Adedayo Akinwale writes on some of the gaffes made by the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Senator Bola Tinubu, since the commencement of the campaigns for the 2023 elections
Since he made his intention to contest for the presidency public, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu has been under strict scrutiny by Nigerians for his alleged poor health condition . His many public gaffes, which critics say are symptoms of dementia, are constantly being highlighted as Nigerians get ready to elect a new leader on February 25, 2023.
Before the commencement of political campaigns, many Nigerians had expressed reservations about Tinubu ‘s state of health, wondering whether he would be able to withstand the rigours of the campaign activities or not.
However, to the surprise of many, the former Governor of Lagos State has turned up for all the political engagements and activities of the party. The political engagements, which included rallies, and various town hall meetings, have been a success to a large extent.
Nevertheless, some gaffes made by Tinubu have overshadowed his sterling outings. Maybe it was based on this that Tinubu admitted in a video that trended on social media last week that he has stopped using social media due to a series of abuse and insults hauled at him.
A dose of what to expect at the campaigns of the ruling party was first served in October during the 7th edition of Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit (KADInvest 7.0), where Tinubu said the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai “turned a rotten situation to bad one”.
“We’re not going to let you run away, your vision, creativity and resiliency in turning a rotten situation to a bad one is necessary at this critical time, that’s why we are here today,” he had said.
Moreso, while speaking at the flag-off of his campaign in Plateau State, Tinubu concluded his speech by saying, “God bless PD…APC.”
At the same event, Tinubu made another goof when he referred to the Director-General of his campaign council, Simon Lalong, as Solomon Dalong. The latter is a former Minister of Youth and Sports Development. He hails from the state. To many, it was unpardonable that APC presidential candidate did not know the name of the DG of his campaign council,
At a meeting with private sector stakeholders in Owerri, Imo State recently, Tinubu uttered some words that arguably sounded gibberish as he tried to justify his shunning of town hall and debates organised by media organisations during his remarks.
He said: “A town hall is different from ‘balabloo-blu-bulava’” to the consternation of the audience. It was clear if the APC standard bearer was struggling to pronounce ‘hullabaloo’, but the apparent gaffe elicited much criticism among Nigerians, with many pointing it out as further evidence that he may not be able to cope with the pressures that are inherent in the presidential position he is aspiring to occupy if he wins come 2023.
Similarly, the presidential candidate of APC who appeared not to be relenting, committed another gaffe while speaking in Oporoza, Gbaramatu Kingdom, when he said the deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who is the APC gubernatorial candidate in Delta State, would be the next governor of “Niger Delta State.”
Tinubu while acknowledging dignitaries in the audience said, “I equally recognise today the deputy senate president and he will be the governor of Niger Delta State.”
In the same vein, while addressing a crowd of supporters penultimate Saturday in Lagos, Tinubu asked his supporters to go and take their “APV”.
Although the context showed he meant Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), the presidential candidate adjusted by saying APC.
“Do you love me? Do you love me? Go and take your APV…APC and you must vote,” Tinubu reportedly said.
Last Thursday, critics of the APC presidential candidate were having a laugh on him as the video of his campaign outing in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State where he promised to bring high prices made the rounds of twitter. The faux pas was another comic addition from a man who has gained a reputation for verbal gaffes in his campaign outings.
While speaking to enthusiastic party supporters, Tinubu vowed to bring high prices to the country. Even more, he was also being mocked on Twitter after a difficult time pronouncing technology. He said: “Let us retiae-recreate Techno-LoLiCal-Up”
Earlier in April, Tinubu had told Nigerians that their Permanent Voter Cards had “expired,” a claim refuted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
While Tinubu himself has consistently dismissed criticisms about his health, claiming physical strength is not the most important in leading the most populous African nation, given the experience with Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who died in office and President Muhammadu Buhari’s series of medical vacations in the United Kingdom that took many months of inactivity off his eight years in office, many Nigerians have tended to link Tinubu’s verbal falls to the assumed deterioration in his health, the actual state of which, like most Nigerian politicians, he has kept closely to himself.
Though analysts have said the former Lagos State governor is a candidate to beat at the election featuring co-septuagenarian and former vice president Atiku Abubakar, former Anambra and Kano states’ governors, Peter Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso, respectively, many Nigerians are however worried about handing over the country in need of a strong and present manager to another medically unfit leader after incumbent Buhari had left the country in quandary for many months to attend to his medical needs abroad.
But reacting, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential campaign council, described the continuous gaffes of Tinubu as indicative of another pattern of unfitness for the office of the president.
The main opposition party pointed out that the period of campaign was not just for activities that political parties could design to fill the void before election, but part of the building blocks for leadership selection.
In a statement by one of the spokespersons of the PDP Presidential Campaign, Senator Dino Melaye, the main opposition party said, “the manifestation in Jos is a further consolidation of a pattern in the physical and psychological composition of Tinubu, who a few weeks ago, shocked his host, Governor Nasir el-Rufai, when he said Nigeria would go from rotten to bad. Analysts, who put both events in context have leaned on the Biblical aphorism that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
PDP described the campaign season as a period of assessments for choices and decisions by the electorate.
The party said it was important that Nigerians take full advantage to mark the scripts of various candidates and their parties. PDP argued that a man like Tinubu, who could not have the presence of mind or who required support to move around has obviously marked himself down.
On his part, an aide to the presidential candidate of PDP, Atiku Abubakar, Phrank Shaibu said the recent gaffes of Tinubu are content for skit makers and TikTokers.
He said Tinubu should not be allowed to get close to power because he “will make Nigeria a by-word for scorn among the comity of nations. Without mincing words, Tinubu’s gaffes already supply comedians, skit makers, meme-makers, and TikTokers with content.”
But a member of the APC Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council Public Affairs, Dr. Ronke Bello believed that the so-called gaffes videos were doctored
According to her, “this is the age of technology; people doctored it and threw it out there, what do you want us to do? We are not going to leave our campaign and start pursuing people whose job is to sit in their bedroom, take a video, doctor it and throw it out. I have been at some of the rallies, I have compared some of the events, which means I was in the hall with the man and I didn’t see those signs that are in the video. And don’t forget one thing we take from this man is that he has a sense of humour and sometimes he says things and we laugh over it and we move on,” she explained.
However, her position was contradicted by the Director, Public Affairs and the Spokesperson of Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo who said there was nothing wrong in a few slips made by Tinubu.
To Keyamo, making gaffes has nothing to do with age.
He argued that the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi has been making gaffes without anyone making a fuss about it.
He added that famous speakers such as former President of the United States, Barack Obama and the incumbent, Joe Biden have made gaffes during campaigns and as such Tinubu’s own was not peculiar.
Keyamo argued: “I haven’t seen any headline anywhere about Peter Obi describing Nasarawa as a country. When he (Obi) said Nasarawa is a country and not a state, did anybody make any news out of it? Obi has been fact-checked so many times and has been caught lying openly about statistics, is it because of age?”
“The best speakers in the world, the most intelligent people, once you are on the campaign trail, you can make mistakes. Go and check candidates of the most civilised countries of the world including Britain make gaffes. Barack Obama made a lot of gaffes, US President Joe Biden made a lot of gaffes”.
“When you are on the campaign trail of four to five months and you are speaking every day, every minute to every people, you are bound to make slips here and there. There is nothing serious about it. As long as you are sure of what you are saying and not saying something totally off-key, there is no problem at all”
“They are so much interested in Asiwaju that the moment he begins to talk, every single member of the opposition parties is tuned to listening to whatever he wants to say. They listen to every sentence, alphabet and every word he pronounces. We in the APC are happy about that. It shows the level of interest they have in our candidate”.
Despite the slips, the former Governor of Lagos state is not ready to look back till he achieves his life ambition, which is to rule this country.