Politics will always be a dirty game. There is no saint in politics. PMB would be 100-day old in office on Saturday, September 5, 2015 and as Nigerians began to access the performance of his first 100 days in office based on the ‘change’ that was promised the country, the story is that the Presidency and the All Progressives Congress (APC) are distancing themselves from two key campaign documents, “My Covenant With Nigerians” and “100 Things Buhari Will Do in 100 Days” which they circulated during the April 11th presidential elections electioneering period.
The Presidency and the APC have moved to deny the documents which swayed a lot of votes for the president and his party in the run-up to the April 11 presidential election, claiming that it was perpetuated by sources not associated with the party or the recognized campaign team. However, investigations have proven that not only were the documents used as major campaign tools by party officials, they also appeared on the party’s official website.
On August 28, Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, published an article, titled, “Understanding Buhari in 100 days” where he wrote:
“In the course of electioneering, the presidential campaign had so many centres of public communication which, for whatever reason, were on the loose.
“There is a certain document tagged ‘One Hundred Things Buhari Will Do in 100 Days’ and the other, ‘My Covenant With Nigerians’. Both pamphlets bore the authorized party logo but as the Director of Media and Communications in that campaign, I did not fund or authorize any of those. I can equally bet my last kobo that candidate Buhari did not see or authorize those publications.
“As a consequence of these publications, expectations have been raised unreasonably, that as President, Muhammadu Buhari will wave his hand and all the problems that the country face – insecurity, corruption, unemployment, poor infrastructure – would go away.
“But that notwithstanding, President Buhari has given the job his best shot and the whole country is saying that we never had it so good. He has re-instituted the values of hard work and administrative efficiency. The President says times without number that this country needs to fix governance and that he won’t tolerate laziness.”
Also adding salt to injury, the National Publicity Secretary for the APC, Lai Mohammed, during an interview with Channels Television on Monday, lent credence to the claim of Mr. Shehu, saying that the party should only be judged by its manifesto and constitution. He said on National TV:
“Buhari never promised to do anything in 100 days, that’s the honest truth. You see, when you are running a campaign, all kinds of literature will emerge from all sorts of groups but there are only two documents that you can judge a party with: That is the constitution of the party and the manifesto of the party.
“Those are the only two documents that are registered with the Independent National Electoral Commission; you can go to court or hold a party accountable for them.”
But the question Nigerians are asking now is – how can these respectable men in the society be lying to Nigerians through their teeth? How can they deny the document that they used as an essential part of their campaigns all over the country? How can they say that the covenant document, produced by the policy and Research Directorate of the APC presidential campaign, headed by former Governor Kayode Fayemi was not from them?
A source within the party, which pleaded for anonymity said the covenant document, was produced after serious deliberations between PMB and high-ranking campaign officials as it is in harmony with promises contained in the party’s manifesto. In introducing the 16-page document, PMB said:
“This covenant is to outline my agenda for Nigeria and provide a bird’s eye view of how we intend to bring about the change that our country needs and deserves. The covenant is derived from the manifesto of my party, the All Progressives Congress. It however represents my pledge to you all when I become your president.”
The second document “One Hundred Things Buhari Will Do in 100 Days,” however, was produced by a volunteer group backed by the party.
Apart from the President and his Vice who made several reference to this document while campaigning, all APC governors towed the same path. Babatunde Fashola, the former governor of Lagos, clearly referred to the document when delivering a campaign speech on March 23, at a meeting of APC governors at the Banquet Hall of the Imo State Government House, Owerri. He said:
“The APC is proud to have as its flag-bearer, a patriot with the public stature and integrity of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who has unreservedly committed to this vision and mission as reflected in his Covenant with Nigerians and campaigns promises. It is not by accident that teeming millions of Nigerians are showing their support effusively for Gen. Buhari”.
Vanguard ran a report, entitled “My contract with Nigeria – Buhari” on March 17, 2015. That report was later published on the website of the APC at 8:52am of the same day. Consequently, newspapers, websites and bloggers ‘made a meal’ out of the document in the following weeks. Premium Times also claimed they received a PDF version of the covenant document on March 12, 2015.
PMB and the APC will be insulting the intelligence of Nigerians who voted them into power if they keep up with their denial game. The electorates at the elections voted them because they needed ‘change.’ If the ‘change’ is a bit difficult to come by than they (the APC) previously envisaged, they should appeal to the same people who voted them into power for time and not resort to this. If Nigerians had been patient with the out gone People Democratic Party-led administration for 16 years, then why not the APC. But the APC must thread with caution as power still resides with the people.