The Monday declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari to seek re-election in 2019 has been welcomed with mixed feelings. Expectedly, while some Nigerians especially his loyalists trooped out in millions to celebrate Buhari’s declaration, many were disappointed and therefore couldn’t hide their Ill feelings for the President’s move to re-contest.
Buhari we gathered stopped activities at the All Progressives Congress’ National Executive Committee meeting 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.
A source said, “We didn’t expect that the President was going to inform the meeting about his intention.
“I’m not even sure the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, were aware. The look on their faces didn’t portray that they were told earlier.
In his speech, President Buhari 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.
According to Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau who briefed journalists after the meeting, the President made known his second term ambition in a closed-door meeting with the party´s NEC members.
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 starting from June.
Buhari had at another NEC meeting on March 27, opposed the one-year tenure extension decision, saying it was illegal and unconstitutional.
The Monday´s 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.
He said, “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.”
Just after Lalong delivered his speech 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.
He said, “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.
He said, “However, considering the provision of Article 31(1)(iii) of the 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.
“Necessary waiver(s) should also be extended to executives at the ward level whose tenures may have elapsed, and indeed to anyone knocking at our doors from other political parties.”
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.
The NEC meeting was attended by governors and lawmakers elected on APC platform, the President of the Senate, Saraki; 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.
He said, “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.”
On the contrary, 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.
The governor also noted that if Buhari was re-elected, he would kill the country.
Fayose, who spoke to journalists in Ado-Ekiti on Monday through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Idowu Adelusi, said if Buhari was unable to read the handwriting on the wall and knew when to call it quits, Nigerians would show him the exit door in 2019 by voting him out of office.
“We don’t want grandpa as President anymore. Nigeria does not deserve a Buhari as president in 2019. Buhari is old and tired. His declaration today is a slap on Nigerians in the face.
Another statesman, former President of Aka Ikenga, an Igbo think tank, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, has said even though the President has a constitutional right to seek re-election, he should tell Nigerians what he has done to deserve another term in office.
Uwazurike said the President should weigh his campaign promises against his performance so far.
“He listed three major areas – corruption, security and the economy – as his focus. He should tell us where his achievements lie in these areas. .
“He should tell us how our economy is better off now that the prices of a bag of rice and a litre of petrol have doubled. In fact, he should tell us that our medical services have improved, and that the children of top politicians school here,” he said.
However, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the GEMSTONE Leadership Centre, Fela Durotoye, said it was disappointing that Buhari would be seeking re-election in 2019.
He said the country couldn’t afford four more years of Buhari’s presidency due to insecurity and high unemployment rate, among other negative indices the country was exhibiting.
“We saw it coming, but we’re disappointed. For Buhari to ask for four more years, I believe Nigerians deserve better. We can’t afford four more years of disappointment. It’s an indictment on the youths that a 75-year-old man, who should be in retirement, will be the one leading them for four more years.”
The Arewa Consultative Forum said on Monday that it was the right of President Muhammadu Buhari to declare his interest for the nation’s presidency.
The National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Alhaji Muhammadu Biu, said the President only exercise his right as enshrined in the nation’s constitution.
“It is now the right of his party, APC, to nominate him in accordance with the party’s rules and regulations,” the ACF’s spokesman added.
The Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, on Monday welcomed Buhari’s decision to seek re-election, saying stakeholders could heave a sigh of relief.
“The President is not under any obligation to consult governors or anybody,” Shettima said.
He added that party members were in full support of the President’s decision.
“He has done the right thing, he is going to contest and we are solidly behind him,” he added.
He said state governors would give Buhari the kind of support they gave him in 2015.
A former Governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi, said the President’s declaration of interest to contest the 2019 Presidential election, was no news to Nigerians.
Makarfi, who is also the immediate past National Caretaker Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, said, “For me, the news would be if he had announced that he would not seek re-election.”
He added that it had always been the expectations of the main opposition party that he would run for the 2019 presidential election.
“For the PDP, our expectation has always been that he will run so nothing changes in our resolve to do the needful.
What the country needs is a mature, issues-based clean contest,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that many youths in Kano State jubilated when they heard that Buhari had declared his second term ambition.
NAN reported that many of the youths expressed optimism that Buhari would complete the development projects that he started.
A resident, Usman Baba, told NAN that the administration of Buhari had restored security in the country and fought corruption.
He said, “We are happy and hoping that President Buhari will return to embark on infrastructural development since he has already retrieved a lot from looters.”
Another resident, Abduljalal Mu’azu, expressed optimism that if Buhari won the second term, the country’s situation.
The PDP also said the declaration by the President for second term is an internal affair of his party, the APC.
It said that the declaration had placed the President among the ranks of aspirants seeking to be the President from May 29, 2019.
A statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary of the former ruling party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said until Buhari became the candidate of the APC, the PDP would not spend precious time on his mere show of interest.
The lawmaker representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Shehu Sani, said the President decided not to be like the late former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela.
Mandela, South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero who became President after his 27-year imprisonment, had rejected a second term despite the popular demand for his re-election.
Reacting to the official declaration of his decision to seek re-election in the 2019 poll, Sani took to his social media platforms to hail Buhari for moving against the elongation of the tenure of APC’s NWC.
He also said Buhari’s announcement would silence members of the ruling All Progressives Congress who were nursing presidential ambition.
The posts read, “The Lion roared and nipped the Tigers’ open ambitions and the Foxes’ hidden ambitions. The Lion’s roar nails the coffin of tenure elongation. The Lion roared to avert plots and scheming in its absence and behind its back.
“Now that Baba decided not to be a Mandela, we hope that he becomes a Deng Xioping and not Augustus Pinochet Agarte.”
Presidential aspirant and publisher of Sahara Reporter, an online news medium, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, has said he is not threatened by the declaration of Buhari to seek re-election.
He added that there was nothing to worry about.
Sowore stated, “I don’t feel threatened by his declaration. His declaration is not a certification of re-election. No reason to worry about. We knew all along that he would be defeated by the ‘inconsequential’ people ranging from the old, young, the weak and strong to the youth.’’
He also said it was ironical that the President left the country after his declaration to re-contest “on a medical vacation which they didn’t disclose and without a fixed date for his return.”
He doesn’t deserve another term – Moghalu
A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and presidential hopeful, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, has said Buhari is undeserving of a second term based on his poor performance.
He, however, noted that he had the right to seek a second term.
Moghalu said, “I do not think he deserves to be re-elected based on an objective assessment of his failed performance. Nigerians deserve a very different kind of effective and inclusive leadership that can unite the country and reverse the poverty that has made our country the poverty capital of the world with the highest numbers of absolutely poor people of any country.
The Conference of Nigeria Political Party has said Buhari has nothing to show Nigerians, in terms of concrete achievements, to make him seek re-election.
The CNPP in a statement by its Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, maintained that Nigeria should be thinking of electing a patriotic politician who understands economic dynamics and inclusive governance.
He said, “It is disappointing that the President will choose to declare for a second term at a time when the security of lives and property of Nigerians cannot be guaranteed.
“The President’s declaration of intention to run at this time is the height of insensitivity to the plight of Nigerians who are suffering under his administration as he has nothing concrete in terms of achievement to show Nigerians.
“Today, we can count businesses that have either collapsed or are operating under the worst economic condition in history of our dear country, with no single high profile conviction in his so-called anti-corruption war in three years.
“His anti-corruption campaign has obviously been turned into a blackmailing tool aimed at painting one political party black, while anyone accused of corruption that joins the All Progressives Congress automatically becomes a saint and must be protected to enjoy his loot. That is not war against corruption.
“Nigerians at this time should be moving with the global tide by thinking of electing a successful patriotic man or woman as President.”
He said that it would be wrong to re-elect the President who he accused of poor performance.
He said, “Nigerians have experimented enough in the last three years. The hungry and jobless citizens can no longer endure, and cannot afford to see another four years of this failed administration after 2019.
The APC in the South-East on Monday described Buhari’s declaration of an intention to seek a second term in office as the beginning of the actualisation of an Igbo President in 2023.
APC National Vice Chairman, South-East, Chief Emma Eneukwu, and the zonal Publicity Secretary, Mr. Hyacinth Ngwu, in a statement in Enugu, noted that Buhari’s re-election would guarantee the emergence of a President of Igbo extraction in 2023.
The jointly signed statement said Buhari’s decision to seek another four years in office was taken in the best interest of Ndigbo.
The statement described the declaration as a “kind gesture” to the Igbo.
The statement read in part, “The All Progressives Congress, South-East Zone, heartily welcomes the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to seek a constitutional second term in office as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“This decision was in all respects made for the best interest of the people of South-East Nigeria and we happily thank God and President Buhari for this kind gesture.
“We believe that the actualisation of the Igbo Presidency in 2023 has just begun with this declaration.”
Describing Buhari’s re-election as a “golden opportunity,” the South-East APC urged Igbos to vote for Buhari in 2019.
“We urge the good people of South-East (Ndigbo) to avail themselves of this golden opportunity of playing into the Nigerian political mainstream by voting massively for and ensuring the re-election of President Buhari in 2019. We must not let go this opportunity.
“We equally urge Ndigbo to be conscious in electing quality members into the National Assembly under the platform of All Progressives Congress in order to benefit maximally from the APC’s zoning arrangement at that level.
“The era of negative and self-cantered propaganda should be over. This time demands that our best brains should be employed to our overall advantage,” the statement added.
The South-East APC further pointed out that ‘mistakes’ made by the Igbo in 2015, when they massively voted for the PDP candidate, the incumbent, former President Goodluck Jonathan, limited their chances in Buhari’s administration.
The statement urged Ndigbo to learn from the experience.
“We believe the Igbo know the consequences of being in opposition to the Federal Government in Nigeria, and doubtless to say this knowledge informed our people’s deliberate action in 2015.
“This certainly is the right time for us to redress and make the right move and be bold enough to always demand and ask for more,” the statement added.
One of the chieftains of the party , Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is yet to make any comment as at the time we are filling this report.
-Additional report from Punch