Politics

Tunisians elect 88-year-old President

They must be Muhammadu Buhari’s unconscious ‘best’ friends or so they are turning out to be rather than his critics as every seeming obstacle placed between him and his hopes of winning the 2015 presidential election crumbles largely to developing events. Buhari is the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress.

Rival Peoples Democratic Party would rather not have him as APC’s candidate. Forget about PDP’s claim that the former Head of State is the weakest opponent for President Goodluck Jonathan. PDP’s seeming contempt for Buhari is not borne out by the party’s total lack of coherence or even focus on issues to determine the 2015 showdown, such that the APC candidate’s post-nomination boost extends and remains solid at the expense of his opponent, President Goodluck Jonathan.

Loss of morale in the PDP was noticeable from the moment Buhari announced his aspiration for the 2015 elections. Hence, the party’s target of General Buhari’s age and military background both of which produced backlash against PDP and in favour of Buhari. All along in the run up to the primary elections, even Buhari’s rivals for the APC ticket did not as much hammer on the age factor. If at all, such was more in passing.

Rather, the noise on the age factor came largely from the PDP with the hope of influencing APC delegates accordingly. But Buhari’s shock victory to win the nominations rattled his opponents (not rivals in APC) who intensified the age factor. As in all matters of retributive justice, while Buhari’s opponents were still hoping to defeat him on age factor in 2015, fellow Africans in far away Tunisia have just neutralised all such prospects.

After the violent revolution, which toppled President Ali about five years ago, Tunisians have elected a successor. Remarkably, the Tunisian President-elect, Beji Calid Essebsi is 88 years old. His defeated opponent, Moncef Marzouki, is under 70 years, younger than Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari who is 72.

The Tunisian elections were conducted by the interim government, as more of a neutral party, allowing the two candidates equal opportunity. The newly elected President is a veteran of public administration in the country and yet never suffered the cheap blackmail of being allegedly recycled. Again, among the five presidential aspirants of All Progressive Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari was specially targeted by the party’s opponents. With the total concentration on Buhari for media demolition to make him unattractive to his party and Nigerians as a potential candidate, the eventual APC presidential choice was benefiting from unsolicited publicity, even if, on the surface, a negative aspect.

Even then, there is the positive side of negative publicity. It was therefore all amusing to a critical observer remembering the personal experience of the late Bashorun M.K.O Abiola in his early days on Nigerian political scene. According to him, an American friend visiting Nigeria once wondered why M.K.O Abiola was so important for sections of Nigerian press, which regularly led the front page with stories on Abiola. M.K.O then responded that unfriendly sections of the media were at work.

The American visitor saw it differently and advised Abiola to enjoy the free publicity even if negative publicity. The American then rationalized his view that back in his country, if he offered Washington Post, New York Times or New York Post millions of dollars for front page lead focus, none of the newspapers would oblige. Bashorun Abiola saw the point and value of positive aspect of what was aimed to be hostile publicity.

That exactly was what General Buhari benefited and will continue to benefit in the run-up to the 2015 elections.

By ignoring the other four APC presidential aspirants, Buhari’s enemies sponsored repeated re-publications in the local media and the internet, what they thought were destructive critical past opinions on the APC candidate.

Without even responding for once, General Buhari enjoyed the free publicity offered by his supposed political enemies. Inadvertently for such detractors in PDP, General Buhari at a stage emerged in the APC, in advance of their convention, the best known threat to Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election in 2015, the very threat APC supporters all over Nigeria desired and now acclaim.

What is more, most of the current situation in the country in which Nigerians  are demanding strong government actions are even worse than the indiscipline and corruption which warranted General Buhari’s strong measures in the past for which he was criticised. In effect publications of past criticisms of General Buhari only benefited him as the man to deal with the moment.

There were also desperate allegations that his friends or associates looted the treasury while General Buhari was unaware. Instead the best known incident of such criminal theft of public funds was the NNPC payment of some two trillion naira as fuel subsidy to known PDP friends, members and associates, as President Goodluck Jonathan confessed, without his knowledge/approval or appropriation by National Assembly. None of such financial crime was reported under General Buhari, nor was brazen oil theft by criminal militants.

As for Jonathan’s ‘friends’…

If without intending it, General Muhammadu Buhari’s enemies have turned out to be his best ‘friends,’ the self-presumed friends of President Goodluck Jonathan have turned out to be his worst enemies or they have no political sense, as Nigerians prepare for the 2015 elections.

Jonathan’s ‘friends’ (who are in fact his enemies) are hurting him not just in performance so far but also what to expect in the future. It is not clear if the middle class still exists in Nigeria. Even if they exist, they surely have been reduced to strugglers, figuratively gasping for breadth.

Unlike the ruling elite who can easily move round the country both in their expensive luxurious vehicles and private jets, for the middle class, transport even in rickety vehicles, is a core problem. The average middle class depends on second hand imported vehicles. Then, suddenly, Jonathan’s friends unilaterally and completely alienated this class, the biggest enlightened voting bloc in Nigeria.

These lot will be out there to cast their votes at the 2015 elections unlike the money-bags who are too scared to line up among the low class voters. For whatever reasons, Jonathan’s friends astronomically hiked import duty on second hand vehicle. The middle-class is thereby totally priced out of market. To worsen matters, such middle class, mostly government employees, are lately unsure of regular payment of their salaries/wages as and when due.

If only the hardship ends there. In return for agony of astronomical increase in import duty on second-hand cars, middle-class Nigerians watch helplessly as vehicles assembled in Nigeria are tossed at them. Must every Nigerian and/or indeed, can every Nigerian afford a new car even if assembled in Nigeria?

Even if Jonathan’s friends are out to nail him politically, can’t the man help himself? Consider this. Even after Muhammadu Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan had emerged their parties’ respective presidential candidates for an election in which the poor and middle-class virtually hold the key to the success of the winner, Jonathan’s friends chose that moment to announce purported new tariffs for power supply and at a time virtually no power is supplied. Nigerians are complaining while consumers are billed every month for services not rendered? Obviously, Nigerians are considered fools. But they are waiting to cast votes in February 2015.

Despite splashing billions of naira as elections expenses for Jonathan and huge amount is contemptuously spent by a dubious transformation ambassadors group, Nigerians are being forced to experience austerity measures at a monumental all-round discomfort. How can Jonathan’s friends reconcile these irreconcilables?

As we say in South-West, even if the white man in President Jonathan has decided to depart, must he defecate in the office?

Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC and CEO of Portia Web Solutions. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
https://www.codewit.com

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