By declaring his intention to contest the 2019 presidential election, President Muhammadu Buhari went against his words.
This declaration is no doubt in perfect compliance with his rights under the law, even though it may not accord with the wishes of many Nigerians. But it is not only the desire of Nigerians that conflicts with Buhari’s second term aspiration. Seven years ago, Buhari himself appeared not to have fancied the idea.
In an exclusive interview with Sunday Trust’s Theophilus Abbah in February, 2011, the then presidential aspirant was asked about an earlier statement where he promised to serve for only a term if elected in the April elections.
“I’m not getting younger. If I succeed and do one term, I will be 73 years old,” was his short response.
The interviewer further asked what his priorities would be in that single term in office, and he said “security and power”.
“There are two issues and I have said it in one sentence. Security and power. This country has to be secured and managed. People in Nigeria must not go about fearing that they would be abducted. You must not be afraid to the point that you can’t drive from Kaduna to Kano any time of the day. If you are in Lagos, you should have jobs to the point that you can afford to have three shifts in a day.
“That is eight hours each. But people are now very scared wherever they are. People have built houses worth over a billion naira, but they are afraid to live in them. What is the use? So, security is number one.
“Number two is structure. We have to revive the electricity sector so that people will have access to power to carry out their businesses. Others include the roads, the railways, the shipping lines. We used to have all these things. In spite of what we earned in the last eleven years, the whole infrastructure has already collapsed.”
Goodluck Jonathan eventually won that election, leading Muhammadu Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) by over 10 million votes.
Today, not only is Buhari “not getting younger”, he is 75 years old and will be 76 by the time his first term elapses ― an additional three or four years to what he anticipated. Hence the need to ask, what has changed?
The twist in plot is not too surprisingconsidering that Buhari also vowed amid tears in 2011, after his defeat at the polls, that he would not seek election as President any longer. He eventually changed his mind and did exactly so in 2015.
“This campaign is the third and last one for me; since, after it, I will not present myself again for election into the office of the President,” he had said.