By Jimoh Olorede
Sincerely, I am divided in thought and somehow confused concerning President Muhamnadu Buhari’s hasty concession of defeats and acceptance of responsibility for APC’s losses at elections. I couldn’t fathom whether this disposition of Mr. President, especially as replicated before, during and after the recently conducted Edo State gubernatorial election, was a demonstration of good leadership that transcends partisanship or a sinister sacrifice of party’s fortunes for personal integrity gain.
The president’s stance as confirmed by his exposition recently when the newly re-elected Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, his Deputy, Philip Shaibu, their spouses and other prominent members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) paid him a “thank you visit” at the presidential villa, Abuja, shows, in my opinion, that he attaches more importance to his personal integrity than his party’s successes at elections.
The president had, during the visit, said that as the leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), he ‘would not escape responsibility for his recent electoral losses, but that his priority was to establish a political culture based on integrity. He noted that as the leader of the governing party, and despite the fact that the party had lost some states in elections, he wished to leave behind a political culture based on integrity. This disposition is good, if it’s with sincerity, as Mr. President seems to be a nonpartisan president who is leading by example.
And as he had said during his inaugural speech in 2015, the president belongs to everybody, and belongs to nobody. After all, he is the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and not the president of the All Progressives Congress party. But if there is an ulterior motive behind his ‘favourable disposition’ to his party’s losses, concession of defeats, acceptance of responsibility and celebration of opponents’ victory at elections at the expense of his own party, then the disposition is sinister, as sacrificing party’s fortunes to score personal integrity points is an act of betrayal of the party’s confidence reposed in him. Regarding the Edo gubernatorial election, Godwin Obaseki has come, seen and conquered Ize-Iyamu and Oshiomole of the ruling APC.
However, the party’s hope is hanging concerning the forthcoming Saturday governorship election in Ondo State regarding whether the president would also lose the election to the PDP for his integrity sake. Again, Mr. President’s action is applaudable, if his intention is to instill senses of camaraderie and sportsmanship in our die-hard politicians by behaviorally educating them on the fact that there’s no permanent enemy or friend in politics; your political best friends today might turn around to be your worst enemies tomorrow, and vice versa.
If you don’t understand this, kindly ask Oshiomole and Obaseki or former Senate President, Bukola Saraki and APC leaders. However, if this is not the intention, but a display of presidential malice against a few ‘godfathers’ within the party, then it’s likened to a two-edge sword that destroys its own house unknowingly. Leveraging party’s failure at elections to win personal integrity perception of the populace, in itself, raises integrity questions.
Yes, there are certain things, if done, that would make the president beloved, charismatic, and be perceived by Nigerians as being a man of integrity, not necessarily when he destroys his own party. As a critic would say, ‘as long as the current parlous economic situation of Nigeria with its untold hardships are left unaddressed, his integrity is already at stake. So, even if President Buhari sold his party to the PDP in exchange for his highly valued integrity, he would still not get it’.
This disposition kept me thinking much as it asked rhetorical questions: “If this were Mr. President’s first term, and would be seeking reelection for second term, would he sacrifice his fortune? Would he be celebrating opposition’s victory for reason of personal integrity at the expense of his own political party that brought him to power?”
Of course, the questions are not for me or for anyone to answer; to us, they are, as I said, rhetorical. While I commend the president on his passionate fight against corruption in the country, I would advise the Nigerian leader to focus on reorganisation of the country physically, economically and socially. There is urgent need for genuine unity based on mutual respect, love, equity, justice and inclusiveness.
It’s true that uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, but the president should not despair; he should double his efforts in tackling the problems of terrorism, organized crimes, banditry, kidnapping, human trafficking, drug, money laundering and corruption. Doing these with appreciable commitment and patriotism would earn him genuine integrity.
Olorede is a journalism lecturer.