Fellow Nigerians, tomorrow is another election date in our dear nation. This is a moment we all have waited for patiently to exercise our constitutional privilege of the right to vote and being voted for. No doubt, elections have been conducted at various times in our country since the emergence of democratic rule in 1999.
But one thing is so peculiar in this particular election year. It is about the first keenly contested election in the history of our democracy. The suspense are high, the tensions are obvious. The two major candidates from the ruling and the opposition parties have done their campaigns. There had been lot of abuses and mudslinging during the campaign periods.
But these are over now, the elections are few hours away; the reality is gradually setting in. let me quickly give us a brief profile of the two major candidates in the elections and what they probably stood for. This does not negate the fact that there are no other candidates from other political parties, but these two are the major contenders.
GENERAL MUHAMMADU BUHARI
General Muhammadu Buhari (RTD) is not a new comer in the Nigeria military/democratic setting. He was the Governor of the defunct Northeastern State (Now Borno) between August 1975 – March 1976. He later became Nigeria Military Head of State in a bloodless coup d’etat between 31 December, 1983 - 27 August 1985.
General Muhammadu Buhari was born in Daura, Katsina state Nigeria in the year 1942. The term ‘Buharism’ is ascribed to the Buhari military government in the 80s. Buhari’s war against indiscipline (WAI) stretched beyond anti-corruption measures. Nigerians were forced to form orderly queues at bus stops under the watchful eyes of soldiers wielding whips, with others to use them on anybody who became unruly. Civil servants who were late for work were forced to perform frog jumps as a form of humiliation, and journalists were jailed under restrictive decrees on press freedom.
In his efforts to get Nigeria’s public finance back in line, Buhari’s government curbed imports into the country, refused to devalue the naira, curtailed oil theft, bartered illegally bunkered crude oil for needful goods, and more. While many praised the government’s successfulness in reducing inflation, many of the changes also resulted in widespread job losses and business closures, lowering living standards for many. Buhari was deposed in a palace coup led by General Ibrahim Babangida on August 27, 1985. He was imprisoned for 40 months following the coup, as the new leaders felt he had not made the restoration to civilian rule a priority.
Buhari became a converted democrat in 2003 when he first contested against the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, but was unsuccessful. He later ran also in 2007 against the late President Ya’adua and also in 2011 against the current president Goodluck Jonathan, and was unsuccessful on all outings. His 2011 contest against the President Jonathan was however deemed a little bit fair as against the previous ones because he was able to garner a total vote of about 12million as against President’s Jonathans 22.5million votes, making former the winner of the election.
However in his commitment to stamping out corruption, Buhari has focused his 2014 campaign on corruption measures, also pledging to tackle growing insecurity in Northern Nigeria with the Islamic insurgency. But while many agree with his position on corruption and see his military expertise as the answer to ongoing violence by book haram, many question his ability to direct policy and the day-to-day political life.
DR. GOODLUCK EBELE AZIKIWE JONATHAN
Many have ascribed the ascendance of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, popularly called ‘GEJ” in the political hierarchy of Nigeria has nothing short of goodluck and miracles. This is a man who came into political lime-light with little or no experience, and has risen into the peak in barely 17years; a fete many considered as unprecedented in many political history. From a deputy governor in Balyesa State in 1999, to being the Governor of the state between 9 December 2005 – 29 May 2007, to being the President in 2011, no Nigerian politician in the past has such a political record of ascendancy. Born on 20 November 1957 in Balyesa State, Jonathan holds a B.Sc. degree in Zoology, with second-class honours. He holds an M.Sc. degree in Hydriobiology and Fisheries biology, and a PhD degree in Zoology from the University of Port Harcourt (which he did not finish according to Olusegun Obasanjo). Before he entered politics in 1998, he worked as an education inspector, lecturer and environmental-protection officer.
In accordance with the order of succession in the Nigerian constitution following President Umaru Yae’Adua’s death on 5 May, 2010, Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 6 May 2010, becoming Nigeria’s 14th Head of State. He cited anti-corruption, power and electoral reforms as focuses of his administration. He stated that he came to office under “very sad and unusual circumstances”. And in 2011, following a general elections that was widely acclaimed as free, fair and credible; President Jonathan emerged as the winner of his first-ever contested presidential election under the umbrella of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), a party that is widely acclaimed as the biggest political party in Africa. However, his administration has been marred with a number of setbacks since he became Nigeria’s substantial president in 2011.
The issue of insecurity tops the list of the setbacks in the administration of GEJ. The president’s inability to tackle BokoHaram insurgency in the North has been a major concern for both Nigerians and the international community. While many see corruption as the major bane of winning the war against Bokoharam, others see the president incapacity to win this war and therefore calls for his resignation as the president. But while there have been many twists and turns to the issue of BokoHaram in Nigeria, many still believes that the insurgency is thriving on the level of poverty and unemployment that has bewildered this country.
The administration of GEJ has been scored to fail in the area of employment generation, so also are the previous administrations before him. While this administration has failed to stop the death of over 15,000 nigerians to various terror attacks, this in no small deal has put the President’s re-election bid in a major jeopardy, and it can only take goodluck to bring him back for the second term in office.
Corruption is another dent on the administration of President Jonathan in the past 6years. There have been a lot of arguments as to whether the President’s body language condones corrupt practices in his administration or not. A number of occasions, the president himself have come out to say “what people call corruption in his administration are just cases of petty stealing”, and that “stealing is different from corruption”.
There have been many cases of misappropriation of funds under his watch by his cabinet ministers, stealing in the NNPC account and many more, with the president doing little or nothing about these corruption cases. In 2007, President Jonathan declared his assets worth a total of N295,304,420 naira ($1,845,652 USD). However on 9 October 2014, the richestlifestyle.com website ranked Mr. Jonathan sixth on its list, claiming his networth was about $100m. He threatened to sue the website, claiming it “was an attempt to portray him as corrupt”
Haven profiled the two major candidates, we as Nigerians can only hope for the best in the outcome of tomorrow’s presidential elections. We have had a taste of the two candidate’s administration in the past. It is now left for us whether to decide to move forward and allow corruption, insecurity, poverty and unemployment to continue to take its course; or whether we want a change in status-quo, end corruption, tackle insurgency and many other problems confronting us as a nation.
God bless Nigeria.