President Muhammadu Buhari expressed fears yesterday that the opposition in the country has stupendous resources at its disposal in preparation for the 2019 elections which the ruling All Progressives Congress , APC, may not be able to match.
The President also said that the opposition elements were sponsoring mischief against his government in a bid to discredit him and make him unpopular.
In its immediate reaction however, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said President Buhari should rather be afraid of his rejection by Nigerians who have made up their minds to throw him out in 2019 as a result of his failure in government President Buhari, in his speech, when the Buhari Media Organization, BMO, paid him a courtesy visit at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, sympathised with those who were supporting his government in view of the increasing opposition against him.
He however appreciated the efforts of members of the group who he said may have lost their friends for just supporting him, stressing that it was a great sacrifice they were making without financial rewards.
According to him, “I don’t think I can thank you enough for your steadfastness under very difficult circumstances. It is not easy to defend this administration and more in particular to defend me."
“But your consistency has given me a lot of confidence. And I know you are doing it as a sacrifice not only in terms of physical or mental but material sacrifice. Because as I keep on saying, the opposition elements are now sitting on incredible resources which I am afraid we might not match at all. For that reason, the opposition is sponsoring mischief from different angles which in spite of the incumbency of government we cannot absolutely stop."
“It is you who are fighting it and I cannot thank you enough for that. Most of the people I jailed have been given back all that they had taken before I was jailed”.
The President then went on memory lane on the decision he took as a military head of state where he ordered the arrest, detention and prosecution of those who allegedly looted public funds, but also noted that those who were found not guilty were discharged.
He said, “Most of those people who were judged by the various tribunals have been given back what they have taken. I spent 18 months in detention and luckily they did not find anything against me and I was released. But my problem was that there was a journalist from Edo State who wrote an article on me that my mother had to die to save me."
This was because I was only released when my mother died to go and bury her. Of course, you know as a Muslim tradition demands that you are buried where you die.
“So, I can appreciate the sacrifices most of you sitting here have made in terms of materialism or even losing some of your friends to continue to support me. I have been here for three years and you have proved to people that you are not here for material things, but out of sacrifice and the strength of the moral courage you have is the the strength of the physical, it is the strength of losing the friends you have."
“I am sure you are being asked, this support you are busy giving Buhari, what do you get out of it. And that is why I commend your steadfastness and I am very grateful for it. In this country whether people like it or not, they will remain grateful for your courage because you have the courage to do the research, to take the time to reply mischievous representation and we are very grateful.”
In his remarks, the leader of Buhari Media Organization which was formerly known as Buhari Media Support Organization, Austin Braimoh said, the group believed in the government of President Buhari.
He said the group had in the course of carrying out its assignment used various organs of mass communication to project the administration, stressing that it changed the negative narratives the opposition was dishing out when President Buhari went on medical vacation to London.
PDP replies Buhari Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday dismissed President Muhammadu Buhari’s remark about the opposition having too much money going into the 2019 elections.
The party said rather than worry about the opposition, President Buhari should reckon with his failure to deliver on promises made to Nigerians during the electioneering campaign for the 2015 polls. National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Kola Ologbondiyan told Vanguard that the real fear the first citizen should worry about is the betrayal of trust of Nigerians. “He should be worried about the failure of his government, not about money in the hands of the opposition.
In 2015, Nigerians trusted Muhammadu Buhari and voted him to become President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. One clear year to the 2019 general elections, the same people have rejected him for failing to do anything meaningful to impact on their lives So, what should be his fear is the rejection by Nigerians who have made up their minds to throw him out in 2019,” Ologbondiyan said.
Also speaking, former Minister of Special Duties and 2019 Presidential aspirant on the platform of the PDP, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, said “Buhari’s fear is a misplaced one. At any time, no individual or political party can boast of the enormous resources in the hands of the government".
Recently, the Federal government unilaterally approved the withdrawal of $1billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) without legislative approval and concerns were raised that the money could be used to prosecute the 2019 elections. The government he controls has more money than any imagined opposition and so, he should tell us something different.”
Also reacting to President Buhari’s remark, the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, yesterday, said it does not play money politics, but politics of ideology and policy formulations to deepen democracy and deliver good governance to the citizenry.
National Publicity Secretary of APGA, Mr. Iheanacho Orji, faulted apprehension by President Muhammadu Buhari that the opposition has enormous money at its disposal than the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC.
According to him, “How could the opposition have more money than the All Progressive Congress, APC, which controls the presidency, is it possible? In a nutshell, the President’s statement could not be factual.
We know there are 68 political parties, the moment you remove PDP, you remove APGA, we have 66 other parties remaining who are not controlling executive positions in the state not to talk of the presidency.
“There is no way the opposition will have more money than the ruling party that controls more executive positions both in the states and the presidency. APGA does not play money politics; we play clear ideological politics and so, whether we have the money or not is not the issue, we don’t involve ourselves in money politics. We play ideological politics, and we are pure to the sensibility of the masses. We play politics based on policies and ideas for the betterment of the country.”
Focus on security, not 2019 elections, CSOs urge Buhari Similarly, some Civil Society Organisations have urged President Muhammadu Buhari,to focus on security and not 2019 elections.
The Country Director, Actionaid, Ene Obi, in his reaction said Buhari should not be concerned more about his presidential ambition than the incessant loss of lives on a daily basis and how to ensure the recovery of looted money and conviction of looters. According to Obi the president should think more about the plight of Nigerians who are not having access to the basic necessities of life, and also to work hard for the unity and peace of Nigeria.
According to her: “President Buhari should pay more attention to national security, the lives of Nigerian citizens, and the fight against corruption. He should charge the justice system to get more convictions on those who looted the economy. Recovered money should make a difference in the lives of Nigerians from where the monies were stolen from.
She urged Buhari to make sure the people were carried along in his policies and programmes, and also to take care of vulnerable Nigerians, especially the internally displaced persons. In his own reaction, the Country Director, Nation First Foundation, Onianwa Elidad, said President Buhari should focus more on Nigerians and how to add value to their lives because they come first before any political ambition.
“It is not good to hear this from President Muhammadu Buhari at this point. The nation should come first before any other thing, and his accusation against the opposition party could be analysed from different directions, particularly, with accusations that he has been selective in the fight against corruption.
“Mr. President, please, you should do what the constitution has mandated you especially in securing the lives of Nigerians, providing shelter and food for them. Improve on your economic policies and add value to the lives of over 180 million Nigerians”, he added.
Former member of the House of Representatives, Hon West Idahosa, who also reacted to the president’s remark said “Buhari’s statement is purely diversionary. It is public knowledge that most of the opposition members standing trial and even those under investigation have their accounts frozen.
The only ones with plenty cash are ministers and heads of parastatals as well as former opposition stalwarts who are now in APC, the president’s party. God bless Nigeria.”