President Muhammadu Buhari
When Muhammadu Buhari rode on the mantra of “change” to become Nigeria’s president in 2015, the preponderance expectation among Nigerians and others interested in Nigeria’s development was that the promised change implied freshness, if not newness in all dimensions in running the affairs of Nigeria – that things would change from bad to good or from good to better. Similarly, there were thoughts arising from widely held perception that Buhari is incorruptible would manifest to a point of mauling the monsters of corruption and raking its relics anywhere in the country. There was also the thinking that the trials and travails the president had on his Damascus trip to Aso Rock was enough to make the fruits of a born-again democrat to flourish in every act of his and, by extension, deepens Nigeria’s democracy.
Arguable as it is, only few could conscientiously argue with millions of Nigerians from all parts of the country that the Muhammadu Buhari administration in the past seven years has lived up to the envisaged change. The changes one can readily point at are the worsening of our worst or the dropping of good from “top to bottom”. 
But it is incontrovertible that at the 2022 edition of the APC Presidential Convention, which was Nigeria’s version of Super Tuesday, the president effected change worth cherishing by all lovers of democracy. The event that produced former Lagos State governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to fly the flag of the party in 2023 Presidential Election saw Buhari recording a continental change. 
The abnormality in a democratic environment, whereby individuals cash-in on awesome power of incumbency to foist leaders on the people, tends to be a rule and not exception in Nigeria. While Olusegun Obasanjo, the only Nigerian so far that completed his full constitutional two-term limit of eight years is also the only Nigerian president that used dictatorial fiat to produce successors, it has become a rule for governors across the 36 states to impose their successors since 2007. 
It has become commonsensical for those seeking elected offices to place emphasis on winning the heart of the respective governors or godfathers than wooing the people constituting the electorate. Tinubu himself is a towering example of how democracy at the state level has been turned to demigod craving or demigod crazy. He receives credits for singlehandedly installing governors of Lagos State since 2007 till date.
Since 1999, the APC presidential nomination process is the first time Tinubu convincingly emerges the choice of the people. His governorship nomination in Alliance for Democracy (AD) for 1999 governorship election was marred with waiyo and wuru-wuru, leading to wahala that irredeemably severed his relationship with the other contestants – Funso Williams and his estranged Deputy Governor Kofo Bucknor Akerele.
Nigeria’s current civil rule is replete with evidences exemplifying futility in foisting leaders on the people. From Lagos to Akwa Ibom, Enugu to Kano, Edo to Sokoto, Zamfara to Abia, the story of political enmity between godfathers and godsons are the same. Though there was no evidential substance of frosty relationship between Obasanjo and Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the latter was outright in discontinuation of certain economic programmes initiated under the watch of the former. 
Upon the foregoing, successive state governors do not learn any lesson in checking their impunity in leadership recruitment processes. In fairness, apart from 2006, PDP has been having appreciable level of presidential primaries since 1998 and APC has followed suit in 2014 and 2022, but at the state level even internal democracy across party lines is still being impaired by imperiousness of godfathers and other kingmakers.  
Tinubu may not be the best among those that jostled for the sole presidential ticket of the party. But whether the person emerging from the APC presidential convention is adjudged good or bad, it counts less to evaluation of democracy. It must be acknowledged that democracy does not guarantee emergence of a perfect person or the best among men and women. In sync with the meaning and core value of democracy, which revolves around the people, the glory and goodness of democracy lie in popular wishes of the people prevailing at any democratic environment.
Further, the beauty of democracy is that when the ugliness of the choice of the people rears its ugly head the consequences are burnt by the people, including those who opted for the leader in question, the same way the people rejoice when good ones are on throne. Simply put, the resultant effect of freedom of choice is as the jargonised phrase in computer postulated: garbage in garbage out. 
From events culminating the APC presidential primary, it was glaring that a number of options that would have again made mess of Nigeria’s democracy were conceptualized but they died at their formative or infant stages. Attempt to smuggle former President Goodluck Jonathan into the APC and made him to instantaneously become the 2023 presidential product of the party could not withstand market-place hullabaloo from Nigerians frowning at smuggling. Buhari’s proposal to imitate state governors in installing godsons as a mark of reciprocal failed to move beyond the discussion table. APC’s National Chairman’s, Abdullahi Adamu’s coup-like shot to present Senate President Ahmad Lawan on the guise of consensus candidate died the minute it was given birth to.
While Tinubu’s tenacity, which undoubtedly substantially factored into the non-presidential imposition of the APC candidate, is a topic of its own for another day, it is pertinent to hastily add here that political gladiators have lessons to learn from the APC presidential candidate’s doggedness for the purpose of not just to achieve personal interest but to ensuring the strengthening of our system from its crooked path.
Undoubtedly, though, as a citizen, it falls within the president’s democratic rights to support anyone that pleases him for any leadership position, but such rights must be exercised within the purview of laid down rules and without suppressing the liberty of others. Gratifyingly, the president did not fall foul of that and because he was able to keep his card close to his chest, his preferred aspirant remains in realm of imagination. 
The anomalous norm of imposition of leaders has become new normal in Nigeria such that those who tried but failed to impose successors are classified among failures. In some quarters Buhari is classified among losers for refusal to drive his original bid of producing his preferred aspirant to fly the flag of the party. Considering that not foisting a presidential candidate for the APC is a personal failure on the part of the president, such failure is worth getting for it has made Buhari a world-wide winner for democracy. For allowing the wishes APC faithful, demonstrated through the votes of the party delegates at the convention to sail through, Buhari remains the hero of 2022 Presidential Convention of the APC.
Indeed, democracy is advancing in Nigeria. If, since independence in 1960, Nigeria’s democracy had not been intermittently truncated and scuttled by military politicians and their civilian collaborators, including Buhari, the country would have attained enviable status among comity of democratic nations long before now.
The positive change made by the President is one change not worth changing. It is a turning point at the twilight of Buhari’s life. Provided he would keep it up throughout the course of 2023 general elections, it will significantly redefine his place in history and serves as yardstick for benchmarking past, present and future Nigerian political leaders at all levels of government in the country.
Ekanem sent this piece from Lagos through nsikak4media@gmail.com

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