At some point it all looked like Gen. Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) team would pose a deadly serious threat to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and wreck their chances of returning the incumbent President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to power come May 29. But all the early good works and concerted efforts to win the sympathy and support of the masses, and gain their votes have been undone, almost single-handedly by the party itself.
Few weeks ago, it was safe to say that the winner of the February 14 Presidential election was anyone’s guess, bearing in mind that the two frontrunners in the elections were – and still are – neck-and-neck in terms of the number of core supporters they have been able to amass. Both, however, would have – and may still be – banking on the support of millions of undecided eligible Nigerian voters whose minds were yet to be made up on who to support and who not to support. Unfortunately, it now seems that the bulk of those erstwhile undecided voters are moving further away from the Progressives, if online sentiments and those in the streets are anything to go by.
I’ve come across several previously undecided voters, both online and offline, who are now almost certain that they will camp under the Umbrella. I went ahead to require of them what informed their decisions and almost all of them were united in their rationales for settling for the PDP. Assuming that I queried 50 persons about their reasons for shifting to the PDP, 45 of them told me that the APC and Muhammadu Buhari have played into the arms of the PDP.
Now, how has the APC and Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) played into the hands of the People's Democratic Party?
The PDP in their campaign trails and in their online push for reelection have never failed to remind us of how intolerant of any form of opposition, ideological or otherwise, GMB has been. They went as far back as his 1983-85 military regime where he put a host of opposing voices behind bars to buttress their point. One would have expected that the general, as a seasoned and elite politician that he is, would in response guard his utterances and be more watchful of what he says or does in the public and to the media, but the reverse has so far been the case.
In a protest letter recently channeled through the legal director of the APC Presidential Campaign Organization, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN), General Buhari threatened to file a lawsuit against the federal government-owned Nigerian Television Authority and the privately owned African Independent Television for what he described as “hate documentaries” against him that were aired in the tail end last month by the stations, unless they retract them and issue a formal apology. Such threats and disposition by an aspiring office holder (or even a serving office holder) are rather uncalled for in a democratic setting. The world over, leaders and politicians are scrutinized and castigated by the media on a daily basis and it’s seen as part of their obligations as watchdogs in the society.
If world leaders should file a lawsuit for every alleged calumny or supposed act of “hate” they've been subjected to, then the mountain of lawsuits that would be filed by the likes of Barack Obama, David Cameron, Vladimir Putin or even our very own Goodluck Jonathan will take several generations of humanity to tackle. These leaders are lampooned on a daily basis yet you rarely hear them threatening to sue anyone for it. His own case shouldn't be any different. So my advice to the General is that the sooner he develops a thick skin to withstand all the media "assault," the better for him, because he will be receiving a truckload of it should he eventually win.
In like manner, the leadership of the APC is doing their presidential and vice presidential aspirants and their image as a whole no good by backing out of a series of debates organized by different corporate bodies and organizations within the country in the run-up to the Valentine’s Day polls. Their no-show at the Nigerian Elections Debate Group (NEDG)’s Vice Presidential debates and their anticipated no-show at the presidential debates to be organized by the trio of the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Arise News and ChannelsTV do nothing to gainsay the allegation leveled against them by the People’s Democratic Party of being fight shy of a public face-off in which they will have to tackle tough questions and defend their manifestos and party agenda before Nigerians.
Though the APC has come out to deny this allegation and have done their best to repudiate the "dodging theory" of the PDP by citing perceived bias on the part of the organizers of the debates as their reason for backing out, the average and neutral Nigerian on the streets is not buying it. The rebuttal has done very little to convince neutrals who are beginning to toe the PDP’s line. My advice to them is that they should vet their options and come up with a positive decision in time, before the election sets in.
For the sake of time and space, I will stop at these. These and many more PR missteps and political miscalculations have conspired to put the party in a precarious position and rob them of the people's goodwill which they once owned. In an election that will likely be decided by the undecided voters, the APC are fast losing speed and direction. Concerted efforts must be made to repair what has already been damaged and put their push for the country's top job back on track, else they run the risk of losing by a wide margin at the poll.