By Dr. David A. Akintimoye*
There has been a spirited debate in Nigeria, and indeed the rest of the world, over Buhari and Jonathan regarding the forthcoming 2015 Presidential election in Nigeria. The issue is so serious that very prominent pastors and imams have not been left behind. The interesting thing is that Buhari has once ruled Nigeria by hijacking the government and Jonathan has been occupying the number one position in Nigeria in the last six years by democratic means. Buhari, as you know, was a former military head of state and Jonathan is the incumbent President.
Some of the arguments for and against each of the two candidates are valid and some are not. Some influential and eminent persons in Nigeria just go out of their way to say things that are not true about a candidate that is not their candidate. It is unfortunate that those lies are presented as true to influence public opinion against any candidate that they dislike. I try my best below to be objective and dispassionate as much as possible in pointing out why neither candidate is suitable for the exalted position of the President of Nigeria again.
Major reasons President Jonathan should step down or not be re-elected:
- He has been incapable of suppressing the militant Jihadists called Boko Haram in the six years he has been in charge of Nigeria. Thousands of lives have been lost and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced due to the activities of Boko Haram and due to Jonathan’s incompetence, inaction or negligence as the Commander in Chief of the Nigeria Armed Forces. There has been too much blood shed, weeping and sorrow under Jonathan from the inception of his government to date.
- The unanimous opinion of objective Nigerians and international community is that his administration in the last six years has been very corrupt. Few persons in government who stole millions of Naira are not prosecuted; and where they are, they are not convicted of any crime. The fact that he pardoned a former governor convicted in the United Kingdom of financial crimes involving Nigeria money and also gave him a national honor is an irrefutable proof of his endorsement of corruption.
- The economic and social welfare of every nine out of ten ordinary and average Nigerians have not improved since he became the President. In fact, many believe that their standards of living have become worse. What was the price of a bottle of coke when he became President? What is the price now? You can ask the same questions for other basic food and things necessary for sustenance in Nigeria. When you do that, the only reasonable conclusion you will draw is that Jonathan’s leadership has not brought any respite to Nigerians.
- Profligacy: In addition to his ineptitude, he has spent Nigerian money on his office more than any Nigerian past leader. He acquired brand new private jets for his office costing Nigeria millions of Dollars; the money earmarked for his personal expenditure in his official capacity is unprecedented in history. He just spends Nigerian money anyhow. There is the rumor making round that he gave several billion of Naira to the leaders of CAN and PFN in Nigeria to buy the votes of Christians for him. To date, those leaders have not officially refuted the rumor, thus giving credence to it. This sin of Simony should have been rebuked by Nigerian Christian leaders with the famous statement, “May your money perish with you because you think you can purchase the gift of God with money.” (Read Acts Chapter 8 of the Bible). We are told that the leaders of these Christian organizations received the money, smiled to their banks like Balaam of the Bible days, and promised to use their influence and position to persuade Nigerian Christians to vote for Jonathan again. This really shocks the conscience.
- His lack of sensitivity to the sensibility of an average Nigerian: He publicly and recently called Babangida his political father. Babangida was a man who unilaterally canceled a Presidential election result which M.K.O Abiola objectively won. That election was said to be the most credible election ever conducted in Nigeria to date. Abiola died in the process and his extended family was destroyed. Additionally, NADECO leaders who were fighting for the actualization of June 12 were hounded, maimed and killed. During that period, there was a major political mayhem in Nigeria and loss of so many lives and properties. By calling Babangida his political father, it shows that Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan will do even debased things to rule Nigeria again.
False Arguments for his re-election:
Some of my fellow Christian brothers and sisters are saying that he should be re-elected because he is a Christian and Buhari is a Muslim fundamentalist. It is not in my place to judge anyone because all judgment belongs to God. From what I know and read about Jonathan, he is certainly not a practicing Christian. A real Christian will be rich in good works. He will help the poor and the needy. He will lay down his life for others. This man has not objectively improved the lives and welfare of the ordinary Nigerians. Nigerian hospitals remain a graveyard, and he is aware of that fact. That explained why he flew his wife abroad for medical treatment. Unemployment of youth has escalated. There is general insecurity of lives and property. The average Nigerian lives in fear of sudden death or injury. Many Nigerians continue to live under terrible conditions. Additionally, if he were a practicing Christian, he would not give a national honor to a governor convicted of financial crimes in London. Look at the position Chief Bode George, an ex-convict, in PDP today. I think many people are deceived because of his occasional attendance at popular churches and the deceptive speeches he gave at such times.
Some of his stooges said he has done a lot for Nigeria. The truth of the matter is that he has done little or nothing for Nigeria. History will score him very low. Jonathan is like King Rehoboam of the Bible. Rehoboam was the son of Solomon. He made the lives of the Israelites bitter and he did not care a hoot about it while he lived in affluence and opulence. He has just been enjoying the prestige, pomp and pleasure that attached to his office as President in the last six years while many Nigerians are rotting away. He pocketed all the influential religious and political leaders in Nigeria who could mobilize the Nigerian people against him by donating large sum of money to them.
Some of the reasons some people think Buhari should not be elected as President:
- His antecedents show that he does not have respect for human life and dignity. The Nigerian history showed that he clamped many persons he did not like into prison without trial; he was involved in extra-judicial killings.
- He is prejudiced against Southern Nigerians: Most of the people he jailed without trial were Southerners. He is simply not a nationalist like Obasanjo or Atiku. He is a regional lord and advocate and he should not become a Nigerian President.
- Some politicians and Christian leaders argue that Buhari will Islamize Nigeria if elected as President. This argument is simply a blackmail. I am unable to subscribe to that argument. First, he did not or attempt to Islamize Nigeria when he was the Head of State. Second, he has publicly said he does not intend to Islamize Nigeria. Third, his running mates for the last two presidential elections have been prominent Christian Pastors. Four, he will not be able to Islamize Nigeria in a democratic setting because of the checks and balances in the three arms of government. For example, Obasanjo’s third term agenda was aborted by the courageous Nigerian lawmakers.
- He is a sponsor of Boko Haram: This allegation lacks substantial evidence. It is another attempt to discredit him.
- He has lost the same election on two previous occasions: This only indicates that Nigerians did not want him then. But it does not indicate that Nigerians do not want him now. Again, the argument is based on the false premise that the outcome of the two previous elections were not doctored by the incumbent Presidents then. That he has lost two previous elections is not a good argument against his re-election.
Main argument for his election:
- Some people argue that Buhari can wipe out corruption from Nigeria and restore the loss glory of Nigeria. To his credit, he fought corruption to a certain degree and restored discipline in the public sector as the head of State of Nigeria within the short two years he ruled Nigeria. But it should be borne in mind that a military setting is different from a democratic one. In a military government, the head of state is like a king. That is not the case in a civilian government. It is therefore not very clear that he will be able to stamp out corruption if he is elected as the next president.
- He sacked President Shehu Shagari shortly after the latter’s re-election as the President of Nigeria. To me, this is the most important reason why this guy should not even dream of ruling Nigeria again. It is only in Nigeria that a major wrongdoer like Buhari will be forgiven and treated like a demigod. He should have been languishing in jail for usurping the will of majority of Nigerians. If the government of Shehu Shagari was corrupt, Buhari should have allowed another presidential election to take place and for Shagari to be voted out of office or waited for the lawmakers to impeach Shagari. No excuse for military incursion into governance will ever be acceptable to the right thinking members of a civilized society. In this regard, Buhari clearly erred. His usurpation of a democratically elected President should provide sufficient justification for his disqualification. It is an anomaly for him to aspire to ride on a Presidential horse that he once killed.
We simply have not found the Moses that will take us to the Promised Land in Nigeria. Neither the incumbent nor the aspirant is anointed to rule Nigeria. Nigerians should ask the two candidates to step down and look for visionary and inspired leaders to replace them. The processes that brought about the emergence of the two candidates were significantly flawed. The two of them basically paid off their political constituencies to emerge as their parties’ flag bearers. The duo are not the product of the will of the people. They are simply imposed on the people. I am sorry for Nigeria.
*Dr. David A. Akintimoye is an attorney at law in the State of California. He is also licensed to practice law in Nigeria and the United Kingdom.