There are strong indications that the All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus in the National Assembly is currently divided over the re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Sunday Sun reliably gathered that a lot of the APC lawmakers are not favourably disposed to the idea of President Buhari seeking a second term in office in the 2019 general election.
A reliable source disclosed that this was as a result of the less than cordial relationship that has existed between the executive arm of government and the legislature.
President Buhari declared his intention to run for a second term in next year’s general election last Monday at a meeting of the ruling party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
An APC member of the House of Representatives, from one of the Northern states, who pleaded anonymity, told Sunday Sun that there ii division in the APC caucus on account of the President’s 2019 re-election project.
According to the lawmaker, most members of the ruling party in the National Assembly are not happy by the decision of the president to contest next year’s presidential election.
He said they had expected him to bow out after the completion of his tenure in 2019.
“We are not together it ( Buhari’s re-election bid). We are divided. Most of us think he should have done the honourable thing and not seek re-election because of the fact that the party under his watch has not been united.
“Even in terms of the ways the government has been run, there have been too much rancour between the executive and the legislature and these have affected a lot of things. Again, because of his health, a lot of things are done by his cronies and he is even not aware of a lot of decisions he has taken,” the lawmaker said.
He added that members of the APC caucus opposed to President Buhari’s re-election cut across the country, noting that most of those in support are majorly from the North-West geo-political zones.
“If you look at it across the country, there is a higher number against; even in the North. Most of his support is from the North-West. But even in the North-West, they are divided. In the other zones, he has no support practically,” he stated.
However, the Senate Committee Chairman on Police Affairs, Senator Abu Ibrahim, said that President Buhari’s Monday declaration of his second term bid saved the APC from disintegration.
The Katsina South lawmaker said that there was no doubt that the President Buhari’s announcement would go a long way to douse what could have created an unmanageable crisis of confidence in the APC.
Ibrahim spoke to reporters in Abuja in reaction to President Buhari’s announcement of his intention to seek re-election during the 2019 elections.
Ibrahim said that he was “joyous, elated and delighted” at the decision of President Buhari to seek re-election.
“I think that it (seeking re-election) is also the right thing for him to do,” he said, adding that if Buhari decided not to contest, “it would likely have led to the disintegration of the APC.
“If Buhari decided not to contest, the NEC meeting would have ended up in combative situation. The meeting would have turned into explosive uncontrollable situation. Who will emerge as APC flag bearer: is it from the North or the South. It would have led to a serious situation that would have been difficult to manage and control.
“If Buhari decided not to contest, it would have created confusion. That declaration saved us that confusion. I am joyous.
“There is no doubt that we are on the path of recovery in Nigeria. We are on the path of rebirth in Nigeria. If this gentleman continues for the next four years, Nigeria will be much better.”
He noted that if Buhari decided not contest, it would have been difficult for the APC to get somebody as widely accepted as the president as the party’s flag bearer.
The lawmaker also acknowledged that “there are pockets of problems here and there,” noting that Buhari had, to a large extent, dealt with Boko Haram insurgency.
On his blueprint for Buhari if he is re-elected, Ibrahim said that he would still put more emphasis on security, especially internal security.
“Internal security is important. It means that the police must be rebuilt, given more funds and made viable to perform better. I will also put emphasis on the economy and infrastructure and investment.”
To those criticizing President Buhari, he said: “They should continue their criticism while we will continue to give them answers. That is the beauty of democracy.”
A member of the House of Representatives from Kaduna State, Hon Bala Yusuf told Sunday Sun that it was wrong for anyone to say there was division within the APC caucus in the National Assembly over Buhari’s re-election bid.
He, however, admitted that there might be some APC lawmakers, who have misgivings on the decision of the president to seek a second term in next year’s general election.
When asked the percentage of APC lawmakers supporting the president 2019 project, Yusuf said, “all I know is that we are strongly behind Mr President. There are many of us who are behind the president. I cannot give you the ratio.
“The truth is that I am not aware of any division in the APC caucus. If some people think they are not comfortable with the president’s decision, they can do anything. Everyone is entitled to his opinion. But for those of us from the North-West, we are 100 per cent in support of the re-electon bid. That is why we formed a forum, North-West Parliamentarians in Support of Buhari/Osinbajo 2019.”
On the other hand, the Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Hon. Mark Gbillah confirmed that the relationship between the executive and the legislature has not been very cordial.
Gbillah said for most of the lawmakers, their support for the president’s second term project would be contingent on an improved relationship between the two arms of government.
“For those of us who are in his party, we are disappointed that we have not been carried along by the executive. And we are wondering how he is going to do it when those of us, who should have been helping him at the grassroots are not been carried along.
“I am the deputy chairman of the Petroleum Committee(Upstream). I cannot even call the NNPC GMD, which I supervise, to meet with him. The SGF is unreachable.
“Members of his executives, who we oversight have not developed any relationship with us. They are unreachable. They don’t show us any respect or regard. That is a ministry where he is the minister.
“They seem to forget that we are the ones who campaign for them at the grassroots. Buhari will not come there. At most he will come to the state. These are the internal issues that have not been resolved. If he wants our support, he needs to address these issues.
“Our support for him will be contingent on how these issues are addressed. Every politics is local. We are the ones who hold the key in our constituency. He can do whatever he wants at the federal. He can even come to the state. But at the end of the day, we are the people who go to the wards, to the villages to campaign. And so far we have not been carried along.”
However, the lawmaker said it is not too late for President Buhari to improve on the relationship between the executive and the legislature, if he sincerely wants the support of members of the parliament.