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2023 elections: Buhari’s opportunity to win



President Muhammadu Buhari

I have always argued for the possibility of comprehending the incomprehensible which, in its fervent, can negate every iota of determined cognition. The incomprehensible is that which cannot be understood even by the most cerebral among us. Further, attempt to comprehend the incomprehensible and explain it has turned people of letters into propagators of blithe ignorance. Yet, there is a sense in which the incomprehensible can be understood and explained. When my students complain that they cannot comprehend or understand a text, and are therefore unable to appreciate it, I insist they have not tried enough. When they complain about Wole Soyinka’s The Interpreters, I agree with them but still insist there is a way to comprehend the author’s obfuscation and impenetrability. When they complain about Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, that literary manuscript of the absurdist espousal of humanity, I offer the same advice. No text is totally beyond comprehension. No circumstance is beyond understanding. Every seeming incomprehensible situation has an inroad of intelligible retrieval. Perhaps, we can relate incomprehensibility to retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari’s seven years of administrative disaster. Several issues in the current government defy empirical analysis or interpretation. They simply can’t be comprehended or explained.

 An attempt to come to terms with certain realities in the current government ultimately stymies the definitive potential of our rational being. But the responsible and committed among us cannot maintain a mute epiphany over the flagrant exuberance of the government which graduates to horrendous levels daily. Certainly, Buhari’s government glories in the uniqueness of its repugnant effect on the masses which does not show any visible or remote sign of abating until 2023 when expectedly, a new government will take over. Given all the tensions and tedium of the present government, Buhari has lost Nigerians except those who invidiously wish that the All Progressives Congress government will continue in power next year. But there is a window of opportunity for Mr President to win back Nigerians and have his name ascribed in gold in the country’s historical constellation. The incomprehensibility of the Buhari government can become comprehensible if Mr President can utilise the pleasant opportunity offered by the approaching 2023 general elections. Many people can call Buhari a villain today but he can also become a hero tomorrow. That is how capricious and vagarious the masses are. They sway with the tide according to how it favours them. What then can Buhari do to become the Nigerian exceptional hero of the 21st century? What can Buhari do to win Nigerians over in 2023?

President Buhari, as the Commander-in-Chief, the presiding officer of the Nigerian commune, will become an instant hero in the country if he puts down his feet and insists on free and fair elections in 2023. There are indications that some people are relying on the despicable practice of rigging next year’s election to ascend to power. This idea is validated by the sudden appointment of APC card-carrying members as Resident Electoral Commissioners of Independent National Electoral Commission. On July 26, Mr President nominated 19 persons as REC to the legislature for confirmation. Some of those nominated are noted APC members from different states.

Already, some human rights groups, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project and Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria have protested the nomination of these APC members as REC and advised the president to withdraw their names immediately. Mr Buhari rode to power in 2015 on the back of integrity. It remains to be seen if Nigerians will decorate him with integrity apparel today. However, whatever are Buhari’s shortcomings, which have earned him different negative sobriquet, he will become a hero if he ensures that the 2023 general elections are free and fair. Already, from what happened in Osun State and Anambra State, some people have praised Mr President, commending him for conducting free and fair elections in those states.

At a time when almost every identifiable ligament that holds the country together seems to be waning, nothing can be more assuaging than a free and fair election in 2023. Perhaps a free and fair election next year will instil an appreciable level of comprehensibility in all the maze and craze of the last seven years of the Buhari regime. Call it compensation you won’t be far from hitting the bull’s eye. Yes, Buhari can use next year’s election to win Nigerians over and compensate them for all his misrule and misadventure. Say what you like, Baba can become a Nigerian hero next year. He can choose to become a hero for millions of Nigerians or he can choose to despise Nigerians and become a hero for a few discredited demagogues who want to hold power by every contemptible means because they think it is their turn. Democracy is about the will of the people. When I use the word ‘people’ I do not mean those whose bread is buttered by shamelessly ensconcing themselves in the apron strings of political dinosaurs – Nigeria’s principalities and powers who constitute barriers to the evolution of a new, equitable country.

When I use the word ‘people’, I mean the masses, those who feel the pangs of hunger, unemployment, poverty, sickness, deprivation, insecurity, and many more. The ‘people’ are those whose children cannot go to school because our universities are closed for almost one year due to industrial action by lecturers. The ‘people’ are those who cannot go to their farms for fear of being slaughtered by bandits and herdsmen. The ‘people’ are those who can’t travel by road for fear of being kidnapped. They can’t travel by air because they cannot afford the fares. The ‘people’ are those who cannot afford food and essential commodities due to incessant increments in the prices. The ‘people’ are millions of unemployed graduates roaming the streets. The people are the downtrodden—those Franz Fanon called The Wretched of the Earth. The ‘people’ are in millions and democracy is all about them. President Buhari has an opportunity to keep a date with the ‘people’ in the 2023 general elections. Although the recent governorship elections in Nigeria have earned Buhari some credits, the installation of the Imo State Governor, Mr Hope Uzodinma, will remain an ugly patch in the history of the Buhari regime. No wonder the governor, through his recent utterances, betrays a pathetic case of mental adulteration. This vicious embarrassment to the Imo people should never happen in 2023.

There must be a level playing ground for the will of the ‘people’ to prevail. Already, there are indications to accurately forecast how the ‘people’ will react in the 2023 elections. If Baba bequeaths a lasting legacy of free and fair elections to Nigerians, he would ultimately win Nigerians over. He would become a signpost for democracy. He would enjoy international recognition around the world and will be celebrated as one of the greatest Nigerians to ever live. If Buhari allows a free and fair election next year, then his description as a man of integrity would easily be comprehended by Nigerians. Although cross-ethnic, intra-religious encounters usually define Nigeria’s political negotiations in the past, 2022/23 realities have witnessed a paradigm shift in the country’s political evolution. As a leader, it should gladden Buhari’s heart that millions of youths across ethnic, religious, and various persuasions are willing to participate in the 2023 elections. Through a spontaneous realization of what needs to be done by 2023, Nigerian youths are compensating for their past political failures by embracing an open infinitude of new possibilities in attaining a New Nigeria. They are the real people and Mr President can win them over easily. If he wins the people over next year, then the incomprehensibility of his eight years in power will become comprehensible.

Dr Adiele of Mountain Top University writes via [email protected]

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