As the leadership crisis in the National Assembly deepens, the presidency, on Thursday, said President Muhammadu Buhari, despite being leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), would not intervene in the impasse until APC governors and the party run out of ideas.
According to the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, there is no need stressing the point “that the President is the leader of his party. There’s no question about it.”
Shehu who spoke on Channels Television, monitored in Abuja, while reacting to the battle of wits by the lawmakers, stressed that despite Buhari being the current leader of the APC, he has remained consistent in his belief that the National Assembly is independent and this would guide his approach to the leadership crisis there.
Shehu recalled that APC governors had asked the President to remain neutral in the matter and allow them resolve it by the time they talk to the lawmakers.
He said that the governors who met with Buhari at the Presidential Villa over the crisis told the President pointblank: “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.”
He also revealed that the President “mostly listened to what they were saying and in fairness to them, the governors took responsibility for the way forward.
“They advised the President to maintain his posture not to be seen to be meddling in the affairs of the National Assembly but to ‘stay above it and allow us to handle it’”.
Shehu stated that the situation in the National Assembly had not gotten out of hand, and that if the governors are unable to resolve the matter then the President would wade in directly.
Continuing, he said: “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 further declared that “as a leader, the President has given guidance. His own position is that if the eye troubles you, whatever medicine you’re going to apply, don’t put a pin. The President is not unconcerned.”
Shehu noted also that there must have been some misinterpretation of Buhari’s promise during his campaign that he would not interfere with the activities of the parliament, especially if the lawmakers use such promise to justify their defiance of the party’s stance.
“The party did a straw poll, an open and transparent one, which should have been respected. There is no confusion about anything.
“The party did a process, the President had wished that the party would take that to the very end but that didn’t happen.”
Nonetheless, the President would not impose any candidate on the lawmakers for any position, Shehu added.
Also, Shehu challenged former Minister and Deputy Chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC), Abubakar Suleiman, to provide explanations about the $30 billion he claimed was left in the country’s coffers by Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
The Minister had spoken in reaction to Buhari’s outburst that he inherited a virtually empty treasury from Jonathan, thus not much can be achieved ?within his 100 days in office.
Sheha affirmed that the treasury has indeed been emptied, and wondered why the media had not taken Suleiman to task to tender details of the $30b legacy.
“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 itself needs time to to read and to understand where we are from the beginning and hope to build on all of that,” Shehu said.