The highly anticipated meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Executive Committee (NEC) held on Tuesday at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.
Before the meeting, we had told you the three things we would be looking out for. So, how did it go? Below are our six takeaways from the event.
1. Pres. Buhari is now ready to settle the boys:
As the 2019 election draws closer, Buhari is ready at last to settle APC supporters with positions in government. His wife, Aisha Buhari, had complained last year that those being appointed into the government were unknown to her; the Customs boss, Hameed Ali, had said last week that half of the positions in the government are occupied by PDP members; the governor of Plateau, Simon Lalong, had said state governors were not familiar with those getting appointments from their states. So Buhari is ready to fix all that now.
Here is the assurance he gave his party members at the meeting: “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.
“By the same token 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.”
Buhari doesn’t even hide it. Nigeria is only just recovering from a recession, and his assurance to his party members is that this provides an opportunity to jack up the recurrent expenditure to compensate “eager” supporters.
2. Oyegun is safe:
“An absolute vote of confidence was passed on APC national chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, and the party executive,” said national publicity secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi in a briefing after the meeting.
Buhari had set the ball rolling for the vote of confidence when he said during his speech that he was grateful to “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.”
Its interesting that the build-up to the APC NEC meetings in March last year and that of yesterday were both dominated by speculations of a possible sack of the chairman. He has survived them both, but whether this will assuage the wing of the party most intent on his sack will only be seen in the coming months.
3. Vote of confidence for Buhari as well:
Oyegun was not the only one who enjoyed a vote of confidence from the NEC, Pres. Buhari got the same.
According to Speaker Yakubu Dogara: “Even though there was a motion on the floor that called for a vote of confidence on the President, some of us felt it was not necessary because there is nowhere that his confidence is shaking. But the motion was taken and passed unanimously.”
4. Major absentees:
It’s interesting that none of the two Northerners who competed against Buhari for the APC ticket in 2015 were present at the NEC meeting. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former Kano Gov. Rabiu Kwankwaso are both reportedly aggrieved and were no-shows at the meeting. There are reports that the duo are considering a move back to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
PS: There was a third aspirant in the APC presidential primary in 2014 – Sam Nda-Isaiah. However he is not statutorily eligible to be at the NEC meeting.
5. Governors make selfish play for 2019:
State governors were at the forefront of those pushing for Pres. Buhari to be endorsed for an automatic presidential ticket for 2019. Even though they did not explicitly say this, the play by the governors is simple: If the party’s NEC give Buhari an automatic ticket at that level, it becomes easier for governors seeking a second term to get automatic tickets as well.
However the motion for an automatic ticket for the president was not considered at the meeting.
According to Speaker Dogara: “There was a second leg to that motion, which calls for the adoption of the candidacy of the President, but it was deferred for now and no decision was taken because that is not the major reason why we are here.”
On his part, Abdullahi said: “There was no formal motion moved on the issue of second term for Mr. President. Somebody in the crowd shouted that we should move a motion and we don’t even know that member. But the motion that was formally moved was that NEC should pass a vote of confidence on Mr. President and that was after the brief given by the Minister of Agriculture, especially when he said that by 2018, Nigeria will have no need to import a single grain of rice. That is the context and I need you to understand that very well.”
However the state governors were more forthcoming in their endorsements.
Plateau Gov. Lalong: “I want to say that if Mr. President is performing, is well respected and carrying everybody along, all of us have resolved that we will work for him. Do we have any other person that will challenge the president again? Whatever you call it, as far as we are concerned, we have one president and that is the ticket we will fly.”
Kebbi Gov. Bagudu: “I think for APC members, it is a democratic party, but the performance of the president in the last two and a half years suggests that if he wants to contest, I will certainly support him and I know that our party members feel the same way about him.”
6. APC, still not ready:
In all of these, it’s interesting that the party arrived at no conclusion on the main issues on its agenda for the meeting. They spent time passing votes of confidence, whereas there was no clear conclusion on issues around its convention which hasn’t held since 2014 or the amendment of its constitution.
Abdullahi said: “It was agreed that since we have all these activities lined up, including the mini convention, congresses and elective convention, a small team be set up to put dates to these party activities up to 2018.”
A proactive party would have set up these committees before now so that their recommendations could be deliberated upon at the NEC meeting.