By Our Correspondent
It happened with the swiftness and decisiveness of lightening. One moment a motley gang of Chadian insurgents had been raiding some Nigerian border communities, fleecing and wounding the defenceless inhabitants intermittently. The next moment a platoon of well armed Nigerian soldiers marched into the enemy’s territory in an operation that caught all and sundry unaware.
By the time the dust raised by that Quick-Fire Operation had subsided, astonishment and “wonderment” reigned supreme. How had that military operation been conceived and executed with such precision? Many wondered. And, more significantly, who had approved the dare-devil foray into a foreign territory? Did the General Officer Commanding (GOC) that division – a certain Muhammadu Buhari – act on his own initiative, or did he act with the approval of the then President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, Alhaji Shehu Shagari?
For months, nay years, after that dramatic episode speculations swirled across the land in respect of who really authorised the somewhat audacious strike at the soft underbelly of the Chadian insurgents. But one thing was not in dispute: the troop which was under Buhari’s command, had executed its mission so successfully that the sons of dog from Chad never dared to trouble their Nigerian neighbours again. In fact, that country’s government was reportedly so very rattled by the Nigerian reprisal that it embarked on some proactive steps with a view to bridling the troublesome insurgents.
With such antecedent, few were surprised when on mounting the saddle as Head of State a few years later, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari took a number of drastic actions which reinforced his reputation as a no-nonsense, courageous and even audacious warrior. A man who loathes can’t and hypocrisy with abiding passion, Buhari would rather take action and risk making a mistake or stepping on toes than sit on the fence.
Against this backdrop, the retired general has reportedly resolved to not only give the forthcoming presidential poll “his very best shoot”, but put all he can muster into the contest. “With the benefit of his previous three presidential campaigns to count, he has decided to not only make this coming race his final contest for the post, but go the extra mile like never before”, said one of his aides who spoke to DESERT HERALD in confidence.
Interestingly, even before the recent primary poll of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Buhari had demonstrated his capacity to go for broke. With APC’s presidential expression of interest form selling for a princely N27 million, many were interested in seeing how the austere soldier–turned-politician would afford the bill. He eventually did so by reportedly mortgaging one of his houses in order to secure a N27 million bank loan.
In his previous three attempts at Nigeria’s most coveted political crown the retired Army Officer had contended not only with the all-encompassing power of incumbency, but also the seemingly limitless war chest of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). In a typical contest PDP would mobilise business moguls such as the Otedolas and Dangotes to donate billions of naira to its campaign fund aside from the hundreds of millions allegedly provided by government agencies and contractors alike.
Keenly aware of this reality, Buhari is said to have bowed to the clarion call by his supporters for him to allow potential donors from all walks of life to help fund his campaign. According to a chieftain of APC from Kogi State who pleaded for anonymity, his supporters and APC leaders alike “made him see reason” regarding the need to accept donations from all quarters, “as long as no abnormal or satanic strings are attached to such donations.”
Aside from welcoming such donations with open arms, Buhari is believed to have started putting in place “fool proof” structures with a view to ensuring that he wouldn’t be rigged out in the next presidential showdown. “For instance, plans are being finalised to enable us have polling agents in virtually all the Local Government Areas of Nigeria”, an insider revealed. “The idea is to use multiple means, particularly the electronic and social media, to keep vigil over all the votes to be cast during the general elections, particularly the presidential one, so to leave nothing to chance. Having been rigged out three times before, we are now battle-ready to prevent such from happening again.”
In the same vein, the Buhari camp is said to be “strategizing proactively” with a view to ensuring that millions of his supporters in the North-East, who have been displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency, wouldn’t be unable or prevented from voting in the winner-takes-all presidential poll. Asked to elaborate on how this would be done, the source close to the APC flagbearer’s campaign outfit demurred, saying simply “you just watch and see; we know that they (PDP) are banking on disenfranchising our core supporters in the Boko Haram – ravaged areas, but we have a trump card which will astound them.”
DESERT HERALD was also authoritatively informed that unlike in the previous contest when Buhari’s campaign train covered only a comparatively minimal part of Nigeria, “this time around we will definitely criss-cross all states of the federation, with some areas to be toured at least twice for maximum effect,” he added.
What makes Buhari’s chances brighter in 2015, say political analysts, is the millions of votes that he is likely to harvest from regions that had hitherto been lukewarm to his aspiration (notably the South-West and parts of the South-South and South-East) given the APC’s significant strength in these areas. What remains to be seen, though, is how Buhari can turn these assets into electoral triumph come 2015.