Before now everyone was of the opinion that the electioneering campaigns of the 2019 Presidential election will be devoid of any form of ethnic predilection. But the President Buhari-led administration is now playing the ethnic card in its unwholesome ploy to arm-twist and goad the Yoruba and Igbo to vote for him in the 2019 election. It is a ploy deeply rooted in deceit, insincerity and dubious intent to coerce and manipulate the two geopolitical zones.
The reasons for resorting to such obnoxious game plan are not far-fetched. The President Buhari administration has failed to address the core issues of unemployment and the perennial poverty ravaging the souls of the masses. President Buhari lacks the capability to manage and diversify the economy for optimal performance and dividends. His approach to governance is too close-circuited and archaic and does not give room for economic expansion. This explains why the economy is in a near comatose condition and the reason for the endemic poverty in the land. Nigerians are frustrated and disillusioned, forlorn and overwhelmed by a sense of despair and alienation.
President Buhari’s campaign teams are aware of the realities on ground. Instead of marshalling out the achievements of the administration in the past four years, Buhari and his lieutenants are busy blaming the past government for their failures. The blame game which has become one of the major hallmarks of the Buhari administration is purely diversionary. Aware of its abysmal performance in virtually all areas of governance, President Buhari and his campaign strategists are promising the Southwest and the Southeast the post of the president in 2023.
It is a desperate move. It is equally counterproductive. The issue is not which geopolitical zone will produce the President in 2023. It has no bearing whatsoever with the social issues of the day.
Nigerians are interested in seeing improvements in their standard of living. They are interested in knowing what exactly the Buhari government has done to better the lot of the citizenry. They are interested in knowing how far the government has been able to fulfill the promises made to them during the 2015 presidential election. It was on the basis of what President Buhari promised the people that he was voted into office. He said he would turn around the economic fortunes of the country. He promised that his government would usher in a new era of prosperity in the country.
Nigerians are worst off in 2019 than they were in 2015. In the historical evolution of governance in Nigeria, Nigerians experienced the worst economic hardship and poverty in the last three years and half of the Buhari administration. What does that mean? It means that the current government has not only failed to deliver on its promises, it moved the people several steps backwards from where they were in 2015. It means that ab initio President Buhari has nothing to offer. Nigerians were fooled by those laundering his image.
They knew he lacked the qualities of a transformational leader. Yet they sold a dummy to us and now we know better. But we are at the same time in a precarious situation. The same people, now more powerful than they were in 2015 because they control the instrument of power and coercion are trying to impose President Buhari on us again, either by foul or any means possible.
Nigerians must not allow President Buhari and his cohorts to use diversionary tactics to win votes. What is on the front burner today is the 2019 presidential election between APC/Buhari government and the PDP/Atiku opposition Party seeking to wrench power from Buhari’s government. It is not the issue of which of the geopolitical zones would produce the president in 2023.
It is a question of performance. It is the time for stock-taking and accountability. It is the time to reflect on President Buhari’s selective approach in the much touted fight against corruption. It is the time to access the dwindling fortunes of the Nigerian economy and hopelessness and frustration pervading the land. It is the time to reflect on the future of Nigeria and Nigerians. It is the time for the electorate to weigh their options, choices and alternatives critically in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. It is not a time for diversionary and divisive electioneering campaigns. For now who becomes the president in 2023 is irrelevant.
What is at stake is how to rescue a nation under siege by incompetent leaders and how to improve the poverty-stricken lives of the people about to be completely emasculated. . Nigerians are dying daily due to hunger, and who knows how many more of us will die if this government remains in power till 2023? For the well educated, enlightened Nigerians, and there are quite a great number of them, President Buhari’s diversionary antics will amount to exercise in futility.
As for the poor masses living through the economic crunch, such gimmicks are virtually meaningless. Except for a few politically naïve and misguided ones from the rank and file of a select market women who received the paltry sum of ten thousand naira, the game plan is already a failure.
Of course, those throwing up the issue of who becomes the president in 2023 and using it to intimidate the Igbo people are poor students of the history of the voting patterns of the Igbo in the past presidential elections. In 1999, the Igbo people voted for Obasanjo en masse and repeated same in 2003 even against the background that Buhari selected one of their own as his Vice.
In 2007, the Igbo nation voted for Yar’ Adua notwithstanding the fact that Buhari had once again used another Igbo man as his deputy. Dangling the prospect of producing the president in 2023 before the Igbo and Yoruba people would be a waste of time by President Buhari’s campaign strategists. We have all seen through the gimmicks.
Odife, former Deputy Governor, Anambra State, writes from Asokoro. Abuja via [email protected]