By Kunle Sanyaolu.
I believe that governance is too serious to be toyed with by meddlesome interlopers who speculate on the future at the expense of the present. To me politicians should do nothing to distract government devotion to improving the living standard of the people. This much applies to the general election coming in 2019, even though technically, the election is just about a year away.
However, the debate is rife regarding whether or not incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari should contest. Some say he is too old to stand the rigour of another election and, if he wins, another term of government. The fact that he had on two occasions during his first two years in office spent several months away on medical vacation is a reason deployed for this contention, coupled with Buhari’s own regret that he didn’t become president when he was younger.
A Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Kano State, Mauzu Magaji, while advising Buhari to stay off a second term bid, interpreted the issue about the president’s age to the effect that “even the president himself had complained about his health and age when he took over in 2015.” Buhari indeed wished he was much younger when he assumed the presidency, but that, to me, is only his appreciation that the presidency is not a holiday resort, and there is much work to do such that youthful vibrancy would have been an asset.
About his health, President Buhari did make a comment when he first went on an elongated sick leave in London, that all his life, he couldn’t remember when he had been so ill. Again, the president’s honest observation should not be regarded as a complaint to work against his desire, if any, to seek a second term. After all, many younger people go through prolonged ill health which would matter little in their future endeavour if they recovered fully.
Since Buhari returned from his last medical absence, spanning 106 days, he has mercifully been vibrant health wise, at least publicly. There really is no need to speculate about his health fitness in 2019. Life is entirely in God’s control.
If Buhari’s age and health are non-issues in his consideration for 2019, the only issue that can stop him from contesting or limits his chances is his performance as president thus far, after two and a half years. No doubt his take off was slow, as he took about six months to select his cabinet. In the remaining two years, he focused, as he had promised, on eradicating corruption and wiping out Boko Haram insurgency in the North East of the country.
It is true that those two major self-imposed assignments have proved to be intractable; but that is probably not due to the president’s sloppy attitude, but to circumstances sometimes beyond his control. For instance, the anti-corruption agencies have not done a very thorough job of investigation and prosecution of suspects, some of which have exploited the lapse to evade justice. Some lawyers and a few judges too have ‘conspired’ to work more in favour of thwarting justice than otherwise.
And for Boko Haram, Nigerians are finding out, to our chagrin, that the problem is more endemic than we imagined; and it would take more than a concerted military onslaught to completely dislodge the insurgents. Indeed, the system is breeding more Boko Haram than are being conquered. For the menace to be totally dislodged, it will require a holistic development orientation and massive education that will take years and need the input of all governments of the federation.
Be that as it may. The stolen public money that the Buhari administration has recovered, coupled with the number of top public servants either being investigated or being prosecuted, apart from a few that have been convicted, are unprecedented in Nigeria’s history. There are many lapses in the administration, but whether the record can be matched by any of the pretenders to the presidency in 2019 remains to be seen. If Buhari wants to contest, why not?
●Mr. Sanyaolu is the Chairman, Editorial Board of everyday.ng, and a Lagos-based legal practitioner.
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