Despite being the second in 2019, it was a busy week in the seat of power. Perhaps, this was because the campaign for the 2019 polls is already at its peak, and like cannons overcharged with double cracks, politicians are doubling efforts in their bid to garner votes.
So, it was the case with presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari, who inaugurated his campaign council on Monday. The president caused a stir when he announced that his co-chairman, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, would take full charge of the campaigns. The remarks sent the media space on overdrive, with some political analysts claiming that the president may have outsourced his campaign to the former governor of Lagos State.
Different conspiracy theories struggled for attention in the media space. Some other analysts went as far as saying that Tinubu will represent the president in the presidential debates and will campaign in all the states on behalf of the president. But that insinuation was laid to rest when the campaign council held its inaugural meeting on Thursday at the presidential villa.
The national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomole, disclosed that the president would personally take his campaign to all the 36 states of the federation. This entails that the president will from today begin an intensive campaign across the country. According to the president’s schedule, he is billed to be in Bauchi and Gombe states today.
On his part, President Buhari expressed confidence that the ruling party would win the forthcoming general elections. According to him, the main objective of the meeting is to serve as a forum for collective decision-making to enhance the effectiveness of the campaign effort. Buhari appealed to members of the presidential campaign council to dedicate and commit themselves to the task at hand.
He said, “There is no doubt that victory is with us; it is ours, but that shouldn’t mean we should rest even for a moment. Even though we are confident of winning, I urge you to work as hard as you can so that we can maximise the scale and extent of our victory. I urge you to rise to the challenge of the great expectations this party and Nigerians have for you and the confidence that I personally have in the ability of all of you to deliver.
“Needless to add, your selection was not easy, because in forming this council, the party settled only for the best. You are the cream of the party and I assure you that with unity of purpose and effective harmony and communication, there is no political opponent you cannot overcome.”
Buhari noted that the agenda for the meeting was to consider and approve the structure and operational modalities of the Presidential Campaign Council, the terms of reference of their various directorates and organogram that will determine how the members would relate with each other as well as how they would eventually discharge their responsibilities in the campaign.
If anyone had thought that the president was done with setting his agenda for the campaign, that person laboured under a delusion. The shocker came on Wednesday when Buhari gave an indication that he would not authorise the use of any money from the treasury for his re-election campaign. It is instructive to note that it is the practice of incumbent presidents and governors to dip their hands into the treasury to finance their campaign.
But President Buhari took exception to this, saying he was determined to buck that trend. Categorically, he made it clear that it would no longer be business as usual for those who were banking on money politics and Nigerians who were expecting to witness another torrential downpour of naira rain in the 2019 campaigns.
Speaking at the close of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, President Buhari in a statement by his media aide, Mallam Garba Shehu, directed cabinet ministers to take advantage of technology to reach out to voters on the need to return the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration in next month’s general elections.
“As political parties spread their ideologies and views to every nook and cranny of the country, the issue of cash payment to voters and its corrupting influence in electioneering has once again become a topical issue. Try and use text and multi-media messages to seek votes for the party and government. There is no money from the treasury for use in the campaigns. I will not authorize that,” he told ministers and other members of his cabinet.
Buhari declared that the APC-led administration had a clear development agenda best suited to take Nigeria forward and sustain economic development. ‘‘This message needs to be taken to all Nigerians but we cannot use money from the treasury to share out to prospective voters. Nigerians want change and we alone can deliver that change. Our people can no longer be swayed by money politics,’’ he added.
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