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Again, Buhari for 2019?, By Abdullahi M. Gulloma

President Muhammadu Buhari, in all respects, has paid his dues in the unfolding political era. Yet, there are many, and they are right in their own feelings and assessment of political happenings, who do not want, for several reasons, to entertain the thought of Buhari vying again for president come 2019.
Still, many others see Buhari as the man who can effectively move the country away from the decadence which his two-and half-year administration has inherited from the previous Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administrations.
But is Buhari interested in continuing as President after his first tenure of office ends in less than two years? Though he has not made any categorical statement on his next political destination, his recent engagements tend to affirm his willingness to remain in office.
Lest it’s forgotten, the President, after what before now appeared to many in the South-East zone to be his contempt for the Igbo nation, has agreed to pay a visit to the zone soon. Of course, the visit could only precede the President’s order that ailing Alex Ekwueme, a former Vice President, be flown abroad for medical treatment.
Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, said that Buhari gave the order after he received a brief on the medical condition of the former Vice President. Shehu explained that the approval given by the President would cover the cost of chartering an air ambulance for the journey and the cost of his treatment.
Agreed, these presidential gestures may not be enough to appease the Igbo, but they will go a long way in telling all and the Igbo, in particular, that theirs is not a forgotten region. For others in the country, the gestures will no doubt send a clear signal yet that the President has not only moved further away from his rigid past, but could, as political exigency demands, bend backwards to achieve a political victory.
Other than these developments, the President had in very recent past held series of meetings with notable politicians across the country. Tellingly, Buhari held a close-door meeting with the Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki; the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and the APC leader, Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The meetings took place shortly before the APC held its NEC meeting, where the issue of Buhari’s endorsement for a second term was raised.
Yet, the biggest indicator that the President could throw his hat in the ring in 2019 was given at the APC NEC meeting when he disclosed his intention to have a rather bloated cabinet. The President, who described the current Federal Executive Council as compact, said that he would expand it to accommodate fresh ideas. He said that the FEC would be expanded to bring in more support at the federal level.
The President also expressed regrets over his inability to constitute boards of a lot of federal government agencies since he assumed power in 2015. He said: “Last year I said we would re-constitute the boards of parastatals. I must regret the fact that we have not done so, for many reasons. Some of us in this meeting may know I had given instructions since October 2015 for this exercise to start. But there have been inordinate delays through several committees in an attempt to get the balance right and to make sure all parts of the country are equitably represented.”
Of course it can be said that while the President’s intentions are clear and meant well for the country, few months back, he would probably have sung different tone and viewed the suggestion to expand his cabinet as a means to waste resources.
But, he is now planning to do the unthinkable, and why won’t he do so, especially if it means appeasing a broad spectrum of his party supporters and place himself in good stead for 2019?
Agreed, there are complaints about Buhari’s administration, but, if the truth must be told, no government can answer the yearnings of all its citizens. An administrations can, however, largely and reasonably meet the aspirations of people, like the Buhari-led administration certainly did in many aspects.
Lest we forget, this administration was bequeathed an economy that in all sense of fairness can be said to be in a very bad state. The oil sector which is the mainstay of the nation’s economy under the immediate past administration boomed with oil prices as high as US$ 145, and peace reigned in the Niger Delta and the country earned unprecedented revenues.
The previous government spent virtually all its income on questionable recurrent expenditures and fraudulent spendings by corrupt leaders, without investing in what would grow the economy. Economies grow due to capital investment in assets like seaports, airports, power plants, railways, roads and housing. In short, the country and its money were mismanaged.
Such was the looting that even the goose that was laying the golden egg was being systematically starved. The direct contractual costs of oil produced in the form of cash calls remained unpaid. That, no doubt, explains why President Buhari was welcomed to office by demand by oil majors for US$6 billion owed by Nigeria for oil that had already been sold or stolen.
Yet, the President settled the oil majors, won their confidence and put the country, once again, on the path of greatness. Who, then, can begrudge Buhari a second term, if he so desires and if he’s as healthy as he is now?
Unquestionably, Nigeria will be better off with Buhari as its leader, particularly heading into the next few years when most of the policies and programmes of this administration would have started bearing fruits.
Agreed that an unhealthy leader, no matter how honest, committed and principled he may be, is not fit to rule, especially in a complex country like ours. It is, therefore, on this note that Nigerians must celebrate the return to good health of their President, who has shown great commitment to uplifting their status and making life better for all, with pomp and pageantry but, above all, by compensating him with their vote at the polls during the next general elections.
After all, it’s said that the beauty of democracy lies in rewarding a first term of office because it is through this system of reward that good governance can be sustained.

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