State governors elected on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) must be under illusion on their future political prospects especially on their power and relevance. It is clear that even despite the negative outcome (for the party’s state governors) of the 2019 elections, these guys are still living in the past. They reportedly met at another of their regular jamborees and blamed those they grouped as Buhari’s advisers for allegedly failing to project him and his administration positively. In a way, it is satisfying that these governors are even aware that their party wallows in a negative image. But the governors only need to examine themselves instead of blaming others.
How far is it true that Buhari’s advisers and others around him are damaging the man and his administration and of course, the party? When Buhari assumed power in 2015, what emerged was a disturbing feature in which almost all the states were owing many months and in some cases, many months arrears of unpaid wages and salaries. Could it have been exaggerated to claim some states at that time already bankrupt? Even if not so, about the first major decision of Buhari was to bail out the states from their financial problems. Majority of the governors at that time belonged to APC. The bailout for the states was a supposed relief for civil servants and by extension, their families. A potential image-boosting for both Buhari and their party. Instead, shortly before Christmas 2015, Buhari had to specially and publicly appeal to state governors to pay the arrears of salaries to workers to enable them enjoy the season and the new year with their family. how many APC governors heeded Buhari’s appeal? Were Buhari’s advisers in volved in the failure of APC governors to clear arrears os salaries, a failure which largely discredits APC’s image among working class Nigerians?
There was also the refund of overpaid debt from the Paris Club which Buhari released to the states. Again, many of the beneficiary states were APC-controlled. What happened to that unexpected windfall? Did Buhari’s advisers influence APC governors to fraudulently divert such public fund? How many APC governors could account for that financial scandal? These are issues creating negative image for President Buhari and the APC especially in matters of war against corruption and looting of public treasury.
Another nauseating issue creating negative publicity for Buhari and the APC is the never-ending delay tactics on the national minimum wage. Over four years in office and APC governors are unwilling to increase minimum wage from N18,000 to mere N30,000? Who mostly opposed the wage rise? Surely, not Buhari or his advisers? Rather APC governors. Some of these governors appoint up to five thousand assistants each only for selfish political purposes. As automatic delegates at the party’s state or national congress for selecting presidential or governorship candidates, such special assistants come in handy for block votes. What, if any, is the involvement of Buhari’s advisers in such gerrymandering?
In another vein, never in Nigeria’s political history did the electorate revolt against a ruling party as was done against the APC in the 2019 general elections.Incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari lost the elections in Zamfara, Benue, Ondo, Plateau, Taraba, Adamawa, Rivers, Bauchi, Edo, Oyo, among others. Of the lot, Buhari’s defeat. All he could score in each of those states was the mandatory token twenty five per cent. Results from Benue in particular and Plateau were expected as protest votes of the people against killings by cattle rearers. Buhari’s defeat in the remaining seven states controlled by the APC and Taraba was the voters’ loud and open message against the arrogance and dictatorship of APC governors. Specifically, advisers around Buhari couldn’t be blamed for that setback. But if they are to be blamed, that should be for their failure to prevail on Buhari for their failure to prevail on Buhari to clamp down on the open anti-party of the state governors concerned for defying the party’s national headquarters directive on selection of candidates for the 2019 election.
In their reasoning and conduct, APC state governors in the run-up to the elections gave the impression they were not bound by party’s rules and regulations. In the process, the party was rendered impotent as state governors fielded their personal candidates against party’s official candidates for governorship, state and national assembly elections. The people therefore asserted their choices to cut down the governors to size.
In creating negative publicity for the APC, state governors have no respect for either ordinary members nor the national leadership. When John Oyegun was national chairman, these fellows ridiculed him as weak and not politically-minded. Conspired against on these somewhat convenient grounds, Oyegun was ditched for ex-Edo state governor Adams Oshiomole as the new national chairman, only for the same Oshiomole to be deemed brash and no more than a labour leader.
Facing elections as a ruling party in 2019, APC’s internal weaknesses were exposed, especially in states where governors had administered for four consecutive years. Owing to the overlordship of state governors as they carried on as all in all, other members were considered irrelevant. When elections came, not even Buhari and his electoral phenomenon could save the governors.Could it have been otherwise? National headquarters.
For now, APC governors and party hierarchy are lucky and had better preserve that luck. Otherwise, by 2023, he will retire to Daura, Katsina state and it is on record that he would not mentor anybody with favour to succeed him. APC (with its presidential and governorship candidates) will then know the difference of the party minus Muhammadu Buhari.
David-West? But it’s true
Tam David-West. Ever controversial even till the day he died. A friend was visiting from the United States and observed the electoral miracle of Muhammadu Buhari’s return from a seeming political oblivion to the Nigerian presidency. I then gave my friend a book, The Sixteen Sins of Muhammadu Buhari, a collection of positive observations of candidate Muhammadu Buhari, released in time for the 2015 presidential election.
The author (or collector)? Professor Tam (as he preferred) David-West. No matter how minimally, the book was a major contribution to Buhari’s political renaissance. The following day, my visitor alerted me that Tam David-West was dead. Almost disbelieving, I insisted on his source and my friend showed me the newspapers. Irrepressible David-West. Only sad events such as this could flatten the man.
Somehow, we had our differences for years but owing to his large-heartedness and commitment to President Buhari, David-West reconciled with me in 2002. As Chief Press Secretary to former President Ibrahim Babangida, I had to confirm to reporters that following a cabinet reshuffle, David-West was no longer a minister. Note that I did not reshuffle the cabinet. David-West and I had angry exchanges and indeed, never spoke for a long time.
Then came 2002 when General Muhammadu Buhari decided to challenge incumbent Olusegun Obasanjo for the Nigerian presidency in 2003. The hostile reaction of three prominent Nigerians: Chief Bisi Akande, Wole Soyinka and Ebenezer Babatope poured such vitriol on Buhari accusing him of everything … humiliating late Emir Ado Bayero of Kano and deceased Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade.
Buhari was further accused of detaining politicians without trial, jailing journalists, backdating laws to execute drug dealers. There was no doubting the intended damage for Buhari in the 2003 elections and I rightly believed the three critics (more by accident from south west) were unfair for singling out, rather conveniently only Buhari.
My reaction was an eye-opener. By the way, I last met Buhari in 1984 (yes, 1984) at a launcheon for journalists at Lagos House, Marina, during his official tour of Lagos state as the new military head of state. By the time I revealed that virtually all past Nigerian civilian and military leaders had similarly at one time or the other, employed the same harsh measures for which Buhari was accused, there were total shock and cemetery silence all over the country. Such past leaders named with such specified actions were Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello, Dennis Osadebay, Yakubu Gowon, Colonel (as he then was) Robert Adebayo, Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida, late Colonel Yohana Madaki, Brigadier Muazu and Olusegun Obasanjo for the second time.
For all the shock and silence which enveloped the country, one man broke ranks the following day. He was Tam David-West. I was at a social gathering at Ijebu-Ode when my phone rang. On the line in Lagos was Femi Adesina, then editor of Sun newspaper and now media adviser to President Buhari.
David-West had contacted him after reading my epic defence of Buhari in the Sun Newspaper the previous day. He wanted to call and commend me for the piece on Buhari but was not sure of my possible reaction.
But I agreed he could call since he was so large-hearted. He called that same day and congratulated me. Since then, very often he called after reading my column on Fridays. On at least,two occasions, he described me as professor of political history.
From his utterances on the phone in the past couple of years, there was no doubt Tam David-West’s health was failing. But, so irrepressible, he kept on going until suddenly, he passed on.