Battle For The Soul Of Apc Gets Formal Presidential Nod With The Declaration That Bola Tinubu Is No Longer National Leader Of The Party
Tony Ailemen, Abuja
The centre can no longer hold and things are falling apart in All Progressives Congress (APC) as the presidency yesterday formally declared that Bola Tinubu can no longer present himself as National Leader of the party. It declared that President Muhammadu Buhari is now the authentic national leader. Making the declaration, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, stated emphatically that President Buhari was the only national leader of the party. He also declared that the President had, and would remain consistent in his belief that the National Assembly is independent, adding that the understanding would guide his approach to the current disagreement between the party and leaders of the National Assembly.
This declaration comes as a clear confirmation of an earlier publication by The UNION titled, Tinubu In Trouble. (The Union, Wed. June 17, 2015). Speaking at an interactive programme anchored by the Channels Television’s edition of Sunrise Daily, Mallam Shehu extensively reviewed several meetings held between state governors and the President on the one hand and other party officials on the other, and revealed that the President “mostly listened to what they were saying” and “in fairness to them, the governors took responsibility for the way forward”.
The crisis in the National Assembly had been blamed on the APC’s seeming stance that it does not have an individual as its leader, who could drive the effort to unify the party in times of crisis. This followed statement earlier made by the party spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, that President Buhari was not leader of the party, a position the Presidential Spokesman sharply disagreed with when he stated that the President remained the leader of the party.
Noting that there is no dispute as to who the leader of the party is, Shehu asked: “Does it need to be said? I don’t think it needs to be said that the President is the leader of his party. There is no question about it”. He added that there was need for Nigerians to understand the basics of politics as the country was no more in the military era when decrees were made by a single leader. “Politics, as its theory says, is basically about contest for interests and these interests may be fully defined by political party programme (while) some of these things may be outside political party programme,” he said, adding that coming from different states there would be different needs influencing the interests every politician would promote.
“They advised the President to maintain his posture not to be seen to be meddling in the affairs of the National Assembly, ‘stay above it and allow us to handle it’. And I think this is what you saw coming from the governors”, Shehu said. He declared that while Nigerians had wondered if the President would remain unwilling to get directly involved in the matter should the efforts by the governors fail to yield results; Shehu said such intervention “would be fatalistic”.
The President, who has been short of openly chastising the APC leadership for the way they have so far handled that matter, has so moved with caution on the issue. According to Malam Shehu, “As a leader, the President has given guidance… His own position is that if the eye troubles you, whatever medicine you’re going to apply, don’t put a pin. The President is not unconcerned,” he said.
He however noted also that there must have been some misinterpretation of President Buhari’s promise during his campaign that he would not interfere with the activities of the parliament, especially if the lawmakers would consistently use the President’s pronouncement to justify their refusal of the party’s stance.
“The party did a straw poll –an open and transparent one– which should have been respected. There is no confusion about anything. The party did a process, the President had wished that the party would take that to the very end but that didn’t happen”, he said. He, however, noted that the President would not impose any candidate on the lawmakers, no matter the position. He also noted that the lawmakers should be appreciated for allowing varying views. “They just cannot pile up in a single line and say ‘here we are, we are all present’.
“When the governors met with the President they told him that ‘we are the leaders in our states and we have influence over all of these senators. They come from our places and from us and we can handle it.” He affirmed that if the governors were unable to resolve the matter then the President would wade in directly. “The President has a responsibility to the party, the President has a responsibility to the nation and as far as we are looking at the situation it has not gotten out of control. It is still within manageable parameters, it is a little storm we will overcome and Nigerians better get used to it.”
Speaking on the pressure of 100 days in office alluded to recently by the President, Shehu declared that “with debts in billions of dollars, with state workers and some federal workers not even being paid their salaries, it is just a disgrace for Nigeria.” President Buhari had said while addressing state governors on the financial crisis being faced by many of them that expectations of the first 100 days in office “is bringing so much pressure even when one assumes (office) with a treasury which is virtually empty. “I think Nigeria should be able to at least pay its workers.”
The Presidential Spokesman affirmed that the treasury had indeed been emptied, wondering why the media had not asked the former Minister and Deputy Chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC), Abubakar Suleiman, to provide explanations about the $30 billion he said was left in the country’s coffers by the past administration. “We talk about the foreign reserves and the commitment that are well beyond the capacity of the new government especially given the responsibility brought forward coming from the election.
It is a woeful situation and the President needs understanding and he needs help. “Coming into the election, there were all manner of promises that had been made (but) the ground reality is that you must read the books as handed over to you by the out gone administration. “As you know, all of these things were kept late (such that) we were not allowed to see the skeletons in the cupboard until the very last minute. Therefore government itself needs time to read and to understand where we are from the beginning and hope to build on all of that”, he said.