THE BUHARI DILEMMA FOR APC LEADERS – Choosing Between Personal Survival VS. Progress For The Nation

By on October 17, 2014


[Dr Ope Banwo  Attorney, Public Commentator; Nigerian Ombudsman and Internet Business Expert examines the implications of the Mohammed Buhari Candidacy for the party Leaders of APC ahead of the primary elections] 

Now that the news is all over the blogosphere, and offline papers, that the much awaited Buhari Declaration for Presidency under the ticket of APC is now a reality. Yesterday, he finally came out and essentially dared the power brokers in his party to consider selecting him as their candidate for the presidential elections in 2015

buhari2Now, while the Buhari declaration is mostly welcome among many Nigerians, across party lines, his candidacy is actually a crushing dilemma for the party leaders in his party, the APC.

As my analyzing below will show, the reasons many leaders in APC must be having sleepless nights with the Buhari Declaration are fairly obvious to any observer of Nigerian politics ,and political analyst on the realities of our National politics in Nigeria.

Regardless of major attempts over the years to damage Buhari’s credibility with accusations of sponsoring Boko haram, or being an Jihadist, or hard core Islamist who would kill all Christians if we don’t embrace the Islamic religion, his popularity as the emblem of positive change, and uncompromising commitment to do the right thing for Nigeria, if given the chance. persists.

Amazingly, and against all odds, Buhari remains the only politician who seemed to have garnered fanatical supporters, from everywhere, without having any bags of rice to give them. Also contrary to accusations and suspicions of possible support for Boko Haram, Buhari still commands a great deal of respect and support from many Christians across party lines.

Now, with his formal declaration for the Presidency of Nigeria, Buhari has now created a major dilemma for his party leaders. His declared candidacy is now going to force many of his own party leaders who have been very vocal against perceived corruption by the ruling party to put their votes where their mouths are, and risk self-immolation in the process.

Everyone, from both parties, acknowledged that Buhari has a reputation for being against fraud and corruption by public officers, and if nothing else, he would need to live up to that reputation if he becomes the President of Nigeria (regardless of whatever deals he may be forced to make with his party power brokers to secure the presidency.)

With that in mind, it means that a lot of political office holders FROM ALL PARTIES have a lot to worry about with a Buhari Presidency. We all know, or at least suspect, that many of them have been involved in major frauds and corruption across the board and a Buhari Presidency would have to call them into account at some point in the next 4 years.

Nigerians have watched for 16 years as previously unknown people, some with no shoes, got into government only to become multi-billionaires overnight, and the generally down-trodden masses would be expecting Buhari to do something about that.

Even Buhari himself, regardless of loyalty to his benefactors who might give him the ticket, knows that he would have to do something about the perceived corruption across all parties when he becomes President, or forever tarnish his reputation as a reformer. Truth is, a leopard cannot change its skin regardless of the cream put on it, and as such, Buhari would not be able to help himself. He would have to cut down a lot of fat cats who have held the economy of our nation to ransom for so long, if he does not want to end up being stoned on the streets by the people who would be putting their trust in him without collecting money or bags of rice from him.

buhari and tinubuSo the question begs itself: Will the party leaders in APC, who are ultimately responsible for choosing the party flag-bearer in their party, forsake their own natural self-interest and natural self-preservation instincts, and give the party nomination to a man most likely to send them to prison when he becomes president?

Will a Bola Tinubu, who despite the great things he has done in Lagos, is still perceived by many Lagosians as the King of political Fat Cats bleeding us dry with his unbridled accumulation of wealth, be bold enough to actually support Buhari all the way to the bitter end in 2015 (and not do a midnight summersault as he did last time), knowing that a lot of his dealings both as past governor and Godfather of the current governor, may be subject to serious scrutiny?

Would Asiwaju Tinubu, even with possibility of turning around this country on the line, risk even a best case scenario that may only allow him to keep the loot he has amassed over the years, while future unconscionably payments to him by the Lagos state government would most definitely be stopped?

Furthermore, can we reasonably expect most of the current money bags in the APC, whose source of money can be traced to questionably over-inflated contracts, to support a Buhari presidency that may ultimately send them all to jail, or at best stop further payments to them on inflated contracts, when rubber meets the road and the leopard starts living up to its skin colors?

Yet, these money bags and influence peddlers have the party caucuses and party voters in a strangle hold, with the way they have shared their wealth over the last 16 years. Would these people defy natural logic, and vote for the best man Nigeria has right now to redeem itself from stagnated development, despite the fact that that may be tantamount to putting a knife to their own financial throats?

buhari and atiku2While not many people in the APC are openly talking about this, this appears to be the large elephant that would be on the convention floor of the APC. As the politicking for nomination gathers momentum, and those pressing the buttons of the eventual primary voters start calling in the due favors from those they have empowered, the real determining question would be: Do I vote for the right man to take this country forward or do I vote to protect my own source of enrichment at the expense of my people?

Ultimately, the question for the APC would come down to this: DO we Vote for Abubakar Atiku, who is largely regarded as a compromiser and pragmatist politician as well as being a major protector of the status quo, or do we vote for Mohammed Buhari, who is generally regarded as a wild-card, with a proven history of uncompromising attitude and a willpower to rock the boat of the elites.?

Yes, I repeat, as we count down to the fateful primaries of the APC in November, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and all his leaders in the APC would have to answer the ultimate question for the public in November: Do we vote for a possible reformation of Nigeria by selecting a relatively uncompromised and possibly uncompromisable leader (Buhari), OR do we vote for our own self and business interest by voting for someone who can shield us from the consequences of our corrupt past (Atiku).

Unfortunately for them, Governor Kwankwaso, as is being rumored, would NOT be a saleable compromise candidate that could help them avoid dealing with this question, if they are really serious about making a challenge for power at the Center.

Regardless of how these burning questions are answered, one thing is definitely for sure, only a Buhari candidacy could really give Goodluck Ebele Jonathan a run for his money in the 2015 Presidential Elections. If APC chose to field Atiku Abubakar, Jonathan would definitely eat him up in the general elections. Admittedly, when it comes to PARTY mobilization, Atiku may understand how to use party machinery to win the nomination against Buhari, but he can NEVER take out Jonathan at the general elections in 2015, and the reason is VERY SIMPLE.

In the minds of most people, thanks largely to an effective campaign against Atiku by Obasanjo during their feud, Atiku is now believed by most people to be cut from the same cloth as Goodluck Jonathan when it comes to corruption, dishing out patronage to cronies, and giving huge public contracts just for political purposes.

Most people believe, rightly or wrongly, that both Atiku and Johnathan are more interested in surrounding themselves with cronies to share the national cake than with development in Nigeria. Both are largely associated with large scale corruption, true or not, in the minds of most people. While I am NOT accusing them of being guilty of these things that are yet to be proved, this is nevertheless the perception of many Nigerians. If you don’t believe me, just ask the next 10 people around you.

So, when it comes down to a contest between Goodluck Jonathan and Atiku Abubakar in 2015, not only can Atiku NOT outspend Jonathan if this comes down to sharing bags of rice between him and Jonathan, Atiku also cannot assure a turnout of PASSIONATE VOTERS who could care less about whether they are paid or not.

Both Atiku and Jonathan have formidable supporters but most of their support is based on financial patronage and support, past or prospective. In essence, there is NO ideological difference between Goodluck Jonathan and Atiku Abubakar in the minds of the people, and a contest between them will come down to politics as usual, and Jonathan would win that hands-down.

buhari atiku and jonathanOn the other hand, a Mohammed Buhari does not need to outspend Jonathan in the 2015 primaries if the tussle was to between him and Jonathan. Unlike President Jonathan, whose core support is mostly based on ethnicity (the age old North vs South mentality) or crass political patronage, those who would cross party lines to support Buhari are people who BELIEVE IN HIM AND WHO ARE NOT EXPECTING ANY PATRONAGE FROM HIM other than for him to come and reform the rut in our country.

So, a fight between Jonathan and Buhari in 2015 would be a fight between money power and people power. It would be a tussle between politics as usual and politics of principle. The contest between Buhari and Jonathan would definitely be a tussle of ideology since both are clearly PERCIEVED DIFFERENTTLY in the minds of most people. In such a JONATHAN VS BUHARI scenario, there is a REAL opportunity for REAL CHOICE.

While ultimately, Buhari may still not be able to defeat Goodluck Jonathan IN 2015 IF THEY WERE TO GO HEAD TO HEAD, it would definitely be a titanic battle for the ages that would be worth the time and effort of everyone involved in it.

Yes, President Jonathan may have all the money to cause major damage on the political field, in a country with our level of wide-spread poverty where ‘belly interest’ often has to fight against ‘progressive interest’, and where ‘stomach infrastructure sometimes defeats progressive infrastructure’, but Buhari also brings something to the political war, that money cannot buy. So, neither side can be assured of an easy victory.

Buhari, without much effort on his part, has developed a passionate following over the years that could be traced to his stint in power in 1984. His die-hard supporters would not only show up to vote, they would also not be persuaded to change their minds by N1, 000 notes on Election Day. They would defend their votes against the money bags, and most definitely resist any attempt to rig the elections regardless of their personal safety. So, to keep any victory against a Buhari candidacy, Goodluck Jonathan would have to win fair and square.

In such a scenario, it would be very difficult for the war chest of Goodluck Jonathan, rumored to be in the trillions of naira, to contend against the die-hard passion of the supporters of the opponent. His most formidable financial arsenal would be largely ineffective against the core of Buhari supporters. Fanatical supporters of Buhari will NOT be dissuaded by money while those of Atiku can be easily taken away by bigger bags of rice from the sitting president.buhari and jonathan2

Essentially, a contest between Mohammed Buhari and President Jonathan would be a contest of Irresistible force vs Immovable force.

So, leaders of APC, please give us a memorable election and let Mohammed Buhari go against Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in 2015 and let Nigerians enjoy an epic battle for their very existence as a people. Let money-power go against passion-power regardless of your personal financial interest, and may the best man win.

This may be hard talk, but its true talk all the same.


[Dr Ope Banwo is a fearless Attorney, Public Commentator; Nigerian Ombudsman and Internet Business Expert. You can read more incisive analysis from him at]

About Dr. Ope Banwo

Dr. Ope Banwo is an Attorney; Pastor; Business Consultant; Author; Motivational Speaker, and Corporate Solutions Provider. He holds several degrees in Law including a Bachelors, Masters and a Ph.D. He was admitted to the Nigerian Bar (1986), New York Bar (1997) and Federal Court of Nebraska (1997) in the United States. Ope Banwo has written several published books on different topics over the years including bestsellers in Christianity; Lifestyle; and Business such as The Kingdompreneur, Overcoming The Gideon Complex, The Kingdom Citizen, The Return of The Prodigal; The Blessings of Adversity; African Internet Business Manifesto; Confessions Of A Guru-Wannabe; Social Media Marketing Genesis; Offline-Online Business Manifesto, Digital Marketing Without Tears For Company Executives etc. Deeply committed to public service and service to humanity, Dr Ope Banwo has also initiated several public initiatives including the Ghetto Dreamz Foundation to empower economically-disadvantaged Youths; The Omega Wealth Club to teach youths legitimate ways to employ themselves online; The Kingdompreneur Academy to impact Christians in Business and the Nigerian Market Ombudsman to ensure transparency, accountability and fairness in the market place.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

shared on