Repackaging Muhammadu Buhari for the 2007 General Elections
Aliyu A. Ammani
The packaging of candidates for election into political offices has become extremely important essentially because of the role it is accepted to play in attracting and winning over the electorates. Packaging can be regarded as the vehicle from which a candidate is to be sold and it must therefore protect and attract.
It is my humble opinion that the Buhari Campaign Organization has failed to address some fundamental flaws in its packaging of Muhammadu Buhari as the ANPP’s candidate for the 2003 General Elections and is apparently about repeating same this time around. There is no intention on my part to mock or ridicule those who tried, however ineffectually, to sell Muhammadu Buhari in 2003. In this write-up I intend to make some suggestioins.
First, the Campaign Organization has continued to refer to their candidate as General Buhari. Apparently, they fail to see the wisdom of those who sold Obasanjo to Nigerians as far back as 1999, when they (the Obasanjo Campaign Body) present the incumbent as Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to the Nigerian electorates. Mindful of the fact that what Nigerians then, and even now want, is not another General in Aso-Rock but rather a democrat. From 1999 to date, the PDP as a party, as well as the Obasanjo Campaign machinery always referred to the President as Chief O. Obasanjo, deemphasising but by no means ignoring his military background. It is noteworthy that Obasanjo retired as a full General in 1979. This time around, I humbly suggest that the Buhari Campaign Organization should work towards presenting to the Nigerian electorates a Mallam, Alhaji or even a Mr. Muhammadu Buhari for the 2007 General Elections and not the General.
Second, the Buhari Organization should not only present Buhari as a democrat, but should also work to prepare him to act and speak like one. Utterances made by Muhammadu Buhari, for instance, shortly after the results of the last General Elections were announced in 2003; and even his reaction to the outcome of the last ANPP Convention for the election of the Party’s National Officers, does not sound democratic. Utterances should be well thought out and guided, politically and diplomatically.
Third, the importance of the mass media in electioneering campaigns cannot be overemphasised. While one is not expecting the Buhari Campaign Organization to transformed Buhari into a media-savvy like the Iranian President, Mahmoud AhmadiNejad, it will be better if they should work towards that end. No doubt, Muhammadu Buhari is one of the most photogenic politicians in today’s Nigeria.
Finally, I will like to call on both the Buhari and the ‘Yar’adua Campaign Organizations to avoid mudslinging, cheap blackmail and bitter political wrangles as they try to sell their candidates to us, the Electorates. They should be conscious of the fact that all that transpired between them is keenly watched and documented by our compatriots on the other side of the geopolitical divide, and that they will not hesitate to use it against us whenever doing so is to their advantage. Again, it is my very humble opinion that Mallam Muhammadu Buhari is today the best candidate the Opposition in Nigeria can offer the electorates for the Presidency come 2007. In the same token, Alhaji Umaru ‘Yar’adua is the best candidate the Ruling PDP can present to the Nigerian electorates for the Presidency. Head or tail, Buhari or ‘Yar’adua _either way we win, as this is indeed, the Season of Migration of political power to the North.
Aliyu A. Ammani,