The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says President Muhammadu Buhari was neutral during the presidential primary election of the ruling All Progressives Congress despite having a favourite candidate.
The presidential primary election was won by the national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu on Wednesday after beating a former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President Ahmad Lawan and others to the ticket.
Adesina disclosed his view in an article titled, ‘KNOCK, KNOCK! WHO’S THERE?’, which he shared on his official Facebook page on Thursday.
According to Adesina, Buhari unlike former President Olusegun Obasanjo refused to impose his favourite on his political party.
“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 things 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.
“The day of 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?”
Yar’Adua won the 2007 presidential election, which was characterised by massive rigging.
Before the PDP’s primary, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had beamed its searchlight on some of Yar’Adua’s co-aspirants, forcing them to withdraw from the race.
After winning the election, Yar’Adua in May 2007 admitted the elections that produced him as president “had shortcomings”.
In 2009, Yar’Adua left for Saudi Arabia to receive treatment for pericarditis and returned to Nigeria on February 24, 2010. He died on May 5 of the same year.