Former ministers who served in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration rose from an emergency meeting yesterday challenging ailing President Muhammadu Buhari to contest the 2019 elections.
The ex-ministers explained that they would not seek Buhari’s removal on ground of ill health because they wanted the president to get well and return to face the PDP in the 2019 presidential election.
The meeting which was presided over by former Special Duties Minister, Tanimu Kabiru Turaki, and had 20 of the ex-ministers present, said it was unfair for Buhari to have sought the removal of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua during the ailment that eventually took his life.
Turaki, who read the resolutions of the ex-ministers at the end of the meeting, declared: “People behave differently to different situations. We are not unaware of the point President Muhammadu Buhari made when the late Yar’Adua was sick. For us as a former ministers forum, we wish him speedy recovery. We want him to come back and continue the job for which he persistently fought to be elected and for which he was elected. We want him to come and continue because we want to defeat him in the 2019 election and not anybody else.”
The meeting also charged the Federal Government to take more measures to curb the rising cases of insecurity in the country. It specifically lamented the alarming rate of kidnapping as well as attacks on innocent people by herdsmen in most parts of the country.
The PDP leaders said it was unfortunate that the Buhari administration had greatly polarised Nigeria and Nigerians, a development they noted led to the increased agitations for secession and restructuring in the country.
They expressed support for the Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee of the party and stated that “we believe very strongly that the judgement of the Supreme Court which is coming sometime next week will unite the party more than dividing us.
“The National Caretaker Committee of the PDP led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi has been playing a commendable role in keeping the members of the party together and upholding the tenets and visions of the party. The forum therefore reaffirms confidence in the NCC.”
The ex-ministers condemned the deteriorating security situation in the country particularly the increasing rate of kidnapping, armed robbery and the unchecked menace of herdsmen that regularly kill, rape and vandalise farmlands across the communities.
“The forum also notes that as a result of the inept leadership of the APC-led Federal Government in Nigeria, Nigerians have never been so polarised along regional, tribal, ethnic, religious and other divides, and we feel that this is really most unfortunate. PDP made the supreme sacrifice to make Nigeria one and ensured that our indivisibility as a people and as a country was not compromised and that was why our presidential candidate in the 2015 election conceded defeat to President Buhari contrary to the expectation of pessimists,” the PDP chieftains said.
According to Turaki, “The forum condemned in very clear terms the persecution and decimation of the opposition and the unwarranted invasion of the residence of the immediate past Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Namadi Sambo and the continued harassment and detention of key members of the opposition.”
Meanwhile, one of the former PDP ministers and Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has cautioned that the unity of Nigeria might be compromised if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) fails to conduct credible elections in 2019.
He said agitations by various ethnic nationalities might not disintegrate the country, warning that INEC’s inability to conduct free and fair elections is the most potent threat to the country’s unity.
Wike spoke at the 20th national convention of the Ogbakor Ikwerre, which held in Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America (U.S.A.) at the weekend.
His words: “The most dangerous threat to the unity of the country is not the agitations by different ethnic groups, but the inability of INEC to conduct free and fair elections. Unless security agencies agree for free and fair elections to hold, the unity of the country may come under severe threat.”
He stressed that although the people of Rivers State believe in the unity of the country, the repeated use of the security agencies to rig elections would, however, endanger the unity of the country more than the agitations by different ethnic groups.
Also yesterday, another PDP governor, Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, said the trip to London by the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, was a confirmation of his claim that President Buhari’s health had deteriorated. He insisted that the president is on life support.
“It is six days since I addressed the press and today, I still insist that the president is indeed on life support,” he said. The Special Assistant to the governor on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said Fayose, who addressed some journalists in Lagos yesterday, insisted that “The worsened condition of the president’s health necessitated the hurried trip of our First Lady, Aisha Buhari, to London and it is hoped that she will have the courage to tell Nigerians the truth this time around.
“No one is interested in President Buhari’s death. Rather, we are interested in freeing Nigeria from the hands of these few individuals who are presently holding the country to ransom.”
Governor Fayose, who said President Buhari must resign, stated: “Today is the 184th day of 2017. Out of these 184 days, our president has spent 107 days abroad taking care of his health.
“How does a nation move forward when its president is spending the better part of his time abroad for medicare? “For how long can Nigeria and its people wait for a president who is incapacitated? For how long can our people continue to suffer just because some people want to hold on to power at all cost?
“That was the reason I raised the issue of President Buhari’s age, health and mental capacity in 2015 and warned against electing him president.”
The governor said “Nigerians should be reminded that in 2010 when there was uncertainty over the health of the then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, President Buhari called on the National Assembly to impeach Yar’Adua.
“The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who was the spokesman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) also said Nigerians should be briefed daily on Yar’Adua’s health status. Lai Mohammed said then that ‘the health of the president, as a public figure cannot be of interest only to his family and friends. Nigerians have a right to know.’
“Just the same way President Buhari asked the National Assembly to remove Yar’Adua in 2010, I am also insisting that the president must be made to bow out of office so that Nigeria and its people can be saved from this state of uncertainty.
“No doubt, it has been argued that since Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is already functioning as Acting President, President Buhari can be bedridden for as long as his illness lasts, but the reality that Nigerians must accept is that the acting president cannot fully exercise the powers of the president.
“However, pending his resignation, I am also aligning myself with what Lai Mohammed said in 2010 on Yar’Adua’s health by demanding that he (Lai Mohammed) should begin a daily briefing of Nigerians based on authentic details provided by the president’s doctors.
“Nigeria belongs to all of us and its collective interest remains greater than those of any individual or group, and together, we must save Nigeria.”