Adekoya Boladale, a political scientist, social commentator and consultant on political and intragovernmental affairs, in his contribution to Naij.com offers his point of view on who may be really standing behind Buhari's victory at 2015 presidential election.
A few years ago, one of my students stood up in the middle of the lecture and asked: “Sir, who owns Nigeria?” I was delivering a topic on colonialism, and it could have been easy for me to answer: “the British”. But that would have been appropriate if only we had still been under the colonial rule.
It’s been decades since we exchanged the Union Jack for the green-and-white flag to enjoy self-government. The above question, though simple to a layman, is pregnant with meanings. First, this student, having assessed the society he lives in, have come to question the principle of democracy, the mode of governance and the political power play in the process of winning the election. He has come to doubt the overblown theory of self-governance, independence and strength of an elected political office-holder. He sees illusion in democracy, views democracy as a world of make-believe where twisted public perception, either true or false, reign supreme. He sees the people as pawns, played and tossed by some power brokers towards a selfish end.
Few days ago, Nigeria went to the poll that saw the incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan losing the race for a return ticket to the opposition candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari. In an unprecedented reaction that shocked the world, Mr. Jonathan conceded defeat “saving" Nigeria, West Africa and by extension the entire continent from going into flames.
With the emergence of General Buhari, the word on the street of Nigeria now is “victory". The people seem to have found hope placing upscale level of trust on the war veteran to make the life better as soon as possible.
Indeed, the masses have the reason to rejoice. President Jonathan’s government didn’t have a direct bearing on the people. Jonathan showed the lackadaisical attitude to the people’s safety, especially those in the northeast, and only woke up from slumber when it was too late. Jonathan’s leadership ability also showed he was not the one who totally controlled the government. He showed traits of indecisiveness, making the electorate get bored of his government.
But while the people continue rejoicing over what they have termed “our votes count,” it is imperative to state without holding back that the defeat of Goodluck Jonathan is not the victory of the electorate. Yes, the people voted for a man of their choice, but the question of who/what has made that man their choice remains unanswered.
The need to have Mr Jonathan out of Aso Rock became urgent on August 31, 2013, when seven governors and the former vice president walked out of the party's convention, hence forming the “new PDP”. It should be noted that, even though the opposition parties had already merged to form the APC, the effect of an opposition party wasn't so impactful until the “new PDP” joined it. Those who understand a bit about Nigeria's presidential power play know one of the key factors that determine the making or marring of any occupant of that position is the relationship with the "five pillars" of Nigeria, namely General Theophilus Danjuma, Ibrahim Babangida, Emir of Kano, Olusegun Obasanjo and the oil mafias. Unfortunately for President Jonathan, all these individuals stood against him.
Some may argue that the records of General Buhari and his undoubted anti-corruption stand have given him the edge against the president. However, these individuals must ask themselves if these records were not in public domain when he contested and lost the election three times?
The PDP has had the opportunity to govern the country for sixteen years not because it is well-structured, but because the real owners of the country have controlled the party. The moment these individuals lost their power, the party became a shadow of itself.
Democracy is about public perception, it is the ability to sell yourself to the electorate and make them believe in your plans, but that's where it starts and ends. The ability of the people to understand, accept and believe in these messages resides exclusively within some set of individuals.
The outcomes of the March 28, 2015, presidential election were decided not in the polling booths and through ballot papers, but at a roundtable meeting where the best wine and foods were served.
General Muhammadu Buhari may seem to represent the desire of the electorate, but that can only be proven with the decisions he will make within the first few months of his administration.
This is a victory for democracy, it is a good step for politics. However, it isn't a victory for the people per se, but rather a change of garment for the "five pillars".
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Naij.com.