What APC Caucus member told Buhari – Nkire
Chief Sam Nkire is a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) National Caucus. In this exclusive interview with the leader of Abia state APC speaks on the key issues discussed at last Monday’s Caucus meeting and reactions of President Muhammad
ADaily Trust on Sunday,
s a key member of the APC National Caucus, what is your assessment of the two meetings held last week?
The way the meetings went shows that the party is strong and ready to do business and face any election. You could see at the meetings that the president is back with his vigour and is ready to work. He is focused and ready to gain all the lost grounds during his illness. He is working hard and he is looking strong. He understood all the mistakes that happened during his absence and is ready to straighten them out. Even though with the seeming disagreements that are exaggerated, like in every big family and every big political party, as the APC, there is no gainsaying that a few people were not happy - people who worked for the party, who are just watching the government’s moves without knowing what is happening. Many of them have expressed their anxiety. But the president, more than ever before, appears to appreciate these problems and has promised to do something about them.
During the Caucus meeting, were they able to express their displeasure?
Yes, members told the president what they wanted and what they thought should be done to reinvigorate the party. And he welcomes them. Things like some Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) people who joined the party after the election, and many of them have been appointed into boards, leaving out people who worked for the victory of the party. Some PDP people too are still in office, whereas, the APC people are not accommodated in the government. These issues were expressed in the presence of the president and he noted them. There was freedom of speech. People spoke their minds even though constructively. And they let the president know what was going on among the APC family. He made us to understand the poor revenue and economy he inherited. As at the time he came, oil was selling at $35 per barrel. Now, it has gone up to $60 per barrel. So, it’s a great improvement. He said that this has given him vigour to work and address some of these problems.
At the last Caucus meeting, they discussed the issue of the need to review the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party. What is the update now?
Overwhelmingly, people welcome transforming the BoT into an Elders Council. It is still in the burner. And constitution cannot change without the affirmation of the national convention. So, the APC hopes to holds its national convention early in 2018. It is after that meeting that the change will be effected. Meanwhile, the constitution has not changed. And no changes have been made. So, it has been agreed upon. It has been passed by the NEC. But the constitutional change will come during the 2018 national convention.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives said the NEC passed a vote of confidence on Mr President. But the issue of endorsing him was deferred. Did the Caucus also pass vote of confidence on Mr President?
No. The issue of vote of confidence didn’t come up at the Caucus meeting. But my stand on it is that everywhere in the world, including the United States of America, a sitting president is respected. A sitting president has the right of first refusal. If he wants to run, he is allowed to run. But if he says he will not run, then people will start jostling for the office. If Buhari wants to run, it won’t be difficult for him to get a vote of confidence.
Apart from the issue of BoT, what other critical issues were discussed at the Caucus meeting?
The object of our party is to govern well. The meeting appraises our differences so far. We criticize ourselves, analyse the functions of government so far and decide to push ahead. We give ourselves marks where necessary, especially on the issue of security in the country. On the economy, as you can see, the country has come out of recession.
So, the meeting appraises what the government has done so far, especially on three areas, including economy, anticorruption, and security. Of course, the anti-corruption war is going on. People have been taken to court. This is a democracy. You don’t expect that people will just be grabbed and jailed. The court processes are on. Everybody attests to the fact that there is a great improvement in the fight against the insurgency all over the country. On the economy, Nigeria has just recovered from bad recession. And our successes in the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States. There is an improvement in our rating the National Assembly. Today, we have 59 senators. In the House of Representatives, we have improved to 219. So, a party like that cannot be said to be doing badly. We also agree that there are few difficulties here and there and that they have all been addressed. Surprisingly, the meeting was peaceful and the president was relaxed. He tackled most of the questions brought up. It was a mature meeting.
Would the South East people fully embrace the APC and support Buhari?
The truth is that Abia State is for Buhari. In fact, the big men in Abia today are in the APC. So many people have left the PDP. The big and might are in Abia State APC. So it is in Jigawa and other states where people are joining the APC, especially in the South East and particularly in Abia State, where the high and might have all joined the APC. So, there is a great improvement and I know that this upsurge in membership in the South East will impact the outcome of 2019 elections. The results will greatly improve. The South East is going to the APC in 2019.
Chief Sam Nkire