â€¢ Insists ruling party has done well
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari will be given the right of first refusal for the partyâ€™s presidential ticket in the 2019 election.
The party chairman spoke Monday in Abuja while addressing the media on the midterm scorecard of the APC-led administration, insisting that Buhari had performed well.
He also spoke on the partyâ€™s midterm convention and said it would have to wait until the president returns from his medical leave in London, explaining that it was such an important activity of the party that the president should not miss.
Oyegun downplayed the impact of the ill-health of Buhari on governance and the party, saying it would not adversely affect the APCâ€™s bid to retain power in 2019.
“The thinking that â€˜will he be president in 2019â€™ is really not doing any good, his need today is good health. When we get to 2019, it is for him to decide if he wants to run or if he doesnâ€™t want to run and to consult the party on his decision,â€ he said, adding: â€œIf he wants to run good and if he doesnâ€™t want to run the country isnâ€™t bereft, the party isnâ€™t bereft of capable hands,” he said.
However, Oyegun said the issue of the candidacy of the party in the 2019 presidential election was not a priority now but that what was important was for all to pray for God to restore the president to robust, good health.
According to him, “Why build bridges if there is no river to cross? Why donâ€™t you wait until you come across a river then you build a bridge. With all due respect, for what it stands for, what is critical today is that our prayer is our good Lord will restore the president to robust, good health; that is the first thing.
“But the prime thing that he will be considering today isnâ€™t to think of 2019. It is to have his health fully restored and I am sure he will give anything just to have his health restored. Letâ€™s terminate it at that point; when 2019 comes we will deal with the issues that arise.â€
When asked to comment on the alleged frosty relationship between the presidency and the party leadership, Oyegun denied alienating himself from the seat of power, but said he was always in good communication with Buhari.
He said: “I have done a lot of things with the president in the past. I have known him from the civil service days; I have known him from the military head of state days. I was one of his close aides. So let them enjoy themselves and pose for photograph. That isnâ€™t the issue. The issue is that we communicate and the relationship is cordial.”
Oyegun described Buhari as a man who does not like to be in the crowd and one who has resolved not to dip his hands into public treasury to fund party activities.
He said as far as the party was concerned, the president’s uncompromising stance on corruption was a major contribution to the change agenda.
The national chairman also spoke of the state of the country’s economy and what efforts were being made to get it out of recession in order to reduce the hardship of Nigerians.
He said the APC-led administration was making renewed efforts to revamp the power sector, which was intended to correct all the current abnormalities affecting the electricity sector.
On the People Democratic Partyâ€™s (PDP) critique of his partyâ€™s poor handling of the economy, Oyegun said APC met a lot of challenges on assumption of power.
He said that much of the problems that came in the way of rebuilding the economy were not foreseen, while others could be traceable to the mismanagement of the past by the PDP administration.