· Say he wouldn’t become president without South-west support
Elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai yesterday faulted President Muhammadu Buhari for not coming out early enough to campaign for the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Yakassai also a founding member of Arewa Consultative Forum, observed that Buhari could not have won the 2015 presidential election without the support of the South-west progressives led by the former governor of Lagos State.
He made the remarks yesterday while responding to questions on ARISE NEWS Channel on various national issues including scarcity of fuel and Naira currently facing Nigeria and Buhari’s lukewarm attitude towards Tinubu’s campaign.
At the session, Yakassai observed that Buhari should have spearheaded Tinubu’s presidential campaign from the beginning, citing the level of support the president enjoyed from Tinubu and other South-west leaders during the 2015 and 2019 presidential elections.
He pointed out that the campaign started many months ago, but the president did not openly come out to campaign the APC presidential candidate until recently, attributing it to Buhari’s lukewarm approach to the presidential campaign.
He said: “Before the final contest, Buhari contested elections three times and he failed. What is the source of his problem? It is in the southern part of the country. I understand his advisers told him to look for support from the South-west because of its affinity with the North in terms of culture, politics and religion.
“The president has ample time to come out and campaign for the presidential candidate of the party, who provided the opportunity, which he lost to become the president of Nigeria three times. I see no reason the president will come out at the tail of the campaign. If you look at it carefully, the president did not start mentioning the name of Tinubu until recently.
“On previous occasions, he would go, raise up his hands and sing the slogan of APC. That is all. I know my criticism of Buhari’s lukewarm attitude towards Tinubu’s presidential aspiration might force the president to change his mind.
“He did not support Tinubu early enough or he did not come out to support Tinubu early enough by mentioning his name, by asking voters to vote for him. He did not do that from the beginning of the campaign,” Yakassai insisted.
The elder statesman also spoke extensively on the scarcity of fuel and Naira currently stoking social unrest across the federation, questioning the rationale behind the cash swap policy at the time the country was preparing for its general election.
He specifically faulted the timing of the policy, which according to him, was too short for all Nigerians to comply with and not right enough with the election coming.
He said: “I am wondering why this time. Is it to vote for people to vote for a candidate not of their choice? Or is it just to punish them? In this country, currency has been changed. I have known that since the colonial period. But this is the time it is affecting everybody.
“Also, it is done within a very limited period. You can go to any village in this country. People are looking for cash to spend, but they cannot get it. But is it deliberate? I am wondering. Definitely, it is not what all Nigerians are supporting.”
He noted that the scarcity “is not that of fuel alone, but also of money. Everybody – both old and young – needs fuel, but not as money. Fuel is needed, but not like money.
“Only people, who own means of transportation, use fuel. Also, passengers who travel from one place to another need it. But the price of transportation is high. And people do not get transport to the destination of their choice.
“Difficulty in terms of cash all over the country is more serious and more challenging. People cannot buy foodstuffs. They cannot go where they want to go. They cannot find food in the restaurant to buy. We have not seen it too hard in the history of this country.
“Perhaps, you need to be told that I am 98 years old. I have been in this country and participating in the politics of this country since the colonial era. I am one of those who struggled for the independence of Nigeria. I also struggled for democracy. I am still fighting for freedom and democracy in this country.
“I was an adult during the Second World War. There was a lot of difficulty. I have never experienced this kind of problem this country is going through since the end of the Second World War. So, it is something that is affecting everybody – children, elderly people, women and men. I pray God will come to our rescue from this trouble that this country is suffering from.”