The People’s Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organisation (PDPPCO) alleged yesterday that spent N5 billion for the appearance of its Presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari at the Chatham House in London last Thursday. It, however, described the speech as a jamboree and monumental failure.
“It is quite interesting to note that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is describing the appearance of its presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari last Thursday, at the Chatham House in London, as successful. This is not so and in fact the contrary is the case. The truth is that the outing was a monumental failure,” the Director, Media and Publicity of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, told journalists in Abuja, yesterday.
“The whole sorry episode has now fully exposed the APC as a party built on propaganda, deceit, make-believe and one which lacks respect for the people of Nigeria. A few days ago we promised to go into further detail on the Chatham House episode at a later stage and we have decided to do that today. Here are the facts.
“Buhari’s appearance at Chatham House was a last-minute decoy to divert the attention of Nigerians and the whole world from the fact that his trip to London was mainly to seek medical attention and care. The point we are making is that General Buhari was not originally scheduled to go to Chatham House but in order to divert attention from the real purpose of the trip, the Chatham House speaking engagement was hurriedly put in place.
“The information at our disposal indicate that no less than N5 billion was budgeted for the London jamboree. This amount was wasted on General Buhari’s Chatham House speaking engagement, numerous foreign consultants, air tickets for the huge delegation, the contingent of governors, hotels bills, the purchase and renting of vehicles and other logistics. We challenge the APC and its leaders to contradict this information.
“We will like to reiterate our call on the APC to make General Buhari available for debates in Nigeria, if as the APC now claims, he performed very well during his procured speaking engagement. We also wish to ask if General Buhari is now a candidate seeking election in the United Kingdom or in Nigeria, after running away from debates organized by the Nigerian media.
“There are some interesting facts about the Chatham House outing that Nigerians should know. The event was organised only two days before it took place and well after Buhari had arrived in London. The questions that were asked were given to him two days before the event and the answers were prepared for him and given to him to rehearse. The programme lasted for only 55 minutes and only five questions, which were all planted, were asked.
“The people in the Hall were sponsored. 1,500 persons applied to attend the function but only 200 were allowed in. The audience was carefully selected. The APC mobilised many students from the Republic of Ireland, who were all on scholarship courtesy of the Rivers State Government, to embark on a pro-Buhari rally outside the Chatham House. The students were threatened that their scholarships would be withdrawn if they refused to participate in the rally.
“This was the show of shame that General Buhari has got himself involved in. Sadly Chatham House offered its prestigious platform to sell a bad product to the world. The APC leaders begged for the speaking engagement and we are reliably informed that they paid for it.
“The ‘arrangee’ Chatham House event is another ploy, like the purported London interview, to hoodwink Nigerians and prevent General Buhari from debating in Nigeria. But we insist, General Buhari must debate in Nigeria.
“As a party, we are happy over this latest development as it will no longer give Buhari any excuse not to debate when he returns to Nigeria. The APC no longer has any hiding place, but to put General Buhari through a similar coaching course like in the UK, to debate in our beloved country on any media of choice with our candidate, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
“We would also like to take this opportunity to touch on some aspects of General Buhari’s Chatham House speech. From the contents of the speech it is clear that General Buhari has now admitted to the fact that ”democracy is a journey”. It is a pity that it has taken General Buhari 31 years to admit this and voice it. This is something that any educated leader ought to have known right from the start but General Buhari is different and is clearly lacking in that department.
“If he could have appreciated that point 31 years ago, he would not have betrayed his own Commander-in-Chief, President Shehu Shagari (who was a democratically elected President), removed him in a coup d’etat and taken his seat. Yet General Buhari now appears to have seen the light. Read him: “It is globally agreed that democracy is not an event, but a journey. And that the destination of that journey is democratic consolidation – that state where democracy has become so rooted and so routine and widely accepted by all actors.”
“We are glad that Buhari is now saying the right things but sadly it is too little and too late. The fact of the matter is that he went ahead to truncate that democratic journey and took Nigerians through the darkest period of the most primitive and barbaric form of military rule. If he were in South America or Pakistan he would have been either jailed or hung for what he did to the Nigerian people 31 years ago. He would have been asked to account for every drop of blood that was spilt and every violation of civil liberties and human rights that took place under his watch.
“We are surprised that General Buhari, after admitting that he is personally responsible for the atrocities of his military dictatorship, failed to use the opportunity of his procured appearance at Chatham House to apologise for his past role as a coup plotter, a promulgator of retroactive decrees and a brutal and unconscionable despot. We challenge him to tell Nigerians and the international community anything tangible that he has done in the last 31 years to consolidate democracy in Nigeria. Can General Buhari give what he does not have? Can he come to power through the ballot box after taking it through the barrel of a gun?
“Despite this boldfaced attempt to hoodwink the international community, the lying APC and their malodorous and lying spokesman Mr. Lai (or is it Lie?) Mohammed, failed to adequately brief General Buhari, who could not help but display his poor grasp of the issues in Nigeria.
“Specifically, General Buhari goofed when he said at Chatham House that he would draw foreign investors to Nigeria. If the APC and General Buhari were in sane and in their right senses, they would have known that, under President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria has become one of the most preferred destinations for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the world.
“We are happy that General Buhari admitted that under President Jonathan, Nigeria is now the largest economy in Africa with a GDP now valued at $510 billion and economy rated 26th in the world. He also admitted that “on the bright side, inflation has been kept at single digit for a while and our economy has grown at an average for about a decade.”
“This is the first time General Buhari has admitted that anything good is happening in Nigeria under the watch of President Jonathan. General Buhari, however, lied when he said that the Jonathan administration ‘has created two economies’…one economy for a few who have so much in their tiny island of prosperity; and the other economy for the many who have so little in their vast ocean of misery.” General Buhari should have gone further by naming those he knows who live in ‘their tiny island of prosperity’ and who are bankrolling his presidential campaign, having told the whole world that he paid N27 million for his nomination form through a bank loan.
“Regrettably, General Buhari failed to admit the fact that but for the menace of terrorism which he and his party tactically support, our economy would have grown even faster and done even better. It is on record that every effort being made by President Jonathan and our gallant Armed Forces to combat the terrorists and arrest the scourge has always met a stiff opposition from the APC and General Buhari.
“They were against emergency rule in the north-eastern states and the proscription of the Boko Haram sect. The APC and its leaders have never deemed it fit to commend our military. This is simply due to the fact that without APC, there will be no Boko Haram and without Boko Haram there will be no APC. The two are linked and their relationship is like the relationship that existed between the IRA and Sinn Fein. One feeds off the other.
“We realise that General Buhari, who has never seen fit to apologise for any of his own un-statesmanlike utterances in the past, will continue carrying on like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand. General Buhari will play the ostrich and not see the glaring lies that his party, the lying APC, has woven around him. This is a crying shame. We shall allow that story to quietly unfold as the APC continues its rapid descent into willful delusion and self-destruction. No matter what they do or say we are certain that Nigerians will reject such a lying party at the polls during the March 28th elections,” Fani-Kayode said.