Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
In a bid to articulate a proper response to the insecurity caused by incidences of attacks by herdsmen, kidnappings and politically motivated assassinations in some parts of the country, President Muhammadu Buhari last Tuesday met with top leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Buhari had constituted a Presidential Advisory body made up of 19 top leaders of the ruling party both in and out of government christened ‘G-19’ to advise him on a regular basis regarding critical issues affecting governance and politics in the country.
Also on the agenda of the closed-door meeting held at night at the Aso Villa, were issues on conclusion of actions on the 2016 national budget, the unsettled funding arrangement for the APC, as well as deepening intra-party feud that has engulfed the party in Kano state.
THISDAY gathered from sources that following a resurgence of violent attacks and wanton killings in parts of the country which has led to wide outrage both within and outside the country, President Buhari summoned the meeting to get the input of his party men on how to resolve those issues.
A highly reliable source in the Presidential Villa who spoke to THISDAY few days after the meeting, explained that it dwelt mainly on articulating solutions and trying to advise on various options to resolve the security challenge.
“Actually, the meeting was between the President and his President Advisory Team made up of top leaders of the APC and presiding officers of the National Assembly meant to discuss the way forward on a number of national issues including recent spate of attacks by herdsmen on farmers and the reported killings and kidnapping incidents in southern states,” he said.
The source listed members of the advisory team who attended the meeting to include the APC national leadership made up of the national chairman, Chief John Oyegun, the deputy national chairman (North), Senator Lawan Shuaibu, deputy national chairman (south), Mr. Segun Oni, national leaders of the party, former Lagos governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, and Chief Tony Momoh. Others were the leadership of the National Assembly, led by Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal.
According the source, it was the need to quickly arrest the trend that informed the decision President Buhari took to seek the advice of the leaders to enable him get a balanced view on measures being proposed by government to deal with the matter.
In addition to the issue of the herdsmen attacks, the meeting deliberated on similar security concerns caused by kidnappings and killings in some states especially those that were carried out by suspected political thugs in Rivers and Edo states.
It was learnt that the meeting also considered the intra-party squabbles in Kano state involving supporters of the governor, Dr. Umar Abdullahi Ganduje and his predecessor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
At the meeting, President Buhari was briefed on the peace efforts so far made by the committee headed by the deputy national chairman (north) Senator Lawan to resolve their differences. Shuaibu gave an undertaking to try and bring the two foes, Governor Ganduje and Senator Kwankwaso together to dialogue table in order to resolve the problem.
Kano state chapter, considered as very strategic to the APC, had been on the boil in recent times on account of a political dispute involving Governor Ganduje and Senator Kwankwaso which had snowballed into a wider conflict threatening to divide the party in the state.
However, following the meeting with President Buhari, the national leadership of the party last Thursday invited both estranged party leaders to a peace meeting at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja where they agreed in principle to sheathe their sword and work together again.
Addressing a peace meeting on Friday comprising of influential party stakeholders from Kano state, the APC Deputy National Chairman, Senator Lawan Shuaibu said tremendous progress has been made and that both governor Ganduje and Senator Kwankwaso have accepted to work together again.
Another issue that came up at the meeting in Presidential Villa was finding a source of funding for the ruling party in order to keep it afloat. The ruling party has been facing difficulties in sourcing funds to run its day-to-day operations due to the ant-corruption stand by President Buhari-led administration which has discouraged bank-rolling of party expenses by the government.
The matter was however made worse following the internal conflict that has put key APC leaders at each other throat and thus prevented them from donating funds to the party leadership. The presidency source said the meeting received report from Chief Oyegun on the state of funding of the party as well as new initiatives being adopted to mobilise funds outside of government patronage.