I know there are many who do not want to discuss replacing Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s President because of several reasons which may either be emotional or pragmatic. They see President Buhari as the one who can effectively move Nigeria away from the decadence of the past — I supported his candidacy with the idea of him being a buffer between the past up to 2015 and the future in 2019. Many also believe it is premature to consider a replacement for him which is in my opinion being very naive as once this administration hits the two-year mark and that is about six months away, the race is on to see who wants to be president in 2019 and we have already seen some early contenders throw their hats in the ring by testing the waters. Then there are those who absolutely believe PMB needs two terms to solidify his reforms if we can call the agenda he got elected on as that. Nope! All he needs is a successor who will continue from where he left off and take it to the stratosphere!
However, I believe a sincere appraisal of the performance of his administration from every angle one can look at should conclude that it could have been much better. Put aside the fact that he inherited a mountain of problems; That is true, but he asked for the job and regardless of how he initially felt after realizing how much of a mess was waiting for him — giving up or running away, the man to his credit decided to give it a shot. His best right now is not good enough unless we want to be very optimistic. My evaluation of the man I campaigned for is that he will do exactly what I expected of him and no more which is to reset the nation. What do I mean by that?
Think of what Nelson Mandela did for South Africa in a limited sense. While Madiba was not the kind of President who leads a nation hands-on and moves it in a socioeconomic, military or moral direction we are used to seeing national leaders do, he was a buffer between the evil Apartheid past and South Africa’s all-inclusive future. After one term, he stepped down having bridged the gap, his duty done. This is what I campaigned for in supporting Buhari — that he would strengthen Nigeria’s institutions which he is doing with the Military and Judiciary right now and hopefully will with other sectors. I expected him to be the buffer between Nigeria’s profligate past and economical though not parsimonious future.
President Buhari has been successful in that regards. Yes! I dare say it. This administration has been successful in breaking away from the past which we saw embodied in the last administration and is laying down foundations for the future, even if with difficulty. Those who keep claiming that those of us who supported Buhari against Jonathan but do not want him to contest or get reelected in 2019 have realized our error do not get it at all! In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari was the better choice out of the two available! Yes! If thst election were to be held again, knowing what I know now, I for one would still campaign for Buhari. Let us get that straight. There are certain things I do not like about his presidency but there are much more I disliked about his predecessor’s.
My intent is not to be harshly critical but only pragmatic in stating that President Buhari’s in my opinion is limited in how effective he can be as Nigeria’s President beyond a single term from what we have seen. His abilities are more in line with setting basic standards of ethical expectations for governance — fixing the system as it were and not of strategic designs that would take Nigeria forward — running the system if you may. This demands a different kind of personality as president and that is my focus in this essay. Those who disagree with me on the relevance of PMB beyond 2019 must be satisfied with what they have seen so far or believe it could not have been better. I do not buy that at all.
To then have an eight-year Buhari presidency will be counterproductive from indicators I can measure it by — other similar politicians who had second terms but overstayed their welcome with subpar performances. They are numerous all over the international community. A more ‘talented’ candidate, not necessarily a technocrat or seasoned professional with economic, monetary, legal or business backgrounds, even though that would certainly not hurt, will be a more suitable fit for the 2019 presidency. With Nigeria’s institutions in better shape than they were in 2015, I do not see hurdles ahead as too high for a candidate who does not belong to the generation of politicians — not just by age but by visibility and involvement, Buhari belongs to. Who are the people that might fit the bill?
This is where we all come in as right now, political platforms which should be projecting replacement candidates are nowhere to be found! Nigeria is not bereft of men and women who can sit in the President’s seat and drive Nigeria on the road to prosperity! We are blessed with manpower that many nations envy! Yes! The intellectual ability of Nigerians is known to the world. Where I live, many people envy our sagacity! We are the ones limiting ourselves to the quality of leadership we have had. Take it or leave it. Celebrating mediocrity has made many blind to what could have been and instead, sacrifices made on the alter of ethnic, religious and political bigotry are being heralded. We are better than that!
I could start mentioning names of people in their forties to their sixties who can be projected as the next President of Nigeria today. You and I know them but Nigeria does not know of them… well enough. Those who will vote are not aware of them because they usually go with the party candidate or big name politicians. Here lies the dilemma. How do such people get name recognition without becoming a disciple of rotten platforms — APC/PDP/AD/APGA which have thrown up the kinds of politicians we see today? Independent candidacy is a very difficult path to tread. Usually, it ends in failure because of a lack of financial backing. That is the reality.
If we want to develop the Nigeria of our dreams, then shying away from this reality cannot be the choice we make. 2019 is not that far off and unless efforts to galvanise people about new choices for tomorrow, the same old choices will be made and all of us will pretend they are new, fooling no one but ourselves. The decision is up to us really and whatever way we slice it only comes back to us eating it.
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