BABAChir Lawal, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, has spoken of how the National Leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu, changed the perception Nigerians had for then-presidential-candidate Muhammadu Buhari to win the 2015 presidential election.
The former SGF who was in 2017 removed from office after he was indicted for abuse of office and disregard of the nation’s procurement laws disclosed this in an interview with The Punch Newspaper on Sunday.
He also disclosed that Buhari and his supporters had no money to win an election except ideas, zeal and fanaticism, noting that Tinubu raised the funds for the APC to defeat the then President, Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015.
“First of all, I want to declare that I am a Tinubu man. There’s no denying that there’s a Tinubu factor in the APC. Just like I was a Buharist and every time Buhari’s name was mentioned, I stood by it,” Lawal said.
“At the time, Nigerians saw Buhari as just a wood. He had no emotions. People weren’t seeing him as a loving husband and father, and doubted if he could be humane.”
He further disclosed that it was Tinubu who brought in consultants from the US – the firm behind the successful execution of President Barrack Obama’s campaign.
“It helped to repackage Buhari to Nigerians. They came and started from the scratch; they did some research work for us. They told us where Buhari was weak and the messages needed to change the long-held perception, using billboards and other campaign methods,” he explained.
“That was when you started seeing Buhari wearing a suit, and in Igbo, Yoruba and Kanuri attire. It was then people started to see Buhari as a family man with his beautiful daughters.”
The former SGF added that the strategy was to transform Buhari’s image and show a humane, loving and trustworthy person.
“It helped us. At some point during our strategy sessions, the consultants asked us: why don’t you allow Buhari’s wife to come out so that she can be contrasted with Dame Patience Jonathan? When you do that, you would have won the election already, they said. She provided a contrast to the former First Lady.”
He further disclosed that the crisis rocking the APC, was due majorly to selfish interest against the former chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, stating that some governors wanted to go back to the old days when they would sit down and decide what would happen and who got what in the party.
On the battle between Ibrahim Magu, the suspended chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lawal said the development had given the international community the impression that “we are not serious about our anti-corruption campaign.”
“I have known Malami since I was in the CPC and only got to know Magu when I was in government. And I like his sense of duty and commitment to his job. That’s all I know about him. I don’t know however if there had been attempts to address these issues in another way before the options were exhausted and the issues resulted in the escalation of those differences.”
“What I consider painful in all this is that this government has fought corruption and committed all its energies and resources to fighting corruption irrespective of the parties the people they go after belong to. Some are politically motivated; some are not right. I would not be self-serving if I say take my own case, for instance.
“This issue has given the international community the impression that we are not serious about our anti-corruption campaign. When I was removed as SGF, the general outcry was that because of my closeness to Buhari, they wanted to weaken my flanks so that they could come after me.”
Olayinka works with The ICIR as the Social Media Manager, Reporter and Fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via email@example.com. You can as well follow him on Twitter via @ShehuOlayinka1