A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, says the National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, played a major role in packaging then-candidate Muhammadu Buhari to win the 2015 presidential election.
Naija News reports that Lawal who was sacked as SGF in October 2017 after he was indicted in N544m grass-cutting scandal, made this comment while speaking on the issue of zoning of the 2023 presidency in an interview with The Punch.
The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation said it was Tinubu, a two-time governor of Lagos State, who raised funds for the APC to defeat the then President, Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in 2015.
Lawal said before the 2015 elections, “Nigerians saw Buhari as just a wood” but Tinubu brought in consultants from the US – the firm behind the successful execution of President Barrack Obama’s campaign to help “repackage Buhari to Nigerians.”
“Everybody knows Buhari had no money and he doesn’t play money politics. So he won his presidential primary election without spending money. Also, Buharists didn’t have money; they only had ideas, zeal and fanaticism. And politics requires money. Tinubu, who had his tentacles spread across the corporate world, was the only man who knew where and how to raise the funds needed. He was the one that reached out to all the ‘big men’ who were at the time scared of the then President Goodluck Jonathan. These were all rich men that depended on government’s patronage. But somehow, Tinubu was able to persuade some of them to support Buhari. We had so many experiences, Timipre Sylva (now Minister of State for Petroleum Resources) and I thought we could do it but found out we couldn’t until Tinubu came in and we won the election,” he said.
Asked how the APC at the time managed to turn around the negative perceptions the public had of Buhari, the former SGF 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. 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.
“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 strategy was to transform his 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 said.
The former SGF continued: “Rallies don’t win elections. It is the underground work that wins elections. Almost the same thing repeated itself in 2019. Tinubu doesn’t like to take credit for what he does; he lives for politics, gets his money from politics and spends it on politics. He has no other interest except politics. The monies he spent out of his pocket that are unaccounted for outside of the party’s campaign finances are quite enormous. I know this because he’s my friend and because I am also involved in the Buhari government. So when there is a crisis, I am the one whose duty is to run to the South-West.
“Therefore, except we want to bring the wrath of God on our heads, which we don’t want, the party must create an environment that is free and fair for anybody who wants to contest, including Tinubu, to do so. Allow the delegates, who must have emerged through a similarly free and fair process, decide who they want to vote for. It will be our duty as ‘Tinubu’s boys’ that time to say, ‘Let us vote for Bola’.
“By the way, what did we get from several years that the Presidency has resided in the North? Along that line, we have also had vice presidents who were northerners. We have had presidents who were northerners but for some reason, the system is not improving. Presidency from the North is like an albatross around our neck. We northerners can do with power going elsewhere so that at least, we can now complain. But you cannot be holding on to power while things are not working fine. Let us also be able to complain, especially those of us who play active roles in the country,” he told The Punch.
Source: Naija News