Ahead of the 2019 Presidential elections, analysts are already making projections and permutations. This intervention by law teacher Wahab Shittu examines the why the candidacy of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 is compelling for the country’s unity and developmental aspirations.
Expectedly, diverse reactions have trailed the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari to run for second term in 2019 at the expiration of his first term. There are those who are opposed to his bid for a second term. Notably, foremost elder statesman, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida and of course, elements in the opposition party who also desire to capture power in line with the tenets of the democratic tradition.
Of course, there are those who have expressed support for the bid, understandably, elements in the ruling party, including recently, the Buhari Diaspora Support Organisation, led by Mr. Charles Sylvester who met the President in London to express solidarity.
Let me say quite clearly that the two contending sides to the debate are entitled to their views and I must say clearly that the stand point they represent is consistent with the fundamentals of the democratic tradition, emphasizing the element of free choice.
Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Chief Wole Olanipekun, made this point clear when he said: “Running for the presidency is a constitutional right of Buhari and other Nigerians interested in that position and any other elective office.”
This in intervention is my own perspective based on the consideration of the unity of Nigeria. I believe the President should run for a second term and I join the bandwagon of those who clamour that he should be re-elected based on the popular votes of Nigeria across the geo-political zones for the following reasons:
Inspite of the difficulties the president met on ground, he has recorded modest achievements such as agricultural revolution, the ease of doing business, commitment to anti-corruption war, the employment of youths through the N-power Programme, the blockage of leakages in the public sector through the treasury account TSA, efforts made to address our security challenges notably the speed with which the abducted Dapchi girls were recovered and the release of many of the Chibok girls under captivity.
There are however, those who think there are still challenges on security, economy, anti-corruption, poverty and many other areas where it is argued that the government is yet to make appreciable impact.
Critics along this line have reeled out figures which elements loyal to the ruling elite fault on the ground that such figures do not take into cognizance facts behind the figures thereby making such assessments not objectively and consistent with the realities on the ground.
This intervention is not intended to cast aspersions on any of the two sides in the controversy even if I am of the firm view that the administration has recorded modest achievements based on what the administration inherited and attempts to stabilise the polity and the economy within the time frame the administration is privileged to be on the saddle.
My intervention on the choice of President Muhammadu Buhari as the preference for the 2019 election is based on the reality that all the geo-political zones that make up the country namely: Northwest, Northeast, Northcentral, Southwest Southeast and Southsouth all aspire to the presidency of Nigeria in the nearest future, and speaking objectively, talents abound everywhere eminently qualified to assume the exalted position.
Inspite of the foregoing however, all the geo-political zones appreciate the need to field a Northern candidate in the 2019 election based on the theory that the North is yet to exhaust its term. It is therefore safe to assume that all the mega parties namely: APC (All Progressives Congress), PDP (Peoples Democratic Party), SDP (Social Democratic Party) and the coalition parties are likely to field a Northern candidate to take advantage of the block votes from the North to win the presidential election and thereafter cede the presidency to another geo-political zone to take its turn.
This is where this intervention becomes critical and realistic in the circumstances. If any of the parties choose a Northerner outside President Buhari, such a candidate is likely to insist on two term in office to which he/she is constitutionally entitled and this will certainly delay/postpone the right of other geo-political zones to aspire to the presidency with all the implications.
However, if President Buhari is unanimously allowed to take the slot, having spent one term, he can only rule for another four years, thereby giving any other geo-political zone an early shot at the presidency. Not even the ruling party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) can afford the luxury of a choice of a presidential candidate other than President Muhammadu Buhari because such a candidate will naturally insist on ruling for two terms thereby delaying opportunities available to other geo-political zones in the country.
I am also of the view that any of the political parties who takes the risk of fielding a Southern candidate at this stage of our political history and evolution, will have to contend with a Northern candidate and based on the calculations on ground, is likely to be defeated because Northerners are united in the view that they are yet to exhaust their term of eight years.
Based on the foregoing realties and political calculations, President Buhari remains the most attractive choice for the country’s unity, cohesiveness and sense of belonging.
I should not be misinterpreted to say that President Buhari should be elected at all cost without sufficient reasons. I am of the view that in terms of moral standing and rating, locally and internationally, Buhari’s candidacy comes across as credible, compelling and a master stroke. He is highly respected in the sub-region. African leaders hold him in high esteem because of his anti-corruption posturing and credentials. Great countries of the world, including the United States (U.S.) and Britain believe that President Buhari is not corrupt, will not be corrupt and will fight corruption to a standstill. This perception is a huge capital investment for Nigeria which we cannot afford to ignore moving forward.
I am also of the view that President Buhari has put in place measures to revamp the economy as well as safeguard the country against security threats. He is, therefore a very attractive candidate.
There is another compelling reason why Buhari should be elected for the second term. It is the impressive performance of the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and the Grand Commander of Nigeria (GCON), who parades a very formidable profile and record of high performance. I am very positive that President Buhari running for a second term is likely to zero in on the choice of Prof Osinbajo to run as his deputy. Who will deny today that Prof Osinbajo is a first class candidate with a Midas touch? A professor of Evidence (I am one of his students) with tremendous oratorical skill who is adjudged a motivational speaker and erudite scholar per excellence. Among his several accomplishments, Prof Osinbajo was a member of the United Nation’s Secretary-General’s Committee of experts on conduct and discipline, a United Nation’s Organisation (UNO) for Peace-keeping around the world, he is also a co-founder and Board member, Convention Business Integrity (CBI) and the Justice Research Institute (JRI) who has written a good number of books notably: “The Unification and Reform of the Nigerian Criminal Law”; “Law Development and Administration”; “The Annotated Civil Procedure Rules of the Superior Courts in Nigeria”; “Cross-Examination: A Trial Lawyer’s Most Potent Weapon” and many other articles in local and international journals, among others. What about his impressive performance as the vice president of the country since Buhari assumed office?
The point I am making is that the joint ticket of President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo is the ticket to beat and will definitely pose a serious challenge to any other presidential aspirant in the race of 2019 presidential elections.
For these and many other reasons, my choice of president for 2019, is President Buhari. There is no other compelling choice other than his candidacy and I humbly urge all Nigerians to rally round his candidacy for our country’s progress, unity, cohesiveness and development.
These are my humble thoughts.