By Uche Mbah
The dwindling fortunes of the electioneering campaigns of President Buhari in recent times has become a source of worry to the All Progressives Congress-led central government. An emergency meeting of the security chiefs was said to have been called by the presidency- a meeting the opposition Peoples democratic Party, PDP insisted is a closed door meeting to perfect the rigging plan of the APC.
Recent campaign outings has become worrisome to the political gladiators, particularly since the president seem to lack coordination in his utterances and actions. His constant loss of memory where it matters most, and his inability to recognize the candidates he is to hand over the party flags to has become a source of worry to his handlers. Indications were that the Party Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, may have decided that the duty of handing over the flag and the raising of candidates’ hands are not to be left for the president to handle. “The tendency was for him to raise the hand of any one privileged to stand near him”, an APC Chieftain lamented. “ And he hardly remembers the name of the state he was in”.
He once handed the flag to the governorship candidate in Delta State and called him the Presidential candidate. He had to be corrected twice.
All these may have resulted in the dwindling crowds at his rallies, even in places where he is believed to hold sway.
The rallies have gradually evolved from cold reception to outright antagonism. In Sokoto and Benue states, his foot prints were washed away when he left; in Lagos, he was booed, with electorates following his convoy shouting “ole, Ole”, a local parlance for “Thief, thief”. But the worst was witnessed in Ondo state where security agents had to shield him and spirit him out of the venue of the rally. The Party Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, was not so lucky as he was allegedly stoned.
During the rally, all principal officers were singing discordant tunes.
The President had earlier appealed for votes in a special broadcast-a surprising move, since the president appears to have talked to Nigerians more in the last three weeks than in the entire four years of his tenure.
Bookmakers are readjusting their permutations on the 2019 elections on the new dynamics, particularly as the opposition party candidate, Atiku Abubakar, appears to have gained surprising momentum.
In the midst of this, the International Community has become the butt of attacks from the presidency who accuse them of meddling in the internal affairs of the country. Only recently, the United Nations insisted that the Federal Government’s sack of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, violates International Human rights. This came at a time that the National Judicial Commission, NJC, is about to reach a verdict on the Onnoghen case. The conference of political parties, CUPP, haD alleged that the presidency has been pressurizing the NJC to sack Onnoghen and make Ibrahim Tanko the substantive CJN. It is not clear whether the UN announcement influenced the NJC, but it appears that there was a tactical postponement by raising more issues and giving Onnoghen more time to respond. They asked him to respond to new Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC allegations within two days. The council will reconvene on 13th February 2019.
It also gives them a breather from the Government.
Meanwhile, the Onnoghen case, which led to critical international reactions, has resulted in the United states taking a position that the presidency is uncomfortable with. The APC Campaign Council, for example, accused the American envoy of bias , claiming that his comment is a direct attack on the Nigerian Government. According to them, the continued warning by America to Nigeria about a “Flawed Election” is capable of dampening the process, thereby undermining public confidence. According to them, President Buhari will win the 2019 presidential elections free and fair.
“The days of unquestioned condescension to western powers are long gone and we are not prepared at this time in Nigeria to recede to that era. Nigeria will define Nigerian democracy”, Festus Keyamo, spokesperson for the council, said.