By Clifford Ndujihe, Deputy Political Editor & Levinus Nwabughiogu
“AND 22 governors showed up to mark register when 110 daughters of citizens of your nation were captured by Boko Haram that you said you have already technically defeated? It just shows how insensitive our leaders are. We have gotten to a stage that our president has become a king and a monarch…
“For 16 years of PDP, they borrowed N6 trillion. For three years of APC, they borrowed N11 trillion. And they are not going to pay the debt. You and I, and our children and our children’s children will pay the debt unless they write them off again.”
With these words, Senior Overseer of Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, expressed disgust over President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance so far as well his decision alongside 22 governors to attend an elaborate wedding Fatiha of Idris Abiola Ajimobi, the son of Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, and Fatima Umar Ganduje, the daughter of Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State, in Kano, last Saturday, at a time 110 schoolgirls from Dapchi in Yobe State were still in captivity.
In some quarters, the president’s handling of the Dapchi schoolgirls, who were abducted on February 19, 2018, has been likened to former President Goodluck Jonathan’s initial attitude to the Chibok schoolgirls, who were kidnapped on April 14, 2014. Both abductions were done by the Boko Haram insurgents.
Unceasing Boko Haram attacks
Attending a wedding in Kano after failing to visit Yobe State since the schoolgirls’ kidnap or other states like Benue, Zamfara, Nasarawa, Adamawa, Rivers, Kaduna and Taraba where sectarian crises, violence and herdsmen/farmers clashes have claimed over 1300 lives since the beginning of 2018 elicited thumbs down for the president.
In response to pressures and criticisms arising from the above lapses, President Buhari visited Taraba State, on Monday, to commiserate with people who lost loved ones in the wake of violence that engulfed the area recently.
President Buhari, who assured that he would visit other troubled states soon, said he visited Taraba State first because the large-scale killing at Mambilla Plateau was more than the number of those killed in Benue and Zamfara states.
While his visits to other states are awaited, it is to be seen if the belated tours would yield the desired dividends and appease those who felt that the visits should have been done much earlier.
Former President Jonathan’s perceived ineffective war against Boko Haram and inability to rescue the Chibok schoolgirls are considered as some of the stumbling blocks that stalled his re-election in 2015.
Currently, the Boko Haram insurgents are still on the prowl wreaking havoc in many parts of Yobe State and Borno State, the epicentre of the insurgency. War against insecurity is one of President Buhari’s three cardinal electoral campaign promises. The other two are improving the economy and combating graft.
It is arguable whether or not the All Progressives Congress, the APC-led government has made a significant impact on any of these core campaign promises. While the government insists it has done well with the president saying that things could have been worse but for his intervention, his critics think otherwise.
Fayose faults Buhari’s anti-graft war
Ekiti State, Governor, Ayo Fayose, has consistently picked holes in the anti-graft war. Last week, he said: “Under Buhari, perfume is being sprayed on corruption when it affects his men. One can go on and on, but the painful reality is that Buhari’s government is not only corrupt the government itself is corruption.
“Is the President going to use APC broom to sweep the report on Maina under the carpet just as he did to others before it? What has happened to the report submitted on the fraudulent reinstatement of Maina? What happened to the probe panel on the alleged N500m bribe said to have been paid to the Chief of Staff (COS), Abba Kyari by MTN?
“Who brought the five sacks in which the EFCC claimed that it found N49 million cash to the Kaduna Airport? Who is the owner of LEGICO Shopping Plaza, Ahmadu Bello Way, VI, Lagos inside which the EFCC claimed that it found N448.8 million cash?”
Wave of endorsements
Like Jonathan before the 2015 poll, the president is swimming in wave of re-election endorsements ahead of the 2019 election.
By the end of September 2014, five months to the 2015 election, all organs of the PDP had adopted Jonathan as the party’s sole presidential candidate and thereby alienated other aspirants and interests in the PDP. Among the organs that adopted Jonathan were the National Executive Committee, NEC, Board of Trustees, BoT, 36 state chairmen and PDP Governors Forum, PDPGF. The adoption was ratified at the party’s December 10 and 11, 2014 Presidential primaries.
Now, the endorsement queue for Buhari is stretching by the day, 11 months to the election.
On January 12, 2018, seven northern APC governors, namely, Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Bello (Niger), Ibrahim Gaidam (Yobe), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Jibrilla Bindo (Adamawa) and Simon Lalong (Plateau) met with the president at Aso Rock and endorsed him for second term.
El-Rufai, who spoke to State House correspondents after the closed-door meeting, said the governors wanted Buhari to rule beyond 2019 to ensure continuity and stability of the country. “We are interested in continuity and stability and we want the president to continue with that,’’ he said.
On January 20, 2018, all the governors elected on the banner of the APC endorsed Buhari for second term, and okayed the re-appointment of Mr. Rotimi Amaechi as Director General of the Buhari Campaign Organization.
Chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum (APC Governors), Rochas Okorocha of Imo State said that APC governors met and resolved that Buhari should re-contest because he has done well to deserve a second tenure and “four years is not enough to show what the President can offer. We believe that another four years will bring out the best in him.’’
Other groups and bodies that have endorsed Buhari include South-East APC, South-South APC, and some state chapters of the party including Enugu, Kano, and Plateau among others.
The National Executive Committee, NEC, last week, passed a vote of confidence on Buhari and extended the tenures of the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and state chairmen of the party by 12 months.
In marketing the president, some APC governors and leaders said ‘’there is no alternative to Buhari in 2019,’’ arguing that failure to re-elect him will cause political instability in the country. Recently, a serving minister wore a campaign fez cap urging re-election of Buhari and Osinbajo in 2019 to the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting in Abuja.
Indeed, PDP faithful had such comments in favour of Jonathan before the 2015 election. It is to be seen if the views of APC faithful endorsing Buhari will stand or go the way of Jonathan.
Cabal hijacks govt
Looking at the appointments and some policies of Buhari since he came on board, some of his trusted backers are fingering ‘outsiders’ or cabal for most of the observed lapses.
According to them, the criticisms trailing the anti-graft war that some have dubbed half-hearted or selective are traceable to the activities of the cabal.
The President’s wife, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, first hinted on the actions of the cabal as early as April 14, 2016, when she said that Buhari’s government had been hijacked and hinged her support for Buhari’s re-election on cabinet shake-up and changes in the way things were being done.
The soft-spoken Aisha Buhari, in a BBC Hausa interview monitored in Kano, said that Buhari’s government had been hijacked by a cabal that is “behind presidential appointments.”
She said that “he is yet to tell me, but I have decided as his wife, that if things continue like this up to 2019, I will not go out and campaign again and ask any woman to vote like I did before. I will never do it again.’’
She lamented that most of the officials of the government were not known to the President and the first family, adding that they are usurpers who did nothing to help the APC struggle in 2015. “The President does not know 45 out of 50, for example, of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either despite being his wife for 27 years,” she stressed.
At a stage, Jonathan’s government was considered to have been hijacked by a cabal that alienated many PDP stakeholders, especially those who were perceived to be against Jonathan’s re-election.
Before long, a crisis of confidence arose between the PDP leadership and these stakeholders, which comprised seven governors, and a host of state and federal lawmakers among others, who gathered on the plank of New PDP (N-PDP).
The crisis reached a climax on November 27, 2013, when five of the seven aggrieved governors defected to the APC. Over time, other members of the N-PDP joined APC and made the new mega party a huge force electorally. Led by Abubakar Kawu Baraje, N-PDP leaders who defected to APC included”Rotimi Amaechi, Abdufatah Ahmed, Magatakarda Wammako, Murtala Nyako, Senator Bukola Saraki, Barnabas Gemade and Aminu Tambuwal among others.
Despite the defection of N-PDP members, the remaining PDP approached the 2015 election with a divided front. At a stage, Dr. Jonathan was seen undertaking campaign shuttles to Lagos and other cities that should have been done by lieutenants.
A PDP leader in the North said the PDP lost to itself and not APC in 2015 because many party leaders and stakeholders were made onlookers in the campaigns, which were handed over to Dr Ifeanyi Ubah’s Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria, TAN.
APC crises, extension of Oyegun’s tenure
Now, APC seems to be heading the PDP way unless drastic steps are taken. There has been side-lining of some core supporters. Some bigwigs such as former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, recently left the party with his supporters for the PDP. Misgivings between the party leadership and the National Assembly, which started from the election of Bukola Saraki as Senate President and Yakubu Dogara as House of Representatives Speaker are yet to be fully resolved. The problem led to the emergence of a PDP senator, Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President.
In what some observers and backers of Dr. Saraki finger as part of the Presidency’s angst against the Senate leadership, the Senate President, since 2016, has been under trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, for false assets declaration. And when the CCT discharged Saraki, the Federal Government appealed and the matter is still in court.
Apart from the Executive/Legislature issue, the APC seems to offer more opposition to itself than the PDP, if the face-off between the National Assembly and some government appointees such as the Customs Comptroller, Economic and Financial Crimes, EFCC, Chairman; tango among government agencies and discontent in the presidency, are anything to go by. The party is also facing crises in many states that can hurt its electoral quest next year.
Currently, a host of APC federal and state lawmakers are said to be on the verge of defecting to another party.
Aware of these misgivings among stakeholders, President Buhari, recently, appointed Asiwaju Bola Ahmed to reconcile aggrieved members of the APC across the country.
While Tinubu is still gathering steam to carry out the onerous assignment, the APC NEC, on February 28, 2018 granted Odigie-Oyegun one year tenure extension, a move that is raising fresh dust in the party with a section of the party arguing that only National Convention and not the NEC has the power to extend Odigie-Oyegun’s tenure.
According to Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, “What has been done is a mere expression of interest. The power of the convention to extend tenure is exercised only by way of constitution amendment. The power of the NEC of our party cannot go beyond doing so by way of constitution amendment.
“Article 30 of the APC Constitution states: ‘This constitution and the schedules hereto, can be amended only by the National Convention of the party.”
However, Odigie-Oyegun explained that it was impossible for everyone to agree 100 per cent with the decision of the party’s NEC on this “sensitive political issue.”
Some notable leaders of the party such as Senate President Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker Dogara shunned the NEC meeting with Saraki saying he could not attend because the meeting took place the same time he was at the CCT where he was fighting to clear his name as the defendant in an ongoing case. Can Tinubu, who is also considered to have been wronged, redress these issues?
Tinubu, on his part, had issues with the party leadership, which include the Kogi State Governorship election in 2015 where the party side-stepped his loyalist, Hon Abiodun Faleke, for Yahaya Bello, who went on to become the governor after the death of Abubakar Audu. Faleke was running mate to Audu Abubakar but the party elected to field Bello, who came second in the primaries, as its governorship candidate in the supplementary election after Audu’s expiration.
The former Lagos State governor was also peeved at the way the Ondo State governorship primary was handled by the Odigie-Oyegun-led NEC in 2016 for which he accused Odigie-Oyegun of handing the ticket to Rotimi Akeredolu and thereby ‘’sabotaging the will of democracy’’ by overriding the decision of the appeal panel that asked for a fresh governorship primary.
Odigie-Oyegun countered Tinubu then by describing his complaints as ‘’reckless falsehood.’’ Of late, Tinubu also accused the national chairman of frustrating his reconciliation efforts, a charge that the Odigie-Oyegun flatly denied and pledged his support for Tinubu in the exercise. This was the state of affairs before Odigie-Oyegun’s tenure was extended last week, raking up more discontent in the party.
Tinubu is not a magician – Timi Frank
Asked if Tinubu could address the crises, embattled Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Comrade Timi Frank, reportedly said the choice of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was right but he is not a magician to resolve the myriad of problems in the APC before the 2019 polls.
His words: “It is a glaring thing that all that Tinubu is expected to repair now were caused by the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun’s indecision, which I loudly spoke about. When I demanded his resignation, some people felt I was being sponsored. But thank God that today I have been vindicated because all eyes can see clearly what Chief Odigie-Oyegun’s style of leadership has done to the ruling party. At this level, if care is not taken, APC might soon become history.
“I don’t know how the national leader will go about this reconciliation task. But I pray that God will give him the necessary wisdom. To be frank, I don’t know how he will succeed in reconciling the likes of Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Governor Umar Ganduje in Kano, Senator Shehu Sani and Governor Nasir el-Rufai in Kaduna, Speaker Yakubu Dogara and Governor Mohammed Abubakar in Bauchi, Rotimi Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe in Rivers State, Senator Dino Melaye and Governor Yahaya Bello in Kogi State, former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, and Chief John Oyegun in Edo; crises in Ondo, Lagos, Gombe, Bayelsa, Cross River, Osun, Ekiti, Jigawa, Niger, Delta states and so on.”
APC has lost it – Prof. ABC Nwosu
“I expect that the PDP shall come back to power for several reasons. The first is that the PDP guarantees political stability for Nigeria and its continued existence as one nation where all constituent groups have a sense of belonging. This is in sharp contrast to the APC where many constituent groups are marginalised and have begun to question the reason for the existence of Nigeria. The second reason is that PDP had clear plans on the economy and during its 16 years rule, there was economic growth. Nigeria was freed from debt peonage. The ICT sector exploded. The exchange rate stabilised at under N200 per dollar. And the electricity sector was identified as emergency case, serious money invested in NIPP and similar projects.
“Of course, the PDP government being human was bound to make some mistakes which it did. The ICT succeeded, the debt relief succeeded and the economy grew. Sovereign Wealth Fund was established. But the privatization and the electricity programmes did not. So, if the PDP had continued, it would have gone back to the drawing board to see why these failed. This is in contrast with the APC that continues to say it makes no mistakes and that it never promised anything in its manifesto. And everything was PDP’s fault.
“Even the corruption issue, I have said several times that on May 29, 1999, President Obasanjo of the PDP same day of his inauguration gave me the blueprint for ICPC and NDDC which were immediately transmitted to the National Assembly. The EFCC followed. These to date are the legal instruments for the anti-corruption war in Nigeria. Even the Whistle-Blower idea belongs to the PDP.
“So, the APC’s claims on anti corruption war are laughable especially in view of serious corruption cases many from the centre of government which are in the public domain. Nigerians now make a joke of snakes swallowing money. Monkeys carting away money and even a popular comedian has withdrawn his account with a popular bank that has elephant as its logo!
“The abduction of Dapchi girls is a sad and unfortunate incident and my sympathy lies completely with the parents of the girls. It will be wrong for me to make any further comments on this except to pray that these girls and the remaining Chibok girls are returned safely to their families and schools secure because education is the key to the future.
“How all these shall play out in 2019, I do not know. All I shall do is to work very hard for my party, the PDP, to return to power because I believe in my party and its founding principles.
“Furthermore, the present restiveness in the polity and parlous state of the economy make it imperative for me to give everything within me for the PDP to return to power. I believe sincerely that Nigeria will be better for it.
On Benue Crisis
“Benue crisis is just one symptom of the diseases of general restiveness in the polity because of the insensitivity of the APC government to the problems of the governed ditto with the herdsmen/farmers clashes, non inclusiveness of the southeast, caverlie attitude to the Niger Delta environmental situation, etc.
“These issues will impact on the 2019 general elections. Nigerians are watching.
Current issues will impact negatively on Buhari’s second term ambition -Chief Chekwas Okorie, National Chairman, United Progressives Party, UPP.
“The issues on the ground will impact negatively on president Buhari’s ambition for second term. The same type of situation arose during Jonathan’s term and many people voted against him. Many people did not vote at all because they neither preferred Buhari nor wanted Jonathan back. So, they stayed at home on the day of election. Jonathan lost as a result of loss of goodwill and support because by the margin of defeat; there were 2. 5 million votes.
The votes in the south east alone would have risen up if they were satisfied that Jonathan represented their interest during his tenure. The same thing has happened. In fact, the situation is even worse now that President Buhari has so triggered off ethnic sentiments across the country.
I do not see how he would win a second term even in the north, the Hausas are beginning to see themselves as separate from the Fulanis.”