President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, ended several months of speculations and consultations as he officially declared to contest the 2019 Presidential elections on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
He made the declaration during the National Executive Committee (NEC), meeting at the National Secretariat of the party, confirming his promise to the party members to be the first to be informed of his decision to seek re-election in the 2019 election.
The Presidency through its official tweeter handle, @NGRPresident said: “President @MBuhari has just announced his intention to seek the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and contest for a second term of Office in the 2019 elections.”
The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai also tweeted: “President @MBuhari has just announced his intention to seek the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and contest for a second term of office in the 2019 elections.”
In a statement, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu confirmed that the president has declared to seek re-election.
Buhari said he took the step in response to the clamour of Nigerians asking him to seek re-election.
The statement read: “President Muhammadu Monday in Abuja declared his intention to seek re-election in 2019. President Buhari made the declaration at a closed-door meeting of the National Executive Council of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“The President said he was responding to the clamour by Nigerians to re-contest in 2019, adding that he wanted to give NEC the honour of notifying them first.
“Shortly before making the declaration, the President presented a speech on the report submitted by the APC National Executive Technical Committee,” stated.
“It is true that the president has announced his intention to run at the 2019 elections”, the House of Representative majority leader, Alhassan Dogwa confirmed the development to newsmen outside the party secretariat.
Also confirming it, the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, told newsmen after the NEC meeting that the president was elated with the return of peace among the folds of the party.
Lalong further noted that the committee’s report which brought unity to the party, was accepted by all its leaders including the president, stressing: “Everybody’s interest was considered in the report and it was a unanimous vote and adoption of the recommendations that were made.
“The president felt so happy and excited because of this unity in the party. He now considered and also accepted the appeal by several members of the society, party and everybody that he will contest the 2019 election. He has accepted that he is going to contest again the position of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Speaking earlier in his introductory remarks, President Buhari had commended the Governor Lalong-led technical committee for doing a good job in its recommendations to the contentious extension of the tenure of the national and state officials.
“I want to specifically thank members of the technical committee for a job well done within a limited time frame. It shows the essence of commitment and the ideals of our party with a view to consolidating the party to continue to provide good governance in the overall interest of Nigerians.
“The general interest 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.
“Considering that politics is a game of numbers, we must not be a house divided against itself and must try to appreciate and accommodate our differences as far as the law permits.
“Having seen the report, my position is to ensure that the party toes the path of unity, legality, cohesion and not that of division.
Therefore, I am stressing that we strengthen our internal democracy by organising party congresses and convention where election of national executive committee members will be held.
“This will automatically end the cases filed by members seeking orders of court compelling the party to hold its congresses. I also believe that the current executives should be free to run for elective position in the party if they so wish and permitted by our party constitution.
“However, considering the provision of Article 30 Section 1 and Subsection 3 of our party constitution which requires any serving officer desirous seeking re-election to resign from office 30 days before the election, I’m not sure of the practicality of the present servings 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 in participating in the elections provided this does not violate our rights or our rules.
“Necessary waivers should also be extended to executives at the ward level whose tenures May have elapsed and indeed to anyone knocking on our doors from other parties.
“This gives credence to the right to freedom of association guaranteed by the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. In this circumstance, the party should issue a statement on the above waivers so that our house may be full. We all must not be ignorant of the torns and the journey that is ahead of us.
“Just like our party symbols the broom, we stand by strength in unity. Let us try to be united in party, victory is sure by the grace of God.And together, we must continue to sanitise Nigeria’s political environment,” he said.
Meanwhile, the party has granted resignation waiver to the National Working Committee (NWC) and other executives officers of the party at states and ward levels to remain in office and re-contest.
Confirming the position of NEC on the resignation waiver granted the national and state officers, Lalong said the decision was to accommodate every aggrieved member of the party.
The APC constitution stipulate that any officer wishing to re-contest party position must first resign 30 days to the expiration of his or her tenure.
Acording to Lalong, “after wider consultations, we arrived at the term; we considered not only the legal point but also the political options as available and came to the conclusion that if we are going to induct that election within a very short period then the concern shown by other members on the issue of disenfranchisement and allowing other people to contest was very genuine.
“We arrived at the point that it is constitutionally valid to conduct congresses but if in conducting the congresses certain available provisions of the constitution were not going to be fulfilled, it means that some people will be disenfranchised.
“We spoke about 21 days notice and requirements of Article 31 and came to the conclusion that if these provisions are taken care of, then there was no need for anybody to say we cannot conduct congresses within the available space that we have.
“Everybody was carried along and everybody’s interest was considered in this report…the NEC has accepted that the provision of the constitution that people must resign 30 days before re-contesting should be waived. So they don’t need resign their positions before they re-contest their position,” he explained.
The national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has pleaded with the party fateful to eschew bitterness and personal interest.
“The sacrifices require discipline our personal ambitions and selfish interests. We are looking for ways to minimise rancour in the party ahead of the next general elections, and we are looking for ways to save the party from potential legal booby traps. These are both valid considerations. The challenge that we have faced has been how to reconcile the two in the best interest of the party.
“On a personal note, I have had to endure virulent media attacks, malicious insinuations and outright character assassination. However, 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. The experience of the last few days has made it clear to us the enormous task in our hands as we go into the elections next year.
“If the progressive ideology that we stand for must be an enduring political order in Nigeria, we who occupy this space now, as founding fathers, must be willing to make real sacrifices to lay a solid foundation for generations to come. These sacrifices require of us to discipline our personal ambitions and selfish interests.
“If we do this, it would be easier for us to forge consensus and reach compromise, even on issues that appear to divide us. I must say that disagreements, debates and contentions are the hallmarks of progressive politics. Therefore, let no one tell you that our party was about to collapse only because we disagree,” he stated.