SaharaReporters has learned that several governors and top officials of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are beginning to distance themselves from what one of them characterized as rabid vituperation from Governor Ayo Fayose, who has become notorious for predicting the imminent death of Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Several PDP sources told our correspondent that Mr. Fayose’s intemperate statements were now generating negative reactions even among the fold of the party’s governors.
Evidence of other governors’ disquiet emerged on Tuesday at the end of a forum convened by the PDP governors in Lagos. Some of Mr. Fayose’s colleagues, including Governors Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom and Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo, reflected on the outcome of their meeting, but unavoidably commented on Mr. Fayose’s venomous comments and incessant castigation of Mr. Buhari during he (Fayose’s) turn to speak at the event which took place at Eko Hotel in Lagos. Some of the PDP governors remarked that, rather than marketing President Goodluck Jonathan, who is their party’s candidate, Mr. Fayose’s statement at the forum merely attacked Mr. Buhari’s person, eliciting repulsion from their audience.
Originally, the PDP governors’ forum was convened to woo civil society groups into backing Mr. Jonathan for a second term. But the agenda seemed a tough sell to many groups that participated.
A source familiar with the organization of the forum told SaharaReporters that the governors aimed to “sell Jonathan” to the civil society while also using the live televised coverage of the event to market the incumbent president to a larger audience. However, some of Mr. Fayose’s colleagues admitted in private and publicly that his incendiary and uncouth remarks became a total gaffe. One governor told our correspondent that the Ekiti governor’s comments unfortunately defined the event and became the highest turn-off factor for their audience.
In his speech, Mr. Fayose disclosed that his own mother uses sanitary diapers due to old age, and said he wished to extend diapers to Mr. Buhari, adding that the APC candidate’s age demanded that he be on diapers as the governor’s own mother. The comment misfired, with members of the chuckling uncomfortably at Mr. Fayose’s disclosure of what should be a private matter concerning his mother.
Although the forum was designed as an opportunity to “interact” with civil society, and later adjusted to include the media, some participants grumbled that there was little or interaction allowed.
“It came out as their own [PDP governors’] talk show where they just asked us to give President Jonathan the benefit of the doubt for a second term,” one social activist who took part said. He added, “They just spoke and spoke, abused Buhari and Tinubu, took about three questions and said we should go for lunch.” Another participant pointed to Mr. Fayose’s statements. “Governor Fayose shocked many of us with his intemperate and childish remarks. He even insulted his own mother without realizing it,” she said.
A former chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Ikeja, Monday Ubani, was among a few outside participants allowed to make brief comments before lunch and the closure of the forum. Mr. Ubani praised the initiative to convene a meeting with the civil society to get feedbacks on government programs, but regretted that the meeting seemed to have been narrowly shaped by the forthcoming elections.
He advocated that the forum be required to happen on a regular basis to keep citizens informed and to generate grassroots responses to government policies.