Buhari’s second term in focus as APC holds NEC meeting

#1
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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