By Donu Kogbara
THE Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has said Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is no match for its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. This claim was contained in a statement signed by Debo Ologunagba, National Publicity Secretary of the party.
The statement described Tinubu’s All Progressives Congress party, APC, as moribund, decrepit and crippled, adding that the party has since served out its purpose as a fraudulent contraption that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power.
It went on to accuse Tinubu of buying the APC presidential ticket from “political string puppets and a retinue of lackeys……” and of being responsible for installing a Buhari-led administration that has inflicted various ills on Nigeria, including “economic hardship, acute poverty, bloodletting, terrorism, mass killings, disunity, tribalism, nepotism, lawlessness, massive treasury looting and unpardonable life-discounting experiences”……and of refusing to express remorse for the injuries the PDP feels he engineered and has inflicted on suffering Nigerians for the last seven years…and of failing to express empathy for the victims of violence, kidnapping, etc…and of being an egotist who is desperate to access the nation’s treasury and doesn’t care about the wellbeing of its citizens.
I did not root for Tinubu when he was pursuing the APC ticket; and I’m still feeling rather glum about the fact that he got it. But I think that parts of the PDP statement are extremely unfair. Yes, as I’ve said so many times on this page, the APC has performed abysmally. And since Tinubu has publicly boasted about the key role he played in enabling Buhari to become head of state in 2015, he should publicly apologise to suffering Nigerians for the Buhari administration’s multiple and often fatal cock-ups.
It is dishonest to take the credit when your team wins and then insist that you are totally blameless when it loses. Or, worse still, to pretend that your team has never put a foot wrong. The speech he gave at the APC Convention last week was economical with the truth, to put it politely. The World Bank has revealed that the Nigerian economy has sunk into its lowest level in the nation’s history.
In a month when innocent worshippers were murdered in church in Ondo and kidnapped train passengers had been in captivity for 2 months and the Accountant General of the Federation was released on bail despite having stolen N80 billion, Tinubu carried on as if this government is highly effective and totally committed to our welfare. I, therefore, laughed out loud when Tinubu said that “Every naira is better managed than in prior administrations.” What a mendacious joke! I shook my head in disbelief when he dumped all of the blame for chronic and escalating security challenges on the PDP’s doorstep.
But! But! But!
It is absolutely ridiculous of the PDP to say that Tinubu is no match for Atiku because Tinubu – despite cruel infirmities caused by old age – is an alpha male! Tinubu is way past his prime. His mind and body haven’t been in peak condition for years. And yet, he managed to conclusively defeat a President who didn’t want him to be the flagbearer (Buhari’s lack of support was humiliatingly obvious), a much stronger and younger Vice President who competed with him for the party ticket, a Senate President who is very close to Buhari and a Party Chairman who tried to instal the Senate President as the party’s “consensus candidate”.
Atiku is formidable in his own right, but has never pulled off this kind of humungous political triumph; and I’d be very worried if I were in Atiku’s shoes because Tinubu is no pushover. Another aspect of the PDP statement that struck me as unfair was the sanctimonious taunt about delegate-buying. As if PDP mandarins are a bunch of saintly pastors who have never paid anyone for a vote!
I don’t understand why so many men of substance – Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, for example – handed their delegates over to Tinubu. In my social and professional circles, 90 per cent of people preferred the Vice President because he is a class act and has a better reputation. It just goes to show that what regular voters want often bears no resemblance to what voting delegates want.
I salute the former Governor of my state, Rotimi Amaechi, for not caving in during the APC Convention. While other aspirants were throwing in the towel and pledging their delegates to Tinubu, Amaechi soldiered on and told the audience why they should choose him. I’ve always been a sucker for underdogs and tears came to my eyes as he spoke for himself. He must have known that he wouldn’t and couldn’t win. But he courageously stood his ground. Amaechi and I used to be friends but fell out a while back and I didn’t support his presidential aspiration. But I’m proud of him.
The PDP is also riddled with weaknesses – which is why it lost the 2015 election in the first place. The fact that the APC turned out to be even worse is neither here nor there. Bottom line is that if you are lousy, you are lousy. And it’s not as if the PDP has spent its years out of office ferociously focussing on getting its act together. The PDP’s ineptitude and in-fighting are legendary. It has even managed to alienate its main asset, Peter Obi, and its onetime leader, Goodluck Jonathan, whose embarrassing and bizarre flirtations with his former APC enemies have filled many newspaper pages in recent weeks.
If PDP wants to get the throne back, it needs to ginger up big-time. And, by the way, I feel affronted by the PDP’s decision to pick a Northern candidate. After eight years of Buhari, it is southern Nigeria’s “turn” and I’m delighted to observe the impact that Peter Obi is having. He is becoming a Movement.
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