OCHEREOME

OF the three main political parties, only the All Progressives Congress, APC, has not openly flagged off its presidential campaign. The People’s Democratic Party, PDP, was the first to go in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, while the Labour Party, LP, got going in Lafia, Nasarawa State.

LP’s Peter Obi is actively and openly marketing himself and soliciting for votes; so is PDP’s Atiku Abubakar, but with much less energy. Tinubu, on the other hand, has been very dodgy. He has only appeared once at a public forum whose atmospherics his party controlled to accommodate his physical and mental failings.

Even when he invited the who-is-who in the business world, he merely read from a prepared speech and could not take questions from his audience. He left his hangers-on to answer them for him while he became part of the audience. Even before becoming president, Tinubu is already showing he will rule by proxy or cabal. He will not lead from the front. 

The Tinubu campaign is the most people-unfriendly platform. They are very quick to dish out insults to opponents (“shut your mouth”), hoodwink the public (fake bishops), package their candidate to conceal his frailties and absent themselves from public fora where they should be marketing themselves, their achievements and visions. They have the sauciest spokespeople who lean on APC’s old provocative propaganda template as a campaign strategy.

Tinubu carries on as if he is only waiting to be sworn-in as Nigeria’s president. Where does he derive his confidence (or overconfidence) from? The answer is simple. Tinubu has the biggest political advantage of the lot. The 22 states under the APC is a humongous advantage. If all the governors and other elected officials of the party campaign for him, it is difficult to see how he will fail to emerge as president. Tinubu is doubling down on this advantage.

Two other advantages line up in his favour: the power of presidential incumbency and his money. Buhari may not go out of his way to break heads to make Tinubu president as Olusegun Obasanjo did for the late Umaru Yar’ Adua in 2007. But I do not see him blocking Tinubu’s road, especially if the Northern APC Governors and leaders decide to shun Atiku and the prospects of the continued residence of the president in the North.

Also, he has spent the last eight years of Muhammadu Buhari’s rule stockpiling his financial war chest. Backed additionally by the treasury of Lagos, Tinubu is unrivalled when it comes to ability to spend. He is hitting directly at the governors and leaders who he believes will bring in the votes. With the firm assurance of majority South West support, the Jagaban is assiduously focused on wooing the North for its table-turning votes. Tinubu is a hardcore politician who feels that public debates and townhalls are mere plays to the gallery.

Tinubu is, however, playing “old school” politics. Take it or leave, the APC, like the PDP, is a discredited party. These two have ruled Nigeria for 24 years. Just look at us now! It will be foolhardy for anyone to think that the failure of the Buhari regime will not impact on the APC’s bid to transfer power from Buhari to Tinubu. BAT’s overdependence on the discredited leaders of his party to bring him the votes could lead to tears because the generality of Nigerians, especially the youths, are tired and want change. The quantum of undecided votes which Tinubu is disdaining with his arrogant swagger could unsettle his sandcastle.

If Tinubu wins with his strategy, he will not have any reason to be people-friendly. He will feel he bought the presidency. He will “pay off” those who brought him the votes. He will bestride the political firmament as no one has ever done, his health and age permitting. As politicians campaign, so they rule. 

Yerima Shettima, not Kashim 

Shettima

I know that in political and electioneering times, the truth is often a casualty. Political “strategists” can spin falsehood and fake news and make it look like the truth in order to fool the gullible. It is my belief that in an atmosphere such as the 2023 political season, whoever knows the truth should tell it and let the devil be shamed.

This voice recording purported to be a leaked conversation between former Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State/now Vice Presidential candidate of the APC and former Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, must be properly reported for what it truly is. In the audio message recorded in 2017, Shettima was freely helping himself to hate speech and ethnic slurs against the Igbo people, while “Kunle” was doing his best trying to calm him down and moderate his excesses.

It is unfair to ascribe that hate speech to the wrong person, Senator Kashim Shettima. That is mistaken identity. The voice belongs to Yerima Shettima, the Coordinator of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF, which issued the “quit notice” to the Igbo residents of the North due to the Biafra secessionist agitations in the South East. Indeed, Kashim Shettima, as the Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, was at the forefront of the efforts to make AYCF and the Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, swallow their vomits and reverse themselves. He did a yeoman’s job to restore ethnic harmony and cohabitation in the volatile North. I am a witness to that, and so are millions of other Nigerians.

Let us not paint a peacemaker with the colours of a warmonger just to score political points and deceive other unsuspecting innocent Nigerians.

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