It was a solemn moment on April 14, 2011 at the International Conference Center, as the then presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and former Military Head of State, General MuhammaduBuhari, broke down in tears while lamenting the problems confronting the country.
Buhari broke down in tears at the event organised by his party to mark the end of its presidential campaign. Buhari wept intermittently as he managed to conclude his 12 page address.
In his speech, Buhari had said that the 2011 contest would be his last pursuit of the presidency stressing that while he occupied the office of military head of state, he never touched a kobo of public funds. He thus challenged other presidential candidates who had occupied public office to a public attestation of his claim.
Fast-forward to March 31st, 2015, four years after that emotional speech and GMB, as he is fondly called by his supporters, is declared the duly elected president of Africa’s largest economy. Mr. Buhari was advised against jettisoning his ambition of leading the country, by friends and well-wishers, and at the 4th attempt, his tenacity paid off.
GMB polled a total of 15,416,221 votes to defeat the incumbent and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, President Goodluck Jonathan, who got 12,853,162 votes, in a historic victory, that international observers have described as a landmark in the annals of Nigeria’s history.
In an election that was preceded by heated campaigns, propaganda and mudslinging, many have predicted a total breakdown of the entity called Nigeria, some countries in the west have even predicted that the country would cease to exist, post 2015 election, but many days on; the country and its people are stronger and ready to build and enduring democracy.
The Nigerian people are ultimately the winners in this election, because never in the history of the country have its people been so involved in the processes- defying the scorching sun and rain to cast their votes and insisting that their collective will to birth a new Nigeria would not be shortchanged by politicians.
As the drums and the songs of victory fades, the President-elect, General Mohammadu Buhari, must settle down and assemble his crack team for the huge task ahead. Expectations are high and Nigerians are hungry for Change, which is what they voted for.
As the APC, the president-elect’s political party, have articulated in its manifesto, those lofty goals,the time for its implementation has come.While the contents of the manifesto are the building block for all developing economies; there are bigger challenges ahead in 21st century a democracy. Democracy has since out-paced bread and butter demands, to participation, integration and building institutions.
Nigeria’s 2015 elections voting pattern clearly shows that the country is still divided along ethnic and religious lines; which remains the greatest time bomb, and if not urgently checked, may become the greatest undoing of any administration.
Some people may pretend about it, but this fault lines still exists and requires a healing process.
Good enough, the president-elect knows this much and have pledged to unite the country and serve as the president of all, irrespective of party affiliations, religion, or tribe.
The greater task would be to pursue this path, which is the total reintegration of the country, ensuring that he secures the confidence of all and sundry. He must strive to ensure that people are not segregated based on their religious, political or tribal persuasions.
He must also concentrate on strengthening institutions. People should be made to face the law when they break it. Since he is well known for his anti-corruption stance, he should ensure that there are no double standards in the prosecution of corruption related cases. Nigerian institutions should be bigger than any one individual.
Nigeria runs a federal system, so the states can and should very well play their roles, while the federal government should focus on building an enabling environment for trade and investments to thrive.
Though the times may be different, leading a country, though very challenging, should not be rocket science. General Buhari has been in the saddle before and he can very well choose to write his name in gold with this rare second chance. He now has a chance to right the many wrongs that brought tears to his eyes, four years ago.