By Clifford Ndujihe, Deputy Political Editor Vanguard, & 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.