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If Nigeria could do it

By Bill Saidi

In case my meaning is lost on people fond of misinterpreting things, let me explain: a man who once ruled Nigeria as a military dictator 30 years ago, is back in power as a civilian ruler.

Jonathan vs Buhari
Jonathan vs Buhari

My interpretation is simply that a man who was once prime minister of this country could return in 2018 as…something else, even as president.

I mean Morgan Tsvangirai, who was once prime minister, would in 2018, either as prime minister again or even as president.

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Mugabe has lost too much respect as a politician.

I doubt that Muhammadu Buhari ever thought he would return to power as a democratically-elected leader of the most populous nation on the continent — not as a gun-totting swashbuckler of a dictator.

It could only happen to Nigeria, a country of so many military coups since 1960, most people had given up any hope of it being run as a civilian state.

I wish I had been there this time again, as President Robert Mugabe and I were in 2004, when Zimbabwe was trying to get back into the Commonwealth, after its suspension over a botched electoral victory.

I was there not as part of the Mugabe delegation, but as an unofficial delegation of Associated Newspapers, whose papers, The Daily News and its Sunday sister — were shut down by the Mugabe regime.

I could not disguise my jubilation when the delegation left, their tails between their legs. There was no chance of the country being allowed back into the Commonwealth.

The conference felt Mugabe’s regime had committed a politically cardinal sin.

Such cheating deserved a kick up the you-know-what.

I imagine that, this time around, Mugabe and his delegation felt proud to be congratulating the former military dictator for having won an election in which many people believed he had no chance of winning.

But according to reports Mugabe was still publicly humiliated.

Zimbabwe remains out of the Commonwealth.

Mugabe and his party may feel they had nothing to lose.

They have lied to themselves in this manner many times — over sanctions, for instance.

Most analysts studying the 2018 polls would give Mugabe little chance of winning — assuming he has the gall to stand for election.

The man has been in power for so long and has performed so lamentably, it would be ill-advised for him to try it again.

Most people who know how Zanu PF is run will know that the party would allow Mugabe to run again.

But I doubt that the people, knowing the man so thoroughly, would do anything so politically suicidal.

Even a casual glance at how the party is performing so far would lead any analyst, even with only a basic understanding of the game of politics, to conclude  that his chances of victory were as dead as the dodo.

Let us assume that the entire electorate is genuinely unbiased and is anxious to give Zanu PF a fair shake at the election.

If they measured Mugabe’s record on the basis of his 35 years of the muddling in the saddle, it is doubtful a he would win.

Right now, the economy is in tatters. A few developed countries may be willing to help.

But it is fair to say that most would hesitate. Pouring good money down a bottomless pit is not good economics, or good politics.

When a country has gone as far down the deep end as we have, it is surely time to let the mischief-maker drown. Daily News