buhariPRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday took up the All Progressives Congress, APC, national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who said he (president) is not the leader of the ruling party.
In his reaction, Buhari told Mohammed that his headship of the APC was not disputable.
Through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, the president said that any comment contrary to that should be ignored.
He said: “Does it need to be said? I don’t think it needs to be said that the President is the leader of his party. There’s no question about it,” he declared.
Shehu added that there is need for Nigerians to understand the basics of politics as the country is no more in the military era when decrees are made by a single leader.
“Politics, as its theory says, is basically about contest of interests and these interests may be fully defined by political party programme, while some of these things may be outside political party programme,” he said.
Mohammed had recently said that Buhari was not the leader of the APC, apparently angry over his non-intervention in the NASS crisis where his political godfather (Tinubu’s) candidates lost their bid for the legislature’s leadership.
Shehu, who featured on Channels TV Breakfast Show, Sunrise, also explained why the president had not intervened in the raging National Assembly crisis.
He said Buhari would only intervene in the NASS leadership crises when the APC governors failed to resolve the issues as they had promised.
The president had met APC governors on Tuesday night where the state chief executives promised to invite the lawmakers and make them respect the party’s position on the matter.
The presidential aide said Buhari would only wade into the matter at the point when the APC governors tell him that they cannot resolve it.
Shehu said: “When the governors met with the President, they told him that ‘we are the leaders in our states and we have influence over all of these senators. They come from our places and from us and we can handle it.
“The President will step into the crisis at the point when the governors say they can no longer fix it.”
In the event that he decides to intervene, the presidential spokesman said, Buhari would not do that to the level of imposing leaders on the lawmakers.
Shehu said Buhari’s position on the matter had remained that the National Assembly is an independent arm of government and he would not be seen meddling in their affairs.
He said the governors while advising the president to maintain his posture, asked him to allow them handle the matter their own way.
He said the president had a responsibility to the party and to the nation.
He also said despite what was currently playing out in the National Assembly, the situation had not gone out of control.
“The President has a responsibility to the party, the President has a responsibility to the nation and as far as we are looking at the situation it has not gotten out of control. It is still within manageable parameters, it is a little storm we will overcome and Nigerians better get used to it,” he added.
On other issues, Shehu corroborated Buhari’s claim that he inherited virtually empty treasury and challenged Nigerians to ask former Minister of National Planning, Dr. Abubakar Suleiman, to give further explanations on the $30billion he claimed the former administration left in the coffers.
He said: “We talk about the foreign reserves and the commitment that are well beyond the capacity of the new government especially given the responsibility that has brought forward coming from the election.
“It’s a woeful situation and the President needs understanding and he needs help. Coming into the election, there were all manner of promises that had been made (but) the ground reality is that you must read the books as handed over to you by the outgoing administration.
“As you know, all of these things were kept late (such that) we were not allowed to see the skeletons in the cupboard until the very last minute. Therefore, government needs time to read and to understand where we are from the beginning and hope to build on all of that.