As scheduled, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) met today at the party’s national secretariat.
President Muhammadu Buhari made a brief opening remark to kick off deliberations. Below are five takeaways from the president’s speech:
1. In the president’s eyes, Oyegun is safe:
There have been speculations over the fate of the APC national chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun following complaints about his leadership. Pres. Buhari began his speech with a strong endorsement of the chairman.
“I would like to start by commending our Party Leadership chaired by His Excellency, Chief John Oyegun. The Chairman and I worked harmoniously during 1984-85 in a previous government. Happily, circumstances have brought us again to positions of leadership in the country. I want to thank Chief Oyegun and his staff for steering the party in the last two and a half years. Sometimes it is easier to manage failure than to manage success – and a big success such as that we have achieved,” he said.
2. The president lists what he considers to be his achievements:
“We can be proud of our achievements in the last two years, Boko Haram, Niger Delta, Regular Fuel, Improved Power, TSA, Agriculture and Fertilizer, above all, the knowledge that corruption will not be tolerated in this Government. We all know there is CHANGE. Nigeria’s prestige has gone up, Nigeria is now credit–worthy, a clear testimony of which was the over-subscription of the Euro-Bond by 4 times,” he said.
Unfortunately, Buhari did not expatiate on what he meant by each of the items. What is the achievement on the Niger Delta, for instance? What data is he relying on for agriculture or for power? And when he says there is knowledge that corruption won’t be tolerated, several Nigerians would read that with incredulity considering how many corruption scandals have rocked the administration in recent weeks without decisive action from Aso Rock. The two most prominent examples are the NNPC governance scandal which followed a letter written by the minister of state for petroleum resources, Ibe Kachikwu; and the recall of Abdulrasheed Maina into the civil service, which added a new chapter today with the claim by the Head of Service that she had advised Pres. Buhari against the recall.
3. Why boards of agencies have still not been reconstituted:
The president referenced the fact that he had given instructions for boards to be reconstituted since October 2015, two years ago. That still has not been done, and there has been no consequence for the inaction.
“Last year I said we would re-constitute the Boards of Parastatals. I must regret the fact that we have not done so, for many reasons. Some of us in this meeting may know I had given instructions since October 2015 for this exercise to start. But there have been inordinate delays through several Committees in an attempt to get the balance right and to make sure all parts of the country are equitably represented.
“On the other hand I am keenly aware that our supporters are very eager for these appointments to be announced. By the Grace of God these appointments will be announced soon. Especially now that the economy is improving, we will have the resources to cater for the appointees.”
4. The federal cabinet to be expanded:
“The compressed Federal Executive Council will be expanded to bring in more supporters at Federal Level, with fresh ideas to be injected into the government,” he said.
5. Shout out to Saraki and Dogara:
The last time Buhari addressed NEC, he was not in the best of terms with senate president Bukola Saraki. This time he had kind words.
“I must also commend the leadership of the National Assembly led by Senate President His Excellency, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Rt. Hon. Speaker Mr. Yakubu Dogara. I must place on record the cooperation and understanding of the National Assembly including some non-APC members who rose above petty party interests and acted in the national interest.”
“My deep thanks also go to our State Governors who faced stiff challenges, especially their determination to maintain unity and tolerance among our communities. This is in the face of unnecessary politically motivated strife and violence. Credit should go to APC Governors for extending their hand of fellowship to their colleagues from other parties.”