OPINION: Buhari: Will 2017 be kinder? By Abdulrazaq Magaji

Date: 2016-12-26

It has been one grudge fight which many knew would not be one-sided. It hasn't been! From the onset, discerning Nigerians guessed, and rightly too, that corruption, the barrel-chested and hard-hitting defending champion will change tactics. This time, corruption is not into the usual rope-a-dope that would have been to the advantage of a frail-limbed but determined opponent.

For an uppercut that momentarily got it staggered, corruption looks good to go the distance unless the administration musters the strength to throw killer punches. Corruption has done well so far and has literally silenced the vociferous crowd that has been yelling at the administration to finish off the fight. It's a crucial fight for corruption and a fairly large number of its mainly privileged supporters have invaded the arena to show solidarity!

Alongside the fumbling Goodluck Jonathan crowd, corruption was the other sore loser after the 2015 general elections. No one thought sore losers will capitulate and gather themselves in a corner to lick their wounds. They haven't. But, for the first time since the return to participatory democracy in 1999, one issue on which most Nigerians find common ground lies in the fact that, in President Muhammadu Buhari and his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, they have leaders on whose honour anyone could swear.

Another common ground is found in the fact that Nigeria is on the rise again! Years of mindless despoliation and criminal display of impunity which rose from crass leadership deficit and which turned Africa's supposed power house into a regional and global pariah is gradually being consigned to history. Nigeria is recovering its long-lost voice; it may not be loud and clear yet, but it is strident enough to be heard by the international community. In a manner of speech, Nigeria has returned to the table!

Implacable compatriots who are denied by their blinkers to appreciate the emerging new Nigeria must have bellyached to no end at a recent allusion to a landslide victory for President Buhari if he decides to run in 2019. The recent allusion to a Buhari landslide victory by former PDP national chairman, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, a retired colonel and Obasanjo military era minister (federal commissioner) of education must have surprised only those with eyes that do not see! For the first time in a long while, you could almost hear Nigerians chanting 'Ali must not go!'

Reason is that the top PDP man posited his prediction on the painstaking socio-economic engineering of the Buhari/Osinbajo administration which he reasoned will begin to yield dividends from 2017. It was based on this assessment that Dr. Ahmadu Ali brusquely told Nigerians who live in perpetual denial of the emerging Nigeria to take off their blinkers! Colonel Ali just reminded Nigerians that the era of deception so promoted by the now-dispersed PDP fumbling crowd, of which he was a great player, is gone for good.

It may appear belated but, by finally taking off his blinkers in the evening of his life and refusing to celebrate PDP's decade and half long mediocrity, Dr. Ahmadu Ali has thrown a challenge to his colleagues! It is a challenge that has already been spurned by two divergent groups. The first group, made up of Nigerian Muslims and Christians is queerly led, encouraged and goaded on by supposedly enlightened and supposedly well-read Nigerians who, but for some curious reasons, should be sharing the platform with President Muhammadu Buhari, a man whose life is a virtual open book.

The second group, also made up of Nigerian Muslims and Christians spread across the country, is understandably made up of thieves in public office and complicit leeches in the private sector who are united in their desire to frustrate the emergence of a new Nigeria. It remains a mystery how the divergent groups found a common platform but for now, they have found an unlikely ally in their sterile ''Buhari is evil'' chorus in a religious rabble that pride themselves in insubordination to constituted authority. Sad!

In and out of power, General Buhari's incorruptibility, his forthrightness and his transparency speak for him in a country best known for ill-prepared, unprepared and clueless leaders. This probably explains why he remains one of the few prominent Nigerians, indeed the only Nigerian leader, to be spared by the late rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi. And which also explains why former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, despite his caustic tongue distinguished President Buhari for praise. None of those programmed to hate him calls President Buhari a thief.

As with all standard bearers, President Buhari's main crime is not refusing to steal when he had all the chances in the world to loot the treasury! No! After all there are many other Nigerians like him in that regard. His crime, and for which many have vowed to fight him for life is that he will not even allow criminals a breathing space! He will not steal and basic knowledge teaches that unrepentant thieves resist any system intended at exposing and sanctioning theft! It is hardly surprising that opponents of a sane Nigeria and parasites who can barely survive without hijacking public funds, are fighting back now that President Buhari is, against all odds, sure-footedly and diligently executing the presidency.

Part of the fight was to depict the president as a religious bigot. Sadly, the unacceptably high illiteracy rate in Nigeria has not helped in clearing General Buhari of this false charge and gullible Nigerians continue to see the president from the picture that corrupt Nigerians have painted of him. When Buhari/Osinbajo administration pledged to stop treasury looters from running the nation aground, all the administration meant was to plug leakages holes deliberately bored in the system to loot public funds.

All the administration asked for and, all the administration believes Nigerians deserve, is a dedicated, committed and exemplary leadership which is providing. Unfortunately, Nigerians continued to beat about the bush until the problem got out of hand before extending the invitation to President Buhari to rescue the nation. It is to the eternal luck of Nigerians that the onerous task of pulling Nigeria from the precipice where it was dumped by a thieving political class lies with the Buhari/Osinbajo administration; not with those programmed to despise the administration.

This is enough reason why 2017 inspires hope...and confidence!

Magaji is based in Abuja and can be reached at

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