…Say his first term difficulties would be eased in 2nd term
…Endorse Amaechi’s appointment as DG Campaign Team
…Why I’m slow in taking actions –Buhari
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor and Chinonso Alozie, Owerri
ALL Progressives Congress, APC governors have formally called on President Muhammadu Buhari to contest a second term saying that the difficult experience of his first term would turn to ease in a second term.
The governors’ endorsement was conveyed to the president at a dinner they reached with him during which President Buhari also gave reasons for the sluggishness that has characterised his first term in office.
The president who hosted the governors and selected members of the National Executive Committee, NEC of the APC to a dinner in the Presidential Villa on Thursday night also used the opportunity to thank the party and the governors for the support they gave him in realising his presidential ambition.
The APC governors have also endorsed Buhari’s appointment of the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi as the director-general of his campaign and have vowed to handle the campaigns themselves at the zonal level. Presidency aides last night shied away from responding to the development.
Chairman of the APC Governors Forum, Governor Rochas Okorocha confirmed the endorsement of the president while speaking with reporters at Owerri Airport on his return from a three day trip to Abuja during which the issue of the president’s run for a second term was finalised by the governors.
His words “We have been in Abuja for three days holding meetings of the Progressive Governors with the APC leadership. We deliberated on so many issues. First among the very important issues that we discussed, was the issue of Mr. President’s second term bid and it has the endorsement of all the governors of APC. There is need for him to complete his second term as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and he should go ahead to declare”.
He said “We also deliberated and a unanimous decision was reached that we liaise with the campaign team to be headed by the Minister of Transport, Chief Amaechi as the Director-General. The governors also endorsed his re-appointment as the Director-General of the Campaign team due to his track record during the last election”.
He continued “Four years is not enough to show what the President can offer. We believe that another four years will bring out the best in him. The first four years is a very difficult period, and we believe that as things are stabilizing, he will take Nigeria to the next level. The Governors have serious responsibilities. All the Governors were asked to put up a team as the campaign council”.
The governor further stated “We all agreed that we should move the same way in order to achieve better results. This time, we all agreed that we governors have serious responsibilities. In the meeting, we resolved that governors should head other zonal and State outfits of this campaign. All the governors were asked to put up a team, a credible team, as members of the Campaign Council”.
He remarked “So, I’m back home to liaise with the people of the South-East leaders of APC and see how we can come up with a strong team so that our story in Imo State and South-East would be a different story unlike what it used to be before. So we urge all South-Easterners and all of my brothers and Sisters, the Igbos, to come together now and let’s change our story and play the National Politics”.
I’m not in hurry to do anything –Buhari
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has told Nigerians that he was not in hurry to take any decisions or do something, saying that he was reckless when he was a military officer.
The President also warned against people fanning the ember of religion and ethnicity, noting that those who had stood with him when he contested presidential election three times were people outside his ethnic group and religious belief.
President Buhari stated this when he hosted a dinner for the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chieftains in Abuja. Narrating his tortuous journey towards leading the country as a civilian President and also some radical decisions he took as a military President, he said his past experiences had made him not to be in a hurry while making decisions.
He said, “I am the only politician that ended up three times in the Supreme Court and still virtually refused to give up.
“There is one thing that disabused my mind in a dispassionate way about ethnicity and religion across the country. You know that tribunal for presidential election started at High Court of Appeal. The President was my classmate. I missed only four of the court sittings.
“For that first phase, 2003, we were in court for 30 months. My legal leader was Chief Ahamba (Mike) (SAN), an Igbo man. He asked the panel of judges to direct INEC to produce the voters register to prove to you that the election was done underground.
“When they came to write the judgment, they completely omimitted that. Another Igbo man, a Roman Catholic, in the panel of judges wrote a minority report. I went to the Supreme Court. Who was the Chief Justice? An Hausa Fulani, a Muslim from Zaria. After 27 months, Ahamba presented our case for two hours and 45 minutes.
“The Chief Justice got up and said they were going on break and when they return the following day, they will deliver the judgment. They went away for three months. That was what made it 30 months.
“And when they came back, they discussed my case within 45 minutes.
“In 2007, who was the Chief Justice? A Muslim from Niger State.
“The third one, who was the Chief Justice? My neighbour from Jigawa State. The same religion and the same tribe.
“Finally, the determination of our people and technology: the Permanent Voters Cards made it possible for us to be here. “Voters education is important. Let people be educated that it is their right to choose leaders of their choice.
“There is something that hit me very hard and I am happy I hit it back at somebody. Seven states of the North are only represented in my cabinet by junior ministers, ministers of state. In South East, I got 198,000 votes but I have four substantive ministers and seven junior ministers from there.
“You are closer to the people than myself now that I have been locked up here, don’t allow anybody to talk of ethnicity. It is not true.
The PVCs (Permanent Voters Cards) worked well in 2015. That was why when the former President rang me, I went temporarily into a comma. I will never forget the time. It was quartet after 5pm and he said he called to congratulate me and that he has conceded defeat. He asked if I heard him and I said yes and I thanked him for his statesmanship.
“The truth is after being a deputy governor, a governor, Vice-president and President for six years, and he took that decision is great. He could have caused some problems. He had stayed long enough to cause problems.
“I felt I should invite you and eat together and to tell you that as I am sitting here, I am very much aware of the problems in this country and that I will always reflect on the historical antecedents before I arrived here.
“I keep telling people that while I was in uniform, quite reckless and young, I got all the ministers and governors, and put them in Kirikiri. I said they were guilty until they could prove their innocence. I was also detained too.
“I decided to drop the uniform and come back. Eventually, I am here. So really, I have gone through it over and over again. This is why I am not in a hurry virtually to do anything. I will sit and reflect and continue with my clear conscience.
“I thank you for honouring my invitation and I am telling you that if I don’t ring you or call you, it is not because I ever forgot how you supported me at one stage or the other over the years from 2003 till now.”
Also speaking at the dinner, the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun said that there were much misconception on what people were saying against the President.
He said, “I was very touched by what you said. I hope it is understood in the proper perspective. “It indicates quite clearly that you have listened to what people are saying. It has been such a terrible misrepresentation. You have seized this opportunity to say that you are not what people are saying.
“There are so much misconceptions. Look at the example you have given that those who stood by you through the periods of problems and struggles are not people of the same religious persuasion. You have said it that you are not an ethnic jingoist. I know this because I have known you for a very long time.
“For some of us, when these things are said, we find it painful but I hope there will be proper rendition of what you said today and it will start clearing the air. The only thing I will add is that you have had a most challenging 2017 in every respect, including your son’s predicament.
“It is our prayer that all the struggles you have been through, all the efforts you have put in for this country, the mind that you have to improve the lot of the ordinary man of this country, that we will begin to see results in 2018 and see the essence of the man, Muhammadu Buhari.
“For almost three years, you have laboured to reconstruct the broken foundation of this nation. You have laboured to put a new infrastructure without which development is impossible.
“They were just dipping hands in the treasury, the banks were just changing papers and collecting commissions and we all said we were developing and prospering. But it was not a development that touched the ordinary man of this country. “For the first time, that is about to begin. It has taken three years of foundation laying and thank God the harvesting, I believe, is going to begin this year.
“It is my hope that it will come early enough for people to see that if one has to call anybody the architect of a modern Nigeria, you will bear that distinction.
“Like I said when we were launching the book of your achievements, what you started, you cannot complete. That is a matter of fact. But what you started is basic, fundamental that Nigerians must learn a new way of doing business based on their sweat from which profit will come based on their resources.
“When we are used to doing things wrongly, change becomes very difficult and we are passing through that stage now.
“It is not a struggle we can complete in four years or even eight years. But you have started something new and that change is not for nothing. It is even deeper than most of us understand. We must carry it on until it becomes second nature to us.
“We are firmly, totally and completely behind you and when you make up your mind soon as I hope you will, you will find an army behind you. Those who wish you well are already working and it is my hope that you will agree eventually that continuity is important and critical. Otherwise, all what you have struggled for will come to nothing.”