19 March 2018

Nigeria: Why Buhari's Re-Election Declaration Is Delayed

Photo: The Guardian
President Muhammadu Buhari.

Abuja — The presidency at the weekend in Abuja disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari's decision to keep Nigerians in suspense on his re-election bid was a deliberate ploy to avoid sabotage.

Making this disclosure in an interview with select State House correspondents, the Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the president would continue to keep his intentions close to his chest because those opposed to his re-election could exploit his declaration to sabotage the country.

According to him, the president declaring his ambition about a year to the next election would only give such saboteurs a lot of time to sabotage the country economically and politically, among others.

"You know the peculiarity of Nigeria, particularly now. If the president speaks too early, it's a problem. There is a lot of sabotage in the country.

"You have also heard so many have said, 'don't run,' because they know that if the president runs, other people would just run away because they don't have the foggiest chance in hell of beating him. So, they want to discourage him from running.

"Now, if he tells you, 'I'm going to run,' and elections are still one year away, it gives them one year to sabotage the entire country from all fronts - politically, socially, economically - they would throw everything at him just to dissuade him from running.

"So, when you know that, why then speak early? I think it makes a lot of sense for you to keep things close to your chest till it is time for you to then say, 'ok, I'm running' by which time they can do less damage," he explained.

Although the president has alluded to re-contesting the presidential election in 2019, he has not declared it definitively, keeping Nigerians on the tenterhooks on his real intentions.

One instance when he dropped a hint on his interest in seeking re-election in 2019 was when he paid a state visit to Kano last year. He had said: "Kano is in my pocket."

The state voted overwhelmingly for Buhari in the 2015 elections, giving him 1.903 million of the 2.13 million valid votes cast.

Also, while on a visit to Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire last year, the president said he arrived late to a meeting with the Nigerian community because he had insisted on coming with two governors, as doing so could be a vote for him in the future.

Adesina also explained the reason the president had proposed a visit to Rivers State, despite its criticism by the state governor, Nyesom Wike, who had said the state was crisis-free.

Adesina said the president's intention was to condole with the families of victims of various killings in the state, saying a state where people were beheaded could not be devoid of crisis.

"If he (Wike) doesn't understand, the rest of the country understands. We understand. Other Nigerians understand. Even people in Rivers State understand because on new year's day, a minimum of 24 people were killed in Omoku.

"So, is that not a crisis? And can you count the number of people that have been beheaded in Rivers State in recent times?

"People were killed and heads cut off and the assailants went away with the heads. So, can anybody say that there is no security issue in that kind of place?

"It's left to the governor, he's the chief security officer. If he says there's no security crisis in his state, good luck to him.

"But the president is visiting so that he can condole with people who lost their loved ones, 24 people minimum, were killed in Omoku.

"So, those people are the reason. Those people and the many beheaded; relations of those beheaded and their heads taken away are the reason the president is visiting the state," he explained.

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