THE victory of Muhammadu Buhari in the recent elections in Nigeria and his inauguration last week as the country’s sixth elected president certainly did not come easy.
It came as a combination of several factors, including contributions from perceived enemies of Buhari who suffered bruises during his brief reign as Military Head of State in 1984.
Among those that fell victims and suffered some degree of bruises were Femi Falana, then a very young lawyer, Yemi Adefulu who was a commissioner in the administration of late Chief Bisi Onabanjo in Ogun State and Tunde Thompson then a journalist with The Guardian Newspaper.
Curiously all these men including many others, did not only canvass for votes for Buhari, some went as far as going to court to defend him when some individuals challenged his eligibility to contest the election.
One of them, Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and one of the lawyers that defended President Buhari in the eligibility suits, told The Guardian in an interview that, “I decided to put all the ugly past behind me so that it would not rob me of the opportunity to make candid and informed decision as well as take redemptive actions which the country’s critical situation today requires.
“I decided to defend Buhari in the suits because I was convinced that apart from my professional responsibility, I was also contributing my own quota to the expansion of democratic culture in our country.
“I think General Buhari’s personal integrity has continued to earn him admiration even from those who have suffered under a military junta headed by him.
“I must also add that as far as I am concerned, I do not nurse any bitterness against any former military dictator that detained me, including General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, because I was convinced about what I was doing, it was a voluntary exercise. My involvement in the struggle of our people and the restoration of democracy in our country is voluntary”
Falana said his action was borne out of the conviction that since there is no law barring Buhari or any past military leader from exercising their democratic rights, he is free to contest for any office in the country provided he meets the requirements, adding that when this happens as a patriotic citizen he would always put the overall interest of the country first by ensuring that the best candidate is made to emerge.
On what particularly inspired him to mobilize support for Buhari, the senior lawyer said, “I am convinced he would arrest the grave culture of impunity in the country which has reached a disturbing phenomenon.
“My support for him during the poll was also driven by my conviction that he would muster the courage to wage a meaningful campaign against corruption under the rule of law. Of course, I know the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo very well; I have worked with him in the area of judicial reforms. I am of the belief that the duo have the required discipline and integrity to make the rule of law work in our country.
“However, I am jittery about the economic programme of this new administration, which I strongly suspect is going to be market forces driven. I am not comfortable with the embrace of market forces.”