By YUSUF MOHAMMED
Northerners living in Lagos have been split over support for President Muhammadu Buhari, candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC and his counterpart Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The atmosphere in the northern community in Lagos is a far cry from what was obtainable in 2015. Wherever two or more northerners were gathered four years ago it was obvious who their choice for the presidential election was. It was none other than Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. “Sai Baba!” was chanted in unison then. Irrespective of religious affiliation, the northern Nigerian on the streets of Lagos wanted Buhari to become president.
There were many factors responsible for that. The average northerner saw Buhari as a messiah who would turn things around. Most northerners, especially the ones from the North- Eastern region voted for Buhari because of the insecurity there.
Due to his military background and his anti- corruption slogan, he was seen by almost all Nigerians of northern extraction as the man with the magic wand to rescue Nigeria from the state it was in.
“I was born in poverty and I believe that Buhari will make the difference” that was the view of Jibrilla Chubadu in 2015, a Lagos State resident. Chubadu hails from Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State. “I am from Adamawa but I came to Lagos to make ends meet after my means of livelihood was destroyed by Boko Haram.
“I want Buhari to create an enabling environment in the North so I can go back home. There is no place like home,” he said.
Almost four years down the road, Chubadu has a different view. BusinessHallmark was fortunate to get in touch with him again. When asked about his view this time around he expressed reservations:
“Let me be honest with you. I am disappointed in Buhari. I believed in him so much that I fought with many people who were against him last time. Look at the security situation in my place today. People are running away from their homes because of armed bandits. In Katsina where the president is from people are leaving for Republic of Niger. Boko Haram is still killing people but the media is silent. I don’t know why.
“It is for this reason I would not vote Buhari again. I will vote Atiku instead,” he said stamping his foot on the ground.
Musa Ga’anda who hails from Katsina State but currently lives Lagos, told BusinessHallmark that the main reason why majority of the Nigerians living in the northern parts voted for Buhari was because of insecurity.
He said, “Nigerians living in the North East irrespective of tribe or religion are united and voted out President Goodluck Jonathan. Aside from the North East, you could see a state like Kaduna could not be divided along religious lines like before. We all had a common enemy in Boko Haram so we had to speak in unison for our own good.”
Asked if he would vote Buhari or Atiku, he said, “I will still vote Buhari. My family members back home are members of the APC. But the truth is that many people are disappointed in Buhari for the manner he is handling the security situation. There is also poverty in the land. If there was a better option, I would have changed my mind. Atiku for me is a not a better option. I would rather stick with Buhari.”
At the Bureau De Change opposite the Local Airport in Lagos, there are many northerners, especially Hausas who trade there. Unlike 2015, they also have mixed reactions when asked about their choice for the coming presidential election.
It is not business as usual for most of them and as a result, some have decided to go for the candidate of the main opposition party, Atiku.
A bureau de change operator who doesn’t want his name mentioned in order not for his business to be affected, said, “Please do not mention my name. I do business with PDP and APC people. And you know that many people are emotional when it comes to politics and may decide not to trade with me anymore if they see my name.
“Business is not like before for everyone. That does not mean we are all not voting for Buhari. Some will vote and some won’t vote him. But let me speak for myself. I won’t vote Buhari anymore because business is bad for me. I am just being realistic. Politics is simply about interest. I will vote Atiku because he is a better business man than Buhari. I have nothing personal against Buhari but he has failed in terms of the economy. He doesn’t just understand it. And I don’t think he is willing to understand it.”
BusinessHallmark also spoke with Seriki Hausa, Alhaji Mohammed Shittu who is the leader of the entire Hausa community in Ikorodu. He said, “This area is divided between supporters of Atiku and Buhari. I can’t tell you my choice but I can tell you that everyone here is not for one candidate. As for me both of them are our brothers. Whoever wins is not a problem for me. I wish them best of luck. Allah will decide.”
In the same vein, the Arewa Youth leader of Ikorodu, Alhaji Saddam Sani said, “There is a difference between now and 2015. That time every Hausa/Fulani or northerner that I know in Lagos supported Buhari. But now that he has been tested and Atiku another man from the North is also in the race, the support for him has waned.”
For Alhaji Abu Mohed who hails from Yobe State but lives in Agege, Lagos, he made it clear that he wants to see a man from North East become President of Nigeria in his life time. “I am 50 years of age and I have not seen anyone from my region rule this country. The last person was Tafawa Balewa from Bauchi. I wasn’t born then. It is one of my wishes before I die.”
Mohed is not alone as there are many northerners from the North East who share this sentiment.
The 2019 presidential election is barely two weeks from now. It is a race mainly between two northerners of the same ethnic nationality and religion. Ethnicity is one the main factors that worked in favour of Buhari in 2015. Is it going to be a different ball game this time around? We shall find out in soon.