By GEORGE ONMONYA DANIEL
General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) is one of the most revered Hausa/Fulani leader in recent history. The recent Buhari phenomenon is as a result of series of event that took place in Nigeria since 1999. After General Sani Abacha and MKO Abiola’s myterious demise, General Ibrahim Babangida indirectly took over power again through his childhood friend General Abdulsalami Abubakar. IBB who could not handover power to a democratically elected government ensued Abdulsalami Abubakar did in 1999. IBB was the brain behind the handing over power to Olusegun Obasanjo. Obasanjo was supposed to spend his first tenure and handover to the North and IBB had the ambition of ruling Nigeria again. However after four years Atiku Abubakar, Obasanjo’s assistant, had risen to a very powerful man who had his eyes on the throne. After his first tenure Obasanjo pleaded with Atiku for a second term and Atiku eventually agreed. The North did not forgive Atiku Abubakar for a long time.
In the 2003 election the North overwhelmingly voted the opposition ANPP which Muhammadu Buhari was presidential candidate. The reason was because of the sentiment that it was the turn of the North. Obasanjo won and spent another four years. In 2007 Olusegun Obasanjo’s PDP chose Umar Musa Yar’adua as its candidate. In a very controversial election Umar Musa Yar’adua won on the plateform of the PDP. Muhammadu Buhari lost again. Yar’adua won the case in court later but the man did not last. He was very sick and eventually died in office. His assistant Goodluck Jonathan became the president after Yar’adua’s demise. You all know the drama that happened when Yar’adua was ill and how some people hijacked Aso Rock and didn’t want the Vice President to takeover. Immediately Yar’adua’s demise, opportunist PDP members saw an avenue of taking over power again. IBB, Atiku, Gusau, Saraki, all Northern Nigerian politicians in Goodluck Jonathan’s party were eyeing Aso Rock so they started the media campaign to pressure Jonathan not to contest in 2011 after the end of Umar Musa Yar’adua’s tenure. The reason was that there was an agreement in the PDP that it was Northern Nigerian tenure and Yar’adua died in office so power should return to the North. The Northern Nigerian candidates in the PDP teamed up under the Northern Alliance that eventually choose Atiku Abubakar to represent the North but Atiku Abubakar lost at the PDP convention and the Party retained Goodluck Jonathan as their candidate in 2011. Northern Nigerians felt cheated. Their attention shifted to General Muhammadu Buhari’s new party, the CPC.
Muhammadu Buhari who had problem with the ANPP had left to form his own party, the CPC. The ANPP ticket was won by former Kano State Governor, Ibrahim Shekarau. The ACN, which was the other opposition party picked former anti-corruption boss, Nuhu Ribadu, as their candidate. The North’s candidate was Buhari. The North felt cheated.
After the 2011 presidential election, the North caught fire as the news flittered in that Goodluck Jonathan was leading and will eventually win. Buhari’s supporters were not happy. The mayhem did not stop Goodluck Jonathan from being declared president.
The North never forgave Goodluck Jonathan for what they termed as stealing their chance under the zoning arrangement and everyday Muhammadu Buhari’s profile continued to rise and rise.
The problem is that Muhammadu Buhari did not enjoy such mass followership among Northern Nigerian Christians and Southerners. His popularity ends with his people. A lot of Christians don’t trust Muhammadu Buhari and would go ahead to vote Goodluck Jonathan instead of Buhar even in 2015. Buhari’s image makers have not been able to sell the man to the whole nation. So for now Muhammadu Buhari remains the man of his people and not the man of the people.