Mr Johnson Podar, Director (mobilisation), of the Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO), has said that Nigeria’s masses were “crazy’’ about President Muhammadu Buhari because he was laying a solid foundation toward a glorious future for their children.
“So much propaganda has been packaged by the nation’s elites to make people hate Buhari. He has been vilified by people seeking to pit the masses against him.
“But, the more they try to demonise him, the more he is loved by the poor and the oppressed, because they know that he is their servant and hero,’’ Podar told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Sunday in Jos.
According to him, the masses like Buhari because he is a sincere leader that has shown absolute contentment.
“As a leader, once you are contented, you can pass on that attribute to your followers which will ward off desperation that is usually responsible for most human vices,’’ he said.
Podar said that Nigerians were “impressed’’ that Buhari was still a poor man after serving as governor, minister, military head of state, PTF Chairman, and even now that he is President.
“From what we have found out, the elites are jealous of Buhari because he has remained incorruptible. They are jittery because he has remained on the side of the masses and has consistently identified with their yearnings.’’
Podar said that the 2019 elections would be a straight battle between the masses and the elites.
“The masses are still ready for Buhari. The elites are fighting against that, but the masses have made up their minds because they know he cares for them.’’
The director said that Buhari had delivered on his three-point agenda of ensuring security, fighting corruption and improving the economy.
“On security, we have not attained 100 per cent, but Nigeria is far better off than when he came in.
“When we took over, Nigeria was like a country at war. Bomb blasts were common in markets, streets, Mosques and Churches. That situation has changed.
“In areas hit by violence, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), are returning to their homes. Buhari will do even more in his second term,’’ he said.
Podar said that fighting insecurity had been made even more by difficult by those benefiting from the conflicts.
“There are conflict merchants who reap from the violence. There are contractors that supply food to IDPs camps. There are also people who sell arms to fighting groups.
“We also have people that reap bountifully from hate, rumour and fear mongering. A peaceful society will throw them out of business. So, you can see the dynamics and social contradictions in this fight.’’
On corruption, he said that the menace had never been confronted so aggressively.
“Buhari has been very hard on all corrupt tendencies and elements. These days, people are afraid to collect bribes because there are consequences. We have also had situations where people denied monies and properties acquired illegally.
“It is also good to note that Buhari is being frustrated in the fight against corruption. You recall that his bid for a law to establish a special tribunal to handle corruption cases was frustrated by the National Assembly.
“He (Buhari), appears to be alone in the fight. The Legislature and Judiciary do not seem to support him. Even members of the executive arm do not seem to be comfortable with the anti-graft war.
“The soothing truth, however, is that Buhari has remained committed to ridding Nigeria of corruption in spite of all odds. That is why the masses are behind him. That is why they are ready to make all necessary sacrifices to keep him in power.
“Worldwide, Buhari has stood out as a man respected for his integrity. He is recognised and adored as a credible leader. The only snag here is that many people are feeding fat on that good name and do not share his ideals. But time is running out on such elements.’’
On the economy, Podar said that Buhari had improved the agriculture and mining sectors and reduced the over-dependence on crude oil.
“He has also entrenched a culture where Nigerians consume only the things they produce locally. That trend has minimised the tendency to import even tooth picks, as was the case in the past.
“Again, in the past, people used our taxes to service themselves. No more. Now, our resources are being sunk into positive projects like the Railways and the textile industries,’’ he said.
On alleged nepotism in appointments, Podar blamed such allegations on mutual distrust among Nigerians.
“In leadership, you bring in people that will contribute to your ideology. People that are assets. Nigeria comes first, not where the appointee comes from.
“As a nation seeking to grow, we must emphasise merit and avoid discrimination on the grounds of tribe, religion or other mundane considerations.
“Credibility and competence should be the priority. If one can deliver, where he or she comes from is immaterial. Generally, such sentiments are whipped up by elites to divide Nigerians. The masses must reject attempts to pit them against each other,’’ Podar said.