By Fr. Fido Asogwa
In the gospel of St. Luke 7:22, filled with desperation and disappointment John from prison sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus “Are you the Messiah or shall we wait for another?” John was not alone in the curiosity of the Messiah status of Christ’s identity. Pilate, too, at Jesus’ trial confronted him with the same question “Are you the Messiah?” Cf Mk 14:16.
The curiosity of the people could be understood because the atmosphere of the Israelite nation was already saturated with great anticipation of the coming Messiah that will salvage and redeem them from the Roman imperialism of the time. They needed a savior at all cost.
Prior to 2015 general elections, Nigerians were already saturated with the ‘corruption-infested’ 16 years of PDP-led administrations. Nigerians were indeed fed up with the status quo of PDP misrule. They were yearning and longing for any other Messiah but Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s PDP administration. Buhari teaming up with the South-West political lords was packaged with a brand that has the yearning of most Nigeria’s incorrupt presidential aspirant. A majority of Nigerians fell for the marketing strategy and voted overwhelmingly for the Retired Army General.
General in the garb of a civilian presidency. Despite the fact that he is well known to be a tribalist and religious bigot, many still went ahead to vote for him because Nigerians wanted a change from the status quo and thought that an ‘incorruptible’ Buhari of the Buhari/Idiagbon regime of 1983 would satisfy that yearning.
Eight months into his administration with no cabinet to show for it gave Nigerians a red light that he may not actually be the expected Messiah they prayed and yearned for. It became glaringly clear as months rolled into years into his administration that we were deceived to buy a bad product. His tenure was riddled with wanton killings occasioned by insecurity, ethnic cleansing, corruption of the highest order, forlorn economy and lopsided appointments in the pretext of “square pegs in round holes” from his Fulani kindred. A tribal jingoist has mounted the throne.
Suffix it to say that he fastened the profiling of Fulani ethnic tribe as terrorists because they grew so political that they claimed ownership of the country with reckless abandon. In fact one of the presidential media aid Femi Adeshina was once quoted to have told Nigerians to relinquish their lands to Fulanis or risk losing their lives.
What impunity and audacity!
His years of administration were characterized with hardship, incompetent economic policies that plunged Nigeria into recession for three times and wanton killings from various militia groups ranging from Boko Haram he inherited from the PDP-led administration to bandits, kidnappers, Fulani herdsmen killers etc. Nigerians have never had it so bad and excruciating as we are experiencing today. It got to a frustrating breaking point that the present presidential candidate of the ruling party lost his cool and berated the present administration in Abeokuta in one of his presidential rallies for the untold hardship this administration has plunged the nation into.
However, despite the humongous failure of Buhari’s administration there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel with his body language towards delivering free and fair elections for Nigerians. His policy implementations towards the forthcoming general elections give the impression that Mr. President is tilting towards delivering an election that will catapult him into Nigerian’s Hall of Fame despite the apparent failures that bedeviled his administration.
The first step towards redeeming his image was the signing of the new 2022 electoral bill into law after so pressures to truncate it by the National Assembly. Even though it took time for him to pen his executive signature on the bill, we still give him kudos for that feat. If he had declined it, heavens wouldn’t have fallen; after all he resisted both national and international pressures to sign the bill prior to 2019 election and nothing happened.
According to the former Akwa Ibom State electoral commissioner Mr. Mike Igini: “the new electoral law that ushered in the use of BIVAS is the game changer in our electoral system.” The effect of this new electoral law is already at work in the just concluded Osun State tribunal that sacked Governor Ademola Adeleke as the governor of Osun State.
The discrepancies discovered in the number of voters accredited by the BIVAS used on the election day and the number of voters recorded in Form EC8c as reported by INEC unearthed 181,540 votes that were not accredited by BIVAS in 744 polling units. However, INEC in their defence affirmed that there was a physical BIVAS which contained the synchronized data of all the BIVAS used. The good news is that the INEC boss has said they have learnt their lesson from the experience of Osun election tribunal.
While we wait for the outcome of the tribunal on Osun, kudos should be given to INEC for accepting to improve on the flaws encountered in Osun election that took them to Tribunal. Even though there is also a case of falsification of certificates as prayed by APC in nullification of Ademola Adeleke’s electoral victory, the main mind-blowing discovery was the one that was discovered through the use of BIVAS.
This BIVAS machine has renewed and restored Nigerians’ hope and confidence in the electoral process. It shows INEC is on the way to getting it right to a reasonable level for the first time in Nigerian’s election history. The introduction of BIVAS will automatically eliminate ballot box snatching, over-voting as in the case of Osun and will also reduce electoral malpractices to the barest minimum.
The second step of Buhari’s administration in his quest to give Nigeria the most free and fair election is his ongoing policy of redesigning of naira notes of higher denominations. This policy, according to the CBN boss, was also meant to fast-track the full implementation of the apex bank’s cashless economic policy. In his quest to reduce electoral malpractices by politicians, Mr. President himself said the policy was targeted at squeezing the hands of these politicians against inducing electorate with vote buying. He knew the major challenge facing this new electoral law is vote-buying as was experienced in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun elections.
This policy was the straw that broke the carmel’s back and it’s not going down well with the politicians and that is why they are threatening fire and brimstone against the apex bank’s boss. Imagine the APC governors visiting Buhari in the Presidential Villa because of the redesigning policy pleading on behalf of the suffering Nigerians for the policy to be extended till June when election might have come and gone for them to manipulate the election through vote buying as before!
We had eight months of strike but they never thought it wise to visit His Excellency. We have been experiencing excruciating pains of fuel scarcity. They never thought of visiting the president. We had #EndSars. They never thought of visiting the president. You can now feel the voice of Jacob but the hand of Easu in their purported visit to show solidarity to the suffering Nigerians. In expressing his views on not extending the deadline for the use of old notes, he said among other things that he wants Nigerians to elect credible leaders without vote-buying inducement.
It may not erase electoral malpractice completely but it will go a long way in allowing Nigerians to elect their leaders without the normal money politics of “ojebego mentality.” It will usher in competent leaders that will revolutionize governance in Nigeria.
This policy is an icing to the ubiquitous “Obidient” movement that is sweeping the political space in Nigeria today that it’s no longer business as usual. I pray that his Excellency will maintain his ground on this new naira note policy not minding the pressures from the political class who see it as their greatest Achilles heel.
It is now clear to the average Nigerian that the die is cast and the coast is clear for a free, fair and credible election in Nigeria. What is demanded of us the electorate is to collect our PVCs and be ready to vote and protect our votes through the new technology of BIVAS accreditation mechanism. I believe that what Nigerians need now more than ever is the full implementation of the above policies of Mr. President to usher in new breed of leaders in positions of governance marked with the virtues of integrity, competence and capacity.
If Mr. President succeeds in implementing them, corruption will be reduced automatically by 50 percent while the incoming administration will push the fight against corruption more by strengthening our institutions to be stronger than individuals in our country. By the time Nigeria is repositioned to meet Wole Soyinka’s prediction that “the son of nobody will become somebody” by merit and sheer diligence and hard work “without knowing anybody” in government, Nigeria will be on the road to greatness again.
Buhari’s ability to achieve the above feat will help us answer the burning question as to whether “Buhari is the Messiah or we are to look for another.”
— Fr. Fido Asogwa