The presidency has declared that despite having a preferred candidate in the build-up to the presidential primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari didn’t impose his wish on the leaders and members of the party.
The special adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina made this known in an opinion statement released on Thursday night titled ‘Knock, Knock! Who’s There?’.
According to him, as a true democrat, President Buhari decided to remain neutral in the entire process despite having a series of meeting with party leaders and stakeholders on how to ensure the APC produces the best candidate for the 2023 elections.
Recalled that the APC primaries which was concluded on Wednesday, 8th June produced former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu as the party’s flagbearer.
Speaking further, Adesina pointed out that with the emergence of the presidential candidates from all interested and eligible political parties, it is left for Nigerians to decide who will be their next leader come 2023.
“The two major political parties have held their primary election, and presidential candidates have emerged. Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for the All Progressives Congress (APC).
There are some other smaller parties who have come with their own candidates too. One is not discountenancing them, and miracles do happen. But APC and PDP can be called the major parties, having both produced Presidents for the country since return to democratic rule in 1999.
Knock, Knock! Who’s There? This would happen to all the political parties in the contest on February 25, next year. Millions of voters would knock on their doors, they’ll ask; who’s there, and answers would come.”
Referring to an interview granted by President Buhari in January 2022, Adesina affirmed that the Nigerian leader had a preferred person in mind to emerge as the candidate of the APC.
He however added that, unlike former President Olusegun Obasanjo who went all out to ensure his preferred candidate emerged during his own time, President Buhari allowed the will of the people to prevail.
Let me first talk of the last one week that led to the primary election of the APC. In an interview he granted in January, this year, President Muhammadu Buhari had indicated that he had a favorite candidate. Would he name the person? He balked, saying he would be exposing the individual to too much risks, including possible elimination.
It was human to have a favorite in such situation, and the President did no wrong. But would you unduly favor the person? Would you throw your weight around, ride roughshod over the others, and impose your favored one on your political party and the nation? We have seen it before. Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, did it with Umaru Yar’Adua. He did same, though to a lesser extent with Dr Goodluck Jonathan. Can Buhari do it and remain a democrat, fair, impartial? Knock, Knock! Who’s There?
That was the matter of interest in the week before the primary election. There were at least 23 aspirants. Who would the President give the nod? Could he remain neutral, non-aligned? At least, he had confessed he had someone in mind. Would he remain even-handed, detached, non-discriminatory?
There were at least four consultative meetings, towards getting an acceptable candidate for the party. One was with the APC Governors, called Progressive Governors Forum. The other was with the presidential aspirants themselves, then with the National Advisory Council (formerly called Board of Trustees), and finally with the Northern Progressive Governors Forum.
The main thing on the agenda was usually who would be the preferred aspirant. What part of the country would he come from? Would the President name his favorite, or leave it to democratic principle of voting? How did the President do it? How did he remain neutral, when he had earlier confessed that he had a favorite? It’s a test of fairness, being a democrat or not, and the President passed it, despite all the odds.
Each time a consultative meeting ended, there were twists and contortions to whatever the President said. They imported and imputed all sorts of interpretations, mostly unfounded and incorrect. Oh, this is what he meant. He said this and that. This is what he was actually saying. He just didn’t come straight. The man held his peace.
Primary Election Day came. And the President still remained neutral, despite having confessed that he had a favorite aspirant. How did he do it? Strange. Supernatural. Curious. Knock, Knock! Who’s There? But President Buhari remained unobtrusive, demure, self-effacing, till a candidate finally emerged.
While the process lasted, I had observed people who were core Buharists, but now on different sides of the divide, go for one another’s jugular. Some were virulent, odious, descending to the level of indecency. But now that the race is over, can they sheathe their swords? Is there anything in life that should make us become indecent, uncouth in both language and action? Fie! Fie, I say.”
He ended by saying President Buhari has done his best for Nigeria and the party and it is left to the citizens of the country to decide who will be their next leader through votes.
The day of the decision will come in February. May God spare us till then, and beyond. President Buhari has done his level best for his party, and the country. He has been beleaguered by some forces and interests since 2015, and it had largely been about the quest for power. He is exiting decently, orderly, doing his best till the last day. The onus is now on Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, and the other candidates to answer the ring at the door. Knock, Knock! Who’s There?”