The newly-published biography of President Muhammadu Buhari has given an insight into the crisis of confidence currently rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress, saying the President is largely seen as not being “a natural party politician.”
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The book, “Muhammadu Buhari: The Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria”, written by Prof. John Paden, was presented to the public on Monday.
The author noted that many party chiefs always preferred to hold midnight meetings with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo inside his residence in Abuja to meeting with Buhari, who he said was being regarded as a “loner” and “outsider” within his party.
He said that was why many stakeholders want Buhari to be close to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar; and a national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who they believe can help him reach out.
He wrote, “With the PDP fracturing, observers wondered if splits were also developing in the APC, given that it is a coalition of recent vintage.
“As of spring 2016, no serious divisions were visible, although rumours often surfaced when Buhari was out of the country, especially regarding the status of the legal case against Senate President Saraki, a recent convert to the APC.
“President Buhari is not a natural party politician. Complaints have arisen within his party that he is a ‘loner’.
“APC politicians in Abuja were more likely to congregate at night at the home of the Vice-President than at the Presidential Villa with Buhari.
“The fact that Buhari has been perceived as an “outsider” to politics by the general public has been his strength.
“Still, voices within the APC have suggested Buhari engage such long-term politicians as Abubakar Atiku and Bola Tinubu to rally the APC governors and ensure that the President has closer ties to the state and local levels of the party.
“Men such as Atiku and Tinubu could provide links to key constituents, such as traditional rulers and grassroots NGOs.”
The author admitted that with economic growth at a dismal level, for reasons he said were largely global, many of Buhari’s ardent supporters were losing patience.
While saying that expectations were high when the President was elected, he noted that many are still waiting for an upturn in economic fortunes after one year in the saddle.
He said although there was a consensus that Buhari was not looting the treasury, “but with hunger in the North-East and stagnant growth elsewhere, Buhari’s political honeymoon seemed to be drawing to a close as he came up on his March 28 election anniversary.”
Paden noted that the President’s answer to such criticism was to emphasise the need to diversify the economy and support indigenous entrepreneurs rather than importers.
“But all this will take time to have an impact and politicians and the public were demanding quick fixes,” he said.
The author described the South-East as the greatest political challenge for Buhari.
He said the President received few votes from the zone in 2015.
Despite this, he said Buhari allocated four senior ministers to the zone: Foreign Affairs, Science and Technology, Trade and Industry as well as Labour.
In addition, he said although the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources is from the South-South, he has ethnic ties with the South-East.
He claimed that this sent a string message that the South-East is seen by Buhari as a vital part of Nigeria.