After the public statement issued by former President Obasanjo, wherein he unsolicitedly advised president Buhari to “dismount the horse” and not seek for re-election in 2019, the calls for Buhari, to embrace the Mandela option have become very loud amongst supporters of the former president.
What is the Mandela option?
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, an outstanding South African anti- apartheid revolutionary, was elected the first president of South Africa in 1994 for a term of 5 years. He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in fully representative democratic election. He also served as the president of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991-1997.
Mandela, was jailed by the Apartheid government of South Africa with some of his revolutionary colleagues such as Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kadrada, Jacob Zuma, and so many others. Mandela spent almost 30 years in jail. He rejected so many deals that would secured his personal freedom without his colleagues. Madiba, as he is affectionately called by his adoring supporters, was in prison during most of his active and productive years. He sacrificed the love and comforts of his young family for the struggles to free the people. He did not see his young children grow, neither did he see his young beautiful wife, Winnie Mandela, grow into the powerful woman she became. His family life and business suffered, but Madiba, stood firm on his demands for a just,fair, and equal society that will guarantee liberty for all. Madiba, was for shared, inclusive prosperity for all South Africans, irrespective of race, color, language, and status.
In 1990, after a negotiated deal that guaranteed freedom for Mandela and his compatriots, ( the deal was negotiated by the current President Ramophosa) and the dismantling of the apartheid government, Mandela, was released. He was elected the leader of the ANC in 1991. In the 1994 election which followed the amendment of the Constitution, he was elected president of the RSA for a term of 5 years. His deputy at the time, was Thabo Mbeki. Thabo, is the cerebral and well spoken son of Govan Mbeki.
In the run-up to the election, Mandela, never wanted to be president. He preferred his compatriot, Govan Mbeki to be president. Govan Mbeki and others, on the other hand, wanted Mandela. And so, they reached a compromise whereby Mandela will be president and Thabo Mbeki, will be his deputy. Mandela’s major focus, was the dismantling of the legacy of apartheid by tackling institutionalized racism and fostering racial reconciliation. He established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission headed by Reverend Desmond Tutu for this purpose. He was a uniting figure and achieved so much in his first term. He was widely expected to seek re-election in 1999.
In 1998, Mandela announced that he will not be seeking re-election. He said he had substantially accomplished his purpose in government, and needed to spend more time with his family. The leadership of the ANC tried in vain to get him to change his mind. In 1999, after 5 years as president, Madiba retired from the presidency and politics. His action, was applauded by the entire world. This decision not to seek re-election, is what is known as the Mandela option.
In 2006, when it was being rumoured that President Obasanjo was intent on seeking a third term in office, Madiba, wrote him a letter warning against such illegality. Obasanjo’s attack dogs, criticized Mandela for what was then described as interfering with the internal affairs of Nigeria based on mere speculation. The same people who are now citing the Mandela option as reason why President Buhari shouldn’t run for a re-election that is constitutional, did not accept Mandela’s counsel not to pursue an illegality! Obasanjo sought a third term and failed.
Should Buhari follow the Mandela Option?
The decision is for Buhari to make depending on his personal circumstances, and the thinking of his party. This is not a decision for the oppo