By now, it should be clear to everyone that the All Progressives Congress (APC) of 2019 is not the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of 2015. The APC that is conducting next month’s presidential election is not a band that pampers the enemy nor is it a pride of lions that raids and sells its members to rival predators. It is not a bobo nice and it does not pretend to be nice. It is not meek and is not pretending to be gentle. It won’t lose the coming polls and it won’t agree to any loss. The same goes for APC’s candidate, Muhammadu Buhari. He may be old and aged, but he is not stupid. He is not tired of being president like someone he upstaged. He has no ambition to become a martyr and therefore won’t offer himself to be nailed to the cross for some ill-defined democracy. He was born to lead, to rule and that has been his portion since the beginning of time.
President Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, is a very brilliant man. He can, in one short sentence, deliver a thick brew of sarcasm and satire and irony and other ingredients of hemlock for the side he chooses to fight. He said last Thursday that PDP scored an own goal with the rave of the moment, Amina Zakari’s INEC appointment. I agree completely and totally with him. PDP is rugged but uses its strong lung to score wrong goals. It fires into its own net in order to be in bed with the luscious, sultry enemy. Scoring own goals is PDP’s area of core competence and the enemy knows and works on it. That is why the ball is always pushed into PDP’s penalty area knowing it would finish the job for the enemy.
It set up the ICPC and the EFCC but never knew how to use those weapons to catch the very many pilferers in the other house. The laws it made were very useful in fighting domestic wars and effecting seasonal in-house cleansing and purging. The APC is not that foolish. It has power and knows how to use it to grow its networth. It knows what it means to have power and what it means to lose power. So, in vain is the hope of anyone who thinks the noise of the past few days would make someone remove someone from INEC. It won’t happen. If the opposition is desirous of winning any election, it should design its own fool-proof war plan. It has to be a war plan because the APC candidate is a general. He was not trained to go to battle and lose his head there. He was trained to fight, win and come home with loads of loot.
You desire to become a chief and you set out showing your rival the way to the king’s heart. You will never be. PDP’s Goodluck Jonathan did that and kissed the canvass. He taught his opponents how to defeat him and they did it very comprehensively. Years after, his party is still panting, fasting and praying to be weaned of the curse. Was it overconfidence or was the former president under a spell when he contacted his enemies one by one, from Daura to Lagos, asking them to donate their relations and friends for appointment as election umpires? You are preparing for a war and you think it is a winning strategy to give your armour to the enemy. Who does that except the one who is tired of everything? Before this case, I had not heard of a human being opting for suicide as a short-cut to being loved and canonized by his enemies. The PDP man loved his foes so fondly that even they loudly announced their shock at his lion turning out a lamb.
Buhari is not like PDP’s fifty-something-year-old lucky man who was so tired of being president that he went about recruiting foes and handing them keys to the source of his power. He head-hunted and massed “unknown” people into INEC. One of those is Mrs Amina Zakari, Princess of Kazaure, Jigawa State. She was the news throughout last week. She will be in the news for as long as Buhari is in the February 16 presidential race. PDP wants her sacked from INEC but her clan is fighting her war. She never lobbied to be made an INEC commissioner, rather, it was PDP’s Jonathan that begged her to come play ball. PDP should learn to live with this consequence of Jonathan’s action. Jonathan did more. He also put some in the police. One of them was the inspector-general he appointed but who followed his opponent to publicly rejoice at his fall from power. Think of this and the news that the current inspector-general is due for retirement — days to an all-important presidential election. He won’t retire now. He must and will wait and finish what was started four years ago. That is how to do it.
I have read stories of Buhari’s elder sister marrying an emir who was Amina’s daddy. I have listened to her claim that Buhari isn’t her uncle nor is he her cousin. I have read dictionary arguments that the daughter of a brother-in-law is a niece. I have read snippets saying that Buhari, in his youth, lived in Amina’s dad’s palace. I have heard that her blood brother is the current minister representing Jigawa State in Buhari’s government. But, even if all these are true, what has the opposition done with them? Wailing and crying? The APC and its president are not the Wall of Jericho; they are fortified against disruptive cries. They are going ahead with their carefully drawn battle plan; if you don’t like it, the Lagoon is waiting to receive you.
Even without Amina Zakari in INEC, the opposition still need extra energy to finish what they have started. Buhari is a strongman breathing down on a gasping nation. By popular demand, his hurricane rushed out PDP and its tired president four years ago. The power of that hurricane may have been considerably reduced by the wear-and-tear of (mis)used energy, but the power holder does not believe anything has changed. His market is still full. He boasts and dares anyone to hold an opinion that puts a lie to his. That is the world of strongmen.
Writing in Time magazine in May 2018, Ian Bremmer said humanity has arrived the shore of puritanical macho leaders: “In every region of the world, changing times have boosted public demand for more muscular, assertive leadership. These tough-talking populists promise to protect “us” from “them.” Depending on who’s talking, “them” can mean the corrupt elite or the grasping poor; foreigners or members of racial, ethnic or religious minorities; or disloyal politicians, bureaucrats, bankers or judges, or lying reporters. Out of this divide, a new archetype of leader has emerged. We’re now in the strongman era.” Buhari fits right here. He is saving us from the past – all the past – except his own part of the past. If you ask him, he will beat his chest and say 20 years from now, his mountain will be in the Villa, immovable. And that will be because strongmen don’t lose elections, they don’t quit – even with court orders- they stay. They don’t go home; power is their home.
So, please, let the opposition (and whoever is backing it) know that this Buhari is a very hard nut. It will take more than the hammer of daily press releases and loud-sounding press conferences to crack him. The APC and its soul called Buhari must be pursued by many fit legs simultaneously if they will be overwhelmed. Like the principal villain in Adebayo Faleti’s Ogun Awitele, the ruling party, by its words and actions, is not hiding its ‘by hook or crook’ designs for the coming polls. Only strongmen do that. APC won’t do what PDP did with power – It won’t offer its hard-won presidency to the gods of the enemy. So let the opposition and the confederates seeking to sack Buhari get it into their heads that it will take more than hot air to take down their target.