The significance of Muhammadu Buhari’s victory is underlined by the fact that this will be the first in the history of Nigeria’s electoral process when an incumbent president is defeated. It was no small feat that was achieved by some of the country’s most prominent political figures.
By Dapo Akinrefon
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu
The former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is considered a master political strategist who guided Buhari’s aspiration to a success at the party’s national convention last year.
Tinubu was able to ensure that not only did Buhari get the block vote of the Southwest, but also ensured that many states outside the region that did not have governors in the contest supported Buhari.
After the nomination convention, Tinubu together with likeminded party members was able to weave a formidable campaign machine that put Buhari to victory. Reflective of Tinubu’s imprint in the victory was the fact that Buhari in his last three runs never made an impression in the Southwest, a region he swept last weekend with victories in five of the six states.
Despite the lures and lashes from the opposition, Tinubu stood firm in an unwavering support for Buhari that proved crucial in achieving victory.
Governor Chibuke Amaechi
Governor Amaechi ably steered the Buhari campaign in such a way that brought the old candidate into reckoning in ways he never had been before. The governor’s input was there in the transformation of the general in his dressing and approach to campaign. The governor was in direct control of strategy and deployment of personnel at the campaign headquarters. He was also believed to be involved in the indirect talks with some major political players who helped to ensure the victory of the general at both the nomination convention and the general election.
Senator Bukola Saraki
Senator Bukola Saraki who served as governor of Kwara State before going to the Senate was also instrumental to the victory. His deployment of political and other resources not only helped in the general’s sweep of Kwara State, but also in forming bonds with other major political players in the country.
APC Governors—From left: Imo State Deputy Governor; Prince Eze Madumere; Nasarawa State Deputy Governor; Dameshi Mama Luka; Governors Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo); Babatunde Fashola (Lagos); Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers);Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun); Zamfara State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Muktar Anka and Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola, dPhoto: Nwankpa Chijioke.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is perceived another influential personality to Buhari’s ascendancy to Aso Rock. President Obasanjo’s behind the door counsel and patronage of Team Buhari was an open secret. He demonstrated so even in the days before the election was postponed last February when he went on an international circuit to launch his recently released book, My Watch.
He also met with market leaders in his Abeokuta office where he gave them counsel on how to vote.
However, the most strategic role President Obasanjo may have played is believed to have been in bringing international focus on Nigeria in such a way that put the defeated president in a cul de sac on allowing his subordinates to manipulate the results.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar may not have been seen regularly on the podium pushing for Buhari, but he was a main backer in terms of resources. Once he lost the ticket to Buhari, Atiku pushed his structure including his savvy media team headed by Mallam Garba Shehu to Buhari’s use. The team proved to be a torn in the flesh of Candidate Goodluck Jonathan.
All the APC governors without exception backed the general. Though two of them, Al Makura in Nasarawa and Adams Oshiomhole in Edo were not able to deliver their states to Buhari, but the efforts they made was undeniable. Oshiomhole was especially a thorn in the flesh of Camp Jonathan in the last few days.