by Erahodu Oseghale
There are many reasons why the level of hostility in the APC’s electioneering campaigns will eventually back-fire to the advantage of the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan Presidency. From party to candidate, the opposition’s campaign is hinged on a zero tolerance of virtually anything associated with the PDP and President Goodluck Jonathan. Though it is generally accepted that in an election season, each party should dwell as much on the merits of its manifesto as on the demerits of the rival party, this strategy can become hazardous if pursued fanatically. From all indications, the APC campaign managers lack the insight to grasp the dangers of excessive negative propaganda against a rival.
General Buhari’s body language depicts an allergic resentment of President Goodluck Jonathan that he could not conceal even at the Abuja peace pact signing ceremony to commit party leaders to peaceful electioneering campaigns. It was so obvious that General Buhari attended the meeting and signed the pact just for the formality because his countenance was visibly vexatious. In particular, when President Goodluck Jonathan approached him for a cheerful back-patting hug, it was Mr President that embraced the General wholeheartedly even as his grand gesture met with a stiff and almost repulsive stance. Deplorable as that stance was however it was in tandem with the antagonism that has characterized General Buhari’s posture towards Mr President.
The connection between hostile body language and political attitude came to the fore at the breakfast meeting hurriedly held in Lagos to brief the local business community on Buhari’s mission. When a businessman asked Buhari whether there was anything good about the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency that he could adopt as President, there was rapt attention as the audience awaited an answer. Of course, a grinning Buhari already tripped by the orchestrated applause of his cronies, gave little thought to his response, which drew analogy from a person on the peak of a cliff having no option but to retreat! Another round of applause drowned out the murmuring of bemused businessmen who were obviously not in agreement with Buhari’s cheerleaders.
This episode exposed the demerits of blanket condemnation as an election propaganda strategy, which has become APC’s modus operandi. The populist pandering which has defined Buhari’s politics and now also APC’s campaign is better suited to the sentiments of gullible crowds of fanatical supporters than such a gathering of savvy businessmen. The charade of “change” that sweeps commoners off their feet is driven by an indiscriminate rejection of status quo’s hardships, which lacks the circumspection and intelligence to sort the wheat from the chaff in terms of policies and programmes of government. Politicians like General Buhari and his APC co-travellers who literally feast on this mass hysteria for electioneering agenda are exploiting the ignorant gullibility of the very people they claim to be “fighting for”, knowing fully well that change also has its good and bad sides but leaving this out of their propaganda.
But the Lagos businessmen who asked Buhari the question did so with the firm and informed conviction that such hysterical campaign propaganda is inimical to the overriding national interests of Nigerians and must therefore not be adopted as blueprint for governance in the manner General Buhari and his APC cohorts have done. It is therefore highly irresponsible and unpatriotic, for example, to propagate the misleading smear-campaign that President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration “has not achieved anything” just for the purpose of rubbishing him out of Presidency so that General Buhari can ease himself into power.
Even more dreadful for the development and progress of Nigeria is the mindset entrenched by this mischievous manifestation of power politics. For General Buhari to confidently confirm before an audience of enlightened businessmen and technocrats that there is nothing to retain or adopt from the legacy of the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency, implies that he will completely abandon all the policies and programmes and launch his own. Even without going into the details of the impressive performance records of President Goodluck Jonathan since 2011, it would be callously unpatriotic for any government to terminate the Almajiri schools programme, the railways rehabilitation and expansion projects or the massive road reconstruction projects across the country on the frivolous grounds of “change” in administration.
Given the extent of sentimental spin and antagonistic mind-set which General Buhari and his APC promoters have embedded into their presidential campaigns it is beyond contention that they will not hesitate to reverse all the progress we have made as a nation under the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency. This undesirable tendency is responsible for the arrested development that has plagued Nigeria for several decades, especially during the military era when one regime replaces another in armed and sometimes bloody coups, and therefore will not be associated with its predecessors’ legacy. This is what General Buhari’s presidential campaign is hinged on this time around. This is precisely what Nigeria must avoid if it must continue building on the numerous achievements of the Goodlcuk Jonathan Administration.
Erahodu Oseghale is a public analyst. He writes from Benin City, Edo State.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author