Buhari : A Victory Foretold ,By Ali M. Ali

Buhari speaks from Chatham House, LondonGeneral Muhammadu Buhari’s electoral victory was long foretold. He has navigated the presidential quest grazing field long enough to strike gold. Thrice he ran for the nation’s plum. Thrice he came short. Thrice he went to court. Thrice he lost. After twelve years in the political wilderness, he has been sufficiently “debriefed” to win the diadem.

When the history of Nigeria’s 4th Republic is written, Buhari would be several chapters. He singly re-wrote the frustrating record of opposition politics. He deserves the credit. In rewriting history, he, like his lean frame, came to the war front literally bare handed. Only   a man with a cast iron resolve like Buhari will seek to drill a borehole with a needle. He demonstrated by his victory that integrity and resilience are sufficient to galvanize a people to a determined objective. At once this victory   pulled   the nation dangerously dancing on the brink back.

It came a great personal cost, some of which   is well known. Kudos to him. Nigeria is truly blessed. This country must rank as the eight wonder of the world. A week ago, she was on tenterhooks. Today there is an outbreak of national celebration following the peaceful, the nation’s currency, the naira, is attempting to gain some strength against the almighty American dollar. We are, truly, blessed.

Buhari’s mandate is pan-Nigerian. No single region can claim ownership. Except for the southeast and possibly a section of the south south, the mandate is truly emphatic. This means that the People’s General should hit the ground running. No time to waste. Four years is just 48 months away. He is, truly, limited, by time.

Having said that let me say that out –going President, Goodluck Jonathan just wrote history in his own handwriting. It will be kind to him. Conceding defeat and congratulating the winner before the final ballot was counted is novel. Doing that in the just concluded hotly contested presidential election ranks him in the class of Africa’s legends. CNN is already likening him to the continent’s hero, late Mandela. When the roll call to Nigeria’s democracy hall of fame is made, his name will be conspicuous. It will occupy front row. I dare to say; his name is the only name for now. This is no mean feat. He just molded himself into a statesman!

Let no man, young or old, begrudge him this well-earned badge of honour. He should walk tall with an additional swagger buoyed in the knowledge that he has blazed a trail no   leader in the past has   had the courage to plod. By this singular act, he has liberated himself of the sundry uncharitable   tags hung on his neck like a lost puppy in a mall. It takes grace to accept defeat   in a nation like ours where the leader, elected or appointed, thinks of himself as a god in whose presence everyone must bow in deference of his awesome powers.

Up until the millennium ushered a gale of change that swept away, forcefully, African leaders tended to be despots and sit-tight. They saw the opposition as personal  “enemies” that must be pulverized, incinerated even.

Until he conceded defeat, Jonathan had betrayed the ruinous trait   “sit-tight”. Instances abound. But two suffice. One was the rotation principle enshrined in his party’s constitution, the PDP. In 2002,as deputy governor acting at the behest of his boss, the then governor of Bayelsa, ratified the document agreeing that in the party, ”zoning’’ between north and south will be respected.

But in 2010 when late President Umaru Yar’adua died and Jonathan mounted the saddle, he promptly jettisoned it. Vincent Ogbulafor PDP chair at the time and proponent of rotatory presidency in the party was the first to be fired. His sin? He said rotation was sacrosanct. Hawks surrounding the relatively naïve Jonathan, resurrected Ogbulafor’s   economic sins allegedly committed years earlier as Minister and bingo, he was sent packing from the high office of party chairman.

His successor, Nwodo, previously national secretary was similarly disposed of after he equally stepped on the banana peel of playing by the rule. He too, like his predecessor, a crime, thought buried, was resurrected and was nailed.

These and coupled with Jonathan’s repudiation of the rotation principle projected him as an incipient liar who can’t be trusted. The circumspect   became weary of his word. His quest for 2015 re-election after agreeing to only one term publicly shredded any doubts that he is a serial liar and cant is trusted. In the days leading to last week’s watershed election, he again, denied agreeing to one term in office.

With a firmly established reputation of cunning, the tribe of disbelievers of President Jonathan’s word ballooned.

Expectedly when he vowed to midwife a credible and transparent election, his word was sneered at. Not even the choice of now celebrated Jega as INEC chairman to replace a scarred Maurice Iwu who had become more like a player than an umpire and massive funding, could convince cynics of the president that he would walk his talk of a credible election conduct under his watch.

Last Saturday’s election adjudged credible by local and international observers therefore, were pleasantly shocking. Jonathan’s concession of defeat amounts to “culture shock”. A sitting president conceding defeat in Nigeria?  Impossible. It is unheard of.  Another   culture shock. Congratulating the much-maligned Buhari! But Jonathan is on record as having done both.

The victory of APC over PDP   was a triumph foretold. Unless you were from the moon, the tell tale signs of electoral trouncing were all too visible. Inveterate supporters of out-going President, Goodluck Jonathan and President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari loved to reduce the epic duel to them. It went beyond that. It is a victory for the nation. It is a victory for democracy.

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