From Uzonna Ononye, Lagos
In the democratic history and in fact, the independent journey of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari is the first person to have made clear his ambition to be president and pursued such for over a decade before registering success.
Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa who was Nigeria’s first indigenous head of government was drafted into office by the erudite leader of the Northern Peoples’ Congress, then Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello.
When the Military was tired of holding on to power in 1979, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who was preparing to go to the Senate was drafted by those controlling power in the North to become President.
In 1993, MKO Abiola had a mind of his own to rule Nigeria through the ballot. He contested and won overwhelmingly in most of the state, even in those dominated by the other political party. In the minds of Nigerians, he won the election but was never declared winner.
Then came another Military gift in 1999. In the build up to the elections, former Head of State, Olusegun Obasanjo who was serving a prison term over an alleged coup was released and granted pardon. He was considered the most suited individual to protect the interest of the military as a democratic President. Despite his poor performance at the polls in his polling unit, state and entire South West, he still became president.
In 2007, Umar Musa Yar’adua was serving out his term as governor of Katsina State. He was clearly contented with public service and desired to settle into private life but President Obasanjo felt differently. He went to the extent of betraying his close allies and insisted that Yar’adua must be president. Chief Obasanjo made the statement louder by looking away from those who had been in contention, to pick Goodluck Jonathan whose posters were already on the streets of Yenagoa, campaigning to be elected governor of Bayelsa, as Vice President.
The Constitution imposed the presidency on Dr. Goodluck Jonathan at the death of Umar Yar’adua. Though he stood election in 2011, his personal preparedness for the task is an open book which the last chapter has not yet been written.
Muhammadu Buhari exhibited a compelling force that propelled and sustained his desire to become president. Human scientists say a personal sustainable determination to carry out a task is first step to possible success. The retired Army General contested four elections where he flew the flag of three different political parties.
Within this period, he has come face to face with the harsh reality that most Nigerians hear of dividends of democracy on radio and read from the pages of newspaper but lack an iota of personal experience. He has seen how friends became foes and foes migrate towards mutual respect. He saw loyalty defined and determined by “stomach infrastructure”. The General have seen how some unguarded comments could set the people against one another. He saw the destruction of a part of the country and the people therein while conspiracy of silence reigned. He should have realised that not every Nigerian trust him, particularly from a section, and should have equally understood why he needs to build bridges; after all power of incumbency have been demystified.
Buhari saw Nigeria receive accolades as an economy unrivaled with GDP at an all time best yet, the people live in penury as never before. He saw so much money spent in the power sector to ensure that most Nigerians live in days darker than night. He watched the national treasure broken into by the very men whose duty it was to guard it but were really common thieves. He saw the country dragged in chains along the streets of Durban and stretched to Johannesburg while its citizens pay in the gallows of Indonesia and Thailand with no one to ask questions.
This fact keeps Muhammadu Buhari apart from all other previous leaders Nigeria ever had. This is what he has that no other share; but will he remain distinct in terms of performance? Will he be a departure from all the unfulfilled promises, day light deceit, deprivation and insensitivity in leadership of past years? Will Buhari be able to heal Nigerian of the wound of broken dreams?