Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday charged the leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to work hard to ensure that the party survives beyond the end of his tenure in 2023.
The President, who spoke at the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party in Abuja, said that history would be unkind to the party leaders if the party collapses at the end of his administration.
He also said the party leaders have a responsibility to make the party attractive to their constituents, saying that “anybody who fails to maintain the respect of his constituents and is thrown out, it is his problem.
“Like the chairman has said, all those who left us to the upper house, none of them were voted by his constituents.
“You want to take our people for granted, but they know what they are doing,” he said.
He added: “The aim is that, as I mentioned yesterday, history will not be fair to us outright if the APC collapses at the end of this term.
“History will be fair to us if the APC remains strong and not only holds the centre but makes gains. People will reflect with nostalgia that once upon a time, the builders of APC made a lot of sacrifices, worked very hard.
“The sacrifices are physical, material and moral to make sure that we maintain the leadership, politically, of this system. This is what we should all aim at and ensure that our constituencies understand us and follow us to this great objective.
“What we did for you the executive, NWC is bottom to top. You must make sure that people elected to be responsible from polling units to wards to local governments to states and here 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 causes failure, then be prepared that history will not recognize you as a leader at any level at any time.”
Speaking further, the President noted that the relationship between the executive arm of government and the legislature under the current dispensation has been commendable, noting that the National Assembly had been cooperative, which he said had allowed the administration to make remarkable progress.
He said: “Yesterday, I had to mention our relationship. And when I say ‘our’, I mean the executive and the legislature. And I was constrained to tell you there was a time I called the Senate President and the Leader of the House and told them that to sit on a budget for seven months is not politics nor is it hurting the President, whoever he is. It is hurting the country and the people we swore by the books we believe in, to serve them whole-heartedly.
“For that reason, I was pleased to mention yesterday that the 9th Assembly, you can see and read in the papers, they have shown so much commitment; they sit down on important issues and we make a lot of progress. This relationship, we will try and maintain because there are a lot of things that will not go public.
“We cannot allow those things to go public. But I want to tell you that we are making a lot of progress and what people fail to do is to appreciate the progress that this administration has made; what we inherited when we came in 2015.”
President Buhari also dispelled the rumour that he is working to perpetuate himself in office beyond 2023, saying that he would not take any action that is contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian constitution.
He urged the brains behind the rumour to read the Constitution, pointing out that he is only permitted to spend two terms of office, the second of which he is running already.
He said: “I’m not going to make the mistake of attempting a third term. Besides age, I swore by the holy book that I would go by the constitution, and the constitution said two terms.
“I know that I’m in my last term and I cannot afford to be reckless because I’m not going to ask for anybody’s vote.
“I want you to read the constitution. I made sure that when the constitution says the election as we did it the last time will start in 18 months time or 20 months time, it is going to be done.”
The President, who commended the party’s National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, for his efforts at leading the party, lamented the losses the party has suffered in some states it used to rule, including Imo, Zamfara and Bauchi.
Speaking at the event, Oshiomhole narrated the events that had been from the general elections, the successes and losses, as well as areas where the party still hopes to make gains.
Oshiomhole said: “I think our victory in Kwara State, for me, was most outstanding. I think we now generally refer to Kwara with pride as the O to ge revolution.
“We also won in Gombe State. I’m sure for our brothers in the North-East Gombe with an incumbent PDP governor, our people, only armed with their bare hands but obviously with Mr President’s goodwill, we defeated PDP in Gombe State and today, Gombe is governed by APC governor.
“So, Mr President, I believe that until these issues are finally resolved, particularly those of them that are likely to go until Supreme Court level, I believe heavenly that life is sustained by hope.
“I believe that by the time we are done, we will have a chance of winning some of these cases that are going to the Supreme Court where we have lost at the level of the Court of Appeal.
“We have also got through a rather stressful process, including the fact that the opposition chose to challenge your election. They even wanted to take into school as to whether there is a different between Muhammadu and Muhammad and all,” he said.
One of the high points of the meeting was the NEC members’ suggestion that Buhari should constitute a reconciliation committee as the leader of the party to settle the grievances that are rocking the party in different states.
The NEC resolution, disclosed in a statement issued by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, was adopted from the recommendation of the National Caucus of the party reached on Thursday during a meeting it held at the Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, Abuja.
The Standing Committee will be empowered to address the grievances of party members and resolve existing conflicts, all with a view to fostering unity and oneness within the party.
Among those in attendance of the NEC meeting, which held more than a year after the last one, were the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege; Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wade; Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya; Deputy Senate Leader, Prof. Ajayi Borrofice; Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu; Deputy Senate Whip, Sabi Abdullahi and former interim National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande.
Also in attendance were governors of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule; Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai; Borno, Prof. Babagana Zulum; Kogi, Yahaya Bello; Katsina, Aminu Masari; Edo, Godwin Obaseki; Ondo, Rotimi Akeredolu; Osun, Adegboyega Oyetola; Ekiti, Kayode Fayemi and Jigawa, Abubakar Badaru, among others.