Buhari’s second term in focus as APC holds NEC meeting
With the recent upsurge in the clamour for President Muhammadu Buhari to seek a second term on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the issue could be a major agenda as the party holds its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting tomorrow in Abuja.
Ahead of tomorrow’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), all eyes would be on President Muhammadu Buhari to either give inkling or declare his interest for reelection in the 2019 presidential poll.
While speculations about the second term declaration are rife, there is yet no clear indication that the subject matter will be the crux of discussions at the meeting scheduled to hold in Abuja.
Setting the tone for the speculations penultimate Friday, a group of cabinet ministers and governors of the party mainly from the northern part of the country who refer to themselves as Buharists, opened the Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) campaign office in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
In attendance at the event, which was to provide a launch pad for Buhari’s second term ambition, were governors Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), and Simon Lalong (Plateau). Also the Ministers of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello, Defence Minister, Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali, Niger Delta Minister, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, and Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire were also in attendance while Senator Olorunnibe Mamora chaired the occasion.
That same day, members of another group, the National Committee for Buhari Support Groups (NCBSG) comprising governors Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano) and Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai (Kaduna) were also at the Presidential Villa in an apparent bid to get the Buhari’s nod to vie for a second four-year term in office.
But one of the Buharists, and Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu who was on the entourage to the Villa, hinted that President Buhari is not likely to make his intention known at the NEC meeting.
According to him, “BSO and NCBSG are two brothers of the same family and I belong to both platforms. They share the same goals and common denominator of supporting President Buhari. I was a member of the delegation that met Mr. President and throughout the whole discussion; no mention was made of his declaration for 2019 presidential race. Rather what the documentary we showed gazetted was his achievements and challenges, especially as regards how to bridge the huge infrastructural deficit.
“In his response Mr. President thanked all the support groups for their voluntary efforts and went ahead to thank the international community for their support. He singled out the Chinese for the loans they obliged Nigeria for infrastructural development. It is at this point that he told us that much could have been achieved but for the challenge to source the 15 percent counterpart fund to make up the 85 percent Chinese counterpart fund.
“Therefore, my little knowledge of Mr. President is that he is more preoccupied on how to bridge the huge infrastructural deficit to get Nigerians back to work and not about 2019. He is not the talking type and might not talk about 2019 until when INEC announces the timetable. This is my little understanding, I maybe wrong. It is we the supporters who are urging him to further work on the solid foundation for progress and prosperity that he is laying.”
The latest moves by the Buharists may not be unconnected with the recent declaration by the pioneer interim National Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande that the race for the 2019 presidency is not the exclusive preserve of President Buhari. Akande’s remarks which he made at the Southwest APC stakeholders meeting held at the Oyo State Government House, unsettled Buhari loyalists in the party.
The position of Akande, a very close ally of the party’s National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed, came on the heels of the declaration by the Minister of Women Affairs, Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan who openly threw her weight behind the bid of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar to vie for the presidency in the 2019 poll.
The former Vice-President who is also a strong pillar in the party, and who has not hidden his displeasure over alleged breaches of the APC constitution under the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun’s National Working Committee (NWC) is now at the receiving end as the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) under the chairmanship of Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, cancelled it’s contractual obligations with Integrated logistics services limited (INTELS) on allegations of refusing to clear the sum of N403 billion debt owed the Federal Government.
The House of Representatives has however waded into the issue which is believed to have been mastermind by some pro-Buhari elements in government to weaken Atiku’s likely resolve to challenge the president in the preparations for the 2019 poll.
Atiku who claimed he deployed considerable resources to help Buhari defeat his predecessor, former President Goodluck Jonathan of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015, has alleged that he, alongside his supporters had been sidelined since the APC took power in the past three years.
A peep through the minds of some stakeholders revealed that issues highlighted by Atiku, ranging from the inability by the Odigie-Oyegun-led NWC to convene NEC meeting as well as constitute the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) might be tabled during tomorrow’s meeting.
There could also be talk on the interim report of the Nasiru el-Rufai Committee on restructuring and true federalism during the parley which would also have in attendance, chieftains of the party from the South-South, Southeast and Southwest geo-political zones where the agitation is most strident. APC’s spokesperson, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi has already hinted that the report would eventually be forwarded to the National Assembly for consideration in the interest of Nigerians.
The NEC, which would be preceded by the caucus meeting today at the Presidential Villa would also afford President Buhari the opportunity to take stock of the successes or failures recorded in the execution of his campaign promises to fix the country’s comatose infrastructure, tackle the spate of insecurity and the fight against corrupt practices in the polity amid challenges of selective graft war as propounded by rights activist and Senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani which is already gaining ground.
The delay to take action on the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo report on allegation of corrupt practices against the embattled Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Engr Babachir Lawal, coupled with the reinstatement of the former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on pension reform, Abdulrasheed Maina, have cast doubt on the seriousness of the anti-graft campaign.
Decisions are also expected to be reached on the report of the Muiz Banire committee on the review of the party’s constitution, funding and on the date for the long-awaited convention of the party. Banire, who is having a running battle with the leadership of the APC in his Lagos State base, is the National Legal Adviser of the party.
The NEC meeting is also expected to discuss with a view to resolving crises rocking the state chapters of the party in Kaduna, Kano, Adamawa, Kogi, Ogun, Bauchi, Enugu and Osun. The party leaders expect the crises in these states and others to feature during deliberations.
Already, there are series of reports on the fact-finding and reconciliation committees on ground for the party leaders to work with as a means of ensuring harmony and cohesion among its members. Penultimate week, the Enugu State executive members took their protest to the National Secretariat in Abuja faulting the appointment of Ms. Loretta Aniagolu as a Board member of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA).
In a petition addressed to the President and submitted to the APC leadership, they said they could not fathom why those who worked against the party were being offered appointment to various positions to the detriment of loyal and committed members. They alleged that Ms. Aniagolu was of the opposition PDP who worked assiduously against the victory of APC in Enugu State in the 2015 general elections.
In the petition, they claimed, “Ms. Loretta Aniagolu did not labour in our vineyard neither did she support activities of APC in any way. It is doubtful whether she will help in building our great party on the eve of election year.
“For as a former governorship aspirant and PDP financier, Ms. Loretta Aniagolu made sure that Buhari scored 148 votes in her ward (Eke), while Goodluck Jonathan was allotted 1154 votes at the collation centre where she was in charge with her litany of policemen.
“Apart from that, Ms. Aniagolu was among those who vehemently opposed our great party at a time when it was not fashionable to openly proclaim membership of APC.”
Alleging that she is a cousin of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and that they are from the same political ward (Eke) in Udi LGA, the state party executive said, “our fear is that if her appointment is allowed to stand, it means that five of the major political appointments so far given to indigenes of Enugu State are domiciled in one LGA and two wards.
“The concentration of all major political appointments in two wards and one LGA will destroy our chance to make meaningful impact in the forthcoming general elections.”
The petition was signed by the State Chairman, Dr. Ben Nwoye, Secretary, Chief Robert Eze, Chairman, Enugu State Senatorial District and Enugu State Coordinator of Buhari Support Organization, Chief Anike Nwoga, Chairman Enugu West Senatorial District, Rev. Ikechukwu Omenkeukwu, Chairman Orji River LGA, Chief Benson Eze, Chairman Udenu LGA, Chief Innocent Eze and Chairman Igboeze North LGA, Desmond Ayaogu among others.
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