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There had been series of claims and counter claims by eminent and not so eminent Nigerians on their respective roles in bringing the president – from the General he was – to power. The most recent had come from one of our former presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo. Mohammed Haruna, on his Wednesday Column of Daily Trust, 24th August 2016 stated that Obasanjo claimed to have teamed up with two or three other eminent Nigerians and brought General Muhammadu Buhari to power –a claim he now denies. It can be recalled that Nasir El-Rufa’i, the Kaduna State Governor, also claimed to have “forced” the General to contest, without which the President could never be. There had been many others.
I find it pertinent to bring another perspective, and perhaps more names, before the history chapter is closed – no one knows when it will. This I will try to bring, in line with the main heading – Bringing – in three clusters: Conception/Incubation; Design/Production and finally Marketing/Distribution. For want of space, research and utility – the history will be mostly compelling if the product succeeds, I shall not dwell deeply into each cluster and individuals. Obviously, in the end, Nigerians have the right to say which of these players mentioned, or even omitted, are the most valuable in the game of bringing the President to the winning vote.
For sure, the President could not have come to be if a number of persons in the ANPP, desirous of bringing another General to match the then President Obasanjo, himself a General and former military Head of State, at polls, or at worst, to give the opposition some teeth. It was said that, as a result of a meeting of thirteen persons called by Buba Galadima in Kaduna, three persons were zeroed on: General Muhammadu Buhari, Umar Shinkafi and Chief Sunday Awoniyi, the later two of blessed memory. The team to meet General included late Alh. Wada Nas and eventually he agreed to stand and contest. This was for the 2003 elections.
Then came the 2007 elections and the likes of Yeriman Bakura, Nnia Nwodo, Okorocha, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Pere Ajuwa and co staged a walk out from the convention and Yaya Abubakar remained in the Presidential contest – as a symbol of democratic process- so that the General could be, again, the flag bearer of the party. If for any reason reason the General had a challenge and lost the ticket, I am sure he would have quit from further contests. Although the General was said to have lost both general elections, the votes declared for him and the challenge to the ruling party marked the appearance of a new dawn in the political landscape. This is with the party leadership and contestants for various other positions providing direct and indirect support in keeping the product – the General – alive and growing. Please, ignore the unpleasant relationships that came across thereafter without which the CPC would not have been born and the party would have become impatient with the General. This is the period regarded as the conception/incubation.
More than all these, the Nigerians masses, the voters, some of whom have lost their lives in support and love for the General, became the source of strength. The destination was not attained, yet. With challenges growing and threatening success, the General along with the likes of Sen. Rufa’i Hanga, Buba Galadima, Sule Haman and a host of others, formed the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC. This stage can be regarded as the design/production cluster. The party came to being, solely in the first instance, to go to 2011 polls as the General being its flag bearer. From cluster one to this cluster, Buba Galadima had spoken loudly in promoting and defending the General. Many joined the party from the view point of promoting democracy and rule of law that were lacking, so far. People also contested for various positions in the Executive and Legislative elections, thus promoting the candidature of the General at the Presidential level. At the risk of suffering from the abuse of power from the ruling party, I, along with Senator Sani Sale, Shehu ABG and many others promoted the CPC in Kaduna state. Other states had similar champions. I remember vividly, the comment of Pastor Bakare describing the crowd we gathered during the flag off of the North West campaign in Kaduna – he said “wow, I have never seen a human gathering like this in my life.” This was at the dinner table in the General’s house after the event.
Two, the activities of lobby groups. Interest groups, Non Governmental Organisations (NGO’s), Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) and host of others have played vital roles in promoting the General. These organisations were not faceless. The BSO was headed by Dr Ibrahim, Dr Nasir and Col Abdullah and had leadership and membership in many states. As an interested person, I made a number of suggestions to the General and also suggested to Rt. Hon. Aminu Bello Massari the need to form a working group of five (5) – Myself, Himself, Gen. Lawal Ja’afaru Isa, Gen. Buba Marwa and Hon. Yusuf Tugga. We had been the governorship flag bearers in Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Adamawa and Bauchi, respectively. These states had given massive support to CPC in 2011. When the committee was eventually formed, members grew to 9 – with Sen. Nazifi(for Tugga), Nasir El-Rufa’i, Dr Hassan Lawal, Dr Ehanire Osagie, Hajia (Otumba) Basirat No’ibi. This group created a platform and medium for interaction between the General and many eminent Nigerians for the success of the project, including merger.
Three, the opposition strongly helped the General. The sheer dislike and demonstration of fear by them made the General more endearing in the minds of the Nigerians. Their mistakes and impunity have all added up to create opportunity for growth of the opposition. Names will include the OBJ and Goodluck Jonathan (GEJ). One will even be safe to include the military Generals that hid General Buhari’s credentials.
Four, the primary actors in the merger of the parties that formed All Progressive Congress, APC. The individual party leaders and governors of ANPP, ACN, CPC and the breakaway functions of the PDP and APGA and thus, the contributions of Modu Shariff, Bola Tinubu, Bisi Akande, Prince Tonny Momoh, Abubakar Baraje, Bukola Saraki, Rochas Okorocha and more, are important.
Five, those fine individuals who tried to put up a fight for the ticket of the APC – Atiku Abubakar, Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, Rochas Okorocha and Sam Nda Isiah – have contributed immensely in bringing crowd, publicity and strength to the party.
Six, Judiciary: Judgements by the Judiciary from 2003-2011 against the General helped in building sentiments in his favour.
Seven, the control of the delegates who gave massive votes to GMB at the Lagos Convention that produced him as the flag bearer completed the production line. Again, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi, Col Hamid Ali and state coordinators of the GMB (again, I happened to be for Kaduna) have done well.
The third cluster is the Marketing and and Distribution of the product. This level or cluster worked only after the product became a full blown brand – holding the ticket of APC. Prominent here is, one, the General himself. Having what, I termed, in an earlier write-up as 5c’s: character, capacity, commitment, contribution and collateral, he once again presented himself to the electorates. With resilience, unmatched, will and determination, he agreed to absorb all shocks and ridicule – said to be uneducated, religious fanatic, too old and sick. The insults were endless. Yet, he endured.
Two, the endorsers saw an eminent victory coming and chose to follow the path. These include Obasanjo, international community, some who fell out of favour with their parties, especially in the legislature.
Three, the campaign council headed by Rotimi Amaechi and populated by a host of us in various committees. The final marketing and vote protection was planned here. Personalities with varied skills and dispositions were involved.
Four, the Electoral body, INEC, headed by Prof Attahiru Jega and the Law enforcement agencies played roles in controlling electoral malpractices – states like Bayelsa and Rivers could no longer post result in excess or close to their population figures.
In conclusion, it is not possible and morally sound for any individual or even a group of individuals to claim to have been responsible, or to even pose the capacity, of bringing the General to power. Some events led to others. Success was achieved based on incremental growth. All have contributed, the party men and women, the clergy, and so and so, including those opposed to his emergence, in shaping the final outcome with Allah’s blessings.