Buhari says he is seeking for a 2nd term in office because Nigerians are clamouring that he should. That's one huge problem right there.
“The president said he was responding to the clamour by Nigerians to re-contest in 2019”, Garba Shehu, the president’s media aide, said in a terse statement.
A feeling of deja vu swept through me when I first read Shehu’s statement. No Nigerian president in living memory has become president because he wanted the job so badly. They have always been “forced” or cajoled into running for office.
Throughout Nigeria’s history, military coups foisted the most “unwilling” leaders on the people. From Major General Aguiyi Ironsi to civilian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigerians had the feeling that their presidents were never ready for the job until power brokers sitting in lush apartments decided to hand them the job.
After Murtala Mohammed was met by a hail of bullets in 1976, in stepped an unprepared General Olusegun Obasanjo who wasted no time handing over to democratically elected Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
Shagari was kicked out by another military coup and the ultimate beneficiary was General Muhammadu Buhari who was asked to become president by the military elite of the day. He wasn’t ready for the job either.
Another coup kicked out Buhari and foisted Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB) on Nigerians. Ask IBB today if he was ready to be president in 1985 and he would tell you he was just a beneficiary of the nation’s military elite.
Chief Ernest Shonekan headed a lack luster and uneventful interim government for three months in 1993 and was just relieved to disappear into the shadows because he wasn’t ready for the job ab initio.
General Sani Abacha was ready to crown himself lifetime president until death arrived with other ideas.
Obasanjo wasn’t willing to be president until the ruling elite plucked him from prison confinement and handed him the task of ushering Nigeria into the fourth republic in 1999.
Umaru Yar’adua was handpicked by Obasanjo to become president. After Yar'adua passed on in 2010, Goodluck Jonathan saw out his term and was prodded on by Obasanjo and the nation’s elite to begin his own term. The last thing on Jonathan's mind in early 2010 was to become president of Nigeria.
They are those who will say even though Buhari always wanted to become president before 2015 and had sought the job thrice prior, he defeated Jonathan because the nation’s political elite rallied behind him.
Unwilling and accidental presidents are partly to blame for Nigeria’s troubles since 1960.
When politicians say they are only running for office because someone forced them or asked them to, they cede responsibility should they fail. We become vicariously liable for their poor showing in office because after all, we forced them to take the job.
On Friday, April 6, 2018, Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje swore that if Buhari refused to seek for a second term, he will be sued.
"APC Governors want Mr. President to continue”, Ganduje declared. “I am happy that it is not the president that said he wants to continue, it is the people that are saying continue. But Mr. President has not made up his mind yet.
"When he came to Kano, I told him that any time he decides not to contest, we will take him to court. Kano State government will take him to court any time he decides not to contest. So, we are waiting for him”, Ganduje added.
Governor Nasir Elrufai of Kaduna spent all of 2017 and 2018 telling anyone who cares to listen that Buhari is the choice of the Governors ahead of another election season in 2019.
The 24 Governors elected on the platform of the APC have been compelling Buhari to run since he returned from his last medical vacation in London.
A sitting president should run on his record. He should run because he’s done A, B and C and intends to achieve D, E and F if handed another term. An incumbent president should be telling the people that he is running again because he’s convinced inside of him that it is the right thing to do.
A sitting president should be able to convey his action plan for another four years by rote before signifying interest.
A sitting president shouldn’t be hurling his cap into the ring because the people “are clamouring” that he should. Governance is serious business and should be treated as such. No one should be coercing anyone to run for the office of president of Nigeria.
Buhari should have told us that he’s running again because he thinks he’s the best man for the job. He should have presented his scorecard and told us he’s running again because he hasn’t fared badly in his first term.
To reduce a serious election contest to what Governors and a select few are saying, is to toe the line that has brought this country decades of poor governance and disappointment. When we "beg" or "coerce" people to run for office, we make it seem like they are doing us a favour and that they owe us nothing. But the right to seek elective office should be earned.
Politicians who seek elective office henceforth should beat their chests and say ‘this is why I want this job’ so we can hold them responsible when they falter. The people shortchange themselves when they demand anything less.