Buharism and Nigeria’s irrevocable unity, By David Onmeje

2019 would indeed go down in the history of Nigeria as the year when a people spoke out loud with one voice in support of a noble cause. I recall that in the build-up to the general elections, the political permutation was that President Muhammadu Buhari would indeed lose the elections and that it was the time God has ordained for the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar.

There was so much political frenzy around the elections, so much so that in some quarters it was speculated that Nigeria might not be able to survive 2019 as a country. But they were wrong in all ramification. There was also an avowed conspiracy against the candidature of President Muhammadu Buhari from all flanks. There were the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) from the South East; there was the Niger Delta Avengers from the South-South, there was also the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) from North West and some part of North East, and even the raging Farmers/herders clashes in Northcentral. Just like the way and manner various political crisis across the country were instigated to derail him.

It was indeed too much in the cup for President Muhammadu Buhari that most political analysts gave adverse verdicts as regards his electoral chances. And at some point, it seemed we were approaching the end of the Buhari era in the politics of Nigeria. But for some reasons, President Muhammadu Buhari maintained a stance that typifies that of a father watching over his subjects. He didn’t exhibit signs of desperation, as would be expected. Instead, he chose to make fun of the whole situation. One way was when he was about casting his ballot in Daura during the elections, he made a fun stop and attempted to peep at his wife’s ballot paper. And of course, this elicited laughter from all and sundry.

The second instance was after casting his ballot, and journalists asked him if he would congratulate Atiku Abubakar if he lost the elections, of which he only responded that he would congratulate himself. And again, there was another round of laughter. You wouldn’t be wrong if you called it a season of laughter. But beyond the laughter’s, I saw a unifying figure, whose actions though intangible in some instances are meant for unifying purposes.

And alas the election results were announced, and President Muhammadu Buhari defiled all known conspiracies from the various geopolitical zones in the country. At first, it seemed like magic to some, but to me, I saw it coming and consequently warned some of my colleagues on the dangers of writing President Muhammadu Buhari off too early in the contest. But they didn’t listen. They placed all the variables on the table and made projections and postulations. But they were wrong.

But in all, they forgot that President Muhammadu Buhari represents a part of Nigeria which could be likened to the conscience of the society that encourages truth and sincerity of heart and purpose. They also forgot that what is known as Muhammadu Buhari is not a temporary phenomenon, but one that has spanned decades built on integrity.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s integrity didn’t come about in 2003, 2007, 2011 or 2015. But it has come a long way back in the annals of our country. A country he served with all integrity in times past in various categories, including as military head of state. And he indeed proved himself reliable as one with the interest of the country at heart and one who believes wholeheartedly in the unity of Nigeria.

The elections have come and gone, and it is my considered opinion that it’s time for all regardless of our ethnic and religious, as well as political affiliations to come together and make it a point that the continued growth and development of Nigeria should be our agenda. We must all admit to the fact that the incursion of ethnicity and religion into the political sphere has been the bane of the myriads of challenges encountered in the country.

It has served no good, and it would serve no good now and in the future. So the question is: shall we continue to allow religion and ethnicity to dominate our everyday life? And at the detriment of the unity of our great country? The answer is no, and the no should resonate from the north to the south, and the east and to the west, and across all hamlets and metropolis in Nigeria.

We begin to disintegrate if we see Nigeria from the prism of geographical regions. It should be neither East nor West, South nor North, but one Nigeria. I think that the Buhari victory should serve as the rallying point for the unity of Nigeria. Every well-meaning Nigerian must support this administration to succeed because this is not the time for bickering’s and trading blames. Instead, this is the time for consolidation to make Nigeria work again.

I recall in January of 1984, President Muhummadu Buhari famously said “This generation and indeed future generations of Nigerians have no other country they can call their own. We must stay here and salvage it together”. This was 35 years ago, and it is still relevant till date. We must indeed stay here and salvage it together. The unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable, and it behoves on all of us to ensure that all hands are on deck towards making Nigeria great again.

Onmeje wrote this piece from the United Kingdom.