By FEMI ADESINA
There are two options for those in contention for the presidency in 2019: run, or run away. Now that President Muhammadu Buhari has indicated his intention to run, dwarfs trying to wear a giant’s shoes should simply run away. The cat has returned from a journey, let the rats scamper for safety.
Show clean pairs of heels? But this is a democracy! Everybody is free to run in the direction he or she fancies. True. So, what I’ve said is mere advice, which they can take, or choose not to take. Nigerians will decide early next year. The greater the challenge, the sweeter the victory.
I have always said it privately and in public. If President Muhammadu Buhari decides to run for a second term in 2019, I would support him. It doesn’t matter whether I am in government or not. For some of us, the man Buhari is a conviction, a resolution, a man to admire and adore since 1984, when he became military head of state.
Is he perfect? Show me the man who is. Is he running a perfect government? Show me the government which is. Is he sincere? Very. Does he love the country? Dearly. Will he take Nigeria to the Promised Land? As the good Lord helps. And he is on the way there. Does he need more time? Sure, he does. The rot was too much, benumbing.
Nigeria is doing a lot more with a lot less today. There was a time we were awash with money. Oil sold for as high as $120 dollars per barrel, and we produced up to two million barrels per day. For many years. But we had no roads, no electricity, no health care, no security, nothing. The money was simply looted. They sat round the table, as if gathered for lunch, and hundreds of billions of dollars were shared.
Now, after oil prices crashed to as low as 30 dollars per barrel in 2015, and currently oscillates between 50 and 60 dollars, Nigeria is doing great things. Electricity has been taken to over 7,000 megawatts, from the inherited 3,000. The economy is now being truly diversified, after five decades of lip service. Agriculture is now the second biggest thing after oil, and is poised to become number one in the not too distant future. Farmers, in their millions, now smile to the banks. The farmer is now king. He sends himself on pilgrimage to Mecca or Jerusalem, paying his own way. Those who want more wives among them have even taken. And not on credit. Lol.
With income standing at about 60% less than what we used to earn, N1.3 trillion was spent on capital in 2016. The 2017 budget will close with about the same amount being expended on capital projects. Simply because you have a honest man in leadership. Not that corruption has been wiped out, no, but it has been drastically curbed. And anyone serving with the man knows that stealing is now corruption. When fish rots, it starts from the head. But we now have a head that shows the way. Mai Gaskiya. The Honest Man. Shine the light, and people will find the way.
How about our foreign reserves? They say we should stop talking about the past, and simply face the future. So that Nigerians would not be reminded of how they ran the country into a hole? With oil at its highest prices for many years, what they left in foreign reserves was a miserly $29.6 billion. It dropped to as low as $24 billion about a year ago, because of collapsed oil prices. But then, by divine mercies, prices began to inch up in the international market. It reached $60 per barrel, just about half of what they earned for many years. We cut unbridled importation of what can be produced locally. Prudence became the watchword. And foreign reserves now stand at over $46 billion. Why? Simply because the money is not being pocketed by those in power, as it once happened.
And then, some voodoo priests came: don’t run for a second term. Give way to younger people. Take a well deserved rest. Blah blah blah. As if they were the beginning and end of democracy. The motive was simple: we must dissuade this man from running, so that he wouldn’t become the greatest ever Nigerian leader. He must not become the authentic national hero. All types of cards were being flashed, yellow, green, red, purple, as if they had become emergency referees. But President Buhari kept his peace. No abuse for abuse, no railing for railing. When you are in the marketplace, you concentrate on the person you are transacting a deal with, and ignore the noise of the market. Now, the Tower of Babel has been resoundingly ignored, and democracy will be the victor.
Early next year, Nigerians will decide what they want. Go ahead on the journey to Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey, or go back to Egypt, a land of eternal bondage, and excruciating pains? Nigerians will do it again. They will freely elect the leader they want, without pandering to ethnic, religious, and other primordial sentiments being currently whipped up. There will be no doomsday, as the election will be free and fair. No wuru-wuru or mago-mago under Buhari’s watch, no matter what. A man that swears to his own hurt.
Nigerians, President Buhari is on the march again. For the sake of our tomorrow and the ages to come, for the sake of our children and generations yet unborn, let’s do it again.
Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity