By Ochereome Nnanna
TODAY’s article is based on two major comments that a leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, uttered since President Muhammadu Buhari gave him the herculean assignment of reuniting their party. In response to the public statements by Generals Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida advising Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019 as the country needed new people with fresh perspectives, Tinubu advised them to “join the retirees club.”
Also in a meeting with other leaders of APC, he candidly admitted that the party had lost much of its goodwill. Said he: “I sympathise with us and we should equally look at ourselves. Since we won the election, the expectations were very high and the goodwill was extremely high. But where are we today?”
It would appear that Tinubu has conveniently forgotten that President Buhari whom he has already endorsed for a second term eminently belongs to the charmed club of “retirees.” The advice he tabled before Obasanjo and Babangida equally applies to his party leader, Buhari. In fact, Buhari deserves the advice more than any of his fellow political gluttons from the military profession who refuse to let go of the reins of power. IBB is physically incapacitated but still mentally agile. OBJ is both physically and mentally feline though he is one of the oldest of the rapacious, win-the-war military gang.
Buhari, on the other hand, was both mentally and physically incapacitated until white medical wizards gave a new life, at least physically. But, even a comprehensive stem cell rehabilitation might not have the ability to reverse the ravages of aging in the upstairs quarters. A person who no longer has full grasp of happenings around him has no business running the affairs of an explosively complex and difficult country like Nigeria except to run it aground. It is high time all these military buccaneers who attached themselves to the Nigerian pie like venomous parasites went home to watch television, play with their grandchildren and tell them tales by the moonlight. Buhari even knows how to converse with his cows. They are earnestly yearning for him in Daura.
But of course, Tinubu, Nasir el Rufai and other APC chieftains who believe they owe their links to power to Buhari will not allow the old man to rejoin his colleagues in the retirees’ club. They still believe that Buhari is the only one among them who will bring the fabled 12 million Northern votes (much of which is made up of unqualified minors). Their chimeric 12 million votes remain constant, it does not matter that many of them have died, a whole lot of them have left in disgust for other options and new people will be qualified to vote four years after 2015.
That the APC has lost goodwill is self-evident. It helps the party that its leaders like Tinubu are willing to admit this. But you cannot lose goodwill and keep your contrived 12 million votes intact. A loss of goodwill means a loss of support base and votes. Former President Goodluck Jonathan beat Buhari by scoring 22,495,187 compared to Buhari’s 12,214,853 in 2011. By 2015 when Jonathan had lost his enormous goodwill, he lost about 10 million votes, scoring 12,853,162 compared to Buhari who only marginally improved his usual 12 million bracket by scoring 15,424,921 (heavily assisted by under-aged almajiri votes in the North).
The APC Federal Government started losing the goodwill that propelled it to power almost from Day One. The loss started from within the party because its internal cohesion was horribly mismanaged, with Buhari and Tinubu at the centre of the mismanagement. Instead of recognising that the party was an amalgam of at least four major factions (the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP) and the breakaway faction of the People’s Democratic Party known as the “new” PDP), Tinubu seduced Buhari into accepting his proposal for a two-way power sharing arrangement.
Tinubu wanted Buhari to run the government while he would administer the party. “The Party” would be none other than Tinubu himself. “The Party” would decide who would occupy the leadership positions in the two chambers of the National Assembly and perhaps be in a position to use the Legislative arm and the party machinery to control the Presidency. The plot flopped for two main reasons. First, the “new” PDP went into alliance with the PDP and grabbed the leadership of the National Assembly. Secondly, Buhari, having achieved his long-sought objective of capturing the presidency, appeared to lose interest in the party. He was only interested in using the power to achieve the purposes for which he contested for president FOUR times. He invited his family members, kinsmen, clansmen, tribesmen and Muslim Northerners to “come and eat.” He did take a good number of Tinubu’s people on board, but almost totally disregarded elements of the ANPP and the “new” PDP.
There were loud complaints of neglect coming from the likes of Engineer Buba Galadima, a longstanding Buhari acolyte. Intra-party discrimination led to early internal alienation. This was unlike Obasanjo’s approach in 1999 when he decided to invite elements of the opposition All People’s Party, APP, into his government. He also gave every section within his party a sense of belonging in his government. In contrast, no effort was made to transform the APC from a multiparty gang-up into a united, organic political party bound by a commonly-shared set of ideologies, visions, values and interests.
Buhari’s extreme nepotism which is at a scale unprecedented in Nigeria’s history, contributed in alienating so many people. A lot of people who contributed in getting Buhari into the seat of power were not “rewarded”, while a few were over-rewarded (like Raji Fashola who was given charge over three enviable portfolios – Power, Works, and Housing).
One of the greatest sources of alienation of the party within the general Nigerian populace was a systematic approach to governance through propaganda, lies, deceit, and denial of campaign promises. The APC is probably more associated with propaganda, lies, and denial of campaign promises than any other party in government ever to rule Nigeria.
Of the three cardinal points Buhari campaigned on, the anti-graft war has exposed the regime for lack of seriousness through the various scandals such as Mainagate, the “grass-cutter” episode, the Osborne cash scandal, the reinstatement of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, DG, Professor Usman Yusuf after he was suspended for alleged multimillion naira fraud, among others.
Probably, the final nail on the coffin of Buhari and APC’s goodwill is the unwillingness of this administration to confront the menace of the armed Fulani herdsmen who have been killing people and destroying farms all over the country, especially the Central and Southern states. It seems the APC Federal Government is determined to punish former PDP states which voted for them in 2015, such as Benue and Plateau states by allowing their people to be slaughtered like chicken by pastoral hoodlums, many of whom are foreign Fulani militiamen.
For most Nigerians, the APC Federal Government under Buhari is anything but what they had expected. When you dash people’s expectations, you can only expect disappointment and possible loss of mandate.