Buhari Asks Loyalists Not to Flout INEC’s Timetable on Campaigns


By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

As Nigerians await  more aspirants to the office of the presidency of the country to make their intentions known, President Muhammadu Buhari  has directed his campaign officials and loyalists to ensure that they keep strictly to the guidelines for the campaigns.

Apart from the recent appointment of a lawyer, Festus Keyamo, as his campaign spokesman, a number of groups supporting the president’s reelection bid have sprung up across the country.

However, THISDAY gathered from a close ally of the president at the weekend that he does not want to jump the gun on the time table set out by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for anyone to kick-start campaigns for 2019 election.

The source said this cautious approach by President Buhari explains why he chose the reserved atmosphere at the last meeting of the National Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to declare his interest to go for a second term.

“The president would not want to be seen flouting the electoral law with regards to the issue of timeline set by INEC  for the 2019 elections. So we intend to wait for the appropriate time to commence our campaign. All we are doing now is consultations and mapping out strategies,” he said.

INEC had cautioned politicians and political parties to ensure that they do not engage in campaigns outside the timeframe stipulated for it as it is capable of heating up the polity and creating confusion.

According to the INEC 2019 election timetable, party primaries for the presidential, governorship, federal and state elections would begin on August 18 and end on October 7, 2018, while campaigns for presidential election will start from November 18.

But ahead of President Buhari’s formal campaign launch for the second term, prominent individuals and groups were already being enlisted under the umbrella of the Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) with a view to helping to set up campaign structures across the country.

The president’s lobby team is targeting to establish operational bases in the six state capitals in the South-south zone from where they would coordinate efforts to gain the desired support for the 2019 presidential election.

In what seemed like a political strategy to gain more grounds in the South-south states, Buhari’s men are seeking to make an early in-road into the otherwise stronghold of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

A  stalwart of the APC and a leading figure in the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief G.G. Anabs Saro-Igbe, had told THISDAY that the BSO offices had been opened for business  in Calabar, Cross River State; Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, and in Benin-City, Edo State.

He said the group had also opened offices in Warri, Delta State; Yenagoa, Bayelsa State and Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

“The campaigns have not started officially but what we intend to do is to open our offices that will be used to drum support for the second term bid of President Buhari, “ he said.