President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday declared his intention to seek re-election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019.
He made the announcement during the APC National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held behind closed doors at the party’s secretariat in Abuja.
The meeting was attended by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo; the Senate President, Bukola Saraki; the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; and 24 state governors.
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State who spoke to reporters on the outcome of the meeting explained that the president opened up on his re-election bid following the realisation that there was a consensus among leaders of the party on the controversy surrounding the extension of the tenure of the executive members.
Lalong, who led the 10-member technical committee on the tenure elongation saga, said his panel’s recommendation that the APC should conduct congresses and national convention to elect both the state and national executive members of the party was approved by the NEC.
He stated that the vacant positions in the party, at ward, state and national levels, would be thrown open to eligible members to vie for.
The Plateau governor disclosed that the NEC granted waiver to the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and the state executive members in line with articles 31 (2) of the party’s constitution.
This, he said, implied that the Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee (NWC) and state executive members could remain on their seats, seek re-election without resigning their positions 30 days to the expiration of their tenure on the 30th of June this year.
Lalong said the waiver would not grant the party executive members undue advantage over their rivals since those that would organise the congresses and national convention of the party would be picked by the NEC.
“Everybody´s interest was considered in the report and it was a unanimous vote and adoption of the recommendations that were made. The president felt so happy and excited because of this unity in the party.
He will now consider and also accept the appeal by several members of the society, party and everybody that he will re-contest the 2019 election. He has accepted that he is going to contest again the position of president in 2019.”
Earlier, the president who thanked members of the technical committee for a job well done stressed the need to focus on how to move the party forward by avoiding actions detrimental to its interest.
He urged the NEC to consider granting waivers to the party executives at all levels to enable them to participate in the elections “provided it does not violate our rights or our rules.”
“This gives credence to the right to freedom of association guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution as amended.
In this circumstance, the party should issue a statement on the above waivers so that our house may be full. We all must not be ignorant of the times and the journey that is ahead of us.
“Just like our party symbol, the broom, we stand by strength in unity. Let us try to be united in party, victory is sure by the grace of God. And together, we must continue to sanitise Nigeria’s political environment.
“Considering that politics is a game of numbers, we must not be a house divided against itself and must try to appreciate and accommodate our differences as far as the law permits.
“Having seen the report, my position is to ensure that the party toes the part of unity, legality, cohesion and not that of division.
“I also believe that the current executives should be free to run for elective positions in the party if they so wish and permitted by our party constitution.”
Odigie-Oyegun, in his opening remarks, applauded the president for his rare graciousness and humility in guiding the party over the controversy on the tenure elongation saga.
“By allowing further consideration of the subject matter even after announcing his preference, Mr. President has proven to be a true democrat and a genuine party man indeed.
Where he could have imposed his will, Mr. President has exhibited true leadership by allowing himself to be open to alternative opinion, regardless of his personal interest, so far as they are consistent with the rule of law.”
“I must say that disagreements, debates and contentions are the hallmarks of progressive politics. Therefore, let no one tell you that our party was about to collapse only because we disagree.
Our strength, however, will continue to rest on our ability to forge consensus even from apparently irreconcilable issues.
If anything, what our experience in the last few days has confirmed is that we can disagree without being disagreeable; and that our party may be young, but we remain the bastion of progressive politics.”
In a reaction yesterday, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the declaration by President Buhari for a second term was an internal affair of his party.
A statement by PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, made it clear that “until Buhari becomes the candidate of the APC, we will not spend precious time on his mere show of interest.”
The opposition party had consistently accused the APC and the Buhari administration of circumventing due process to ensure the president’s re-election bid.
Just last Sunday, the PDP condemned what it called “the stage-managed political endorsement of Buhari by some Northern religious leaders,” pointing out that it was a hypocritical and disgusting sign of desperation.
PDP said: “The Buhari presidency’s hiring of supposed Arewa pastors was another attempt to orchestrate fake endorsements ahead of the 2019 election.
“The procured endorsement, which had turned out to be fake, is despicable and betrayed the nervousness of a sinking leadership, desperately trying to save its face, having been rejected by the people.
“It is heartrending that because of the desperation of one man, the integrity of Nigeria’s seat of power has again been ridiculed as the world watched religious bodies and groups in the country disowning the procured band.”
According to the PDP, “The fact that this disgraceful drama came barely a week after our nation suffered an international show of shame over President Buhari’s presentation with a procured award fraudulently linked to Martin Luther King Jr, speaks volumes of this administration’s proclivity for falsehood, lies and deception.
“It is now overtly manifest that the Buhari administration is ready to even stage anything, no matter how ignoble, including fake rescue missions, to deceive Nigerians.”
The opposition party claimed that “these disgraceful endorsement” were being coordinated by three presidential aides, a cabinet minister from the South-South and certain officials of the APC. PDP said billions of naira had been earmarked for the project.
“This cabal is also responsible for the renting of crowds, who are usually conveyed in buses, trucks and trailers, to fill the space during President Buhari’s visits to various states of the federation, as witnessed in Benue during the last visit of Mr. President,” PDP alleged.
Meanwhile, Nigerian stocks yesterday dropped to a three-month low after Buhari said he would seek re-election in 2019.
The international agency reports that the stock market which opened on a losing streak after Lafarge Africa announced a surprise 2017 loss worsened its decline as the equity market fell near 40,000 points.