Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, says President Muhammadu Buhari didn’t impose his preferred candidate for the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential ticket because he wanted to be fair to all aspirants.
Adesina spoke on the development in an article published on Thursday, titled ‘Knock Knock, Who’s There?’.
Buhari had, in January 2022, said he had a preferred aspirant for the party’s ticket, but insisted that he would keep the name a secret.
As speculations heightened over who the candidate could be, hours before the APC presidential primary was scheduled to begin, the president maintained that there would be no imposition of candidate.
The president’s comment followed an announcement said to have been made by Abdullahi Adamu, APC national chairman, that the consensus candidate would be Ahmad Lawan, president of the senate.
However, Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos, won the party’s ticket when he secured 1,271 votes.
Speaking on Buhari’s position on the “favourite” candidate, Adesina said the president acted as a democrat.
“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?” the presidential spokesman wrote.
“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?”