By Abba Mahmood
First, they said there would never be a formidable platform to challenge the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). They never thought that distinguished men and women of character could submerge their individual interests for the collective interest of the nation. They never thought that what in reality are regionally-based parties could come together and fuse into a huge mega party with the strongest grassroots base and widest organic links to the people. Against all odds, the progressive minds across the country came together and coalesced into the All Progressives Congress (APC) which, in less than one year, became the strongest party in Nigeria. It was the triumph of truth.
Next, they said the APC would implode due to the irreconcilable ambitions of its various aspirants. That was why the idea of a consensus presidential candidate was vehemently opposed by most of the aspirants. That turned out to be the biggest factor that strengthened the party, for a most transparent process was followed to elect the party’s presidential candidate. General Muhammadu Buhari won, fair and square, and all the contestants congratulated him on a well-deserved victory. It was the triumph of truth.
Then came the issue of selecting a running mate for General Buhari. They churned out a lot of stories about a so-called Muslim-Muslim ticket, in the hope that the non-Muslims would be alienated and antagonized. After due consultations, a distinguished professor of law, a man of impeccable pedigree and strong family background was chosen. Professor Yemi Osinbajo is a real Christian, not a show Christian. Buhari’s running mate is also a man of integrity who shares the same worldview with Buhari. That hurdle was crossed. It was the triumph of truth.
They then came with a ridiculous and funny story that Gen. Buhari has no certificate! Mhmm? How did he join the Nigerian Army? How did he rise to become a general? How did he attend all the courses in Nigeria and across the world without requisite qualifications? How did he become a governor, in fact the last governor of the defunct North-Eastern State, now six states? How did he become Nigeria’s head of state with the backing of the armed forces? In fact, they are not ridiculing Buhari but the Nigerian nation by this cheap propaganda. But there is always the triumph of truth.
There comes a time in the life of every nation, as it is for every individual, when there remains what the statisticians call the Bernulli Trial – a situation where you are left with only two choices: you either submit and go down or struggle and come up. That time has indeed come to us. Fortunately, Nigerians are now very much aware that poverty and bombs do not discriminate between Christians and Muslims, northerners and southerners or tribes. That is why every patriot is now joining the movement for change. It is the triumph of truth.
On this page I had cause to criticize Buhari and to urge him not to contest. An elder brother whom I have tremendous respect for sat me down and explained to me the dynamics. The issue is beyond Buhari as an individual; it is about Nigeria and its people. The APC has metamorphosed into a mass movement with strong following across Nigeria and a decent chance of forming the next government. Buhari has emerged as a symbol of change and a platform for the oppressed to confront the oppressors. His antecedents and precedents make this so obvious. And for the first time since he joined politics, Buhari is now playing real politics with a message that resonates across the entire nation. It is the triumph of truth.
And so we have to understand the fundamental differences between Buhari’s party, the APC, and its main challenger, the PDP. While one is for a government of hope, confidence and limitless opportunities, the other is for a government of pessimism, limits and despair; while one keeps accentuating and worsening our differences, the other tries to bridge them; while one wants us to be uniform, the other wants us to be united; while one is still promising, after 16 years in power, the other has proven records of achievements in the services of the country; while one is the epitome of privileges/ private jet owners/ billionaires, the other relies on the ordinary people. If the difference is clear, then, indeed the choice is clear. It is the triumph of truth.
Therefore, the agenda and duty of the next government is very obvious. It is simply to fight corruption and impunity — every other thing will fall in line. When government makes the wealthy pay appropriate taxes instead of donating money to political parties, when government confiscates ill-gotten wealth from corrupt public officers and their fronts, there are lots of benefits to society. Government would get the resources to work for the people and reduce reliance on oil that is finishing. It would discourage others from stealing. The people would see immediate change in their lives as an enabling environment for businesses to thrive would be provided with the resources retrieved from corrupt officials. Government would thus get strong domestic and even international support and acclaims, thereby making Nigeria’s image better. It is the triumph of truth.
The thought of all these is what is making some people sleepless. And, in a very curious way, the best campaigner for Buhari is President Jonathan. Every insulting statement from the PDP makes it look more like an opposition rather than a ruling party. Every un-presidential utterance — such as referring to a former leader as a motor-park tout, or that the MEND that the president was defending in 2010 is now a terrorist organization trying to kill the president — makes Buhari and his party more attractive. Every blunder of the government makes the APC a credible and formidable alternative. That is why, currently, there is no alcohol that makes some people drunk anymore. It is the triumph of truth.
In the United States, after the trauma of the Watergate scandal and the resignation of President Nixon, Jimmy Carter was elected. An elderly person, Ronald Reagan, was elected to bring back the confidence of America. In the People’s Republic of China, after the Cultural Revolution and with the death of Chairman Mao, an experienced elder, Deng Xiaoping, was elected and he started the reform that has put China on its phenomenal growth. That is the context within which the emergence of Buhari is situated. An experienced elderly man of integrity is needed now to put the nation on the road to admirable stability and considerable prosperity. It is the triumph of truth.
Nigeria and Nigerians are tired of corruption, incompetence, ineptitude and continuous unfulfilled promises. We simply can’t continue on this stagnant and static path as a nation. Who is better to confront insecurity and terrorism than a general? And who is better to help institutionalize the rule of law than a professor of law and former attorney-general of Lagos? That is the rescue team waiting for the mandate to take over and lead effectively. The victory of good over evil, the success of right over wrong, and the triumph of truth over falsehood have always been a matter of time.