2019: Like Jonathan, Like Buhari
Less than 400 days to the 2019 general elections, what its outcome will be is already unfolding, howbeit, in an interesting manner.
The past few days have been a very interesting one in the most recent history of the Nigerian state.
In a surprising turn of events, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Tuesday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to forget any plan, if there was such for a second term bid in 2019, because in his first term, he has performed below expectations.
In a lengthy 13-page open letter, Obasanjo advised Buhari to step down at the end of his first term with honour and dignity and attend to his health and not listen to the “self-serving so-called advisers who would claim that they love him more than God loves him".
In Obasanjo words: “President Buhari needs a dignified and honourable dismount from the horse.
“I only appeal to Brother Buhari to consider a deserved rest at this point in time and at this age. I continue to wish him robust health to enjoy his retirement from active public service".
Ordinarily, Obasanjo’s message should have been taken as one of the many mischievous onslaughts against his successors, but it is not, given his perceived relationship with Buhari and also his accuracy in such declarations before now.
In the run up to the 2015 presidential election, Obasanjo parted ways with the immediate past President and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the election, Goodluck Jonathan, and pitched tent with Buhari, just few weeks to the election.
The cord of his closeness with Jonathan cut in December 2013, when he openly castigated his erstwhile political son.
Incidentally, just as he predicted, Jonathan lost the election and Buhari became the President.
Five years after, Obasanjo is hitting President Buhari on the noggin for exactly the same reason he flayed Jonathan.
As the 2019 general elections approach, it is left to be seen what will become of Obasanjo’s latest foray against Buhari.
Let’s take a step backward to 2011
In April 2011, Goodluck Jonathan was the man of the people. Many parents across the country named their children after him. Goodluck was the charm that many Nigerians wanted to associate with.
He was seen as a messiah, who rose to the presidency by a very strong streak of good fortune.
However, by 2014, he had become the rejected abd abused one.
Buhari then became the sweetheart of virtually every aggrieved Nigeria.
It felt at the time that if you were not for Buhari, something was wrong with the state of your mental faculties.
In the 2015 election, this same Jonathan that was the toast of everybody four years ago had less than 13 million votes to his name, and a huge hatred from the voting public.
Two and half years down the line, Buhari has also become the rejected one.
What happened? Why did the people who loved Jonathan so much come to hate him so much in 2015?
Why did the same people who love Buhari in 2015 , come to hate him so much two and half years after?
Both men seem to have more in common than many people realise.
Jonathan comes from a town, Otuoke in Bayelsa State, whose name was literally not in the map, until he emerged in the national scene.
Buhari, on the other hand comes from Daura, in Katsina State. Notable though it is, it remains on the margins of power equation, in both the northern part of Nigeria, and the country as a whole.
Both Buhari and Jonathan do not lay claim to such an illustrious pedigree as a rich father or grandfather, with over-flowing means and hugely beneficial political connections.
Neither of them was born with a silver spoon in the mouth or even a clone of such silver in their hand. They were both born as some people will say with no spoons at all.
They either worked their way up to prominence, or they were pushed by the invisible hand of fate, on the path to national acclaim, sometimes, against their personal wishes and desires.
Jonathan rose from deputy governor, to Vice President, and eventually President. He will go down in history as the only Nigerian that has gone that path to power without really craving it.
Similarly, Buhari had tacitly retired from politics after three failed tries at the Presidency, when he announced he would not seek that office again, but had to be encouraged to get involved one more time, as the one person capable of winning hearts and minds across the country. Therefore, if Jonathan was an accidental President, so is Buhari.
Although, people reckoned with the efforts of the Buhari's government to initially nip the Boko Haram challenge in the bud, its resurgence, and the general insecurity all over the country, especially herdsmen/farmers clashes show similarities between Buhari and Jonathan.
Just like Buhari now, Jonathan dithered and allowed Boko Haram to fester. He attributed an insurgency with international dimension to politics, assuming erroneously that the North unleashed Boko Haram on his government, after he, a Southern minority, took over from the late Umaru Yar’adua.
By the time the terrorist group took the war to Abuja, killed hundreds of military, para-military personnel, ordinary citizens, abducted over 200 girls from a Chibok school and put Nigeria on red alert and the terrorism map of the world, it had become too late for Jonathan, and losing the election even as an incumbent was only a matter of time.
The Jonathan scenario played out with Buhari in his mishandling of the incessant herdsmen/farmers altercations until it deteriorated to the level it is today, and it can even get worse if the president does not act fast. Is there still time on his side?
Allegations against Fulani herdsmen in the Benue killings and their effrontery in the kidnapping ring in many parts of the country are not being proactively addressed.
Cabal in government
The similarities in style of governance in Buhari and Jonathan are becoming more glaring indeed.
Buhari’s defenders have always said the President is being misled by his advisers and cronies, the cabal, hyenas, Jackals and scoundrels who surround him, who are holding him hostage and taking decisions on his behalf without consultation.
Nigerians are made to believe that all bad decisions and outcomes come from these bad guys, while the good ones are attributed to Buhari.
This is the same excuses Jonathan’s buddies used to justify his monumental failures.
In order words, Buhari is a captive President just like Jonathan who was said to have not being in charge of the affairs of the state; and who while he drank his life away, appointees and aides like the Diezani Maduekes, the Stella Oduahs held sway and determined the direction of government, while Nigeria burned.
However, Buhari brought a new dimension to the people’s dissatisfaction with governance. In fairness, Jonathan assembled a fairly technocratic cabinet but Buhari’s is inferior by a distance.
Politics of blame game
If there’s one thing both administrations have had in common, it is the constant reiterated blame on predecessors for everything wrong with issues they need to tackle.
Jonathan while in government blamed governments before him for his shortcomings.
Like the saying goes, what goes around comes around, Buhari had in turn blamed Jonathan for his administration woes.
Quiet and unassuming personality
Both leaders are perceived to have quiet and unassuming mien but a ruthless personality when the occasion calls for it.
Just like Buhari is doing, Jonathan made the importation of fuel a state policy because importation gives immediate gratification to friends and cronies, instead of massive investment in fixing the existing refineries and building new ones to meet local consumption.
This currently administration has walked that path, with lies told at the point of increasing petrol price to 145 Naira per litre.
The Buhari administration had been riddled with accusations of nepotism. He has consistently been accused of favoring his Northern constituency in key appointments to the detriment of the South, especially the South East and South South geopolitical zones where he got the least number of votes in the 2015 presidential election.
Jonathan also ran a government that largely favoured his cronies and family members.
Buhari's fate in 2019
Despite all these similarities, it remains to be seen whether Buhari will go the same way Jonathan left after serving a single term.
Jonathan left the Presidential Villa the same way he came in. There was so much hope and goodwill that here was a young, healthy, educated, full-fledged civilian to lead the nation. And when he left, people seemed to think that he had redeemed himself simply by accepting defeat in a call that Buhari said made him uncoincious for some minutes.
Will the same befall Buhari in 2019.? The voters will have to decide that.