Last October after the APC presidential primaries, I tweeted these words ‘I will never vote Buhari.’ I had my reasons, the major one being my conviction that voting a former military dictator does not bode well for a democracy. That same reason was why I never voted General Olusegun Obasanjo the two times he contested and won. The same reason I never voted Buhari in 2011 nor the other times he had contested. I felt that all former military dictators had had their time and it was time for us to move on.
I knew General Muhammad Buhari’s antecedents and track record, that of the upright, somewhat rigid no-nonsense former military man who did not compromise his values or his integrity. He had always run on an anti-corruption campaign platform with the aura of someone who did not mind to go it alone if that was what was required of him. I admired that, but I was not convinced that was all that was required for me to give him my vote. Especially not after the massacre that took place during the 2011 elections and all the inciting statements that were attributed to him.
Up until February 8th, I had not decided whom I would vote or rather, I had decided I would vote neither Buhari nor the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan but I did not have any other candidate. Sometimes, I toyed with the idea of voting Oluremi Sonaiya of KOWA Party but I did not know her track record. As for Jonathan, I did not vote him in 2011 and it felt like in the 4 years since then he had proven why I thought it was a bad idea to not vote him. From mismanaging the economy to mishandling that nation’s security challenges, Jonathan has proven himself to be an incompetent leader.
The abduction of the Chibok girls and the loss of Nigeria’s territories to insurgency due to mostly a lack of political will to tackle it convinced me that Jonathan does not have what it takes to remain president. I have a 5 year-old somewhat precocious daughter, she has a mouth on her. Recently whilst we were driving somewhere, Kaline’s song ‘Bring Them Home’ (a tribute to the Chibok girls) came on the radio. My daughter said to me somberly,
‘Mommy, if somebody took me away from you, I would miss you so much?’
It saddened me that Nigeria had become a country where a 5 year-old could live under the apprehension that some unknown persons could come steal her away from her family. Who should get the blame for that if not the nation’s chief security officer, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan? On top of all of this, to me the biggest testament to Jonathan’s failure as a president is the fact that Buhari has become a viable alternative.
However, Buhari has not just become the viable alternative because of Jonathan’s incompetence but also because this time he has aligned himself with a competent, accomplished team. His campaign team has the right mix of technocrats and politicians. His choice of Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Professor of Law and a former attorney general of Lagos, as vice presidential candidate speaks volumes. The first time I encountered Osinbajo was in March 2013 when he held a meeting with some social media influencers. He spoke so eloquently about the APC’s plans and with a deep understanding of Nigeria’s challenges and how they could be tackled. I left that meeting hoping he would one day be able to work for Nigeria at the national level. I was impressed when Buhari chose him as running mate.
I am not religious so my vote will not be based on religion. I am a nationalist so my vote will not be based on ethnic sentiments. Yet my vote will be based on sentiments, it will be based on emotions, on love for my country, love for my child and for myself. I do not want my beloved country to continue down this path of perdition, I still want my daughter to have a place she calls home 20 years from now. Buhari with his current team can put a stop this journey towards destruction. For this reason, I choose General Muhammad Buhari, to bring Nigeria back to the right path.