to the political labour room and a new master release is about to be born. Some Nigerians loathe Tinubu, but he is a discoverer of talents and a potter who moulds men of skills. Tinubu is a man on assignment, and wise men respect men behind special assignments. He is a ravishing master-strategist like none other. Men on assignment must be strategic. Tinubu went into the rubble of Daura and cleaned up the garments of a man who was once called an election serial-loser. He built a bullish team coated with savvy-salvaging spices around him, and marketed him to the same clientele that had rejected a product three times. Now, the serial loser is a serious contender for Nigeria’s presidency; and the serial loser may win tomorrow.

You cannot ignore the mathematics in this election. All of the Northern parts of Nigeria have about 32 million Permanent Voter Cards. The South-West has about 9.2 million PVCs. These two blocks are rooting for Buhari. The President’s region is the South-South that has 8.5 million; and the South-East 6.6 million. These are rooting for the President. In Nigerian politics, sometimes, 16 is greater than 19, and 2+2=2,000. But If Buhari loses this election, it will be the rudest shock of the new millennium. But the General seems to have the smell of good luck.

Copyright PUNCH.

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