President Muhammadu Buhari has since declared his intention to seek re-election in 2019, to return to his beat as president. His declaration took many Nigerians by surprise as a result of his challenged health condition and perceived non-performance of his administration in the last three years.
Some analysts have however, pointed out that victory for Buhari in 2019 was a fait accompli. According to them, the likely victory is not borne out of any spectacular performance or love for the President or the All Progressives Congress (APC), but out of sheer intimidation, fear, violence and, to a greater degree, the solidarity he enjoys from the army of poor illiterate folks (‘Talakawa’) in the North.
Pointing to likely violence and threat of it as an effective instrument to be deployed by his loyalists, an analyst who spoke on condition of anonymity quoted a statement credited to Bello Abdullahi Bodejo, president of Miyethi Allah, the umbrella organisation of the Fulani herdsmen (on February 3, 2018), that “nobody should try to remove Buhari in 2019. All the Fulani in Nigeria today, our eyes are open. All of us are behind Buhari, we have seen that they want to destroy the Fulani because of Buhari. We would not allow anybody to intimidate the Federal Government or to take Buhari’s mandate. We would be ready to follow him and fight it; we are ready to do anything to ensure that Buhari comes back to complete the good work he is doing.”
Succinctly put, Bodejo was just saying that Nigerians should prepare for war if Buhari loses his return bid in 2019.
Some pundits say that a leader whose followership consists of illiterates who lack the ability to think for themselves, make rational judgment or make simple analysis about the likely implication of their actions are always ready to play the cannon fodder role.
Although the defeat of Buhari, who contested the presidential election in 2011 on the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) elicited widespread violence across the Northern region, Buhari, again in 2012, made some inciting remarks that evoked fear in the polity.
During the killings in 2011 that greeted his defeat by Goodluck Jonathan, innocent members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who were in the service of their fatherland were mercilessly massacred in cold blood.
In 2015, fears had reached a crescendo in Nigeria. There was apprehension everywhere. The singsong was that war was imminent. It was touted that if Jonathan had defeated Buhari again, there would have been a mini civil war.
The fear stemmed from the warning Buhari issued out in 2012 that “God willing, by 2015, something will happen. They either conduct a free and fair election or they go a very disgraceful way. If what happened in 2011 (alleged rigging) should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood.’’
It was against this backdrop that Jonathan’s quick concession of defeat far ahead of the official declaration of the 2015 presidential result by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was greeted with great relief.
Indeed, Buhari may not have meant harm but may have been merely verbalising his frustration over an electoral process he felt was jaundiced, but because of what he stands for among the illiterate poor folks in the North who would offer to die for his cause, his observations were cashed into by the street urchins.
2019 is not likely to be any different going by the vibrations already being felt.
Speaking of why Buhari may retain his seat in 2019 even with the perception of non-performance, hunger, poverty and other alleged ills in his administration, Lai Omotola, chancellor of E-Boot Camp Limited, said: “You see, Nigeria is divided into North and South. What they see in the North is different from what they see in the South. The progression in the North is different from the progression in the South. What you call poverty in the South is not what is called poverty in the North.
In the South, if I am not able to go for summer this year, I will say the country is bad; things are terrible. If I am not able to change my car in two years I will say things are bad. But those are not the yardstick for those people in the North. What you call poverty here is luxury to them, and all of them are entitled to one vote. Now, because of education in the South, you would reduce the number of children you would have because you know that training up a child now is like building a house. But the same mentality may not be for the illiterate because he does not see any essence in sending anybody to school. So, where is the followership of the illiterate?
“And I tell people, if I say I am a leader I need to see the quality of the people following me, because if they are not enlightened they would just be hailing whatever I do or say. The essence of education is to achieve three things- some people stop at number one; some at two and not many people get to three.”
Omotola further said: “The essence of education is to read and write. That’s number one. Number two is for you to comprehend – that is being able to understand what you read. The third and final one is for you to be analytical. What is analysis? A man may be saying something, but what you are hearing is not really what he is saying. What is coming out of his mouth is not really what he is trying to say. So, that’s why they say, news analysis. Someone must come to break down the communication – bringing out the intent and purpose of what is coming out.
“That is the final stage of education and not so many people have that. So, based on the analysis above, Buhari will come back. He would come back because we have the majority people that cannot sit down to analyse the case; say, if this man comes back, will he be able to deliver the dividends? This is because they don’t have that skill and the few people that have it, will they vote or are they enough to outnumber these illiterate folks? Remember, it is said that democracy is a game of numbers; if the illiterates outweigh the literates, our recruitment process in this way will always produce something defective.”
The use of thugs to perpetrate all manner of electoral fraud has become widespread in Nigeria. Most of those thugs are frustrated youths who are aggrieved at the failure of successive governments to make Nigeria a habitable place. Many of them are illiterates and semi-literates. A few are university graduates who as a result of inability to be properly engaged in meaningful employments determined to eke out a living in hard way.
Most times, they do not reason rationally. They go after political opponents of their principals without reasoning. They even kill for a bottle of beer and for monetary compensation as meagre as N1000 (One Thousand Naira) only.
This set of people is usually poverty-stricken and always hungry. So, they go after their prey with all the venom they can muster. These are those waiting in the wings to be deployed as the general election hits up properly.
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