The Punch reports that the Presidency and the ruling All Progressives Congress have come under fire for saying that President Muhammadu Buhari never promised Nigerians that he would achieve specific things within his first 100 days in office. Nigerians on social media expressed disappointment at the party and Presidency’s excuses.The protest on Twitter, which was titled, #100dayspromise, was directed at the APC and the Presidency for being insincere with Nigerians during the electioneering.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Lai Mohammed, said during an interview on Channels TV on Monday that Buhari never promised to do anything within his first 100 days in office. Mohammed said:
“Buhari never promised to do anything in 100 days, that’s the honest truth. You see, when you are running a campaign, all kinds of literature will emerge from all sorts of groups but there are only two documents that you can judge a party with: That is the constitution of the party and the manifesto of the party. Those are the only two documents that are registered with the Independent National Electoral Commission; you can go to court or hold a party accountable for them.”
Similarly, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, distanced Buhari from the many promises that were made during the electioneering. Shehu, who was the Director of Media of the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation, denied the authenticity of a document titled, “My Covenant with Nigerians”, which was purportedly signed by Buhari and posted on the APC’s website in March.
He also denied the authenticity of another list of promises titled, “One hundred things Buhari will do in 100 days.” However, Kayode Ogundamisi, a social commentator, said on his official Twitter handle that it was hypocritical of the APC, having allowed the said documents detailing Buhari’s promises to be flying around on the Internet throughout the electioneering, only to rubbish the documents when it was time for reckoning. He said:
“The APC and President Buhari are telling us that they never saw the ‘100-day promise’ document; failing the integrity test so soon? Prof Yemi Osinbajo mentioned free meals as contained in the 100-day document during his US tour; is he also a loose organ?”
Another Twitter user, Okezie Moses, said, “If the 100-day promises are now ‘unrealistic’, it means votes were obtained by false pretences.”
Abdulrahman Muazu also wrote on Twitter:
“The APC made a lot of unrealistic promises and all of us heard it directly or indirectly, so denying it now won’t work.”
Similarly, Obiogumu F. tweeted:
“Buhari, APC and Lai Mohammed’s denials confirm lack of policy direction and a propaganda-based government.”
Nwachukwu Oluchukwu posted on his Twitter handle:
“When will the APC and the Presidency stop lying? This is becoming childish.”
In the same vein, Akhehicols said:
“Rather than deny the 100-day promises, Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina should focus on highlighting the achievements so far.”
A commentator on an online news website, The Cable, wondered why the APC did not deny the authenticity of the documents before the elections. The commentator, Yasin, said:
“You did not disown those so called publications then because they suited your agenda. Now all we get from you is persistent use of the Peoples Domocratic Party as an excuse to cover your gross incompetence. We are not fooled.
“The PDP left a mess; an ex-minister stole $6bn, etc. When will you stop distracting the masses and sit down to govern? Has PDP/Goodluck Jonathan prevented you from naming any ministers?
“Your first 100 days will pass without any significant achievement to show, not even the quick wins recommended by (Ahmed) Joda committee. Your present press release and others to come are aimed at dampening expectations. How can you achieve anything significant without ministers, without policies? This is not the change we voted for”
A member of the APC Situation Room, Gbenga Olorunpomi, who was one of those in charge of issuing press statements and other Internet materials on behalf of the party, had in March, sent emails to news rooms, including The PUNCH.
One of the emails had the document titled ‘My Covenant with Nigerians’. Efforts to reach Olorunpomi, who also live tweeted APC’s activities during electioneering, on Monday failed as his phone was switched off.
Earlier, he had sent an email containing an article from Shehu to The PUNCH. The article contained the denial of Buhari’s ‘covenant’ document. Shehu, in the piece said he had no knowledge of the two campaign documents, which reportedly emanated from the party’s “many centres of public communication which, for whatever reason, were on the loose.” Shehu stated:
“Both pamphlets bore the authorised party logo but as the Director of Media and Communications in that campaign, I did not fund or authorise any of those. I can equally bet my last kobo that candidate Buhari did not see or authorise those publications.
“As a consequence of these publications, expectations have been raised unreasonably, that as President, Muhammadu Buhari will wave his hand and all the problems that the country faces – insecurity, corruption, unemployment, and poor infrastructure – would go away.
“That notwithstanding, President Buhari has given the job his best shot and the whole country is saying that we never had it so good. He has re-established the values of hard work and administrative efficiency. The President says times without number that this country needs to fix governance and that he won’t tolerate laziness.
“In the area of economic management, Nigerians are already seeing things happening that they thought were not possible in so short a time.”
It will be recalled that the Senior Special Adviser to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina, had also warned Nigerians not to confuse Buhari’s promises with those of his party, the APC. Adesina, while speaking with Ogundamisi, two weeks ago, said Buhari could not be stampeded into declaring his assets publicly when it was the APC and not him that made the promise. He said:
“You need to get his words right. Go and check all that the President said during the campaign. In no place would you see it attributed to him as a person.
“But then there is a document by his party, the APC, saying he would declare publicly. So, we need to set that right; it was a declaration by his party. The law requires public officers to declare their assets and he has done that.”
Apart from Twitter, Nigerians also lambasted the APC and the Presidency on different websites. For instance, on Nairaland, a commentator, Kakameks, wrote:
“We are in for it. The way this government is going is really mind blowing. Campaigns are over now, the reality of the work ahead is gradually setting in and the goal post is continually being shifted.”
Amazondepth also wrote:
“It is really troubling to see the APC failing the integrity test so soon. In fairness to PMB, he has a monumental load of work on his hands but the promises hoodwinked the gullible masses and coming to deny that is shameful to say the least.”
Away from the social media, some lawyers who spoke with The PUNCH on Monday said Buhari needed to fulfil promises made during electioneering. A Lagos lawyer, Festus Keyamo, said:
“If those promises were made in the course of the presidential campaign and they were made by the party for Buhari as the presidential candidate, then it is only proper that the President should deliver on those promises and Nigerians should hold him accountable regarding those promises.
“But then, I can vouch for President Buhari. I travelled with him and I was with him at Chatham House when he was asked a question on what he would do in the first 100 days; and Buhari’s reply was very simple. He said, ‘I consider all of these promises about my 100 days in office fraudulent. I am not going to commit myself to any 100 days promises.’
“That was what he said at the Chatham House in London. But if the party made any promises regarding 100 days, perhaps the President should have corrected them at that time.”
The Executive Director of the Socio-Economic and Accountability Project, Adetokunbo Mumuni, also said the party was like Buhari’s principal and the President was bound by the promises made by the APC.
“The party is more or less like the President’s principal and so it would not be out of place for Nigerians to hold the President accountable for the promises made by his political party, especially the promises made on the campaign train,” he said.
Another Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Wahab Shittu, said, “All the promises that the President made are anchored on a very clear agenda. He made promises on security, corruption, economy and infrastructure; those are clear promises based on his agenda and they are the template on which he would be assessed.
“Buhari contested on the platform of the APC and on the strength of that, he is obliged to implement the manifesto of the APC and the promises made to Nigerians. The promises he made as a presidential candidate are anchored on the manifesto of the party.”