By Adedayo Akinwale ín Abuja and Seriki Adenoyi in Jos
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said he would not make the mistake of attempting a third term in office.
The President, who spoke at the National Executive Council meeting of his party, the All Progressives Congress, held at its secretariat in Abuja, said apart from age, he was limited by the two terms stated in the Nigerian Constitution.
The President also swore by the Holy Book that he would leave at the expiration of his tenure in 2023.
Buhari said: “I said you should read the Constitution because I am not going to make mistake or attempt third term or whatever term. Besides the age, I swear by the Holy Book I believe in, that I will go by the Constitution and the Constitution says two terms.
“I know I am in my last term and I can’t afford to be reckless because I’m not going to ask for anybody’s vote. For that reason, I want you to read the Constitution and make sure that when the Constitution says the election, as we did it the last time, from bottom to top will start in 18 months’ time or 20 months’ time, it is going to be done.”
The President therefore called on the party members not to take Nigerians for granted, saying: “They know what they are doing. I don’t think we have the money to give them so that we will buy their votes, or we threaten them by using the police and other law enforcement agencies to make sure that the ruling party wins. I insisted on free and fair election. That was why I went to all the 36 states and the FCT when people said that I’m so sick, some people said I was dead.”
Buhari emphasised that he was impressed with the number of people that turned up during the 2019 electioneering campaigns, adding that the number was more than what anybody could pay or intimidate.
The President stressed that he would like to maintain that respect and relationship with Nigerians ahead of 2023, while also assuring that he would hand-over power to whoever wins the election, though he said he hopes it would be an APC candidate.
Buhari urged the party to ensure that those elected are endorsed from polling units, to wards, to local government to states, to the national and should also ensure they are respected in their respective constituencies.
“This is the only way we can make this party survive. This is the only way history will be kind to us, that we have led with absolute concern for the country and for the people. If for any other reason, you divide the party at any constituency and it caused its failure rather than victory, history will not recognise you as a leader at any level at any time.”
Buhari also called on members of the APC NEC to reposition themselves and make sure they dominate their respective constituency politically ahead of the 2023 elections.
He said history would not be fair to them if the party collapsed at the end of his term, adding that history would be fair to them all if the party remained strong, not only at the centre, but also making democratic gains.
According to him, “People will reflect with nostalgia that once upon a time, the presence of APC made a lot of difference, people made sacrifices, they worked very hard, and that the sacrifices are physical, material and moral to make sure that we maintain leadership, politically. This is what we should all aim at and make sure that our constituencies follow us to achieve this great objective.”
The president stated that what happened to the APC in Imo, Bauchi, Sokoto and Zamfara states during the 2019 elections were really unfortunate, and appealed to all party members to read the constitution of the party, understand it and stick to it.
Buhari also commended the 9th National Assembly for their commitment and harmonious relationship with the Executive, “especially the way they have been deliberating on important issues”, adding that the government is making a lot of progress with it.
He stressed: “Yesterday (Thursday), I had to mention the relationship between the Executive and the Legislature and I told you that there were times I called the Senate President and the Speaker of the House and told them on one-to-one basis that to sit on the budget for seven months is not politics and it is not hurting the president, whoever he is, it is hurting the country and the people who you sworn by the constitution to serve wholeheartedly.”
The president lamented that people had failed to appreciate what his administration had done, considering what it inherited when it came on board in 2015.
He noted that he went public several times to make the Nigerian elite understand that the 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not portray the Nigerian elite as a “conscious group.”
Buhari further added: “My experience in the petroleum industry, from 1999-2014; crude oil production was 2.1million bpd, at the cost of $100 per barrel. It went up to $143. You know what happened when we came? It dropped to $37, $38 and militants were unleashed on the administration, production went down.
“So, Nigeria was earning, virtually for 16 years on the average 2.1mbpdx $100×16 years. But look at the condition of the roads, the railway was killed. There was no power and if the infrastructure is good, a lot of Nigerians will not even bother who was in government; they will mind their own businesses because Nigerians are very competitive. But some of the roads were done during the good old days of PTDF.
“Those of you that have the chance to watch the news will see the number of causalities between Lagos and Ibadan alone, the number of people killed on daily basis, the vehicles being destroyed. I think that for the Nigerian elite to keep quiet when so much evil was being committed, they haven’t done good service to their country.
“I have mentioned these negative things because I want you to accept that you are now in charge. I’m the President, but APC is in charge. But I am concerned about history, having been a governor, a Minister, Head of States, in detention, attempted presidency three times, I succeeded the fourth time, went to Supreme Court three times, I don’t think any Nigerian politician has much to tell me.”
Earlier, the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, said that while the APC-led federal government had not been able to solve all the problems, there was no doubt that Mr. President had tackled the issue of the economy, anti-corruption and security efficiently.
He lamented that the party lost Zamfara, Sokoto, Bauchi, Adamawa and Oyo states due to internal party crisis, but he was quick to stress that the party won Bayelsa, Gombe states and that the party had the highest number of lawmakers in the National Assembly.
The APC chairman also said that all the pending cases before the court, especially Sokoto State’s would be pursued to a logical conclusion.
Protesters Clash over Oshiomhole
On the same day, it was a free-for-all fight in Abuja, as protesters demanding the sack of the National Chairman and those rooting for him clashed openly.
Security agencies had restricted movement in and around the party secretariat due to the NEC meeting of the party held yesterday, which President Buhari attended.
The restriction of movement forced the anti-Oshiomhole protesters to lay siege in front of Valencia Hotel, beside the party secretariat, in continuation of the demonstration they started on Thursday morning.
The situation degenerated to a frightening level when the pro-Oshiomhole protesters stormed the street and engaged the anti-protesters in a free-for-all, brandishing cutlasses and freely hauling heavy stones, big sticks and other available weapons at each other.
The situation was brought under control when security agents at the NEC meeting venue intervened immediately and released teargas to disperse the protesters.
Aggrieved NEC Members Call For Oshiomhole’s Sack
In another development, some APC NEC members yesterday called for the sack of Oshiomhole.
Addressing a press conference after the NEC meeting of the party in Abuja, the aggrieved members lamented that most of the goodwill acquired by the party, by reasons of its religious adherence to the provisions of its constitution and the tenets of internal democratic practices had taken a downturn, “principally due to dictatorial and despotic tendencies of Oshiomhole.”
The Zamfara APC Chairman, Lawan Liman, who addressed the briefing on behalf of the aggrieved members, said they had wanted to raise a motion, but the Oshiomhole refused to allow anybody to talk and decided to call for adjournment.
Liman said: “Most unfortunately, the facade conducted by the National Chairman, today, the 22nd of November, 2019, as a National Executive Committee meeting, leaves much to be desired. He completely ignored Mr. President’s advice and rather defied all known rules for meetings by precluding contributions from members and ending the meeting abruptly, without achieving anything. This is most unfortunate and undesirable.
“Arising from the foregoing and having regards to the huge responsibilities bestowed on us as officers of the party and in the overriding interest of our members, we are left with no option but to demand that Oshiomhole resign his position as National Chairman, in order to stem the slide and provide an enabling environment for genuine healing, reconciliation and the practice of true democracy, within the party across the country.”
The aggrieved APC NEC members at the briefing included Kebbi Chairman; Bala Kangiwa; Jigawa Chairman Habibi Sara; Ondo Chairman, Ade Adetimeli; Kano Chairman, Abdullahi Abbas; Benue Chairman, Abba Yaro; Ekiti Chairman; Omotosin Paul, Niger Chairman; Mohammed Jibril Iman; Edo Chairman, Anslem Ojezua; Nasarawa Chairman, Philips Shekwo; Kaduna Chairman, Lakep Dabah, among others.
Buhari to Meet APC Governors in Jos
President Buhari will arrive in Jos, Plateau State tomorrow for a two-day meeting with governors elected on the platform of the APC. The meeting is scheduled to hold between Sunday and Monday.
The Secretary to the Plateau State Government, Prof. Danladi Atu confirmed the development at a press conference in Jos yesterday.
Atu said that other dignitaries expected at the meeting included President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and at least 17 ministers.
According to him, the meeting would provide an opportunity for the APC governors to share ideas on how to deepen governance in their respective states and provide dividends of democracy to the people.
He said: “The latest meeting of the APC governors coming up in Jos is the third in the series after the previous ones in Ekiti and Kebbi States. The essence is for the governors to share ideas and learn from each other on how best to provide good governance to the people in line with the APC manifesto.
“That is why Mr. President has accepted to be part of the meeting. The Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as about 17 ministers, will also be in attendance.”