2023: Where Does Buhari Belong?

There are growing concerns over President Muhammadu Buhari‘s non-participation in the presidential campaign of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

President Buhari has not been attending the presidential campaign of Bola Tinubu with less than sixty days to the presidential election fixed for the 25th of February, 2023.

A source that spoke with BusinessDay claimed that the APC presidential candidate has not received the kind of support expected from the Buhari presidency.

The source noted that this is despite the public claims that President Buhari will campaign for Tinubu.

There are beliefs in some quarters that President Buhari had a candidate, but his inability to project his preferred candidate on time led to the emergence of Tinubu.

Many analysts and commentators had alleged that the body language of Buhari is not pointing towards any support for Tinubu.

President Buhari last month, after meeting King Charles III in London, the United Kingdom had asked Nigerian voters to “vote for whoever they like from whichever political party.

Some observers have also insinuated that Buhari is more likely to throw his weight behind the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, than he would behind Tinubu.

BusinessDay disclosed that Tinubu is, however, comfortable with the current arrangement, following the protests that rocked the Plateau campaign flag-off, allegedly caused by the President’s Security operatives.

The platform disclosed it gathered that President Buhari’s security operatives disorganised the initial security arrangements which resulted in the chaos noticed at the campaign venue during the flag-off in Jos.

A member of the party who spoke on condition of anonymity with the platform said the party’s campaign Council has “reached an arrangement to continue with the current arrangement to avoid a further clash between the President’s security operatives and the local security arrangements made by the campaign Council.

According to the source, “We actually were not expecting that the President will attend that flag-off since he was away in London for his regular medical check-up. So, the security arrangements were done without him in mind.

“You can understand why those who we invited to the rally had to embark on serious protests at the stadium when his security men prevented them from having access into the stadium.”

He expressed hope that there would be better security arrangements before the President joins future campaigns to “avoid future recurrence of the Jos’ ugly incident.”

This is coming days after the Presidency said President Buhari will campaign for Tinubu and APC ahead of the 2023 race.

The spokesman of the President, Garba Shehu in a statement had said the President “is ready at all times to campaign for the Presidential candidate and all party candidates with full energy and conviction.”

He added that the “statement is to dispel expressed concerns in certain quarters that the President has not featured in campaigns since the national launch in Jos, Plateau State and to stress that while he remains committed to party politics, the functions and duties of the President will equally be upheld at times.”

BusinessDay, however, noted that some party chieftains who had expected President Buhari to employ a similar strategy adopted under former President Olusegun Obasanjo when he went around the entire country campaigning for his successor, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, are unhappy with Buhari’s non-participation in the party’s campaign.

The APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, in a chat with BusinessDay, however, dismissed the existence of tension in the APC camp over the President’s absence in the campaigns.

Morka noted that campaigns ahead of the 2023 general elections are proceeding according to plans.

He added that “We had envisaged that this is going to be one of the longest campaign periods and arranged that the President will join us towards the last lap.

“Remember too that the President still has other responsibilities to the country and that he had assured that governance must not suffer due to engagements in campaigns

“We still have two months and he has promised that he will support our campaigns. So, we want Nigerians to look out for more vigorous campaigns early next year, before the elections.”

Morka noted that the party has had the most vibrant and focused campaign, with strong support across the states of the country.

He added, “We are amazed at the outpouring of support for our candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, unlike the PDP’s candidate who lacks focus. Their campaigns have been lacklustre.

“Even those of Obi and the Labour Party, the only thing that they have on their trail is massive corruption.

“How can a party who could not do a proper due diligence check on those they are appointing as campaign Director General (DG) before making such appointment, want to change Nigeria? Change Nigeria with crooks?”

Morka also dismissed those claiming that Tinubu may be too old for the office of the President, adding that “There is a reason why the Constitution did not specify a maximum age limit, but only stipulated the minimum age limits.

“Age is not a relevant consideration. Asiwaju is the one doing most of the movements across the country, engaging with Nigerians. His opponents have nothing to say that is why they dwell on frivolities.

“What is it that the PDP and Labour parties are offering to Nigerians? You can’t win an election by talking; what about what the APC has or has not done. They should tell Nigerians what they have to offer.”

The Secretary of Logistics and Support Services, of the APC Campaign Council, Abdulrazak Namdas, while speaking on the same issue, noted that the President has given the Council all the support needed to succeed ahead of the election.

Namdas, who is also a member of the House of Representatives, representing Mayo Belwa, Jada, Ganye, Tongo, Federal Constituency of Adamawa State, said that the President has never hidden his support for the candidature of Bola Tinubu.

He said, “To be fair to the President, he has given us all the support we need to succeed and you must also understand that governance must continue, otherwise, our political opponents may use it to also campaign against us.

“People will look at it as if the President is being insensitive to the issues of governance. Even during the regime of former President Obasanjo, he did not attend all the campaign rallies of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

“There is no doubt that the President has a cult followership at the grassroots, now, if you have that kind of cult followership, the supporters will naturally transfer such support to whosoever the President has anointed to become President after him.

“You will also recall that when some Northern elders came out to declare their support for Peter Obi, President Buhari came out openly to remind them that Bola Tinubu has been a strong supporter of the north.”

He further said: “There are 22 Governors working for the APC at the grassroots levels and they run the party machinery and they are on the ground. The Governors are in charge and are working to ensure victory for the party in the 2023 elections.”

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