All eyes were on the Benue crisis last week until a group of seven thoughtless governors decided to take our attention away, albeit momentarily. The governors of Yobe, Kogi, Niger, Kano, Kaduna, Adamawa and Plateau States threw caution to the wind, assaulting our sensibilities in the process even when we were united in collective grief.
Probably after a gastronomic adventure in Aso Rock, they came out declaring that they’ve endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term. At a time when some of our president’s closest friends are deserting him fast, the latest being Pastor Tunde Bakare, lawyer and his running mate in 2011, it must take real guts for any politician who is not part of the Daura mafia to stand with Buhari. But as one of them said after the meeting, they are all politicians who are simply interested in politics. And as typical Nigerian politicians, what matters most is the next election and whatever could be done to win the election.
About two years ago, this column named the All Progressive Congress a special purpose vehicle, which was set up solely to win the 2015 presidential elections with a prediction that the party will unravel before the next election. How prescient one could be even at the risk of immodesty as the prediction is being fulfilled. The first person that flew the kite was the “statue governor” who lied that all the APC governors have endorsed Buhari for a second term; some people came out to say that such was not discussed at the meeting he claimed they talked about it. Now, with the country on fire in different areas, a group of seven risible governors who apparently are not well engaged in their respective states have joined the train.
Clearly, it is the president’s inalienable right to contest just like any other citizen of this country. It is the right of the electorate too to vote for him or otherwise. What is galling in this instance is the way these seven folks are trying to slam it down our throats forgetting that incumbents run on their records in office, and the reality is that our president has done pretty badly in the last three years. And that’s why there is so much noise about whether he should contest or not. In another twist to the ongoing drama, the party chairman feigned ignorance of the president’s second term agenda when asked so it is not slam-dunk for Buhari yet.
We should also remember that the president got a pan Nigerian mandate in 2015 and reducing it to a sectional mandate is dangerous to our growth as a country. Further, the Buhari who was a candidate in APC 2014 primaries held in Lagos would not have gone an inch further talk less of winning the presidential election without the input of Bola Tinubu and the votes of south west Nigeria. For someone who told us tearfully that he would not contest again after he lost the 2011 elections to be repackaged and emerged victorious must have had a serious makeover. So when a group of seven governors, all from the northern part of country, converged on Aso Rock and pronounced in a condescending tone that the president must contest again next year, they merely reduced him to a sectional head. Well, they could be right after all as Buhari had proven beyond reasonable doubt that he cares more about certain parts of Nigeria than others. The Kaduna State governor categorically said that northern governors were committed to Buhari’s re-election bid and “we have no apologies for that,” so if others would not join, we are at the front already.
All of them except one, Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State, are involved in political battles for second term in their states and at a level, drumming up support for Buhari is a convenient way to shore up their battered image. The Kaduna governor is still battling the labour congress over nearly 22, 000 teachers he sacked last year just as the Kogi governor, who by the way owe his ascension to office to the generosity of Buhari and his small group of acolytes in Aso Rock as he never contested, is either perpetually looking for ‘ghost workers’ or building a mansion in his village in total disregard of the optics of such inanity. Until he was forced to apologise for his reckless and senseless statement on the Benue massacre by herdsmen, Nigerians now know how much thinking Simon Lalong of Plateau State bring to bear in his assignment as a governor.
We know too well also how some of them ended up betraying their former political godfathers, so Buhari should beware of fair-weather friends who use others to get ahead. Further, the decision on who will lead us next year is in the hands of all who are registered.