Why They Want Buhari’s Job
This month, we decided to corner the talk of the town: the country’s top job in 2019.
The next presidential election may be the one in which a record number of aspirants want the job of a president who assumed office with huge approvals in his first term, squandered almost as quickly as he got them.
By this time three years ago, Nigerians had voted massively for President Muhammadu Buhari, after a grueling campaign in which he was virtually invested with the qualities of a messiah.
The honeymoon is over and the morning after has left a growing section of the public feeling short-changed.
At the last count, nearly one dozen candidates – including potential challengers from the ruling All Progressives Congress – have thrown their hats in the ring to challenge the incumbent president.
From former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to former Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso and from former Jigawa governor Sule Lamido to former House member senator and Pro-chancellor of Baze University, Dr. Ahmed Datti, it’s a long list and still growing.
The list of aspirants also includes Sahara Reporters Publisher, Omoyele Sowore; former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. Kingsley Moghalu; and motivational speaker, Fela Durotoye.
In this edition, we cornered three of the aspirants only one of whom has a party affiliation at this time – Datti (PDP) – to find out exactly why they want Buhari’s job.
Is this not the same Presidency that Buhari wanted so badly and chased so relentlessly, that when he eventually got it at his fourth attempt, he has been confused about what to do with it?
Our extensive interviews in this edition with three of the aspirants – Sowore, Moghalu and Datti – reveal that there’s no shortage of ideas about what is required to move Nigeria forward.
Each of the aspirants not only wants Buhari’s job, they are clear about why and what they intend to do to topple him at the ballot box in a few month’s time.
Sowore, whom we first interviewed two years ago on the 10th anniversary of Sahara Reporters, has not only declared his interest to run, he hit the campaign trail, stirring up political strongholds and disrupting bastions.
“I have very clear ideas about how to move this great country forward,” Sowore said. “I have been involved in politics at the national level for almost 30 years. No one suggested that I should move my activities to my local government area, when as president of the University of Lagos student’s union government I joined with other activists to lead the students fighting against the annulment of June 12, 1993 election.”
Sowore, 47, not only argued that he had earned his stripes; he told us that he has vision of a better country not shackled by cabals and godfathers.
Where Sowore was fiery and iconoclastic, Moghalu was measured but no less appalled by the missed opportunities of the recent past. He brushed off suggestions that he couldn’t entirely exonerate himself from the failures of some government policies, since he was also a member of the Economic Management team under former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“It is wrong, in principle,” he said, “to associate an independent Central Bank with a particular government because unlike the ministers whose appointments are tied to the individual that is the President, the tenures of Central Bank governors and deputy governors are fixed for five years.”
He said he was not part of the day-to-day government and the Central Bank, when he was there as Deputy Governor, did not control the nation’s fiscal resources from taxation or oil.
His view on Biafra, petrol subsidy, corruption and the economy, among others, are as compelling as they are fresh and matched only by his insights and solid professional pedigree.
As for Datti, he’s back from sabbatical. The former member of the House of Representatives and senator had taken time off politics to set up Baze University, one of the leading private universities in Abuja and certainly one of the fastest growing in the country.
After running the school as Pro-chancellor for seven years, Datti is returning to the hustings. The PDP presidential aspirant, who may contend with heavyweights such as Atiku Abubakar and Sule Lamido, among others, is not one to run from a fight.
“Buhari has no chance of re-election in 2019,” Datti said. And then, he went on to outline his ground game, including what he intends to do change the face of government.
“I will sign an Executive Order prohibiting the award of inflated government contracts and increase the salaries of all Federal public servants by 50 per cent immediately,” he said.
This edition is the official launch of the public debate for the next election.
If you’re not ready to finish reading it, don’t start.