By Johnson Babatope
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday stunned party faithfuls at the National Executive Council meeting of the All Progressive Congress(APC), as he alluded to the fact that he was not particularly successful in the smooth conduct of re-run elections in Rivers State, including the previous ones held in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
Buhari who was obviously reacting to the violence that greeted the elections in those states, which led to the killing of some Nigerians, however promised that subsequent elections would be met with better security structure to protect life and property.
“I am afraid I did not succeed in the elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Rivers State. I think that more Nigerians are killed or killed themselves in Rivers than in any particular state.
“At this stage of our political development, to remain brutal is shameful and as a government, I promise we will do something by the next general election,” the President said.
National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun corroborated Buhari, when he described the Rivers rerun election as a big disgrace.
Oyegun said circumstances that resulted to violence in the Rivers election will be investigated with a view to forestalling a situation where states will maintain a parallel military strength.
“O Rivers, Rivers. It is a disgrace. That is the only thing one can say. Some of the things that happened and some of the killings that happened would never have been able to happen in this country.
“But the assurance we can give you and the assurance Mr. President has given us is that these issues will be vigorously addressed. People must not get away with that level of dastardly act and killings of the most bestial act and in no circumstance must behaviour like that be allowed to spread to the rest of the country, “the party chairman added.
But the President’s open acceptance of his personal flaws, came even as some observers who have closely monitored the political trend have lauded him for his unbiased disposition in the events that trailed recent elections in the nation.
At the NEC, the President also carpeted the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan over mismanagement of resources that accrued to the country from oil boom, arguing that the current economic crisis would have been mitigated if some resources were kept to cushion the effect.
“Buhari said, “The fall of oil prices after Nigeria has made itself a mono economy is a disaster. I wonder why people could not believe that in Nigeria, about 27 out of 36 states have difficulty in paying basic salaries of their workers.
“If from 1999 to at least 2003, oil is above 100 dollars per barrel and an export of about 2 million barrel per day, how come Nigeria failed to make some arrangement to cushion the effect of a probably volatile oil market? Again, it shows failure of the last administration. But we are now to pick the pieces as an APC government and so, there is no need complaining, let us concentrate and see how much we can do with whatever remains of the economy”.
According to the President, the political will of his administration to implement the Treasury Single Account (TSA) has saved the country about N3trillion, which would have corruptly gone into private pockets.
He said the money would be instrumental when the budget, which has just been passed by the National Assembly, gets to the Executive for accent and implementation.
The President appealed to party members to remain faithful and be ready to make sacrifices for the party, stressing that it is not out of place for people to complain that they have not seen anything on ground,,even when it was obvious that the administration still had three more years to go.
His words,,”for the party, I will like you to continue to make sacrifice. I know you are being harassed since the election that they haven’t seen anything on the ground. Well, if you have any explanation that could be accepted, it’s that you have three more years to go.
“When we came in after 16 years of PDP, each government had 42 ministries. We reduced them to 24, removed 21 Permanent Secretaries. We sat down and reflected seriously. We were all in the process of taking over at a time of national budget.
“So, imagine the volume of work and with what happened in the National Assembly, the padding, it would appear that below the Permanent Secretaries, there are still a lot of bureaucracies that are still with them. So, you have to appreciate the position we are in. Having cut 42 to 24, correspondingly, the parastatals will be cut down to some size and realigned and the boards reconstituted”.
Oyegun who gave an overview of the NEC meeting, said it was basically to assess the party’s experiences since the last general elections.
“For the first time, NEC has established a budget for the party and we have set up a committee to look once more into the constitution of the party to be able to streamline it. More particularly, NEC decided to downsize our Board of Trustees in line with all other constitutional amendment.
“We don’t have any particularly number, but it is going to be seriously downsized. The committee will be headed by the National Legal Adviser. We will put our head together on that in the next day or two and there; maybe need to hold on a little bit.
“On National Publicity Secretary: These are constitutional matters. The zone has to now propose a replacement. It is part of the decisions of today that we are going to have congresses all over the nation to fill all vacancies at all levels of the party which resulted from victory at the election by party officials who decided to contest.
“Appointments at federal level and at state levels. There are a lot of vacancies and we need congresses because that is what the constitution provides. No day has been fixed for the congresses because we just took the decision today and we are going to work on it”.