The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has faulted the notions held in certain quarters that President Muhammadu Buhari has abdicated his responsibility to lead the presidential campaign of the party.
This follows concerns that the President may have handed over his campaigns for this year’s election to the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to enable him attend to governance.APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, explained that Buhari would surely partake in the party’s campaigns across the country, notwithstanding his tight schedule.
“First the rumours of body-doubles and cloned Villa occupants, and now they are no longer disguising or pretentious about it. It has been made clear that Tinubu doubles for Buhari when campaigning to capture power.” In the same vein, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) insisted that Tinubu’s appointment speaks volume that Buhari is unfit to administer the country.Its convener, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who addressed reporters in Abuja, yesterday, argued that it was odd for the President to hire a proxy to canvass for votes for him ahead of the February 16 presidential poll, claiming that Buhari’s lackadaisical approach to the campaigns underlines the fact that the APC has perfected the plot to rig the poll.
However, Dean, School of Communication, Lagos State University (LASU), Professor Rotimi Olatunji countered: “The whole idea of setting up a presidential campaign committee or team to manage elections is not strange and represents part of the best practices in political campaign planning and management. Afterall, a campaign should be well-coordinated, purpose-driven and goal-directed. This is why presidential and governorship candidates often appoint directors general to coordinate political campaigns.
“It will be strange if the President fails to show up at campaign rallies. After all, it is the President that is seeking the mandate of Nigerians, not Tinubu. Nigerians will like to hold their ‘eventually’ elected leaders accountable, based on their campaign pledges, not those of their surrogates.”
Issa-Onilu said: “The President himself said he would be actively involved in the campaigns, but that the wellbeing of Nigerians is more paramount to him than the politics of his re-election for another term of four years. That explains the decision to mandate the national leader of our party to oversee the day- to-day running of the campaign council.
“You don’t expect the President to be involved in the planning of campaign logistics involving transportation, food, drinks and entertainment by artists at the campaign grounds. This was what he meant. The President, who is the leader of the party, remains the leader and would do everything to ensure the successes of our campaign.
Similarly, the party’s National Vice Chairman (South-South), Mr. Hilliard Eta, said Buhari acted in the best interest of Nigerians.
Differing, Nwosu said: “The nation has been governed by proxies for the last few years and APC has allowed it. So, it is left to the Nigerian voters and people to decide during the elections. Buhari is never available to the people who elected him. This is why leaders of other nations treat us with contempt. Political leaders and investors all over the world mock us all the time.”
Reminded that the President said he took the action because he doesn’t want governance to suffer, the ADC chief said: “How low could governance get? All indicators score Buhari’s government as the lowest since the Nigerian nation was founded.
“They are even reportedly planning what they described as low-key campaigns while they plot how to insulate their candidate from campaigning and debating with opponents and tell Nigerians why they must trust him with their lives for another four years.
“He is the one contesting, he should not be afraid to be the one to interface directly with Nigerians. We urge Nigerian people to insist that Buhari must show that he is fit and able for the nation’s top job by leading his own campaign and by being at the presidential candidates’ debate.
To Olatunji: “If eventually Buhari fails to show up on rostrums and eventually gets elected for the second term, then there are grave consequences for the body politick.
“Secondly, failure to openly participate in campaigns implies that Nigerians cannot hold Buhari accountable for any electoral promises or manifestoes. “The third implication has to do with the health status or stamina of the President to continue in office. If he does not consider himself fit to campaign, will Nigerians consider him fit to lead?” On why the deviation from the norms, the university don said it is in the realm of conjectures, though he believed the President would actively participate in the campaigns.
“After all, if you watch the other rival presidential candidates, it is the associates that take turns to speak profusely, while the real candidates just round up the campaigns. Recall also that that was the trend with him when he contested the 2015 election.”
“But if he does, which will be both strange and unfortunate, personal considerations, including his popularly known health history, the rigours associated with traversing the 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the strategic need to put one of his best feet in front (Tinubu) may have added up to produce that decision, although none of these reasons will be tenable or acceptable to Nigerians.”
“Undoubtedly, for a President whose first term was hugely negatively impacted due to long periods of medical vacations, with the current age of the President, insinuations that he may be trying to avoid the rigours of campaigns across the vast Nigerian geographical space may be plausible.