LEADERSHIP’s correspondent in New York, ABIODUN OLUWAROTIMI, got the views of some Nigerians in the Diaspora on the Jonathan/Buhari presidential bids.
President Goodluck Jonathan, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flagbearer faces former military leader, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and presidential candidate of Nigeria’s main opposition party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) in a February 14 election that monitors think may be too close to call.
Many think the power of incumbency will give President Jonathan a major edge over Gen. Buhari, his main challenger. Some analysts however see insecurity as Jonathan’s major drawback, a situation that could make Nigerians especially in the North decide to cast their votes for Buhari.
Jonathan is seeking re-election while Buhari is seeking to be civilian president in his fourth attempt. Buhari lost in three previous bids (2003, 2007 and 2011).
Jonathan, a Christian from the South retained his vice, Namadi Sambo, a northern Muslim as running mate. Buhari, a northern Muslim on his part picked a southern Christian lawyer, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to be his running mate.
The choice of a Christian/Muslim and a North/South ticket by the APC and PDP fits a common pattern in the country’s elections, of trying to balance ethnic and religious sentiments to maximize appeal to voters.
Although Nigeria’s electoral law does not permit diaspora voting, perception – locally and abroad – matter and shape voting patterns, in this case the 2015 presidential election.
According to Chief (Mrs) Temitope Ajayi, a leader of the Nigerian community in the United States of America, Buhari’s emergence is not a threat to the PDP. She says in any democratic country, there must be an opposition and having an opposition doesn’t mean that the ruling party or the incumbent doesn’t have an edge.
Chief Ajayi popularly known as ‘Mama Diaspora’ said there are so many factors that will place President Goodluck Jonathan ahead of General Buhari.
According to Ajayi who in the last ten years coordinated the affairs of the Nigerian group in the US, President Jonathan is a man that has a great focus for Nigeria and Nigerians.
Her words: “God has done so many things in Nigeria through him, though we may not see it today but we will understand this shortly. If you have a critical look at his transformation agenda, you will see that his achievements are numerous. This man has the supports of Nigerians both home and abroad. He has the spirit to accommodate opinions in any form and that is what a good leadership is all about.
“All we need is to support him. People want to use insecurity to measure his achievement but I am totally against it because the issue of insecurity is a global thing. It affects almost all the countries in the world and the president is trying all he can to ensure that our country is secured”
As regards Buhari, Chief Ajayi said the APC presidential flag bearer is a good man that should have allowed the incumbent president to spend four more years in order for him to be able to execute his transformation agenda.
“I remember when he was Head of States, he did a lot but the incumbent has started a journey of eight years and I think he should be allowed to complete his term and by then we will be able to measure his achievements,” she concluded.
In his own opinion, the Public Relations Officer of the Nigerians In the Diaspora Organization (NIDOA), Mr. Gabriel Ndubisi George, said that the Nigerian leadership has so many gaps that realistically will take a very long and gradual step to bridge.
“Nonetheless, successful accomplishment of proportionate and substantial growth across all sectors is truly predicate to practical actions with measurable indices. That said, it is difficult to fully conclude that the current government has succeeded in bringing needed growth. I will say in fairness that this government has moved us forward as a nation very immensely and that policies often take very sluggish pace to actualization.
“Yes our patience is running out on this government as citizens but we must also recognize that Nigerian was plunged into economic ruins and recovery can only be as good as its citizenry inhabits. In other words, we as citizen must as well answer the call of citizenship to be part of the growth movement rather than having lackadaisical attitude to it. I believe that it is wise to give the current government the opportunity hatch their various policies in place that will take more than one term to accomplish, before jumping into another” he noted.
On General Buhari’s candidacy, Ndubisi George said that Nigerians must understand that governance in political and democratic settings is so bluntly different from military one, stressing that in the military setting, it is very autocratic in its construct.
His words: “You only have the supreme military council who makes decision and constituted based on military ranking with the Head of state as the supreme leader. No one questions, challenges or opposes his rulings.
That in itself is my concern with Gen Buhari. His integrity, honesty, leadership, fairness, prudence as attributes of leadership has not been truly tested in the public market place. So how do you really and truly validate such a candidate?
“It certainly cannot be based on presumed but tested political will, integrity, dignity, public service and the list goes on. There is simply no real record to qualify that.
On the other hand, President Jonathan has put in place effective apparatus of leadership that has produced very checkable and commendable results in economics, information technology, agriculture, education, health and many other sectors of the economy.
I also do not believe in recycling power but to rather look into the future with dynamic leaders who are willing to engage in all fronts to bring about positive change in our beloved country”
Reacting on the contest, Texas-based Ms. Adesola Oguniyi Robinson said both President Jonathan and General Buhari do not have any solid plan for Nigeria as a whole.
She further explained that Goodluck Jonathan may not win the confidence of Nigerians during the election because he has no international recognition as a result of his poor handling of insecurity and Boko Haram.
She added that his inability to map out significant strategies on how to curb insurgency in Nigeria will also work against him during the election.
She submitted that countries, like the US, UK, Asia do not want to invest in Nigeria because the country is on the security watch list as a terrorist country.
Speaking on Buhari specifically, Adesola Oguniyi said He failed the expectation of many Nigerians when he couldn’t say anything reasonable in a recent interview where he was asked about the plans he has for Nigeria and Nigerians.
To Isa Yusuf, a leader of the Nigerian community in the US, Buhari is a bride that every voter will celebrate during the contest because of the general belief that he has the clue on how to stop Boko Haram from attacking the Northeast.
Yusuf, an Islamic scholar pressed further that it is time for power to go to the North since the late President Umaru Yar’Adua didn’t complete his tenure before he died in 2010.
He noted that Buhari’s ability to curb corruption, indiscipline and indecency when he was Head of State will make Nigerians to vote for him because they feel he has the capability to make a change.
Well, Jonathan is incumbent and many bookmakers will be placing their bets on him to succeed in his re-election bid, come 2015. No civilian president has lost a re-election bid in Nigeria’s history!