Either for its unpardonable goofs or Freudian slips, last week was far from being pleasant for the ruling APC, writes Olaseni Durojaiye
Last week was certainly not a good one for Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). It was marked by a galore of goofs. Simply put, it was the type that if it were possible, the party’s apparatchik would want wiped away from the memories of Nigerians, because it revealed very disturbing signals about the presidency and the party leadership.
The goofs drew varied comments from commentators, observers and public affairs analysts alike even as it thought to be a foreboding sign in some circles that opined that what were thought to be goofs could as well have been Freudian slips.
First was the case of false asset declaration involving the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, which President Muhamamdu Buhari claimed he was not aware of and knowing that the president is never aware of anything, timing of the proposed removal of Onnoghen has been variously described as criminal. Sad as it is, despite feigning not to be in the know, the actors behind Onnoghen’s removal in the presidency have not reneged and yet, the president has not stopped them either.
The dust raised by this disappointment had not settled when the President’s unimpressive performance at a Town Hall Meeting tagged ‘The Candidates’ took the shine off everything else. More than twice, the President’s responses to questions posed at him were at tangent.
During the parley, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo made up for the president at different times.
According to a source, which preferred anonymity, “I noticed that when THISDAY interviewed the president, he was fond of saying something that didn’t relate to questions asked while responding, until he had to be reminded over and over. It was the same thing that happened yesterday at the town hall meeting. It seems he suffers from memory loss,” the source said.
To substantiate his point, the source shared a compilation of instances where the president veered off from the question that he was asked. When asked by the moderator, Kadaria Ahmed, “What are your thoughts on restructuring with regards to education?” President Buhari retorted: “I’m expecting the press to investigate the corruption in the local government.”
In another instance when he was asked “Why should the Nigerian people vote for you again?” the president’s response was that “I’ve said before that if my party nominates me, I will contest.”
In yet another instance when asked that “The soldiers are protesting poor treatment and are ill-equipped, what are your thoughts?” The president replied thus: “I get situation report from the military. The military should investigate the demonstrations because they are not supposed to demonstrate.”
Clearly, the Town Hall Meeting showed a couple of deficiencies in the president as he often times struggled to answer the questions posed to him by the anchor. And as often as the president struggled to answer the question or when he strayed off mark, Osinbajo came to his aid, which prompted Ahmed at some point to ask the vice-president to allow Buhari answer the questions himself.
Analysts were of the opinion that the president’s outing left much to be desired. On a few occasion, the president, while labouring to answer questions would end up with the points he should have started with.
Others argued that the president rambled and failed to go straight to answering the question adding that if he was being timed, he would have been stopped before getting to the real answers to the questions.
Commentaries about the president’s performance at the Town Hall Meeting were yet to abate, when he again displayed worrying signs of memory loss at the APC campaign rally in Delta State. He had said he was there to present the party’s flag to the APC presidential candidate, then corrected himself and said senatorial candidate before realising he was a gubernatorial candidate. Even when corrected the first time, the president erred again.
This has led critics of the administration to suggest that the president could be suffering from incipient stage of memory loss and may be unfit to rule. Other interpretations of the situation border on the president being propped up to rule by some cabal in the presidency.
Instructively, when asked “Why should the Nigerian people vote for you again?” the president’s response was that “I’ve said before that if my party nominates me, I will contest.” Could this suggest that he is being goaded to run by some forces behind the scene against his wish given his fragile health?
Interestingly, this is not the first time a president was being foisted on the nation by a powerful cabal. The late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was kept in office even when it was obvious that his health could not cope with its attendant rigours.
At the height of that inglorious saga, his handlers and the cabal shielded him from the public. He was even flown to and from Saudi Arabia in un-presidential manner. Still, a few of the key players in that whole episode are around the administration. Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau is one.
But the National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole further compounded the week for the party and president, when he spoke during the party’s campaign rally in Benin, Edo State.
While welcoming some defectors from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Oshiomhole had urged members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to join the APC so that their sins could be forgiven.
“We have some PDP defectors. They are Henry Tenebe, Iluobe … Iluobe means I have done something wrong. Yes, once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven.”
However, Oshiomhole’s statement is being described as a Freudian slip and revealed the ruling party’s strong arm tactics against opposition politicians. Besides, it has further fuelled speculation bordering on why some leading politicians were fast dumping the PDP for the APC.
Those who hold this line insisted that many of the politicians, who have defected to the APC, might have been coerced into doing so. Critics of the administration insisted that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), has become an arm of the ruling party even as they argued that the APC has perfected the practice of deploying the anti-graft agency against influential opposition politicians in a bid to make them dump the PDP.
The tactics appear to be working as many leading PDP members have continued to dump the party for the APC in recent time, further decimating the leading opposition party and forcing it to re-strategise.
Clearly, the past week was not a good one for the ruling party. But beyond the party, it is instructive of the persona of the president, his presidency and the leadership of the ruling party.
A few facts that are glaring from all of what happened last week are: The president is far from being in-charge; the anti-corruption war has become a political weapon even as the APC will hound any opposition politician standing its way of re-election until such politician jumped ship.
But in spite of the burgeoning frustrations of the ruling party, two issues further messed last week for the APC and they are the trip made by former vice-president and presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to the United States, 12 years after he was unable to visit the country over allegation of corruption. The APC had made needless issue out of the matter, daily taunting Atiku about his inability to go to the US. But he made it and threw the APC camp, not only off-balance but into serious confusion.
The other one is the aftermath of the visit. Apparently stupefied that he eventually made it to the US, the federal government has reportedly resolved to probe Atiku the moment he returns to the country following his alleged involvement in the failed Bank PHB.
Of course, the entire nation has since come down hard on the party and government as their latest moves seemed to have exposed their intolerance as much as vulnerability in the February 16 polls. That last week was bad for them was not anyone’s fault but entirely that of the APC because of their choice.