President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday ruled out the possibility of seeking a third term in office at the expiration of his second term on May 29, 2023.
Speaking during the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which held at the party’s headquarters in Abuja, the President swore to abide by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
This puts to rest, hopefully, insinuations in some quarters, especially the opposition camp, that Buhari might seek to serve beyond 2023, judging by his real or imagined actions and body language, especially following the introduction of the controversial Hate Speech Bill in the Senate, which many perceived as preparing the ground for his third term agenda.
But the President insisted: “I am not going to make the mistake of attempting a third term. Beside the age, I swore by the holy book that I would go by the constitution and the constitution said two terms. I know that I am in my last term and I can afford to be reckless, because I am not going to ask for anybody’s vote.”
The President warned against the collapse of APC after his tenure and enjoined chieftains of the party to endeavour to strengthen the party by adhering to the dictates of the party constitution, saying the cordial relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government is in the best interest of the country.
He particularly warned elected members of the party not to take their constituents for granted in the discharge of their duties in office, adding: “Every member of NEC, from today, should reposition himself or herself to make sure that you have dominated your constituencies, politically.
“The aim is that history will not be fair to us if outrightly the APC collapses at the end of this term.
“History will be fair to us if APC remains strong and not only holds the centre, but also makes gains.
Buhari continued: “Yesterday (Thursday), I had to mention our relationship and when I say ‘our,’ I mean the executive and the legislature, and I was constrained to tell you (those that were there), there was a time I called the Senate President and the leader of the House (of Representatives) and told them that to sit on a budget for seven months is not politics or is it hurting the President, whoever he is. It is hurting the country and the people we swore by the books we believe in to serve them wholeheartedly.”
Buhari continued: “For that reason, I was pleased to mention yesterday that the 9th National Assembly, you can see and read in the papers, they have shown so much commitment, they sit down on important issues and we make a lot of progress.
“This relationship we will try and maintain because there are a lot of things that will not go public. We cannot allow those things to go public, but I want to tell you that we are making a lot of progress and what people fail to do is to appreciate the progress that this administration has made and what we inherited when we came in 2015.
“I went public to try to make the Nigerian elites understand that the 16 years of PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) did not portray the Nigerian elites as a contentious group, in the sense that my experience in petroleum in the late 1970s proved that from 1999 to 2014, the average production was 2.1 million barrel per day at the average cost of $100. It went up to $143.
“And you know what happened when we came, it collapsed to $37, $38 and the militants were unleashed on the administration, production was reduced to half a million. So, Nigeria was earning virtually 2.1 million, times $100 for 16 years, seven days a week.
“But look at the condition of the roads, the railway was killed and there was no power and if the infrastructure was good, a lot of Nigerians will not even bother who was the government, because Nigerians are very competitive. But some of the roads were done since the good old days of the PTF (Petroleum Trust Fund).”
He added: “From here to Enugu to Onitsha and back, from here to Port Harcourt and back, some of them are almost gone. Look at the railway, it was virtually killed. Those of you who have time to be watching news over the last couple of years and see the amount of casualties between Lagos and Ibadan alone, the number of persons that were dying on a daily basis and the vehicles that were lost, I think the Nigerian elite for keeping quiet when so much evil was being committed have not done any good to themselves and country.
“I have gone out to mention these negative things to you so that you can now accept that you are now in charge. It is okay, I am the President, but APC is in charge and I am concerned about history, because having been a governor, a minister, in detention, attempted four times and gone to Supreme Court three times, there isn’t much that any Nigerian politician can tell me. I have gone through all the mills.
“So, please, I will like to carry you along to make sure that we have waken up this country and wherever we find ourselves, we make sure that APC has become a permanent body.”
Earlier, APC’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, who survived subterranean moves by a section of the chieftains of the party to unseat him, said the mere fact that the former president of the senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, alongside 14 other senators who left APC last year to the PDP lost reelection in this year’s polls, speaks volume of the acceptability of APC by Nigerians.
Oshiomhole expressed optimism that the senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye, who defected to the PDP, would soon join the legion of losers in the Kogi rerun election.
Nevertheless, he blamed in-fighting among chieftains of the party for the loss of Bauchi and Adamawa states in the election, saying: “Mr. President, I have chosen to amplify where we lost, but we also made some gains that is quite understanding.
“I am sure it is gladdening to the heart of every APC member and even APC well-wishers that the man who led rebellion against our party, Saraki, the people of Kwara State did not only deny him return to the senate, they also voted out every element in PDP and today, we won the governorship, senatorial, House of Representatives and state House of Assembly positions.
“I think our victory in Kwara State, for me, was most outstanding. I think we now generally refer to Kwara with pride as the Otooge revolution.”
The NEC meeting was attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, APC governors and other party leaders.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun, were, however, represented by their deputies.