Many Nigerians had enthusiastically looked forward to the conclusion of the national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Thursday December 11, 2014, when former head of state of Nigeria, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd.) was declared as the presidential candidate of the party at its well-attended convention at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos.
The belief of many watchers of events is that Buhari is an incorruptible former public officer, who remains the only ex-head of state or president without an oil block and with only one house, which is located in his hometown; Daura, Katsina State.
These and many other apparent ‘enviable credentials positioned Buhari as the best choice of the APC to ensure a change in Aso Rock in the 2015 elections.’
So, the wild jubilation that greeted the announcement of Buhari as winner of the APC presidential primary election across the country is better imagined having polled 3,430 out of the total 7,214 valid votes at the national convention of the party, which lasted over 24 hours.
Opinion watchers believe that Buhari is the only candidate that could wrestle power from the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, who was picked as the presidential flagbearer of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) un-opposed at its national convention, which held at the Eagles Square in Abuja on Wednesday 10th December, 2014.
According to sources, who spoke to First Weekly last week, a person of Buhari’s caliber, who had been a military man and who has had the opportunity of ruling the country once with his perceived trait of selflessness and diligence would be able to handle the myriad of problems confronting the country such as insecurity, economic downturn, infrastructural decay, social malaise, kidnapping, incessant killings amongst others.
One of the strong critics of President Goodluck Jonathan is former president Olusegun Obasanjo, who rated Jonathan’s government below average at a recent event.
The former president, who spoke at an event as part of activities marking the Ake Arts and Book Festival in Abeokuta, Ogun State, had said; ‘I rate this current administration below average,’ adding that ‘rather than take blame for bringing Jonathan to power, I should be taking credit’ in response to a question about President Jonathan’s performance.
This is apart from Obasanjo’s onslaught against Jonathan in his new controversial autobiography entitled; “My Watch.”
Obasanjo said in the book that “In the area of corruption, we have been going back steadily from the inception of Yar’Adua’s administration, when the ‘hunter’ became the ‘hunted,’ Obasanjo states. “Under Jonathan, we seem to have gone from frying pan to fire. If in the past corruption was in the corridors of power, it would seem now to be in the sitting room, dining room and bedroom of power,” he said.
On the other hand, chieftains of the PDP and supporters of the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, believe that he has been doing his best since he got to power in May, 2010, when the late president Umar Musa Yar’Adua died after a protracted illness.
They insisted that most of the problems confronting the country had been there before Jonathan got to office and that he has even been doing his best to move the nation forward.
Reacting to Obasanjo’s statement, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe said President Jonathan had performed well and that ‘In terms of performance and achievements, no administration, since 1960, when Nigeria gained independence from Britain, has done as much as that of President Jonathan.”
He said further; “contrary to Chief Obasanjo’s opinion, the Federal Government under President Jonathan has performed excellently given the prevailing circumstances and resources available.”
However, as the battle for the soul of Nigeria in the 2015 elections begins, Nigerians are looking forward to interesting moments that will either see President Jonathan losing or retaining power.
While some people are optimistic that Jonathan would win despite all the challenges facing his government as they base their arguments on power of incumbency, others believe that there is no way the PDP government could survive the expected tsunami of the 2015 elections.
A source, who gave his name simply as Ayinla, told us last week that the APC would need to do much work to defeat President Jonathan in 2015 as he is in-charge of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that would conduct the elections.
He said; “Whether Nigerians like it or not, Jonathan would win the 2015 elections. He controls the machinery of government and he has all it takes to sway votes in his direction. Jonathan is not the cause of Boko Haram or other challenges facing the country and I want to say that some of our problems go beyond leadership. Even the followers are not sincere, corruption is everywhere. So, the man should be allowed to complete his two terms.”
But in the words of another observer, who simply gave his name as Mr. John Chukwu, “We need a change that the APC represents, we cannot continue with the way we are going now. Jonathan has lost the steam to rule this country, and so we must show him the way out of Aso Rock now. This man lacks leadership style, he doesn’t know how to fight Boko Haram despite all the money the government has spent on security and I believe that he was not ready for power, when he got it on a platter of gold.”
An APC source, who spoke to us anonymously, last week however said that his party is ready to take over from President Jonathan in 2015.
He said that all hands are now on desk to win the presidential election for Muhammadu Buhari, who is the presidential candidate of the APC.
According to him, ‘we have started taking stock of voters across the country. We are preparing solid campaign messages that would expose the shortcomings of this government. We are aware that the PDP as the ruling party controls INEC, but the whole thing would be too obvious to rig. I know many Nigerians are tired of a government that is not concerned about their welfare and lives. People are dying daily, over 200 students are missing from the Federal Government Girls College, Chibok, Borno State and they are yet to be found. The value of the naira is falling by the day, there is general insecurity in the country, people are suffering and Jonathan has no solution to our problems. You can see the way people were rooting for the candidature of former head of state, Muhammadu Buhari before our presidential primary election, they are all tired of an insincere government.”
A top chieftain of the APC told us that the party would be bold to campaign in all parts of the country including the highly volatile north east, where they believe the President cannot even visit or attempt to campaign.
He emphasized that the ‘current government has failed to address the critical problems facing Nigeria and Jonathan is obviously not capable of ruling this country. We cannot fold our arms, while people are suffering and dying. APC is ready, Buhari is ready and Nigerians are ready to fight with all that they have to ensure that power is wrestled from those, who don’t know what to do with power.’
We also spoke with a competent source within the APC, who explained that surveys conducted by the party before the conclusion of its primaries last week pointed to the fact that the party would win the 2015 elections if Muhammadu Buhari emerges its candidate for the election.
“That was why we ensured the man emerged our candidate. We are not leaving any stone unturned to win this election. All Nigerians will know that we are ready for actions, when campaign starts anytime from now. We will reach all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria. We will place the cards on the table for everybody to see. Every reasonable man or woman would see what we have to work with and nobody would have any doubt about our potentials, when the time comes. We have the support of the people already, all we need is to perfect our strategy and we will not disclose that now, “he said.
A national officer of the APC, who also spoke with us under anonymity, said that the party is ready for the big fight, and when probed about the strategy that would be adopted, he said ‘when we get to the bridge, we will cross it.’