Of Atiku, Buhari and APC Ticket
By Abba Adakole
On Wednesday, October 15, 2014, former Head of State and a national leader of the All Progressives Congress, General Muhammadu Buhari, formally declared his intention to vie for his party's presidential ticket ahead of the 2015 general elections. If the calibre of attendees-including four incumbent governors- and the crowd witnessed at the Eagle Square, Abuja, venue of the event, is anything to go by, the Katsina-born General is well on his way to becoming the APC presidential standard bearer.
Noticeably, when former Vice President Atiku Abubakar made his declaration on Wednesday, September 24, 2014, no single APC governor graced the occasion. Specifically, Buhari's declaration was attended by the Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola; the Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi; the Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole; the Governor of Nasarawa State, Tanko Al-Makura; several former governors and serving senators of the APC.
Therefore, some analysts have already drawn the conclusion that the massive turnout by APC bigwigs is a clear indication that the powers-that-be in APC (particularly former Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu) are backing Buhari's aspiration over and above that of anyone else.
The likelihood of the above permutation being true cannot be palatable news to Atiku. It is pertinent to recall here that, following his most recent defection from the Peoples Democratic Party to the APC, Atiku had said in a BBC Hausa Service interview that his movement into the APC was not about his presidential ambition since he had clear chances to win the nation's number one post when he was the number two citizen under former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
However, not long afterwards, Atiku's media team shot itself in the foot through an advertorial titled “Hogwash! ” which was published in several dailies. Although the advert set out to dispel what the media office described as a “malicious report”, it unwittingly revealed that a deal may have been sealed with Tinubu, to cede the party's presidential ticket to the former VP.
Now that it seems obvious that Buhari is the preferred choice of APC heavyweights, Atiku must be biting his fingers over being betrayed yet again as was the case when he decamped from PDP to the Action Congress of Nigeria, a now defunct party which forms the bedrock of the APC.
As for Buhari, it is well known that this is his fourth attempt at becoming an elected president of Nigeria. Unfortunately for him, he has never been able to broaden his appeal beyond his core constituency because of unstatesmanlike utterances. Buhari once told the world during a BBC Hausa interview that, “If what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood.”
In what appears to be a rather obsessive interest in talking about blood, Buhari is also on record as saying, “I, along with many other patriotic Nigerians, fought for the unity and survival of this country. Hundreds of patriotic souls perished in the battle to keep Nigeria one. The blood of many of our compatriots helped to water the birth of the democracy we are all enjoying today.” This may well be the truth, but Buhari cannot in good conscience deny that his utterances before and after the 2011 Presidential Election encouraged the violence that led to the death of many Nigerians in his part of the country after that election.
Moreover, Buhari is unable to shed the toga of being a religious extremist. Even Audu Ogbe, who is charged with coordinating Buhari's campaign, tried at the October 15, 2014 declaration to dismiss the charge that the former Head of State is a religious fanatic. Ogbe said if indeed Buhari was a fanatic, himself and the like of governors Amaechi and Oshiomhole who are Christians would not associate with the retired General. That indeed may be true, but the mere fact that Ogbe considered it necessary to try to whitewash the fanatic label indicates that even they who are in Buhari's camp consider the label a serious image problem.
Additionally, Ogbe goofed when he said Buhari as Head of State “had power but never abused it.” In case Ogbe has decided to send his memory on sabbatical, Buhari's record as a military dictator is a matter of public record. For one, it is common knowledge that Buhari's regime incarcerated Nigerians without trial. Also, Buhari's Decree No. 4 remains one of the most draconian laws against press freedom that the entire world has ever known.
Furthermore, apart from Buhari's own tendency to advocate violence and talk about blood apparently without due consideration, the former General has allied himself with Tinubu, who is on record as having said, “It will be rig and roast,” in reference to the Ekiti and Osun gubernatorial elections during a speech at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, on April 24, 2014.
One does not have to become an armchair critic in order to comprehend that, when taken together, Buhari's “the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood” guarantee and Tinubu's “rig and roast” exhortation paint a clear picture of a violent tendency within the APC. It also stands to reason that when these worrisome utterances by APC leaders like Buhari are compared with incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan's stance that no Nigerian life should be lost on account of his ambition, Nigerians know who they would rather have as their President.
Mr Adakole sent this piece from Abuja.
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