Ahmed Buhari will clock 40 this year. The CEO of Skylar Inc., a Lagos-based ICT company, is an indigene of Kontagora, Niger State, who prefers to be called a Nigerian. He has vowed to contest the 2019 presidency, causing a buzz on social media. He shares his aspiration, and what he would do differently if elected, in the following interview.
Daily Trust: What is the philosophy driving your decision to contest the 2019 presidency?
Ahmed Buhari: I have been gaining a lot of attention because I decided to step out of my comfort zone and ask if the system can be better than what has been presented to us. I believe Nigeria is a great country and has a lot of potentials and most of the people that we have at the helms of affairs do not truly represent the capacity and capability of what the Nigerian people can offer with regards to good governance, efficiency, and innovation. That is why I made a declaration on October 1st 2016 that I was not going to stand on the side anymore and complain or make statement of displeasure or discontent or fight people for no just cause.
I made a declaration at that point, that I was going to be running for the office of the president of this country, and from that time on, the story has changed. We have gained attraction. Initially it wasn’t interesting as it is right now because right now there are more people who want to hear more from us, hear what plans we have, go through our manifestos and see if it is in conformity with what they believe will truly take Nigeria out of its current quagmire and hopefully to a destination that would benefit all of us.
DT: What political party/platform are you contemplating?
Buhari: There are 66 political parties in the country, and we have been having discussion with most of them. I want us to try as much as possible to dissociate our mind from political party ideologies and start seeing how we can find candidates who truly have a different kind of ideology that we believe would move Nigeria forward. Most of the existing political parties that we have some sort of ideologies which most of us do not find exactly in conformity with our own ideologies. I want us to start thinking as Nigerians.
We are going to be making announcement on the political party we are going to be running with soon. We will hold a conference, a unity conference, which has been designed to not just announce a political party, but to bring together all young people and all like-minded aspirants that are going to be contesting the 2019 election, to see that we can come up with. This is to make us synergise, within a bloc of understanding that we do have a commonality in our problems, so that we don’t get carried away by partisan politics.
DT: Have you been associated with any political party before?
Buhari: I haven’t. I know I have voted in all the elections, but I have never been a hard member or staunch member of a political party. It has always been about what ideologies the candidates are bringing on board. So my votes have always cut across different parties as long as the candidates in those parties at that particular time share an aspiration that I think will benefit me or the future generation.
DT: What is your assessment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance?
Buhari: President Buhari is trying. If you want to weigh some of the things he has done, you would certainly give him some pass marks in certain areas and some other areas you will find him lagging behind, or wanting. I think one of the biggest issues with this current administration is the fact that I haven’t really seen a great harmony between different arms of government – the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.
The reason why someone like me and a few other people might have voted for the current administration into office was because we were determined to see the administration fight Boko Haram, and corruption. On those two fronts, even if Boko Haram has been limited to a very large extent, you and I will agree that insecurity is still there. What we are clamouring for is a different approach to most of the ways things are being done.
DT: How will you go about doing things differently then?
Buhari: If Nigerians do not start paying for the kind of democracy they deserve, they will be paid for the kind of democracy that they get. What this means is we must take this very serious because we are playing with our future. I expect Nigerians to be prepared to ask those who want to contest what plans they have. When candidates don’t have anything to offer, we should be worried.
If we go into a contest today, I would be hoping that we should be prepared to run an intellectually-driven campaign that would talk about issues. If you ask me, what plans have I got? My vision is to have a decentralized government, a decentralized system of government that would take security as paramount and the economy of the country as important so that when we have these two things in place, we can now start making the state and local governments to take care of their responsibilities.
DT: What were the responses you got when you declared you would contest?
Buhari: Many said ‘you are too young for this’, ‘it can’t happen’, ‘go and get something else to do’. Some people even thought I have lost my mind. I like to make people understand that persistence and planning can get you anything you want and today I am proud to say that we are here and we have been able to connect with the entire 36 states of the country and Abuja and some members of the Diaspora.
We know that it is a tough task; we know that it has never been done. However as we move along every single day we put our plans together, we are trying to ensure that at least for once Nigerian people would have their voice heard. Again, I want to make it very clear to our elders that it is not like we’re trying to boot them out, but we just want to let them know that if they do not transfer responsibility from one generation to the other, as at when due, there will certainly be a vacuum. And when you create a vacuum, it could end up getting filled up with anything.
Today what you find is a lot of young people not feeling the need to be responsible about anything, and that is because we have not been made to feel that responsibility can be shared with us. I am thinking that if we do not do something about this in the near future, we may be served with a country of young people who cannot govern themselves when the opportunity comes.