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#OtvOPINIONS: Is Buhari North’s candidate?

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Desperation can sometimes provide real political
moment to weigh on the scale the stuff of those
who lay claim to leadership positions.It is a time to
see if truly they are leaders or irremediable
irredentists. The last couple of days have shown
exactly that, those who preach political messages of
hate rather than love, who canvass ethnic division
rather than unity and those who, if given the
chance,will covet power for its sake without
weighing the implications.
Pointedly and sadly,few of those who pride
themselves as being among the leaders in the
North,are by their utterances dangerously polarising
the polity into seemingly mutually exclusive
enclaves of North and South.They are perhaps
unwittingly,damaging the chances of the man they
claim to be championing his cause.
That is exactly what a former Inspector General of
Police,and currently,Chairman of the Arewa
Consultative Forum(ACF),Ibrahim Coomassie did the
other day,when in a fit of desperation and
unprovoked anger,flew off the handle like a loose
canon.He says the Presidential candidate of the All
Progressives Cngress (APC),Muahammadu Buhari
is the adopted candidate of the North.
In an interview he granted some national dailies in
Kaduna recently,he said,”I am the Chairman of the
Arewa Consultative Forum and we have said it
before,but we are reiterating it that we are going to
support the Northern candidate.APC has voted a
Northern candidate.So we are going to support him
100 percent.Buhari is our candidate for the 2015
Presidential Election”.In a similar,petulant
manner,the Chairman of the Northern Elders Forum
(NEF) and former Vice Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello
University(ABU),Prof.Ango Abdullahi,whose
incendiary comments in the past had created hate
along ethnic and religious lines,also lashed out at
President Goodluck Jonathan.He thretened
insurrection if power doesn’t shift to the North in the
February 14 presidential poll. Besides these
provocative statements from these mean-spirited,
ethnic jingoists like Coomassie and
Abdullahi,another disturbing dimension to the
frightening atmosphere in the North is the reported
threat to some Northern governors who are
perceived to be pro-President Jonathan.One of the
governors,according to a report by the VANGUARD
newspaper,has confessed receiving “open threat
messages” via his phones.
It is also alleged that some radical Northern leaders
have been sending threatening claps of thunder via
short messages to some pro-Jonathan governors in
the North.The threat messages are purportedly
written in both English and Hausa languages.The
content of the messages is direct and daring:support
Buhari or else you will be regarded as a betrayal of
the North.
It must be stated that nothing is wrong with
anypolitician or group(s) in the North preferring one
particular presidential candidate to the other.That’s
one of the dividends of democracy-the freedom of
choic.The danger however is the threat and
message of hate that go with such urging.I don’t
know if Buhari is aware of these vicious,odious
messages being sent out purportedly on his behalf
and what he is doing to halt the threats.I am worried
for the APC presidential because everytime he
(Buhari)tries everything to wiggle off the bad image
that had derailed his three previous presidential
bid,fresh problem of substance such as the
Coomassie and Ango Abdullahi’s outbursts
resurface to cast doubts on his chances to win the
highest political office in the land.
Without a doubt, Coomassie’s comment is a shot in
the leg of Buhari.It would have a springboard effect
that can hurt Buhari all the way to the ballot.Being
pigeon-holed as “North’s candidate” gives him
(Buhari) as an ethnic leader.This does not help his
presidential prospect at a time his handlers are
working overtime to project him as a patriotic and
firm leader of quiet competence.Of course, a crucial
leadership position such as that of a President
cannot be actualized through such primordial
considerations being canvassed by the like of
Coomassie. It further throws up few pertinent
questions:First, what kind of President are Nigerians
looking for in 2015? What qualities must he
possess? I believe Nigeria does not need a sectional
or ethnic leader as President.Our country has grown
beyond primordial cleavages. Indeed,majority of
Nigerians reject archaic dichotomies completely..
Having come through thick and thin,survived a civil
war,fallen in and out of the iron-fists of military
adventurists(of which Buhari was one) and
stumbled back on the path of democracy,projecting
a particular candidate as that of any ethnic group or
geo-political zone,is to take us back to the North/
South divide.
In fact,it is incongruous for any lover of peace and
Nigeria to threaten,as Coomassie and Abdullahi
insist that unless the presidency is shifted to the
North,come 2015 that Nigeria will break up.Such
statements from ACF and NEF leaders apart from
being inciting,qualifies as treason or sedition that
ought to attract criminal proceedings.Such
unguarded comments have left countries like
Sudan,Rwanda and Cote d’Ivoire polarised and
theatres of long drawn wars.
While the right to free speech should not be
curtailed,threats of break-up of the country if the
North fail to produce the next President amounts to
fanning the embers of ethnic and religious
hatred.These are the sort of faultiness that brought
us to where we are today.For me,the next President
must first and foremost,be a democrat,through and
through.He must also be a respecter of the sacred
values of the rule of law, must appeal to all sections
of the country, not one section of the country
alone.This is the challenge before the electorate as
we march closer to the 2015 General Elections.

Article Written by Dan Onwukwe and earlier published on Opinions.ng

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