The ruling All Progressives Congress holds the grand finale of its presidential campaign tomorrow in Lagos as it canvasses for votes for its flag bearer, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, ahead of the Saturday’s presidential election. Adedayo Akinwale writes:
The All Progressives Congress (APC) will on Tuesday draw the curtain on its message of “Renewed Hope” with the grand finale of the 2023 campaign taking place in Lagos, even as the party strives to retain power beyond 2023.
Since the campaign activities was flagged off on September 28, 2022, the presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has criss-crossed the entire country soliciting for support and votes of eligible Nigerians. The former two-time Governor of Lagos state who had publicly declared that becoming the president of the country has been his life-long ambition has not looked back as he takes his campaign to the high and mighty, rich and the poor, meeting with several stakeholders in order to realise his ambition.
Recall that during the unveiling of the APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) and the Action Plan of the party’s presidential candidate in October, 2022 in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari promised to lead the party’s campaign.
At the onset, nothing much was heard from the president regarding his commitment to lead the party to victory. Despite the assurance he gave that he would lead the campaign, he refused to show keen interest, giving rise to speculations that Buhari was not enthusiastic about Tinubu’s presidency.
As the leader of the party, one would have expected that Buhari should tour the 36 states with Tinubu, if not anything, reciprocate the same gesture done to him in 2015. However, that was not to be.
But after much foot-dragging, the APC Presidential Campaign Council subsequently announced in a statement signed by its Spokesperson, Festus Keyamo, that Buhari would campaign for Tinubu in 10 states, including Adamawa, Yobe, Sokoto, Kwara, Ogun, Cross Rivers, Nasarawa, Katsina, Imo State and the grand finale in Lagos.
During the party’s campaign in Damaturu, Yobe state, Buhari assured Nigerians that Tinubu would continue to build on his legacy to rebuild Nigeria. He said the party’s presidential candidate was the person capable of continuing the work of rebuilding Nigeria he started over seven years ago.
“I accompany Asiwaju here to tell you to vote for him so that he can continue with my legacy of rebuilding Nigeria,” he said.
The reason why APC campaign was desperate to have Buhari on its campaign train was understandable. Since 2003 when Buhari first contested, he had consistently gotten over 10 million votes, except 2007 where he got over six million votes. Based on this, Buhari’s strong electoral strength in both the North-west and North-east is expected to be an asset for Tinubu.
Nevertheless, Buhari has a history of not staking his political capital unless his personal political interest is on the line. What happened in Ogun state In 2019 during the battle between Adekunle Akinlade and Dapo Abiodun over the governorship ticket easily comes to mind. It was a surprise to many that President Buhari as the leader of the party asked voters to vote him at the presidential election and the governorship candidate of their choice in the governorship election, even though Akinlade and allies had defected to APM.
The President had said then: “On Saturday, February 16, you are to vote for Presidential candidate of the APC. But I want to urge you to choose whoever you like across the parties as governor of Ogun State. There is no problem about it. I have no problem about it. The people of Ogun State will decide.
Also, similar scenario played out during the tussle between Henry Nwosu and Hope Uzodinma in Imo State, Buhari repeated the same statement he made in Ogun state.
He said, “You can vote for whosoever you want, do not allow intra or inter party affairs stop you from voting for the candidate of your choice”.
If one may ask, of what asset has Buhari been to Tinubu’s campaign? Which of the legacies of Buhari would Tinubu build on? Under his administration, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on strike in 2022 alone which lasted eight months; insecurity that was limited to the North-east has been fully democratized under Buhari’s administration, no region is safe at the moment, the prices of foodstuff is now beyond the reach of common man.
Besides, under this administration, Nigeria became the poverty capital of the world; exchange rate was 179/$ in 2015, it is now N800; petrol was N85 per litre in 2015, it is now N195 in Abuja, while in some states it goes for N300 or N400. Bag of rice was N8,000 in 2015 and at the moment, it is being sold at N45,000 per bag. The list is endless.
There is no gain saying that Nigeria appears worse that the APC-led federal government met it. The performance indices of the Buhari-led government appears enough for the party to be voted out on Saturday.
To add insult to injury, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), under the directive of Buhari, was asked to redesign the N1,000; N500 and N200 notes, while the old notes are no longer accepted as legal tender. While no one has actually faulted the policy, almost everyone is unanimous that the policy was poorly implemented. Just because Buhari plans to catch thieves, he has set the whole house on fire.
Sadly, people now sleep at ATM terminals to withdraw money from banks. While the CBN has directed banks to pay over the counter, it hasn’t really helped matters as Nigerians are restricted in terms of the amount they can withdraw. Some backs even pay as little as N1,000 over the counter.
As a result of this, small and medium scale businesses have started crumbling. It would take a miracle for the country’s economy to avoid another recession.
In his intervention, a chieftain of the party, Senator Ayo Arise said he believed that it was unwise for the ruling party to visit hardship on the people few days to the election.
He said: “A lot of people are walking about with a lot of anger. A little thing can trigger unexpected consequences. And this currency thing has festered for almost two weeks now. We’ve seen the effect, we’ve the consequences of lack of good planning, and ordinarily should not have required the Supreme Court to intervene for this policy to have been changed.
“Even if that was not the intention of the policy (targeted against Tinubu). It is not rocket science for us to see who will be affected most by this policy. We were here in 2018/2019 when we were campaigning for the second term of our president, what was going on was people like (Yemi) Osinbajo going into markets, going into every state doing market money (trader-moni) to relieve the burden and the pains on the people, to show that this government cares. So if the same government now says we have about two weeks to our election and they now say they want to visit hardship on the people, do you think that the average man on the street would like APC as a party when you have such a keen competition?
“So, it might not be the original intention or their purpose, but that is what we’re seeing on the streets. People are angry. Why do you want to go to an election, you don’t create an atmosphere that will bring so much anger to people on the street. The everyday person who’s going to vote, they have forgotten all the good things that APC did in the past. They’re only going to remain with this knowledge of what have been visited upon them. So if Asiwaju says it is targeted at him, he’s speaking correctly.”
With the below average performance of Buhari, coupled with the poor implementation of naira redesign policy that has practically turned an average Nigerian to a beggar, it will require extra efforts by the ruling party for Nigerians to vote APC in the forthcoming elections.
It does appear that the APC was formed to win Buhari the presidency which had since been achieved and as such, the man from Daura does not mind if the link bridge to the Villa collapsed at the end of his tenure.