If there is one thing that has characterized President Buhari’s leadership of the country and his party, the APC, it is aloofness. The former general couldn’t just be bothered. Once Buhari won his reelection in 2019, he didn’t care to campaign for his party men like Ganduje who still had a difficult gubernatorial election the next week. He told people in Ogun state to vote their conscience when his party had an official flag bearer. Buhari is never in a hurry, never under pressure and hardly ever demonstrates a sense of urgency.
But, don’t be fooled. Buhari can be relentless, if not ruthless, in pursuit of his self-interest. And it doesn’t matter whether you are Buba Galadima or Asiwaju, you will quickly be declared persona non-grata if you don’t tow his line. So it wasn’t any surprise when Buhari invited the governors of the APC, not to deliberate on the coming primaries, but to issue demands. In the meeting with the governors, one thing was obvious: not one person ( I dare say even his wife), know the cards Buhari has close to his chest. There have been all sorts of speculation about his preferred aspirant but no one knows who the special one is.
Without mincing words, Buhari was saying three things to the governors seated. First, our party is known for the imposition of candidates. Our internal democracy is weak and hardly creates a level playing field for aspirants. In the coming days, therefore, I will be doing what we have always done at both the federal, state, and local governments: impose a candidate.
Secondly, when you (governors) were tampering with the internal processes of the party and foisting your preferred candidate on the party, I respected your authority as the leader of the party in your respective states and I trusted your judgment. Hence, you will all have to respect my authority and trust my judgment on this one too.
Finally, and most profoundly, I (Buhari) am clear on who will not be emerging as the party’s flag bearer. The said individual and his supporters may be anxious, having worked so hard and consulted widely, but he can be rest assured that we will still give them a sense of belonging within the party.
Remember, when it comes to what he wants, Buhari isn’t docile, he is relenting and sometimes ruthless. One thing is certain, though, Buhari will get what he wants even if the heavens have to fall.