The victory of President Muhammadu Buhari at the last (2019) presidential election in the country was given, in my view. In spite of his massive media blitz and fault-mongering propaganda, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, for instance, was not a strong contender or, if you like, the right candidate to give Buhari a fight. Atiku was not connected with the core of the voters like Buhari. History and time did not favour him. The math and tide were clearly in favour of Buhari, who was already well-seated in the hearts and minds of the majority of the electorate. Atiku and his party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), did not have the electoral value spread. Their strategy was also fundamentally flawed. They exaggerated their electoral value and tragically underrated the god-worshippers relationship between Buhari and his followers. Whereas Atiku and his party placed a premium on Atiku’s media image and the media slant of the election, Buhari and the All Progressives Party (APC) were more focused on the deciding factor in the election – the voter. Buhari’s campaign structures and strategy were more voter-oriented. Unlike Atiku and the PDP, the APC was not overly interested in pandering to elite and foreign desires. Rather, the APC was more concerned about how its campaign assurances and promises resonated with the core voters. The party was less concerned about the views and predictions of partisan pundits; whereas Atiku was carried away by the sound bites of all manner of pundits whose adverse criticisms of – or testimonies against – Buhari and the APC were far from being products of empirical or balanced analysis of the issues that belied the election.
The effort here is to start a rational conversation with those who had high expectations in the candidacy of Atiku and are habouring the funny belief that Atiku can win in the court of law what he lost in the polling units across the length and breadth of the country. The conversation should also be of interest to those who bear the irrational belief that the masses could be weaponized against Buhari in the form of a peoples’ revolution. It is not in my place to psychoanalyze these categories of persons. I do not have that training. The talking point here is that it is important for them to sit back and scrutinize their belief and claim to political power outside the ballot.
That Buhari has the moral and constitutional backing to preside over the affairs of Nigeria for the next four years is an indisputable fact. The election had given every adult Nigerian the opportunity to influence either the change in the personnel of government or to sustain Buhari’s mandate. At the polls, the Atikus, the Sowores et al were metaphors of political alternatives to Buhari – alternatives that were roundly rejected by the electorate. Here lay their moral burdens. The people had, in the election, discountenanced their ideas and ideals in preference for what Buhari could offer in the next four years. While their participation in the election gave them the right to champion alternative polices or views on public issues and matters, it is absolutely wrong for them to canvass the overthrow of the Government by any means other than the ballot box. Atiku’s support for Omoyele Sowore’s cause is a clear indication that he, Atiku, is aware that his Petition at the court lacks merit and will not take him to Aso Rock. This gives credence to the belief that the Petition was instituted for the sole purpose of giving him a soft emotional landing from the concussive effect of the monumental defeat he suffered at the polls. That is not bad in itself if he utilizes the time to rethink his failure or defeat. There is always room for heroism in defeat. The agony of defeat is never for eternity.
The decision of the people through the ballot box is irreversible. The people have spoken. They prefer Buhari for the next four years, and no Jupiter can interfere with that sacred decision. Atiku still has verve; and Sowore – the infamous coordinator of the insurrection tagged ‘Revolution Now’ – is still young. Tomorrow is waiting for them. If they, however, continue to dissipate that political capital on such subversive endeavours, they will soon be buried in the dustbin of politics. I love Sowore, the TV entrepreneur, but I have my doubts about his politics. I won’t call Atiku a spent force, but if he employs me, I will ask him to build a base from where he can launch his campaign in 2023; that is, if he is that desperate to dare the power rotation policy that has kept this country this far.
Many may feel irked by the process that gives the same weight to the vote of the ‘uninformed and ignorant’ voter as that of the informed and knowledgeable elite. Many may say that the poverty and ignorance of the majority of the voters make them susceptible to the manipulations of the incumbent, and can further argue that such stolen votes undermine the legitimacy of President Buhari. Whereas I may not contest the proposition for a rich knowledge-based democratic process, I am yet to be convinced about the yardstick for the grading of the vote or the difference that the all ‘elite vote’ will bring to the democratic process.
I would urge the supporters of Atiku and Sowore to resist the temptation to believe that what is not good for them is not good for any Nigerian or that what is good for them is good for the entire world. This is my message, and I hope it will set in motion a sane, rational and decent dialogue.