On Monday, Nigerians were treated to a political ad sponsored by the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, where he tried to shoot down the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), by warning us of the man’s impending “death”. The ad, without any attempt at subtlety avers: Buhari is old, will soon die and must not be voted into office so we can avoid the conundrum that usually accompanies the death of a President/Head of State.
We might have been used to Fayose and his excessiveness, political “rascality”, narcissism, and barbarity but with the ad, he overdid himself and wiped any doubt that he will be tempered by the ennobling culture of the office he occupies. Fayose’s efforts, let’s quickly remind ourselves, is not about the survival of the nation but his own survival in the political game. He pushed beyond the boundaries of ethics and morals for even a game of war like politics and also desecrated cultural values and social mores. For a superstitious society, the way we read the ad also winks at deep-seated beliefs about transcendental power of “ase” that exists in the atmosphere; how “ase” can compel things to happen when we wield words. There is no equivocation about it, what Fayose did is uncultured. But then, we should know it is not out of tune with his nature.
However, the “good” thing about the whole affair is that Fayose not only effectively conveyed the depth of his own desperation but that of his coterie as well. We know Fayose’s political future is largely dependent on the way the 2015 elections cookie crumbles. For a man who claimed he spent time in Nigeria’s political wilderness after he was impeached as governor, his political future is largely dependent on the Peoples Democratic Party presidential victory. It is therefore understandable why he has turned to the PDP’s lickspittle, the one who will run errands that even a night soil man will consider beneath his dignity. If the PDP loses the Presidency, he knows the ground beneath his feet will give way. Unless, of course, as is the wont of most Nigerian politicians, he quickly defects and becomes, of course a progressive! He would not be the last to make a quick rehash of being a broom-loving politician from a former umbrella holding one. Femi Fani-Kayode, the newly installed media and publicity honcho of the PDP has crossed and re-crossed several times that who he works for is a matter of what the clock says and whose house the party is taking place.
The “death-ad” may carry therefore Fayose’s name but one cannot rule out that he has the endorsement of the PDP even if the party has dissociated itself from it. His desperation is equally a reflection of how frantic the party is about which way the election will turn out. Far from the PDP’s executing its vaunted pre-2015 “issue-based campaign” and shorn of an agenda for the next four years, its manifesto can be summed up in one word: Buhari.
Since the campaign season started, Buhari has been its perfidious recurring decimal. He is their daytime nightmare and night-time wraith. They have practically abandoned the marketing of their own agenda to the reactionary task of discrediting Buhari. Try ask them what their manifesto is because you want to assess their plans for Nigeria post-2015 elections, or inquire about the content of the “continuity” agenda, you can be sure they will go to sleep only for them to awaken to another Buhari chant.
Even if Nigerians have been living under Olumo Rock all this while, the PDP can take it for granted we know all the antecedents of Buhari; we do not need charlatans to beat us on the head with it. Many “alawada” and other hustlers in the fold of the umbrella have been parroting the mantra of what their candidate has revived but can barely stay on that subject before mouthing Buhari. It is, always, Buhari did this and that; Buhari will do this and that; Buhari! Buhari! Buhari, as if bashing Buhari is what will increase the value of the naira or make our refineries work to full capacity.
I shudder to think what will become of us if a “moonslide” is once more foisted on Nigerians. To think they started campaigning six months ago and now that they need to prove themselves with far more urgency, they can barely articulate how they plan to consolidate on the gains they have made in the past five years in office. What Fayose did on Monday is to extend the edges of the PDP’s Buhari obsession. Suppose they have been campaigning based on issues that affect Nigerians, one would have exonerated them from the tactlessness exhibited by their boy Friday.
Fayose is not alone in parroting the nostrum of ageism in a manner that makes you wonder if they are taking the election seriously at all. The height of clowning is Fani-Kayode, who, rather than engage Buhari in a logical interlocution, asked the man to jog round a stadium! I was left to wonder if the talent deployed in his comedic anticlimax would not be best appreciated in a B-comedy; at least, that will be a more dignified way to earn one’s bread. To their shame, the PDP has besotted this campaign season with cringe-worthy pettiness such as the issue of Buhari’s “semi-illiteracy”, computer literacy, the expensive lifestyle of Zahra Buhari, a jog to nowhere and forgotten phone numbers.
Do not get me wrong, their strategy, obviously, is to damage the Buhari brand – something perfectly legitimate in a political contest – but they have expended much time and energy on Buhari that he overshadows the substance of their own candidate. If the incumbent can descend to pettiness as has been done in the past few weeks, it should be an indication of the vagueness of what they have to offer.
What should worry the PDP about Buhari’s surging popularity is how they themselves wilfully contributed to it. They have failed Nigeria so badly that a man like Buhari – who has been rejected thrice – now gathers momentum such that he looks new and shiny. The PDP should have known that their four years would be up someday and they would have to face Nigerians. When they had the chance, they took Nigerians for granted. Now that elections draw close, they want to scare the nation with the possibility of Buhari’s death.
Sorry, Fayose and the PDP, what is at stake now is no longer just about life and death but change. And for some people, even if the “change” is only change for change’s sake.