I sincerely don’t know what to make of Dr. Vladimir “The Black Russian” Antwi-Danso’s rather “buttinskyistic” assertion that going into the Saturday, March 28’s Nigerian general election, President Goodluck Jonathan was hell-bent on rigging the polls in his favor. Talk of minding your own damn frigging domestic affairs; my profuse apologies to my dear good, old Uncle Tarkwa-Atta. The implicit claim here, of course, is that as an incumbent, the zoologist-turned-politician “will manipulate the votes in his favor” (See “Nigerian Elections: Goodluck Jonathan Will Rig Polls – Antwi-Danso” MyJoyOnline.com 3/26/15).
What I am interested in learning from Dr. Antwi-Danso is whether the Senior Research Fellow at the Legon Center for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD) believes that it is the universal law for presidential incumbents to manipulate elections in their favor, or this is essentially integral to West Africa’s sub-regional political culture. Or, perhaps, it is our generally weak institutional structures that make such polling manipulation the proverbial best game in town. My worry here, though, is the curious implication that, somehow, Gen. Mahammadu Buhari is a better alternative to President Jonathan. The catch here, and Dr. Antwi-Danso may not want to hear this, is that Gen. Buhari is a decidedly has-been brutal military dictator with the unenviable track-record of an extortionate junta leader whose tenure was auspiciously shortlived for the same reason.
We also learn that Gen. Buhari has already lost three elections; this should give the LECIAD think-tanker ample grist for a sit-up vis-a-vis the former’s public perception within the very country whose political culture he once exuberantly dominated like a colossus, in classical Shakespearean parlance. This is not in any way to imply that President Jonathan has been performing admirably, for he definitely has not by all credible indications. Still, what I find even more suspicious about the candidacy of Gen. Buhari is the fact that his most significant endorsements, to-date, have come from his fellow former junta leaders, namely, Generals Olusegun Obasanjo, himself a former dictator-cum-elected President of Nigeria, and Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, the notorious Pele and Kwaku Ananse of postcolonial Nigerian politics.
And so his allegedly iron-clad determination to clinch Election 2015 will likely not amount to the proverbial hill-of-beans. And when that happens, it would not be primarily because President Jonathan may have manipulated the polls of Africa’s most populous fledgling democracy in his favor, as the University of Ghana’s Black Russian think-tanker supposes, unless, of course, Dr. Antwi-Danso is in possession of forensically sustainable evidence to back up his claim. Rather, Gen. Buhari will lose March 28’s election because he does not have a track-record of laudable democratic leadership or the requisite diplomatic temperament for democratic leadership. Generally speaking, I have neither the sympathy nor respect for former military dictators in the lineup for democratic governance. For by and large, these rascals want to be afforded a conducive climate and the “legitimate” authority to continue with their former wantonly dissolute and pathologically corrupt ways.
Tactically using Boko Haram terror-mongering as a major plank of his campaign platform, while quite remarkable, nevertheless, will not wash because if he had any effective means of fighting off this Islamist fundamentalist menace, Gen. Buhari would long have assisted his main political rival in doing so, assuming that he was the first-rate statesman that the former Nigerian strongman claims to be. Even as I write, President Jonathan has reportedly hired some handsomely paid mercenaries from South Africa and strife-torn Ukraine to squelch the Boko Haram terror-mongering rapists. This is an inexcusable indictment on the efficacy of both the ECOWAS institutional apparatus and the leadership of the African Union.
I also don’t think that it is the business of Dr. Antwi-Danso to lecture Nigerians on how to rein in Boko Haram terror in the lead-up to that country’s Election 2015. President Jonathan and his cabinet clearly appear to be mindful of this indismissable menace, thus their decision to postpone the originally scheduled polling date by some six weeks while the Nigerian military got its act together. Of course, I am well aware of cynical comments pointing to the possibility of President Jonathan’s having afforded himself ample time and opportunity to rig Election 2015 in his favor.
Whatever the case may be, at best Nigeria could be aptly described as being politically caught between a rock and a hard place. Personally, though, I believe Gen. Buhari is more of a megalomaniacal shark than a rock to President Jonathan’s interminably bumbling hard place. I also believe Nigeria does not need to remain within the obviously functionally stultifying “geo-convenient” boundaries demarcated by the erstwhile British colonial imperialists. The example of the two Sudans, however imperfect, is, nonetheless, one worth watching and possibly emulating.
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