President Muhammadu Buhari briefly stopped activities at the All Progressives Congress’ National Executive Committee forex bid ask history in Abuja on Monday when he declared his intention to seek re-election in 2019. Governors and national leadership of the APC present were said to have been taken aback by the President’s declaration. They were said to have, however, quickly recovered and clapped as soon as the President declared his intention. It was gathered that the governors and the national leadership, led by the APC Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, were not aware of the decision until the President spoke.
We didn’t expect that the President was going to inform the meeting about his intention. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, were aware. The look on their faces didn’t portray that they were told earlier. The President at the NEC meeting explained why he would seek re-election in 2019. Buhari, who is already 75 years, said he was responding to the clamour by Nigerians to re-contest in 2019, adding that he wanted to give NEC members the honour of notifying them first. Before making the declaration, the President gave his speech on the report of the APC National Executive Technical Committee.
The NEC meeting was the third since February 27 where it approved the tenure extension of the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee of the party and its other executives for one year staring from June. Buhari had at another NEC meeting on March 27, opposed the one-year tenure extension decision, saying it was illegal and unconstitutional. NEC meeting was to look into the report of the 10-member committee constituted by the party’s NWC to advise its leadership on the issue. Lalong said the report of the committee’s report was accepted by all the APC leaders, including the president. Everybody’s interest was considered in the report and the adoption was a unanimous vote. The President was excited because of this unity in the party, and he accepted the appeal by several members of the society, party and everybody, that he re-contest in the 2019 election.
He has accepted that he is going to contest again the position of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In his speech at the meeting, the President commended Lalong-led committee for what he called a job well done within the limited time frame. According to his speech which was made available to journalists, Buhari said the report showed a great sense of commitment to the ideals of the party with a view to positioning it to continue delivering good governance. He pleaded with members of the party to remain united, adding that it would not be in their interest to go into elections with disagreement.
With the present state of the party and based on the report submitted by the technical committee, it is important to focus on how to move the party forward by avoiding actions detrimental to the interest of the party. Upon my review of the report, my position is to ensure that the party toes the path of unity, legality and cohesion and not that of division. Therefore, I am stressing that we should strengthen our internal democracy by organising the party’s congresses and convention where election of national executive committee members would be held. This will automatically end the cases filed by members seeking orders of court compelling the party to hold its congresses. The President said he believed that the current executives should be free to vie for elective positions in the party if they so wish, which he said was in line with the APC constitution. APC constitution which requires any serving officer desirous of seeking re-election to resign from office 30 days before election, I am not sure of the present serving officers’ ability to meet this condition. Accordingly, the party may consider granting waivers to party executives at all levels so that they are not disenfranchised from participating in the elections should they wish to do so, provided this does not violate our rules.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said the meeting granted waivers to Odigie-Oyegun and other executive members to remain in office and seek re-election if they so desire. Both Lalong and Abdullahi said the meeting had approved a timetable for the party’s congresses which they said would be released soon. Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, party stakeholders and state chairmen, among others. In his speech at the meeting, Odigie-Oyegun said he had undergone several attacks because of his position as the leader of the ruling party.
Odigie-Oyegun said the responsibility imposed on him because of his position prevented him from replying his attackers. The responsibility imposed on me by my position as the National Chairman of the party, demand that I rise above my personal pains and refuse to yield to the temptation to react in a manner that potentially complicates the situation for our party. However, I will like to urge everyone else to remember that regardless of our ambitions and personal interests, the party is greater than all of us. The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has said Nigeria does not need Buhari as her leader in 2019, noting that Monday’s declaration of second term ambition by the President is dead on arrival.