by Akan Ido
The presidency has responded to a statement attributed to former president Muhammadu Buhari hinting that he might change his mind by deciding to again contest the 2015 elections after the proposed opposition merger has been concluded.
Buhari had said this in Abuja on Wednesday at the inauguration of the Congress for Progressive Change Merger Committee.
The presidency on Friday replied saying the former Head of State and three-time presidential candidate stood no chance of winning the 2015 general election.
The Punch Newspapers reported it thus:
The Senior Special Assistant for Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Doyin Okupe, told one of our correspondents on Friday that even if Buhari contested, he would not win the election.
Okupe said even though the President was not focused on the 2015 elections yet, Buhari’s ambition could not ruffle the feathers of the Peoples Democratic Party, which Jonathan belongs to.
He said, “It is a free country and anyone can contest any election. Also, anyone can change his or her mind. If Buhari said he would not contest before and has changed his mind, he is free to do that. But if someone said he would not contest and later said he would contest, it shows an inconsistent political disposition.
“Buhari left government a long time ago. His ideas and other parameters are archaic. I don’t think he stands a chance to win the election in 2015 if he decides to contest.”
According to him, the ongoing merger talks among the opposition parties were not capable of intimidating the ruling party.
He said, “Mergers are not a new thing. We have always had mergers in the political history of this country. But you need to look at the components of this current merger they are talking about. They are not a suitable alternative to the PDP. They have not shown themselves to be suitable alternatives.”
Okupe stated that the PDP was superior to all the parties in the merger talk.
“They don’t have superior programmes or ideologies. They are not more credible than the PDP. They are not better than the PDP. They don’t have a credible candidate that can beat PDP’s candidate. It is obvious that the alliance between the parties will not work.
“In fact, the merger is an acceptance of inferiority complex on the part of the parties involved in the merger. If you look at it critically, the merger is an apparent desire to win power at all costs. It is not a proper desire.
“The merger shows that the political parties involved in it lack political support and goodwill. It does not mean the PDP will rest on its oars, we will keep working hard.”
Responding, the National Publicity Secretary, CPC, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, said Buhari was a threat to the PDP.
According to Fashakin, the determination of the opposition parties to bring the merger into reality was a threat to the dominance of the PDP.
He said, “For us in the CPC, we are aware that the persons in charge of the presidency’s propaganda got their jobs for the mendacious and utterly atrocious missive against the person of Buhari. Truly, Buhari’s presence has been the major threat to the misrule of PDP in the last 13 years. Successive PDP regimes have unleashed humongous deprivations on the people.”
The CPC spokesman stated that Buhari’s performance as military head of state was better when compared with Jonathan’s.
“The 20-month era of strong leadership espoused what later became known as ‘Buharinomics,’ which simply put, was an admixture of frugality, probity, respect for contractual agreements, expunction of all covert or overt attempts at subjugating the Nigerian economy to world powers and above all, an economic policy with Nigeria as the centrepiece
“Gratefully, the cluelessness of this present regime and its high propensity for opacity are already lifting the veil off the people. The determination of the opposition parties to bring the merger into reality shall ensure the defeat of the PDP in the next general elections.”
When SUNDAY PUNCH contacted the spokesman for the ACN, Mr. Lai Mohammed, for his comments, he said he would get back to our correspondent, but had yet to do so when this report was filed.
Earlier, a member of the PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, had said the merger plan by opposition parties would not stop the PDP from emerging victorious in 2015 elections.
Iwuanyanwu described the move as one that would neither pull PDP down nor succeed.
“As a democrat, I should sound a note of warning, I have read recently about the coming together of some political parties. They are not coming together on the basis of ideology. They are coming together because they are afraid that unless they gang up, PDP will win the elections in 2015. This is a wrong political calculation.
“I am in PDP, but I believe that democracy is best practised when there is a very strong opposition. Democracy without a strong opposition is worthless. They are making a mistake. They should tell Nigerians what they can do to change situations, not how to pull PDP down. This is wrong politics.”
The parties involved in the merger have however accused the PDP of frustrating their plan.
Mohammed had said the merger plans had driven the PDP-led Federal Government to resort to tactics aimed at tarnishing the image of key opposition leaders.
“These opposition leaders are considered as constituting a clear and present danger to the electoral fortunes of the PDP in 2015, hence must be stopped at all costs and by whatever means,” he said.