It was at the old Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja, on December 13, 2018, during the launching of one of his support groups, ‘Together Nigeria’, that President Muhammadu Buhari unreservedly made an undertaking to handsomely reward loyal All Progressives Congress (APC) members, who work for his victory in 2019.
It was as if for the first time, President Buhari have had to assure his wife, Aisha and several other APC party faithful that if he wins his re-election bid, it would no longer be the same ball game ‘’with monkey de work baboon de chop’’
Curiously, Mrs Aisha graced the occasion, together with the vice-president’s wife, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo; Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Al-Makura; and his colleague from Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun that attended the event. Many Nigerians, and more importantly, the APC members won’t forget easily Mrs Aisha Buhari’s interview with Naziru Mikailu from BBC Hausa, on October 14, 2016. President’s wife said his husband largely appointed those who never worked for his 2015 election; just as they were never there although their family’s political struggle.
In the interview, Mrs Aisha Buhari said: “The president does not know 45 out of 50 of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years.” She said people who did not share the vision of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) were the ones appointed to top posts because of the influence a “few people” wield.
“Some people are sitting down in their homes folding their arms only for them to be called to come and head an agency or a ministerial position,” she said On that December 13, 2018, in the Presidential Banquet Hall, Buhari agreed with his wife that he had not been able to fully reward those who really worked for him to emerge as President in 2015.
However, he stressed that in 2019, his loyal supporters would be rewarded, when he said, “At this point, I would like to acknowledge the overwhelming support I enjoyed from individuals and organisations across the country over the years. “I say thank you to all those who contributed to our success in one way or the other. Some of you, individuals and organisations, may be feeling disappointed because we have not been able to please everyone. I would like to assure you that this time, hard work and loyalty will be rewarded adequately.”
But while hosting state governors and senators-elect of the APC to a dinner at the Presidential Villa, Abuja in the night of Monday March 25, 2019, APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole told the gathering that Senator Ahmed Lawan has been endorsed as the 9th senate president. It was also reported that President Buhari said that he aligned with the position of the party.
Curiously, on the same day, March 25, 2019, former Senate Leader, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume wrote the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, to inform him of his decision to run for the office of the President of the Senate of the ninth National Assembly.
Ndume in a letter of intent to Oshiomhole, specifically sought the blessing of the party to actualise his aspiration; adding that he was “throwing his hat into the ring believing that the Senate President position would be zoned to the North East geopolitical zone” where he hails from.
He said, “Following the successful conduct of the 2019 general election and the overwhelming victory of our great party the APC at all levels, I hereby forward my letter of intent to contest for the office of the President of the Senate in the 9th National Assembly’’. Come to think of it, between Senators Ndume and Lawan, who should President Buhari first pat on the back for loyalty, except that he chose to look the other way while former Governor Bola Tinubu nominated Senator Lawan for him and APC to endorse for the 9th senate presidency?
This was a question asked byAlhaji Yakubu Umar, one of the conveners of the Concerned Borno Citizens group while fielding questions with the journalists over Senator Lawan’s endorsement by Oshiomhole cum Tinubu recently.
The Borno elders on the platform of Concerned Borno Citizens had on March 21, 2019 addressed news conference in Abuja to drum support for Ndume for the 9th senate presidency contest. According to Alhaji Umar, Ndume is undoubtedly the senator who sacrificed the most in the defence of his party interest and policy in the 8th senate. He lost his senate leadership position in the defence of President Buhari administration, just as he went on 90 legislative-day suspension in the bid to shield the presidency from ridicule.
‘’Ndume was elected to represent Chibok/Damboa/Gwoza Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives on the platform of ANPP in 2003, a position he occupied from 2003 – 2011. On the inauguration of the sixth (6th) Assembly in 2007, he was unanimously elected as the Minority Leader. Of course, Ndume had toiled with President Buhari under the ANPP days. ‘’He was first a Minority Leader and Majority Leader before Lawan, in other he has more ample legislative experience than Lawan. In terms of productivity and efficiency, Ndume has the highest number of bills passed and also topped the chart of bills sponsorship with 64 bills barely within the 2 years he was a senate leader. This was just as no bill passed by the National Assembly was denied assent by the President within the period.
‘’Before we decided to throw our support for Ndume to contest for the 9th senate President’s position if it was zoned to the north east geopolitical zone, we the Borno elders on the platform of Concerned Borno Citizens asked whether he conferred with President Buhari, the ultimate leader of the ruling party, of his intention.
‘’Ndume told us that he did that shortly after he won his primary election to contest for Borno south senatorial district under the APC. President Buhari, our son said endorsed him.
‘’Borno state gave President Buhari and the party over 90% of the votes during the presidential election. The over 300,000 votes from Ndume’s senatorial district alone. President Buhari won in the entire 6 states of the southwest by just 200,000 votes, which is far less than what Ndume’s constituency recorded. ‘’It begs some imagination that the only House Assembly seat out of the 24 seats in Yobe state lost by APC to PDP was under Senator Lawan’s Yobe north constituency. Lawan Sani of the PDP scored 19,793 to defeat the incumbent member, Shuaibu Danladi Usman of APC that scored 11,395.
‘’This was just as the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole failed to deliver his Edo state on all grounds, with the opposition gaining more grounds day after the other in his state.
‘’President Buhari should please revisit the promise he made shortly before the 2019 presidential election that he would reward those that work hard for his re-election bid. Ndume was appointed All Peoples Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council Northeast Zonal Director and has so much to show for it.
‘’Tinubu have had more than his fair share of reward from President Buhari administration, he has had more than his contribution in the party. He single handedly brought Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the APC National Chairman Adamis Oshiomhole into this government. The Director General of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler and host of other MDA heads and state governors are equally his nominees. ‘’President Buhari cannot afford to look the other way or donate the seats of the senate president and speaker of the House of Representatives to Tinubu again.
Mansur writes from Abuja