2019 Campaigns Heat Up

Politics
  • Opposition Amplify Buhari’s ‘Weakness’
  • Ruling Party Closes in on Atiku
  • Buhari Takes Campaign to ‘Votes Bank States’
  • Atiku to Woo Voters in President’s Home State, Katsina, Others
  • What APC, PDP Must Do – Dr. Kari

 

With barely a month to the general elections, the 2019 campaign rallies are beginning to intensify, even as the two camps of the major presidential contenders throw jibes at each other.

While the opposition political parties have been criticising President Muhammadu Buhari, who is seeking a second term, over series of campaign gaffes, the Federal Government has indicated its willingness to question the candidate of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, for bank fraud,

Most of the campaigns across the political spectrum have been criticised as less issue-based with parties and candidates taking advantage of mistakes by their opponents to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

The PDP took to a swipe at the President and presidential candidate of the APC, Muhammadu Buhari, after a gaffe at a rally in Warri, Delta State, on Thursday.

The president made some blunders when called upon to present the party’s flag to its governorship candidate in the state, Great Ogboru.

The National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, gave the party’s flag to the president to hand over to Mr. Ogboru. “I am handing over this flag of honour to our presidential candidate,” President Buhari erroneously said. Those on the stage quickly intervened. “Gubernatorial candidate,” someone said. The president further made another blunder, saying “senatorial candidate.” Again, he was corrected. But still, he could not get it right.

President Muhammadu Buhari (backing the camera) acknowledges cheers from supporters at the APC presidential campaign rally in Jos, Plateau State, yesterday Photo: State House

However, the PDP alongside others have raised concerns over President Buhari’s error and expressed worry if he could govern Nigeria for a second term.

Reacting on the mistakes, the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organisation (PPCO), in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, urged the president to “Voluntary hand over.” He said the President has “foreseen his defeat” at the polls.

According to him, President Buhari had already switched into a handing-over mode, pointing out that, “It is clear that President Buhari, worried by the shunning of his campaign by Nigerians, mistook the Warri rally for the May 29, 2019, handing over ceremony that is four months ahead.”

In its comments, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), in a statement by its National Spokesperson, Ikenga Ugochinyere, said: “Events in the last few days have turned out to be very clear signals that all may not be well with our president in terms of his fitness to continue in office.”

In a tweet on the matter on his official handle @GovAyoFayose, a former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, said “…Embarrassing outing on NTA yesterday, another embarrassment in Delta State today, shouldn’t this man be allowed to go home and rest?”

President Buhari again received some knocks over his performance at a town hall meeting on Wednesday, tagged “The Candidates,” hosted by Kadaria Ahmed and televised live.

Atiku’s media aide, Phrank Shuaibu, described the event as “a Comedy show” that exposed Buhari as “a person unfit for office” and unprepared to lead a 21st century nation.

“Clearly, it exposed the fact that the incumbent is neither prepared to rule for another four years, nor does he have a reason to seek a second term,” he said.

While President Buhari’s mistakes were still generating reactions, the news broke that the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku, had landed in the United States after 12 years.

This was shortly followed by a media briefing by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who accused Atiku of having a hand in the collapse of Bank PHB, vowing that the presidential rival had a question to answer back in Nigeria.

According to him, fresh evidence had shown that he benefitted from slush funds that led to the collapse of the former Bank PHB.

“The document we have shows that he benefitted to the tune of N156 million from that slush fund,” the minister explained.

The minister pointed out that the paper which was in his possession started from an internal memo on January 13, 2009, saying: “Please refer for discussion your requested overdraft in favour of Atiku Abubakar for N156 million and deliver same to me.

“Please note that it must be delivered today (Jan. 13). On the same date another memo was generated to confirm “Please confirm that the amount stated below be issued from Claremont Management Services account.”

Recently, Atiku accused President Buhari’s family members of co-owning Etisalat Nigeria and Keystone Bank which was formerly Bank PHB.

Coming to Atiku’s defence, the PPCO, through its spokesman, said the PDP presidential candidate had nothing to do with the alleged issues leading to the collapse of Bank PHB.

The spokesman explained that the allegation was a falsehood created to frame Atiku up.

Even at that, the United States chapter of the APC has described as illegal the visa granted to Atiku to be in the U.S.

In a statement, the national secretary of APC was US chapter, Ronke Ekwensi, noted that Atiku’s “entry and presence in the USA is a mockery of the President Bush Proclamation 7750 which affirms the denial of US visa to foreign officials involved with corruption and other supporting legislations by the  Congress.”

According to the statement, the APC believes that Atiku “should be held accountable for his involvement in money laundering.”

However, just few weeks to the polls, Nigerians are not sure whether they will get issue-based campaigns or be engulfed in many “side attractions” that may not count for their well-being.

 

Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the Director -General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Senate President Bukola Saraki, acknowledges cheers from supporters during their arrival from the United States at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja yesterday Photo: AMO

 

Buhari takes campaign to ‘votes bank states’

As the electioneering campaigns tense up, President Buhari will this week, starting from tomorrow, Monday, move his campaign to key states in the North-East and North-West, regarded as his strongholds and votes banks.

With 26 days to the February 16 presidential and National Assembly elections, candidates vying for respective elective positions, including President Buhari, the APC presidential candidate, and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, the PDP candidate, are making frantic efforts to woo voters ahead of the polls.

Out of the 84 million registered voters for this year’s elections, 20 million, representing 24 percent of the country’s voting population are in the North-West geopolitical zone. The North-East has 11.2 million registered voters, representing 13.4 percent of the total registered voters, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Buhari who flagged off his re-election campaign in Akwa Ibom, a state hitherto regarded as a no-go-area for him, has been to Kaduna, Kogi, Bauchi, Edo, Delta, Niger and Plateau states.

According his campaign programme, the president will visit Borno and Yobe states tomorrow, Monday, and Sokoto/Kebbi on Tuesday.  He is expected to take his re-election campaigns to Kano on Sunday.

In 2015, 1.9 million votes out of the 15.4m that sent former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan out of the Presidential Villa came from Kano. Jonathan polled 12.8 million votes.

That year, Buhari polled 1.1m votes in Kaduna, 1.3m in Katsina, 885,988 in Jigawa, 446,265 in Yobe and 567,883 in Kebbi states, respectively.

The Director, North-West of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of President Buhari, Sen Aliyu Wamakko, said Nigerians had already spoken as to who they would vote for between Buhari and Atiku.

Wamakko who chairs the Senate committee on Basic and Secondary Education in a phone interview, said President Buhari would win the poll in a big way.

“Nigerians have spoken as to who they will vote for come February 16 and the person is President Muhmmadu Buhari, the APC candidate.

“Look at the rallies in different parts of the country,  you will see that they have made up their minds to vote for President Buhari and other candidates of our party. We are confident that by the will of Allah, we are going to win in a very big way.

“Nigerians are tired of disjointed government, they want continuity.  Over the years, they have been faced with lack of continuity in government and this is why they have decided to vote again for President Buhari,” he said.

 

Atiku to campaign in Katsina, Gusau, others next week

According to the 2019 presidential campaign timetable of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) obtained by our correspondent from the party’s national secretariat yesterday in Abuja, the campaign trail will Monday, move to Gusau, the Zamfara State capital.

The team is also being expected in Kebbi and Jigawa states on Tuesday, while Kano and Katsina will also witness heavy wave of the campaign on Wednesday, as party leaders will tell the masses what the party has in stock for them.

On Thursday, according to the timetable, the PDP presidential campaign train will visit Kaduna State while on Friday, they will be received in Benue State.

The campaigners will continue in Cross River and Akwa Ibom states on Monday, of January 28, 2019.

On Tuesday, January 29th, they are scheduled to be in Bayelsa and Rivers states while Delta and Edo states are slated for January 30.

Similarly, Anambra State will be visited on January 31st, while while Yobe and Borno states are scheduled for Monday, February 4.

Bauchi and Taraba will be Tuesday,  February 5, Adamawa will be Wednesday while the Abuja Mega Rally is slated for Saturday, February 9.

However, the Lagos and South East Zonal rallies which were slated for January 17 and 18, did not hold because of the trip by the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to the United States of America.

The Director Media and Publicity of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation (PPCO), Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, did not pick his call or respond to a text message sent to him to explain whether the party would adjust the timetable.

But a key member of the publicity department at the party’s national secretariat said: “The party can adjust the timetable to suit what it wants. The decision may be taken tomorrow (Sunday).

“But I can assure you that our members and supporters in all the states are ready. Any state we decide to go, there will be no challenges,” he added.

 

What PDP, APC must do – Dr. Kari

Dr. Abubakar Kari, the head of Sociology Department, University of Abuja, however, explained that it was not strength for politicians and political parties in Nigeria to become desperate few weeks to elections, saying it was usually associated with the tendency of politicians to turn away from issues and concentrate on personalities.

“You will discover that the parties are not communicating meaningfully with the electorate; they are not exactly selling new ideas or new policies or even telling Nigerians that they are charting a new course,” he said.

“They are promising the same thing concerning problems that have not been addressed and which ought to have been addressed; and most of the problems were actually caused by them in the first place. So it is becoming difficult for them to talk differently and in an innovative manner and that is what basically causes them to stay away from the issues and then start to attack personality. And they do that in defamatory manner sometimes, oblivious in certain instances of the dangers of such negative and dangerous rhetoric. They even trade in incendiary rhetoric which ignites incitements. To me, it all stems from the clear and apparent inability of the political parties to market new ideas to convince the populace; so they resort to all these things.

The university lecturer said it was not unexpected that the PDP was criticising Buhari for the campaign gaffes because the PDP “was a huge faux fax probably of scandalous proportion.

“But personally I would like to make an allowance for the president because of the heat of the moment. He has been very busy; any day they go to one or two states for campaigns apart from attending to state matters. So you can actually make an allowance and I want to look at the issue in a big context. Before and after he left that place (Delta rally), if you do a content analysis of what he said, when it was the opportunity for him to speak, he made a lot of sense. He also said things in Kogi – he talked about anti-corruption, the Ajaokuta project and so on and so forth. The same thing in Delta, so if you look at the entire incident in a context, you may be tempted to give him an allowance that it was just a slip, he is a human being.”

He also expressed doubt that Buhari or the APC would want Atiku quizzed over the alleged Bank PHB fraud, adding that “It is simply part of the incendiary threats.

“They know very well that it is going to be very dangerous, time is not auspicious for them to either invite Atiku for questioning or to interrogate him. The move will create much problem not really for Atiku but for themselves. To me it is just part of the political rhetoric, they don’t mean what they say but I stand to be proved wrong.”

He advised political parties to refocus their campaigns to be based on issues.

“They should tell Nigerians what they really want to do, not the usual thing – talking about electricity or anti-corruption.  These have become clichés, they are stale issues. We want them to talk on concrete issues, how they would revive the economy in terms of specifics because what they have been doing so far is to generalize issues. They say things any person can says, they make claims that are not based on substance and that is why they easily abandon them,” he said,

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