By Kassim Afegbua
I have heard from some sources that President Buhari is not supporting his party candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. My attention was drawn to his repeated pronouncements and body language that every Nigerian eligible to vote, will be left to vote for any party of their choice. Saying that what he desires the most is a free and fair electoral contest. The sources pointed my attention also, to the claim that rather than President Buhari unequivocally campaigning for his party, The APC, he has been saying what he wants is to bequeath credible elections; citing Anambra, Ekiti and Osun election as examples. Recently, The Labour Party Vice Presidential candidate, Datti Baba-Ahmed said on Channels TV, that President Buhari won’t have any business supporting anybody; not even his own party’s candidate; as he is finishing his terms in office and would have made enough to last him for the rest of his life. The implication of this is that President Buhari does not care about anybody; including those who helped him to win the presidential elections of 2015. Those who hold this opinion, claim that Buhari characterizes one that is only of interest to himself. They say he doesn’t care about anyone despite and in spite of whatever assistance anyone has rendered to him in the past and present.
They also point to President Buhari’s nepotism as the reason for the standoffish stance he now maintains, saying that, it is the reason he does not get himself involved in the current APC campaigns. They remember that he was present at the APC campaign in Plateau state alright, but has since then stayed away from others, saying that government cannot be abandoned on the altar of campaigns; but, when he sought a second term in office, he went out campaigning across the 36 states of the Federation. Any difference? Could it be that the posturing of President Buhari is what has given rise to the thinking in some quarters that he wants power to remain in the North? Some highly placed persons recount the politics that dominated the APC presidential primaries; how President Buhari would have loved the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan, to emerge as the party’s presidential candidate; until the APC Northern Governors saved the situation from what would have become an apocalypse of the APC. Asiwaju Tinubu’s emergence as the presidential candidate was a huge victory for the APC Governors; who insisted that it would be ungodly to retain power in the North after a Buhari’s eight years; and indeed a rescuer for The APC. Since then, President Buhari, they reckon, has been playing within the fray. They say that was what gave rise to the APC national chairman’s afore insistence, that Senator Ahmed Lawan was the consensus candidate of the party.
It is true that the patriotic Northern Governors saved the day, but it appears that President Buhari has not forgiven them. This is the reason my friends in the PDP are saying Atiku is being backed by covert presidency footsoldiers, including President Buhari himself. I am not entirely swayed by this argument because looking away from Buhari’s nepotistic posturing, he has indeed stayed true to a lot of his friends; friends who have assisted him in his political trajectory and in his life. He, since assuming office, compensated many of them for being loyal and steadfast with him from his days in the All Nigeria Peoples Party, The ANPP through the Congress of Progressive Change, the CPC, and now the All Progressives Congress, APC. Majority of those he appointed to positions of authority on becoming President, are persons who were and still remain with him since when he had been a long standing presidential aspirant in those parties.
Having failed in three previous elections and declaring that he won’t be ready to contest a fourth time, Asiwaju Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande visited him at his Kaduna home to pull him out for a fourth; which became the successful contest. Together, they marshalled the strongest opposition to PDP’s grip on power and successfully defeated the incumbent President in 2015. At the Lagos primaries then, despite all the billions and maybe trillions spent by Atiku Abubakar to defeat President Buhari, Tinubu and other like-minds ensured that Buhari emerged as the presidential candidate of the APC.
On a good day, this is the hour to pay Asiwaju Tinubu back in like manner; having been there for President Buhari when it mattered most and indeed, the one time when he struck luck. I have seen President Buhari take care of his loyal friends; giving them political appointments and positioning them within his cabinet. It would be ungodly and un-islamic to pay Tinubu in bad coin. In fact, in show of gratitude, this is the right opportunity for President Buhari to act out the old saying that one good turn deserves another. But for Tinubu and other like-minds, President Buhari’s aspiration to be elected as a Democratic President of Nigeria would have remained a pipe dream. By providence, using the strategic intervention of Tinubu, his footsoldiers and some APC Governors, President Buhari was able to win a political feat that enthroned him in office as a democratically elected President. It looks clear and fair that this is the time to cede power to the South; for political balancing, stability, justice, and fairness. Apart from the opinion spoken about earlier, held by a few people, President Buhari is also widely reputed to be a man of justice and fairness and justice; and is now being looked upon, to heed he call and bid to connect. Where he throws his weight and support during the coming elections will prove to us how much so he is. He needs to heed the call and bid. At the moment, there are several shu-shus making the rounds. One says that he has directed that all the outstandings owed to Atiku Abubakar by the Ministry of Aviation and Ministry of Transport be paid to Atiku with immediate effect; to allow the PDP candidate, access to funds for his campaigns.
President Buhari needs to prove to all of us that he means well for Asiwaju Tinubu; and this is germane. Thankfully, his wife, Aisha Buhari is showing support thus far; mobilising women to key into the campaigns. Power belongs to God but men and women are the instruments used in making that happen. Aisha Buhari, unlike Dolapo Osinbajo, has been very active in this whole campaign; in show of appreciation for the role that God used Asiwaju Tinubu to play in her husband’s political aspiration. Such reciprocal acts of gratitude will go a long way to invest some morality in the political process and amass the support of other key people. It is often said that politics is dirty. It is not politics but human conduct which should be above board in getting the best out of the process that is usually faulty. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a qualified candidate; he is not wanting or lacking in character, morals and or trust. His history is clean, clear and accomplished. Whether spoken in hushed tones or in plain terms, President Buhari owes Tinubu a show of gratitude; and the only way to exhibit this is by reciprocal SUPPORT AT THIS TIME. This is the least expected of President Buhari. The Northern Governors of APC have remained my heroes in this whole process. They have been faithful in their support, and Mallam El’rufai, the Governor of Kaduna state particularly, has been unequivocal in his declaration of his support for the APC candidate assuring him that the North would amass around him.
President Buhari should ensure that his role in the coming elections falls in line with the expectation of a statesman; one that shows support for his party’s candidate. He needs to be seen campaigning with him more. One good turn deserves another. He cannot afford to dance to the pressure of tribalism and hurt the fragile political peace and unity of this great country. We need balance between the North and the South. We need unity and stability. We need a national cohesion that will birth a more robust, democratic country, where there will be equal opportunity for all; one with fairness, equity and justice. After a period of eight solid years of President Buhari’s leadership of the country, it is only fair and natural for power to be ceded to the South by a deliberate and conscious act. This is the only way to grow an inclusive democratic system that would help stabilise the system for harmonious governance and true delivery of democratic dividends.
Once there are cries of marginalisation, the possibility of delivering on the manifestos will become very low probabilities. Suffice to say at this point that the preponderance of the need to balance ALL THE FACTORS of our unique nationality, to make governance acceptable, hopeful, widely favorable and welcome, and a system that will promote good morals largely free of negativities like sabotage and insincerity etc, far outweighs whatever benefits are assumed to be guaranteed by a system that promotes ethnic domination which certainly hurts national cohesion, peace and unity and of course our progress. President Buhari must therefore be clear with his support for the APC which he pioneered and its candidate, who was there for him at the most critical time.