Nigeria presidential campaign in the gutter

2015-01-19 19:03
Leading opposition All Progressive Congress presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari. (Stringer, AFP)

Leading opposition All Progressive Congress presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari. (Stringer, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Lagos - When Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general, was in Abuja last week, he urged all presidential candidates and parties to rise above the personal and debate the issues that matter.

But the message appears to have gone unheeded, with fresh attacks from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against Muhammadu Buhari, from the main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).

Buhari, who hails from the Muslim-majority north, has previously been accused of being an Islamic extremist, of failing to finish high school and alleged monumental fraud.

On Sunday, President Goodluck Jonathan's campaign chief Femi Fani-Kayode added another claim, publicly mentioning "rumours" that the 72-year-old was "mortally ill" from prostate cancer.

"We are therefore constrained to urge him to prove to the Nigerian people that he really is as 'fit as a fiddle'... by taking a brisk walk or even jogging around the perimeter of the stadium before any of his rallies," he said in a statement.

"If he can do that, it will go a long way to allay the fears of many."

Raising fears about the health of a man who could become president recalls the presidency of Umaru Yar'Adua, who died in office in 2010 from a kidney related ailment.

He was believed to have had health issues even before he assumed office in 2007 but were never disclosed.

Buhari, a former military ruler, said the claim smacked of desperation on the part of the ruling party, with the 14 February vote widely predicted to go down to the wire.

"How they got the impression that I was sick I don't know," he told a news conference on Sunday, revealing that the only health issue he had was a cold.

Instead, he said the medical document said to back up the PDP claims was forged and was designed to avoid the main issues in the election, including widespread corruption at the highest level.

Gutter campaign

Buhari has come under personal attack in part because of his time in the military, which saw him seize power from a democratically elected government in a coup in December 1983.

For the PDP, a leopard can't change his spots and the party has been whipping up the politics of fear, harking back to the days of the former army general's crackdown on corruption and indiscipline.

"No matter how many pretty robes you wear, once a tyrant, always a tyrant," one PDP newspaper advertisement ran on Monday, over photos of Buhari in uniform, a dinner jacket and ethnic attire.

Others evoked the jailing of political opponents or his muzzling of the media during his 20 months in power.

Whether the tactic pays off for the PDP will only be seen when the results come in, with no independent polling currently available to assess voting intentions.

But for politics watchers, the standard of the campaign is a worrying development, arguing that it does little to help enhance already shaky confidence in the country's leaders.

Fell into trap

"I think it has a negative impact on the political process and citizens aren't able to see the quality of people running for election," said Clement Nwankwo, director of the Policy and Legal Advisory Centre, a pro-democracy group.

"What they see is personal attacks, falsehoods, concocted stories and political smearing... that has not elevated the debate," he told AFP.

For Nwankwo, the APC has fallen into a PDP trap by responding to the claims instead of rebutting the allegations by continually questioning the government's achievements.

Dapo Thomas, a politics lecturer at the Lagos State University, called it a "gutter campaign" borne out fear in the PDP that it could lose power for the first time in 16 years.

The electorate may be able to see through it, he suggested, particularly as some of the issues had not been raised on the three previous occasions that Buhari stood for the presidency.

"They [the PDP] have seen the writing on the wall," he added.

Read more on:    apc  |  pdp  |  muhammadu buhari  |  nigeria  |  nigeria 2015 election

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.