The All Progressives Congress National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has taken full leadership of the party’s presidential and re-election campaigns ahead of the February polls, while President Muhammadu Buhari takes the back seat.
Buhari is the Chairman of the Presidential Campaign Council, while Tinubu is the Co-Chairman.
But, speaking while inaugurating the campaign council in Abuja on Monday, Buhari handed over the role of leading the campaigns to Tinubu on the excuse that he did not want the country’s governance to suffer because of election campaigns.
He explained that much as he would be involved in the campaigns in the next 40 days, it was Tinubu who would be fully in charge and must keep a 24-hour vigil to ensure the success of the campaigns.
Buhari also ignored the latest audio recording of the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, which criticised the President for being slow and a man who didn’t read or cared about the hunger in the land by saying the Director-General (Amaechi) would take charge of field operations and the overall planning of his campaigns.
The President stated, “To my mind, the division of responsibility is clear enough. The leadership that has formulated the campaign policy will supervise its execution; the Director-General will have overall responsibility for all aspects of the campaign, including field operations; while the Secretary will be responsible for all administrative and treasury-related activities of the council.
“Even though we have only 40 days, this campaign is going to tax us all, because we intend to touch all corners of our great and vast country.
“But I must also add that, though we will all be deeply involved, I would like to assure the nation that I will do my part without making governance or my work suffer. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, my co-chairman, will be fully in charge and is going to be on 24-hour vigil.
“That is to say, the operational buck of this campaign stops at his table and I therefore urge all of us in the leadership of this campaign, in the field operations on the campaign trail and in the secretariat to consult with Asiwaju whenever guidance is needed.”
Buhari, who expressed his appreciation to the APC for the unanimous nomination to seek a second term, urged the members to resist the temptation to be provoked by the opposition.
He asked them to run a disciplined campaign just like they did in 2015 by discussing issues, particularly the difference between 2015 and 2019, in the war against corruption, insecurity and the rebound of the economy.
He spoke further, “Nigerians voted us into power in 2015 because they put trust and confidence that we would make a great difference. We are now building on the experience of our successful outing in the 2015 elections. It is my hope that this wonderful team put together will anchor our campaigns to lead our party and its candidates to victory in the general elections in a few weeks’ time.
“A victory for us as a party is a victory for all well-meaning Nigerians, who are committed to change from an inglorious past; where those in positions of public trust wilfully took for themselves what belonged to us all; where the security of our citizens was second place to their acquisition of unwholesome wealth; where our economic growth was sacrificed for the fleeting ease of import dependency.
“We have in the last three years and six months reversed this downward slide that the Peoples Democratic Party took us in its 16 years of misrule. We have restored the territorial integrity of our nation, thanks to our gallant men and women of our armed forces. We are systematically engaged in all the remaining corridors of insurgency, kidnappings, robberies, herdsmen and farmers clashes.
“We have reset our national values: corruption is no longer condoned and is no longer seen as normal for public office holders. The agencies of government are no longer equivocal in dealing with anyone who flouts our laws.
“The high and low are receiving jail terms, loots are being recovered, and Nigerians are increasingly displaying the timeless values of honesty, honour and decency. I congratulate us all for making these changes possible.”
On the economy and other policies of his administration that Buhari said had impacted on Nigerians, he gave details: “Our economy has become a prudently managed enterprise. Our resources are now working for us, as we ensure the delivery of key national infrastructure, which were left unattended over these past years.
“The direct impact of our policies on improvements in roads, railways, and power supply are evident. There is greater evidence of economic diversification seen in growing local production of agricultural produce and solid minerals.
“Our government has succeeded in the last four years in halting national drift, removing the shadow of insecurity and fear dominating our lives and reviving our economy from decline to stability and growth.”
On the elections proper, the President repeated his promise not to interfere by ensuring that the conduct would be free, fair and credible.
He particularly warned security agencies against intimidation of voters, saying that they must be allowed to freely exercise their democratic right of free choice.
The President also claimed that the quality and outcomes of elections had continued to improve since 2015.
He added, “In addition, the quality of elections since 2015 has continued to improve with declining levels of problems that had defined elections in the past. Free, fair and credible elections are the foundation of political stability and peace in any nation.
“We have insisted that votes must count and have maintained a policy of non-interference in elections. The Independent National Electoral Commission has so far since 2015, conducted fair and credible elections in 195 constituencies nationwide, which have been attested nationwide to be qualitatively better than previous elections.”
On free and fair elections specifically, he promised, “Let me reiterate my commitment to free and fair elections. If there is one legacy I want to leave, it is the enthronement of democracy as a system of government. And for democracy to be enthroned, elections must be free and fair. That means citizens have a right to vote for candidates of their choice without intimidation in any form. I have warned INEC and security agencies to that effect.
“We will keep insisting that votes must count. Our campaigns will be anchored on our performance in the last four years. There is no doubt that our party has succeeded in taking Nigeria to a new level of enduring peace, economic growth, political stability, justice and progress. This is the new level we are promising Nigerians, the details of which we will take to Nigerians as we embark on our campaigns.”
Buhari didn’t leave out other APC candidates contesting in other positions and many who lost during the primaries, but had now decided to stick with the party, praising them for their sacrifice.