by Stanley Azuakola
Muhammadu Buhari has tried three times to be Nigeria’s civilian president and each time he has failed. The main reason his team has given for his lack of success is the recurring issue of election rigging which has almost always characterised Nigeria’s elections.
The other reason, which his team does not usually publicly dwell on is that Buhari was simply not a generally accepted candidate. While his popularity and following in the core North is unrivalled, the reverse is the case in several states in the South due to the retired general’s perceived extremism.
For example, Buhari has been criticised several times for not coming out strongly enough to condemn the onslaught against Nigerians which is being perpetrated by Boko Haram. Whereas there are few records of Buhari condemning the attacks, some of his critics claim that his statements have not been far reaching enough and seem to always stop short of an outright condemnation.
Recently, Buhari has been toning down on his hardline image. Just before his recent defection to the APC, former vice president Atiku Abubakar, revealed that Buhari’s new readiness to negotiate and compromise was a subject of discussion between him and APC leader, Bola Tinibu. If there was any doubt about the new and more politically savvy Buhari, his visit, alongside other APC leaders to former president Olusegun Obasanjo in late 2013, laid it to rest.
However in case any doubters remained, Buhari’s action last weekend could serve as final proof. Following the massacre in eight Borno communities by the Boko Haram sect, which has so far claimed over 12o lives, the former Head of State forcefully condemned the continued violence of Boko Haram in Borno State.
Buhari hit at the Boko Haram ideology, describing it as devilish, senseless, and something which should not be given space in any civilized society.
He called on the security agencies and the authorities to intensify vigilance in the region.
According to Buhari, “We condemn the recent escalation of senseless violence in Borno State. Our prayers and sympathies are with the victims and their families.”
He emphasised that “There is no justification for this wanton disregard for the sanctity and dignity of human life. Any ideology that trafficks in terror and violence is a devilish ideology that has no place in a civilized society. This is the time for our security agencies and those responsible for the security and well-being of our citizens to intensify vigilance in order to mitigate future occurrences. Because, it is inconceivable that despite heavy militarization, terrorists and other criminal elements are still able to terrify the defenceless populations of those areas. May God grant us the strength and unity to overcome this.”
Without a doubt, something truly has changed about Gen. Buhari. What do you think?