Soni Ehi Asuelimen
President Mohammadu Buhari on Monday surreptitiously smuggled the announcement of his intention to contest again the 2019 presidential election in 10 monthsduring the All Progressives Congress (APC) executive meeting in Abuja and thereafter jetted out to England for medical treatment, amongst other infinitesimal global talks. Party chiefs were reportedly shocked at Buhari’s announcement at a forum to reconcile warring party members on crucial issues that could truncate APC chances in 2019 if not well resolved.
The untold signal was that Buhari’s ambition is greater than the cohesion and life of the party. In addition, the announcement signals dubious attempt to scare possible fellow aspirants in the APC from showing interest, with the option of quitting the party, when the aging and expired lion has roared. To what extent would PMB’s premeditated announcement cow other intending aspirants?
More than one year ago, APC leader Bola Ahmed Tinubu, had cautioned against automatic ticket, especially for the position of the President. Tinubu’s early warning alert was to avoid the error of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that printed only one presidential candidate ticket given to the then President Goodluck Jonathan, a development that pursed PDP chiefs to quit, leading to the defeat of the party.
With the massive influx of PDP members into APC and their more or less takeover of the ruling party, the sabotage of internal democracy in party may destroy APC and make it lose. The APC state governors had sponsored the illegal one year tenure extension of APC chairman Odigie Oyegun to make it impossible to organize primaries and congresses at different levels to elect new leaders and aspirants. The purpose of this was to guarantee second term ticket of the governors when there are no new competitors via primaries and congresses. For Buhari to endorse governors’ second term, the governors endorsed Buhari for second term. Rub my back, I rub your back, sacrifice national interest for good governance.
Is it any wonder that Buhari claimed he has succumbed to pressure to contest, not that he has any interest. Herein lies the danger of a few political cabal pressuring a sickly, aged man to contest so they can continue to milk the nation dry while the President is over preoccupied with health issues to even be aware of state matters and sufferings of the people.
This was the situation with Fulani Shehu Shagari, a grade two teacher who was pressured to contest the 1979 presidential election by a cabal that milked the nation dry and the publicly confessed, helpless Shagari was ousted by the military. Self-helpless Shagari had cried out in vain then that the then National Assembly lawmakers were draining the economy of vital blood and civil servants’ salaries could not be paid, a similar scenario prevailing now.
Thereafter, outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo mobilized into the presidential race, Umaru Yar’Adua, a sickly governor that preferred to retire to teaching with his Masters degree after his stint as Katsina state governor. The reluctant Yar’Adua could not stand on the podium to address electorate in Ibadan, Oyo state, had to be sited on a chair, while the then President Obasanjo danced to deceitfully woo the gullible electorate to vote a disabled, ab initio. Sadly, we are on the same deceitful path again and many dumb electorate are still wearing blinkers, pointing to no achievement of Buhari to contest at 76 when he ought to retire to take care of his health, a counsel Yar’Adua ignored until he died in power, in two years, with the cabal signing out cheques to drain vital treasury funds.
Enter Buhari threading the same inglorious path. Buhari could not face a pre-election presidential debate in 2015. One year ago, he admitted age has debilitated him and regretted that he could have performed better and faster if he were younger. The President who has been in and put hospitalization in the United Kingdom for several months, reportedly said recently that he is being ‘caged’ in Aso Rock villa.
Revelations by Buhari’s daughter and wife that the billions of Naira voted for Medicare in the villa are not seen in service, as there is no syringe injection, ordinary paracetamol pain killer while the modern cancer screening machine has malfunctioned and is abandoned. Any wonder the president cannot treat simple ailments in Nigeria, and the claim of villa corruption is left untreated.
I do not want to examine the president’s success or failure in this piece. However, I counsel APC and Tinubu to maintain his stand on maintaining internal democratic values by making sure other APC presidential aspirants are provided transparent level playing field to slug it out with Buhari during primaries. No automatic ticket. The popularity of anyone should be decided in a keen impartial and transparent contestation, not dubious backdoor arrangement that may finish APC.
Asuelimen wrote via email@example.com (08023459055)