The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has deferred the endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari’s candidacy for the 2019 presidential election.
The House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara dropped this hint when he briefed journalists on the outcome of the APC National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Abuja yesterday.
Dogara, who was flanked by the APC National Publicity Secretary, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, and the National Legal Adviser, Dr Muiz Banire, spoke on the issue when asked to give the NEC position on the possibility of giving an automatic ticket to President Buhari in 2019.
He said: “Today’s meeting was not about 2019 elections. When we talk about 2019 in the context of the agenda you saw, we are talking about membership registration,
the drive for membership and others. We are not talking about elections. Even though there was a motion on the floor that calls for a vote of confidence on the President. Some of us felt it was not necessary because there is nowhere that his confidence is shaking. But the motion was taken and passed.
“But there was a second leg to that motion which calls for the adoption of the candidature of the President, but it was deferred for now and no decision was taken because that is not the major reason why we are here.”
But the APC National Publicity Secretary quickly played down the significance of the endorsement issue.
Abdullahi, who agreed that a vote of confidence was passed on President Buhari, said that no formal motion was moved on the adoption of the president for second term.
He said, “The motion that was put was after the Minister of Agriculture had briefed the NEC about the activities and achievements of his ministry. One of the NEC members said we should move a motion passing a vote of confidence on Mr President. There was no formal motion moved on the issue of second term for Mr President.
“Somebody in the crowd shouted that we should move a motion and we don’t even know that member. But the motion that was formally moved was that NEC should pass a vote of confidence on Mr President and that was after the brief given by the Minister of Agriculture, especially when he said that by 2018, Nigeria will have no need to import a single grain of rice. That is the context and I need you to understand that very well.
“The only discussion or conversation on 2019 was the activity of the party in 2018, especially the issue of convention. It was agreed that since we have all these activities lined up, including the mini convention, congresses and elective convention, a small team be set up to put dates to these party activities up to 2018. There was no discussion about election of 2019 or who will be the party flag bearer. The committee will decide when all these activities will take place. The NEC also passed absolute vote of confidence on [Chief John Odigie] Oyegun and the NEC.”
On the constitutional amendment, Dogara said the proposal for the review of the constitution was being sent to the emails of the NEC members for examination in order to take a binding decision.
On the convention, the Speaker said though no “definitive and conclusive date” had been fixed, there would be another round of meetings where the specifics and details would be approved based on the outcome of the caucus meeting.
Asked about the possibility of mass defection from the APC, considering the absence of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar at the NEC, Dogara said the party would do everything possible to reach out to all the aggrieved members and ensure reconciliation.
He said: “I don’t think that you can find any family that is as large as the APC family without some squabbles. No such family exists in the whole world and if there are disagreements, they are okay because without disagreements, you cannot even move forward.
“Progress comes when people refuse to agree with the status quo and they put forward their positions. If their positions are good enough, they are adopted and we move forward. So, for us, I don’t think we are having a situation or run into a situation whereby we have crisis that the party cannot overcome.
“What I will advocate is that we should be the ones, as the APC family, to define what type of crisis and not allow crisis defines us.
“We are not like other parties that will say to hell with you because we value every member of this family. I believe that with God on our side, we should be able to overcome.”
APC governors support Buhari
Earlier, the APC governors, in separate interviews, expressed support for President Buhari’s candidacy.
Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State said the future of the country would be good with President Buhari who remained a personality with the greatest amount of integrity and impeccable character.
Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State said he and many APC members would support President Buhari if he contests again in 2019 because of his performance in the last two and a half years.
Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong said they had resolved to work for Mr President if he continued to perform well and carry everybody along.
“Do we have any other person that will challenge the President again? Whatever you call it, as far as we are concerned, we have one President and that is the ticket we will fly,” Lalong said.
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State said the president had been showing the right leadership and taking the right steps through the ongoing reconciliation moves.
Okorocha said he would back President Buhari if he decided to run again.
“My President is very democratic. If Mr President wants to run for election, he will follow all the processes. And if he is the person, we will all support him. In the APC, there is no imposition of candidate. If Buhari is running, I will allow that man to continue….,” Okorocha said.
The NEC meeting was attended by President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun, 20 APC governors and one deputy governor.
Also in attendance were the pioneer interim APC National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, Minister of Agriculture Audu Ogbeh, FCT Minister Mohammed Bello, Special Adviser to the Vice President on Political Matters Babafemi Ojudu, senators and members of the House of Representatives, among others.
The APC NEC meeting witnessed the presence of heavy security personnel who also barred governors from driving their vehicles into the garage at the party’s national secretariat.
The plea of the angry chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari, to the security team to allow the governors entered with their cars was rebuffed.