President Muhammadu Buhari is still consulting with major stakeholders before taking a decision as to whether to stand for a re-election in 2019, Saturday Vanguard has learned.
This decision was part of the reason the National Executive Committee NEC of his ruling All Progressives Congress APC subtly parried taking a “formal” position on the endorsement of the president’s candidacy for the 2019 general elections.
“You would recall that the president had a pre-caucus meeting with a national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Then he met with the party chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, Abdulaziz Yari and the Senate President Bukola Saraki alongside House Speaker, Yakubu Dogara. In the coming days, you will see him meeting with other leaders who are not in the APC or in any party. So, he is still consulting”, said a party source who pleaded anonymity. He said while those putting pressure on the president to declare feel such an action could stabilize the party. “It is the firm opinion of others that such declaration would instead aggravate the tension in the party and could perhaps make some people to begin to find their nest elsewhere. So, the party has to consider all these. If and when Mr President makes a declaration, the party might then key in, and endorse him, but for now, there could be a serious backlash if it is the party that sets the tone first by endorsing him”, he added.
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At the NEC meeting however, the former Deputy Director-General of the Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organization, Alhaji Nasiru Halladu Danu moved a motion for a vote of confidence on the president. He also moved that NEC should adopt and endorse the candidacy of President Buhari for the 2019 general elections. Both motions were seconded by a former governor of Zamfara state, Sen. Sani Yerima. Though, the second motion was not taken and was not passed for some political reasons, it received a thunderous applause from the NEC members including party officials. In spite of this, the party insisted that there would not be an automatic ticket for the president, adding that since he had not even declared his intent and it would, therefore, be presumptuous to start talking about his re-election. According to the National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, APC would stick to its constitution.
“What I can assure you is that the APC will abide by the APC Constitution on such matters and our constitution does not provide for automatic ticket, our constitution does not provide for the right of first refusal. So, our party will abide by the constitution. “We have looked at what our President has done and as a party we are happy with his achievements; if he comes up today to say he wants to contest, we will support him but to begin to throw things like automatic ticket, right of first refusal, they don’t exist in our constitution.”
While some party sources on Thursday night said the President could be considering calls not to re-contest, his recent actions point to the contrary. Hands over party to govs However, ahead of the elections, the president has moved to strengthen the party, directing its 24 state governors to assume a more frontal role in steering its ship. President Buhari who gave the directive at the October 30 National Caucus meeting of the party also approved the current regular meeting of the governors with the party’s National Working Committee NWC.
Saturday Vanguard gathered that at the meeting, the president said one way of strengthening the party was to first strengthen its base. “So, since the governors are closer to the people and control the grassroots structure, he felt they could be very helpful in this regard”, said a top source who was at the meeting. According to him, the president’s decision has not gone down well with some party chieftains, particularly some members of the National Assembly who have been having a running battle with their state governors. Buhari’s action has also been seen as a move to placate the governors and get their support ahead of the general elections, particularly his re-election if he decides to run. However, the president’s appointment of a new Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Boss Mustapha who is generally seen as a ‘core party man’ is to improve his footing on party affairs.
Saturday Vanguard recalls that the sacked SGF, Babachir Lawal had a fractious relationship with the Party’ national leadership which also resulted in an obvious lack of synergy between the government and party in appointments, payment of party dues by appointed officials and policy direction. The president also gave a pass-mark to the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun led National Working Committee NWC, dismissing fears in party circles that its leadership was threatened. At the NEC meeting, Buhari had said; “I would like to start by commending our Party Leadership chaired by His Excellency, Chief John Oyegun. The Chairman and I worked harmoniously during 1984-85 in a previous government. Happily, circumstances have brought us again to positions of leadership in the country.
I want to thank Chief Oyegun and his staff for steering the party in the last two and a half years. Sometimes it is easier to manage failure than to manage success – and a big success such as that we have achieved.”