President Muhammadu Buhari won a major backing yesterday.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its national caucus passed a vote of confidence in him .
Also given a clean bill was the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun- led National Working Committee (NWC).
The caucus met till late on Monday night at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. The NEC met at the party secretariat yesterday.
The NEC meeting, which started at about 2:20pm, ended at 4:40 pm.
It declined to debate a “motion” seeking an automatic return ticket for President Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the 2019 presidential election.
House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, who addressed reporters on the outcome of the meeting, said the “motion” seeking to adopt the President for a second term was not treated “because that is not why we are here”.
National Publicity Secretary Bolaji Abdullahi said the only motion taken was to pass a vote of confidence on the President, adding that there was none on his adoption for a second term in office.
Abdullahi said an unidentified NEC member shouted from the back of the hall that a motion be taken to adopt the President for second term, but that the motion was not taken.
Dogara said the meeting reviewed a paper on the line of activities that the party would embark upon in the coming months, pointing out that there was no definitive and conclusive date for its convention.
The Speaker said: “The meeting was for stock taking and to remind ourselves of the covenant we made with the people of Nigeria, review how well we have done and what we need to do in order to deliver on the promises we made during campaign.
“I can tell you that after a very illuminating address by the party chairman, the President took turn to address the NEC members and he was very clear in his vision about where we are taking Nigeria to.
“We reminded ourselves about the achievement we have recorded in terms of combating terrorism in the Northeast, the fight against corruption, which is one area where we are doing very well and the exiting from recession as the achievement the party has recorded.
“While we can say we have done quite a lot, there is still much to be done. The resolve is that we should rededicate ourselves as a party to the service of our people and the only thing that will guarantee our place in this country is the service we render to our people.”
On amendment to the party’s constitution, he said: “Obviously, we had that on the agenda and there were other items in the agenda which just passed as information. The proposal for the review of the constitution is being sent to our emails and it is when we have reviewed this that we will be able to take a binding decision on them. But as it is now, it was just noted for information.”
Dogara added: “Today’s meeting was not about 2019 elections. When we talk about 2019 in the context of the agenda you saw, we are talking about membership registration, the drive for membership and others. We are not talking about elections.
“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.. But there was a second leg to that motion, which calls for the adoption of the candidacy of the President, but it was deffered for now and no decision was taken because that is not the major reason why we are here.”
Speaking on aggrieved members, Dogara said: “I don’t think that you can find any family that is as large as the APC family without some squabbles. No such family exists in the whole world and if there are disagreements, they are okay because without disagreements, you cannot even move forward.
“Progress comes when people refuse to agree with the status quo and they put forward their positions. If their positions are good enough, they are adopted and we move forward. So, for us, I don’t think we are having a situation or run into a situation whereby we have crisis that the party cannot overcome.
“What I will advocate is that we should be the ones as the APC family to define what type of crisis and not allow crisis define us. So, we will do everything possible to reach out to whoever is aggrieved. We are not like other parties that will say ‘to hell with you’ because we value every member of this family.”
Abdullahi added: “The motion that was put was after the Minister of Agriculture had briefed the NEC about the activities and achievements of his Ministry. One of the NEC members said we should move a motion passing a vote of confidence on Mr. President. 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.
“The only discussion or conversation on 2019 was the activity of the party in 2018, especially the issue of convention. 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.
“There was no discussion about election of 2019 or who will be the party flag bearer. The committee will decide when all these activities will take place. The NEC passed absolute vote of confidence on Oyegun and the NEC.”
Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum and Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari said the Caucus meeting “shows our unity in the party, shows our strength and our commitment to the party and to Nigerians,’’.
Senator. Bukar Abba-Ibrahim said the outcome of the meeting dismissed the speculation that it was convened to remove the leadership of the APC.
”It is a big family reunion and we are all happy and this party is going to dominate the Nigerian political space for a very long time to come. I don’t want to predict any number of years.’’
Oyegun described the caucus as “very fantastic”, adding that the party would be stronger after its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on Tuesday in Abuja.