By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Dapo Akinrefon, Charles Kumolu, Emman Ovuakporie, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Chris Ochayi and Omeiza Ajayi
Associates and core supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari are advancing plans for a second term bid for the President through the installation of campaign structures outside that of his party, All Progressives Congress, APC. To them, the President’s achievements in fighting corruption, insurgency and genuine and commitment in the drive for economic recovery should count for him.
The plans according to Saturday Vanguard sources are being reinforced with the recruitment of campaign coordinators in some states. The plans are, however, being resisted by some including associates of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar who are also mobilising to frontally confront the Buhari second term agenda within the party and not, through an alternative party.
Among those leading the plans for a second term are a senator close to Buhari from the Northwest and a very prominent official of the administration presently engaged in a face-off with the Senate over an alleged contract scam in the North-East. The officials, Saturday Vanguard gathered, have gone on a charm offensive towards friends and former friends of the President who may have been let down by the actions of the administration with a promise towards making amends.
The plan for Buhari’s second term has, however, drawn mixed reactions from a cross section of prominent political stakeholders.
While some stakeholders in the president’s APC are slamming the proponents as sycophants projecting their selfish political agenda, critics of the APC administration say the president has not done enough to justify a second term.
The health challenges of the president and his advanced age were major issues for those with reservations on the second term script.
However, a few of the president’s closet supporters were, however, dismissive of the issues saying that the president is in good and improving health with one of the campaign coordinators saying that the president continues to hold meetings outside official working hours as against insinuations by critics.
Among those who cautioned on the second term script for the president were some members of the House of Representatives, Second Republic governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, retired former commissioner of police, Mr. Abubakar Tsav, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF which vowed to resist it and Afenifere, the Yoruba social-cultural organisation. Also against the proposal were Mr. Akin Oshuntokun, who served as political adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and a former member of the House of Representatives, Ogbonna Nwuke, Mr. Monday Ubani, the second vice-president of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA and the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.
They spoke thus:Buhari should be sallowed to concentrate—Ubani, NBA Vice President
Speaking on the development, Ubani said: ‘’The man has not completed his first term. Are those doing this acting on the man’s instruction? I think some people are sick. They should allow him to concentrate.”
It’s a distraction —Tsav
On his part, Tsav said: ‘’It is too early for anyone or group of persons to start canvassing for support for a second term. That is quite distractive. The person they are even planning to do this for deserves not to be bothered. Let them wait and see what the government will achieve first before embarking on such plans. If they start the second term moves as being speculated, it will make the government to stop working and that will not be good in a nation where people are suffering, pensioners have not been paid. Police retirees have not been paid their pension since three years and they are talking about second term. They should wait till 2018. I will advice that those behind the plans think more about the sufferings of the people.”
Speaking in the same vein, Mr. Nwuke, who served in the 7th National Assembly said:
“There is nothing wrong, in my opinion, for people who genuinely have interest in the way the affairs of their country is being run to generate a debate on the future of their democracy.
“And if you ask me, the future of any democracy or of any political party is intertwined with the leadership question.
“I am aware that there are voices that are urging President Muhammadu Buhari to run a second time.
“Ordinarily the constitution allows a serving president the leisure of a second term in office. So those voices that are calling for a second term for Buhari are not in any way out of order.
“So, why should calls for the president to do a second tenure be an issue?
Buhari needs, however, to overcome the teething health challenge that he is currently facing in order to answer those calls.
“ He needs to ensure that as a country we are able to have food on our table, ensure that people get to work in order to create wealth and reduce unemployment. He needs to guarantee that his administration has done well in expanding the country’s infrastructural base.
Above all, we need to enjoy the peace across the country, especially in the Middle Belt where Fulani herdsmen or persons believed to be Fulani herdsmen are busy plundering and killing without as much a word from a serving President.
Some members of the House of Representatives who reacted to the development described it as an attempt to draw the hand of the clock back as the government had not done anything to warrant re-election, saying that President Buhari should be allowed to build the nation first before any other thing.
Anybody campaigning for him doesn’t like him—T.J. Yusuf
“The beauty of democracy is that everybody has the right to express his opinion. That is their desire. It is so unfortunate that they don’t realise that the man needs rest.
“Right now, the responsibility to govern Nigeria is enormous with the health challenge. So to me, the people that are planning this are not fair to him, that is my opinion. They may assume they love him, but to me, they don’t love him and they don’t love this country.
“He needs every support required to take us out this quagmire that we have found ourselves in because I am of the opinion that the quagmire is as a result of lack of policy direction.
“So if you realise something had gone wrong because you have not done what is right, what is important is for you to remedy that and when you remedy that, if you need to be the 2019 candidate, it will naturally flow.
“But if you have not done that and you now focus on re-election, you are saying the mess you have caused is not enough and you are not disturbed that people are going through hard times. So I want to assume that he is not aware of it, they are just trying to be unnecessary busy bodies.”