#BuhariGate: Jonathan, PDP and Lessons from Garba Shehu’s Treatise By Jude Ndukwe

In his essay titled “#Buharigate: As the Limit of Obstructionist Politics”, that was widely published in the media recently, Mr Garba Shehu, one of the president’s spokespersons, further confirmed what many Nigerians from all political divides have always known about President Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its “Change” mantra. This continues from the narrative making the rounds in certain quarters about the saintly, austere and frugal lifestyle of Mr President upon which, according to Shehu, the APC rode to power.

Obviously, that essay was written to enlighten those who still harbour some doubt about the well publicised determination of the president to fight corruption and rein in anyone who has been found remotely, directly or indirectly, to have soiled him/herself with the public till. It laid in unmistakeable terms as everyone in the president’s camp has always done, the blame for our nation’s woes squarely on the doorstep of former president Goodluck Jonathan and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), or, at least, that was the agenda the essay set out to further achieve.

However, there are certain truths in the said article which the writer unintentionally unearthed and which also exposed in greater dimension, the lies colourfully, forcefully and consistently paraded as incontrovertible facts over time to little discerning members of the public.

While hailing the no-nonsense stance of President Buhari on corruption, Garba Shehu reemphasised to us what we have always known: that the fight against corruption was nothing but an agenda deliberately crafted by the current administration to not only demonise the PDP before the whole world, destroy its electoral value thereby leaving only APC as the dominant party without opposition or a dissenting voice, but also to completely decimate the party, imprison its leaders, humiliate its elders and intimidate its followers by not only convicting them on the pages of newspapers and in the social media but also by engaging the services of gutless and willing judges to do their injudicious biddings. Or, how else can one explain Shehu’s impudent declaration that “As the war on corruption heightens, the political battle-line between the governing All Progressives Congress, APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has sharply been drawn”? This, no doubt, infers that the so-called war on corruption is just against anyone in PDP, and that as long as anyone belongs to APC, he is free to “go and sin (no) more” no matter the extent of his/her involvement in corruption.

Does this not explain why cases of corruption involving APC chieftains and inherited by the ruling party have been “technically” discontinued either by outright withdrawal of such charges as in one of the cases involving Timipre Sylva, APC’s governorship candidate in the yet-to-be concluded Bayelsa election, or through a deliberate mishandling of the cases as to make judges strike out the suits for “abuse of court processes”? In one of the rulings, Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja, stated clearly that the “prosecutor (showed that) he did not have the intentions to prosecute the case to logical conclusion”. That was a case involving a whopping N19.2bn of public funds deliberately undermined just because Sylva, now a chieftain of the APC, was involved.

Could it also be a coincidence that, instead of dissociating themselves from people with criminal tendencies, APC keeps rewarding them with gubernatorial tickets? Apart from Sylva, Abubakar Audu, was rewarded with this largesse that has become the hallmark of a party that prides itself as an anti-corruption icon despite having a case of N11bn fraud against him in court. If, post May 29, we have had two governorship elections in Nigeria and the two candidates APC presented are enmeshed in corruption cases, the next general elections would definitely see the number grow geometrically.

It is a laughable thing Shehu concluded that PDP only “challenge the government in every move it makes, but fail to spell out alternative roadmaps to curbing the monstrous corruption…” It is a well known fact that PDP has voiced support for the fight against corruption as long as it is fought rightly. The alternative roadmaps which PDP has suggested and vigorously canvassed for a successful anti-corruption fight but which people like Shehu blinded by excessive partisanship have refused to see are that the fight should be all-encompassing and not selective as is currently being done and that court orders must as a matter of necessity be obeyed at all times, as disobedience or selective obedience of court orders by any party in a democratic entity like ours is the worst form of corruption and a recipe for chaos, anarchy and doom. What other alternative roadmaps could be as invaluable as these?

With the worsening economic crisis and security situation of our country, it is easy to deduce that the reason for this unfortunate turn of events is that APC has never given attention to issues of governance, rather, since it took over power on May 29, the party is obtrusively still in opposition mode and has preoccupied itself with PDP thereby giving little attention to the real socio-economic issues of society. The futile attempts to vitiate the democratic principles and outlook of PDP in that essay fell flat. Saying that the PDP “can’t heal itself unless the party’s internal structures are overhauled and remade to meet the minimum requirements of a democratic organisation”, the president’s spokesman forgot to add that the election that brought in an opposition party to power was conducted by under the supervision of PDP. Not only that, a major crisis was averted when the same PDP, unlike what has become the bane and a factor militating against democratic growth in Africa, handed over power willingly and almost on bended knees to a recalcitrant and belligerent opposition just to ensure that our democracy is not truncated despite the glaring partisanship of the electoral umpire that favoured the APC. What more “democratic requirements” does a party like that need?

If there is any party that should learn democratic principles, it is the APC. After all, this is a party that just suspended one of its foremost members, Shehu Sani, a Senator of the Federal Republic, just for holding dissenting views from that of a governor, Nasir El-Rufai, who Obasanjo describes in his memoir “My Watch” as a man who has a penchant for lying, for unfair embellishment of stories…the same El-Rufai who shamelessly claimed and deliberately misinformed Nigerians that former president Goodluck Jonathan spent N64bn on independence celebrations during the period of his presidency when, in actual fact, what was spent was N333m. How does one expect a fine mind like Senator Shehu Sani to agree with such a man? It is the eighth wonder of the world how a man like Senator Sani ended up in APC!

The main import of Shehu’s essay was to attempt to wash the hands of Buhari clean of what has come to be popularly known as #Dasukigate and what he claimed to be a counterpoise by the PDP known as #Buharigate. This stems from the fact that Buhari received “gift” of cars from the Jonathan

administration purportedly from Office of the National Security Adviser after his armoured SUV was rocked by explosion thereby getting entangled in the corruption cases against Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and others. In trying to extricate his paymaster from the episode, Shehu described the car gifts as Buhari’s rightful entitlements having been denied same over the years by successive administrations. He further claimed that those who delivered the cars to Buhari just few days after his car was bombed merely told his aides that the cars were from the federal government in fulfilment of its obligations to him and since this was his entitlement, the General accepted them without asking further questions even though they were short of what was expected.

Every other person whose name was mentioned in the Dasuki saga was declared guilty immediately by APC and their apologists on the pages of newspapers and the social media even before they were charged. But the moment Buhari’s name came into the mix, all manner of excuses were manufactured for him and the “need to exercise restraint on such matters” became a sing-song of Buharists. Others could be guilty but Buhari should not? Shehu cannot take us for a ride all at the same time. It is common knowledge that those vehicles were given to Buhari to replace the bombed ones. The question is, why did Buhari accept such gifts from the federal government when he knew full well that bombed cars are usually replaced by insurance companies and not federal government? Why did Buhari not ask for his other entitlements after the cars were delivered if indeed he saw them as his entitlements? Did he make any representation calling the attention of the federal government to the shortfall? If his cars were to be replaced after every four years, was it up to four years since he received the last set before the ones sent after the bomb attack? Shehu knows that an independent investigator would puncture all his arguments in this regard. To make matters worse, he reminds Nigerians about the certificate saga of Buhari in the run up to the elections calling the army names for saying Buhari has no WAEC certificate, yet, seven months into his presidency, Buhari has still not shown Nigerians his certificate. Shehu would have been a respectable spokesperson if he had just shown us his master’s certificate if he has any.

Lastly, in eulogising Buhari’s moral standing as an African phenomenon, Shehu reminds us with relish how presidential candidates of countries like Niger, Chad and Ghana were going about campaigning as the “Buhari” of their country. He also said President Buhari must have himself been embarrassed by calls, through newspaper articles, posters and banners in the course of his visits to these friendly countries, saying “we want Buhari type (of) elections…” Shehu would have done nationals of those countries a lot of good if he could just tell them the truth that the exemplary elections they so desire was conducted under the supervision of Goodluck Jonathan and not Buhari; that the two gubernatorial elections conducted so far under Buhari’s watch have ended inconclusively and one is sure that no Chadian, no Nigerien or Ghanaian would want inconclusive elections for their countries; and the ruling party that allowed for a peaceful election and handover was PDP, the same party Shehu and his party, the APC, seek to decimate so as to make way for a one-party state.

In this circumstance, rather than grandstand, honest aides would strongly advise their principals to submit themselves for investigation and or trial. This is the least we expect from the likes of Garba Shehu, his lord, Buhari and their party, the APC. The days of deceit are long gone. The era of selling falsehood as propaganda has since passed. No matter how much they try, Nigerians can no longer be deceived by the well-oiled pens of slippery writers who rashly put pen to paper under the guise of presidential spokespersons.

[email protected]; Twitter: @stjudendukwe



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