Bad Economy: Buhari trying to cut campaign cost, opts for low-key campaign

In line with the state of the economy, President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) may run a low-profile campaign for 2019 presidential poll.

The delay in inaugurating the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) was last night said to be part of the new style of Buhari.

Also, it was learnt yesterday that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is bidding time for his campaign in the Northeast, Southeast, and the South-South.

Abubakar was yet to secure the buy-in of some stakeholders and leaders in the Southeast and South-South in spite of a recent reconciliation night shuttle to Governor Nyesom Wike.

The Northeast is rated as the stronghold of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Findings by our correspondent revealed that the President is trying to cut campaign cost to prevent ministers and public officers from diverting resources of Ministries, Departments and Agencies to electioneering.

It was gathered that Buhari has banned all those who will campaign for him from approaching MDAs for cash unlike what obtained when a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke allegedly sourced over N23.9billion for the failed re-election project of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

The President has also directed all security agencies, especially the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) to stay away from politics and using scarce resources to fund campaign.

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According to investigation, the President is looking at a timeline of one month to the poll for his campaign to save cost.

A source in the presidency said: “For the first time in the history of elections in Nigeria, President Buhari may set a new template with a low-profile campaign strategy. He wants to live by example and put in place a new cost template for campaign. APC will not embark on a jamboree.

“With the state of economy, the President is of the opinion that using huge scarce resources for elections is wasteful. His experience of how PDP blew hard-earned oil revenue and funds meant for arms procurement on campaign made him to opt for a cost effective method.

“He also believes that his achievements in office will speak better for him. This is why he thinks that character and achievements will determine the 2019 poll.

“When the campaign takes shape, Nigerians will know which party is spendthrift or prudent.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “There is a standing instruction for all MDAs and chief executive officers/ directors -general not to divert to or use their allocations for his re-election campaign.

“So, anyone who diverts the funds of his ministry or agency to Buhari’s campaign might need to pay dearly for it.”

As at press time, the list of the members of the Presidential Campaign Council of the party has been finalized.

“The President may release the list after he has laid the budget,” another source added.

Apart from Buhari, most governors have been cautious in deploying state resources to campaign.

A governor said: “With some of our colleagues now in jail and a few more to join them after completing their tenure, most of us are unprepared to take the risk of pumping state resources into election financing.

“What we prefer to do is for each governor to manage his state for his party and mobilize support the party’s presidential candidate.

“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is not helping the situation with its monitoring of campaign finances and surveillance on banks, including high volume of transactions.

“All these party leaders will not be there tomorrow when you cease to be a governor and you are put in the dock for trial. Caution is now the name of the game.”

Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar is bidding time for his campaign in the Northeast, Southeast, and the South-South.

Although he ought to have made campaign shuttles to the three zones last week, Atiku deferred it to secure the buy-in of some stakeholders and leaders in the affected areas.

One of the critical stakeholders is Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State who Atiku and other PDP stalwarts went to beg penultimate Friday.

Wike had resigned as the South-South Coordinator of the Presidential Campaign Council until Atiku and PDP leaders made a nocturnal trip to Port Harcourt to persuade the governor to rescind his decision.

A party source, who spoke with our correspondent, said: “Atiku technically suspended his rallies to take stock, put formidable structures in place in the Northeast, Southeast and South-South.

“The truth is that some PDP governors and party leaders in these three zones have still not shown much commitment to our presidential project. But Atiku has done well in carrying everyone along and he tried to heal wounds in the process.”

In his response to The Nation’s enquiry, Paul Ibe of Atiku Media Office, said: “The rallies were only rescheduled. The outstanding three zones of Northeast, Southeast and South-South would be held this coming week.”

He avoided questions on the challenge which made Atiku to alter his schedule by suspending his campaign shuttles to the three zones.

You may like to read; 2019: How Atiku plans to beat Buhari in Southwest

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