• Nigerians must reject president – Ozekhome
• It’ll be a failed project –ECA • Obasanjo, IBB not God –Minister
From Fred Itua, Abuja; Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka; Felix Ikem, Nsukka; Romanus Okoye
Emotions ranging from applause and knocks, joy and anger as well as indifference have continued to trail President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration to seek re-election in 2019.
The ripple arising from the declaration has not only set tongues wagging, it has also pitted Nigerians from various walks of life against each other.
While some said another term would enable Buhari consolidate his “numerous achievements” others described the re-election bid as uncalled for as his first tenure has inflicted hardship on Nigerians.
At a meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja on Monday, Buhari had said he took the decision to seek another four-year mandate in response to the clamour by Nigerians for him to continue in office beyond 2019.
But for a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome, Nigerians have no other choice than to roundly reject him at the polls.
Ozekhome in a statement said the APC-government has not only impoverished more Nigerians, but has also turned many to destitutes and prostitutes.
He said Buhari could not deliver in any of his three chosen agenda namely: the economy, security and fight against corruption.
“After waiting for so long to declare his ambition for a second term, perhaps, waiting for Allah’s permission or for the “Nigerian people” to “push” and “plead with him” to run, PMB has finally declared for the 2019 Presidency. Only political or information neophytes would have doubted that PMB would certainly seek reelection. I had predicted, nay written about this, more than six months ago, using his now, famous “body language.
“For the avoidance of doubt, it is PMB’s undoubted constitutional right to contest for the Nigerian presidency, having run only once. His earlier occupation of the number one seat as a military dictator is not counted under our constitutional organogram.
“However, it is also the constitutional right of Nigerians to roundly reject him at the polls, having performed abysmally and disastrously below average. The evidence is all too glaring, admitting of no ambiguity.”
Areas which Ozekhome said Buhari has failed, and for which he deserved to be shown a red card by the electorate at the poll include the anti-graft war.
“Corruption now struts around and about proudly, unrestrained, walking on its fours, head and even buttocks. Corruption has now assumed a larger-than-life image, with the government not only protecting it, but nurturing and fertilising it. Some members of this government who have been indicted by Judicial Commissions of Inquiry in their states when they were either governors or chairmen of Boards are shielded from public scrutiny and prosecution.
“The government operates opaquely, tyrannically and dictatorially, nuances unknown to a constitutional democracy. Monies (such as the attempt to take $1 billion out of the Excess Crude Account), are appropriated without approval by the National Assembly, an arm that is, together, with the judiciary, is treated by the PMB government with contempt, disdain and near ostracism. I therefore welcome Buhari’s declaration.”
The fiery lawyer has a caveat for the president: he should never attempt to subvert the will of the voters by rigging the poll.
“Let me remind him that he had set packing a sitting president, GEJ, in 2015. In Sierra Leone, a sitting president Samura Kamarathe, the All People’s Congress (APC) that has been sent packing by the opposition contestant, Julius Bio. So, the rumour that the APC/PMB’s government is banking on massive rigging of the 2019 election to win is merely illusory. It cannot work. Nigerians are more enlightened today than ever before. They will use their PVCs to vote wisely, notwithstanding any acts of intimidation or coercion. 2019 is just 10 months away. I will keep my fingers crossed to see how it all plays out. The months ahead will be very interesting. And quite testing.”
In fact, former senator from Kaduna State, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, said he cannot wait to defeat President Buhari if he secured the presidential ticket of the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“I have never been afraid of incumbency. I am a Nigerian and I am contesting on the same Electoral Act and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, unless they are going to violate it, which we shall challenge.
“Muhammadu Buhari is welcome to contest for the Presidency in 2019 and I think it is a healthy practice to have a gentleman of his age, his mould and people who have been in power for the past 50 years contest. But as for popularity, it is highly arguable. I think the support of many Nigerians has been taken for granted. And I think the average Nigerian has now become more intelligent politically and more aware. That political awareness is what I think leaders who have been in power and think automatically that without people making recourse, they will just endorse them and support them. That is the awareness that they are taking for granted. What I have learnt in my few years in life is that never take people for granted.”
He said Buhari who only defeated his closest rival, Goodluck Jonathan by 2.5 million votes in 2015, would not have a free ride in 2019
“Absolutely, he will not have it easy. Do not forget that President Buhari had contested three elections and lost until a certain action by the PDP made many members to exit the party and go to the APC, and made him to win. APC is practically PDP. Even Buhari’s best, his very best, he won by only 2.5 million. Now, he is in about his worst, with the economy on its knees, the insecurity, the herdsmen issue that he has not attended to, the educational system and millions of jobs lost, while the people’s awareness is on the increase.”
Like Ozekhome, former president general of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Dr. Dozie Ikedife reasoned that Buhari, in declaring his interest, acted in tandem with his fundamental right, but also added that the success or otherwise of the bid would be determined by Nigerians.
“He has the right to declare interest and now that he has declared, his performance will now be looked at critically to determine whether to accept him or deny him votes,” he said.
Dr. Ifeanyichukwu Abada, chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Nigeria, Nsukka agreed that Buhari has a right to re-contest, but said he would be voted out by Nigerians.
“Many Nigerians are not happy with him on the poor economic management of his administration, rise in unemployment, constant clashes of farmers and herdsmen. Many believe if he is re-elected, these problems confronting Nigerians will become worse.
“If APC wants to retain Aso Rock in 2019 delegates of the party should vote against Buhari during the party’s presidential primary,” Abada, senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science said.
Notwithstanding the opposition, Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu said APC’s supporters should not panic.
According to him, not even the combined forces of former president Olusegun Obasanjo and other ex-military leaders would be formidable enough to block Buhari’s re-election.
Obasanjo and former military president, Ibrahim Babangida had advised the president not to run in the 2019 poll, asking Nigerians to vote him out should he decide otherwise.
“Who is OBJ? OBJ is not God. IBB is not God. Obasanjo was president here, he wanted a third term and he didn’t get it.
“What Mr. President did yesterday (Monday), we had done that much back on his behalf; that is the Muhammadu Buhari/Osinbajo Dynamic Support Group.
“So what he did was just a follow-up to what we had done about three months ago. And I want to assure you that by the grace of God, Muhammadu Buhari will become president the second time,” he said.
He said the president had distinguished himself as his achievement in three years had surpassed what the PDP for Nigeria in 15 years.
But despite the acclaimed sterling record of Buhari, the Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA) said the second term bid would fall flat.
According to the Secretary ECA and Deputy Secretary, Igbo Leaders of Thought, Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, the bid would meet a dead end because his three years had not yielded any good result to further entrust the country into his hand.
“In three years he has destroyed the economy and unity of the country, now he wants to destroy the sanity of the country.”
Further explaining why President Buhari’s second term bid would be frustarted, he said: “It will be a miracle for him to win, it is impossible for Nigerians to accept the calamity of a second term for Buhari, Nigerians will be the most stupid people on earth to accept a parochial, nepotistic, frail and ill-educated ethnic and religious bigot like Buhari. Even those pushing him know he does not stand a chance.”
Also reacting, the Vote Out Buhari Campaign Begins With You (VOBCY), said the ambition of the president would not fly for three reasons- old age, deteriorating health and spate of killings in the land.
According to the National Coordinator of the group, Tony Okafor, Nigerians cannot afford to repeat the present scenario for another four years “because such will lead Nigeria and Nigerians to the abyss.
“Every Nigeria should obtain their PVC and go out on election day and vote massively for a progressive president. Political parties during their primaries should look out at producing progressive presidential candidates as their standard bearers.”
While Mr. David Ogbonna, human right activist and lawyer agreed Buhari has constitutional right to re-contest, he said it is left for Nigerians to re-elect or reject him.
“The electorate have the final say either to re-elect him or not, but to me, he deserves to be re-elected, “ he said.
Mr. Joseph Ugwuoke, chairman of the APC in Nsukka LGA said Buhari’s declaration was a welcome development.
“It’s a cheering news that Mr. President has agreed to run for second term as this will help him to consolidate his achievements as well as finish the good work he started in his first tenure.
“I know he will win again in 2019 because Nigerians love him as he has transformed different sectors of the economy since he assumed office,” he said.
Similarly, Mr. Fabian Onah, chairman of the People Democratic Party (PDP) in Nsukka LGA viewed the declaration as a good omen, but for a different reason.
“When I heard the news that Buhari has declared his intention to contest in 2019 I said God has answered the prayers of PDP to win the presidential election. I know that based on the hardship majority of Nigerians are going through and insecurity in the country, Nigerians will find it difficult to vote for Buhari again because it will be more suffering and hardship.
“To me, APC has made the greatest mistake by allowing Buhari to re-contest. What it means is that PDP will return to Aso Rock in 2019,” he said.