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Why I will not be voting for Buhari in February -Idris Bello

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No one probably knows Buhari’s failings more than my 67-year old dad who has voted against him three times previously, but come February 14, 2015 will be voting for him…

I am sure this headline will come as a shocker to many of my friends on Facebook and Twitter, and several of them will be ready to disown and defriend me even without reading this to the end. On the other hand, there will be hordes of people who will go to town with this article as a campaign tool for the incumbent. To both sides, I say, hear me out first.

There’s a Middle Eastern story of a spy who had been captured and sentenced to death by a general of the Persian army. The general had fallen upon a strange and rather bizarre custom. He permitted the condemned person to make a choice. He could either face the firing squad or pass through the black door.

As the moment of execution drew near, the general ordered the spy to be brought before him for a short, final interview, the primary purpose of which was to receive the answer of the doomed man to the question: “Which shall it be – the firing squad or the black door?”

This was not an easy question, and the prisoner hesitated, but soon he made it known that he much preferred the firing squad. Not long thereafter, a volley of shots in the courtyard announced the grim sentence had been fulfilled. The general, staring at his boots, turned to his aide and said, “You see how it is with men; they will always prefer the known way to the unknown. It is characteristic of people to be afraid of the undefined. And yet I gave him his choice.”

“What lies behind the black door?” asked the aide. “Freedom,” replied the general, “and I’ve known only a few men brave enough to take it.”

I am a computer scientist by training, among many other things. Several times, I have clients whose computers have frozen, and several hours later, having tried all things possible, the computer just refuses to budge. At that point, there is usually only one thing left to do, reboot. You should see the apprehension in people’s eyes when I suggest they may have to reboot their computer. “What if it doesn’t fix the issue?” “What if it’s worse?” “What if I lose my data?”

My response to them is always this; “When your PC is frozen for 6 days, and you have tried everything else, you reboot it. Not because you are 100% certain the reboot will fix it, or even  because you are certain the reboot won’t introduce its own issues, but because it will be stupid to wait for another 4 days, hoping that doing the same thing will bring a different result, and counting on good luck to change a bad situation! You do not let the fear of a reboot paralyze you into doing nothing!

So what do these two stories of a locked door, and a reboot have to do with my decision not to vote for Candidate Buhari on February 14? I will explain.

I am one of those who believe that President Goodluck Jonathan is a good man and has tried his best over the last six years. My friend and prolific writer, Tolu Ogunlesi has already done a good job in his Monday column listing the achievements of the Goodluck administration over the past six years. However, it would also be a disservice to truth if I failed to acknowledge that he has failed on the very important issues of fighting corruption and securing the country. As I travel around the world, I always get questions about corruption, insecurity, and the lots, and folks asking me how a country like Nigeria can afford to be punching below its weight. I remember being asked once after a talk at the Vatican, “What is the theory behind corruption in Nigeria?” to which I replied, “There is no theory, it is all practical”.

I do acknowledge that several of these issues ranging from the seemingly intractable Boko Haram issue to the endemic corruption did not start with the Goodluck administration. What bothers me is his ’I don’t give a damn’ body language, and the apparent lack of anger at the big problems we face as a country.

I recall a 1993 challenge thrown to African leaders by Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew when he said thus; “From Africa must come a new generation of leaders, committed to reform, and tapping the same spirit that brought freedom 30 years ago. Angered by the failures of corrupt and autocratic leaders, frustrated by economic policies that did not deliver, impatient to recover their lost civil rights, and worn out by wars, Africa’s people are striving for a fresh start.” It is that anger that I have failed to see in President Goodluck Jonathan, and that is why despite his few successes over the last few years, I strongly believe he does not deserve another four years.

When you read the story of the locked door, I am sure you told yourself you would have chosen the black door, given that you probably had nothing to lose, and given that your other option was certain death? But the truth is that most of us will often choose the familiar, even if it’s undesirable, over the unknown, which might be a wonderful opportunity. And there are usually few people who are brave enough to choose freedom. But just because something is familiar doesn’t make it good, best, or the best thing to do.

As a country, we have had various points of inflexion in our journey where we could have made the right decision but often ended up on the wrong side of history. I strongly believe that the 2015 election is another inflexion point and whether we decide to choose the familiar and retain power in the hands of the status quo, despite its obvious failings, or we decide to take the risk of going with change and taking a chance to open the locked door will define our nation’s path for years to come.

So why will I not be voting for Buhari on February 14? Simply because due to circumstances beyond my control, I will not be in Nigeria on that day. However, I am determined to do my best to convince as many people as I can, that at this present moment, in light of our national realities, our only option of effecting change, and rebooting our nation’s settings is by voting for Buhari and an APC–led government.

I ask you to vote for Buhari, not because he is a saint or a messiah. I ask you to vote for him because out of all the options currently available on February 14, he is the only option that offers a chance at a new beginning.  No one probably knows Buhari’s failings more than my 67-year old dad who has voted against him three times previously, but come February 14, 2015 will be voting for him, because he realizes that we can no longer continue with the way things are, and this election is not about him, but about his grandchildren to whom he hopes to bequeath a better nation.

It was the great Egyptian poet of the last century, Ahmed Shawqi who said ““Freedom lies behind a door closed shut. It can only be knocked down with a bleeding fist.” I believe strongly that for Nigeria “Change lies behind a door closed shut. It can only be knocked down with your PVC.”  So I ask you on my behalf, and on behalf of our children to vote for Buhari and the APC on February 14, 2015.

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Idris Ayodeji Bello wrote in from Victoria Island, Lagos.

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