Bolaji Adebiyi in Abuja
There would be turmoil in the All Progressives Congress (APC) if President Muhammadu Buhari declines to seek a second term of office, the National Organising Secretary of the party, Senator Osita Izunaso, has warned.
Izunaso spoke to THISDAY Monday and said the political intrigues that would follow the president’s refusal to contest the 2019 presidential election would not only divide the APC but would also smash and cause it to lose the general election.
“It would not be in the interest of the party and Nigeria for President Buhari not to run,” he said firmly, adding: “The consequence would be unimaginable as all the big wigs that have been hibernating would come out and fight to the finish.”
He said the president should, therefore, waste no further time in declaring his intention to run.
According to him, “President Buhari should come out and run. If he declares today that he would run, it would be a popular decision and it would unite the party and galvanise it into action.”
Although the president has not stated clearly his political future, his body language fuels speculations that he intends to make a second bid for the presidency next year.
THISDAY had reported exclusively that Buhari was putting together his campaign machine, reappointing his 2015 campaign director-general, former Rivers State governor Rotimi Amaechi, to lead the fresh charge for 2019.
But as there was no official disclaimer of the report, two former leaders of the country, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, in separate statements, earlier in the year, asked Buhari to step down in 2019, accusing him of underperformance in his three years in the saddle.
The president’s silence on his 2019 move had been feared to cause disquiet in the APC as some ambitious power players in the party might, in their strong push for Buhari’s slot, pull down the house.
Izunaso agreed with this possibility, saying as the national organising secretary, he was in a position to know the undercurrent of the power struggle in the party.
“I think if the president declares today, it would rest the simmering power struggle, unite and refocus the party to retain power in 2019,” he said.
Izunaso disagreed with the views of Obasanjo and Babangida that Buhari had underperformed, saying the president had done creditably well.
According to him, “The president has performed exceedingly well. When we came into office, we promised three things: improve security; revive the economy; and fight corruption.
“The president has taken these three head on. He has fought Boko Haram to a standstill; pulled the economy out of recession; and corruption is on its knees right now.”
Asked if he did not consider the rampaging herdsmen as a new form of security threat that has become a serious concern to Nigerians, he said: “That is not exactly a new development. It is an inheritance that President Buhari is tackling with vigour. You know the president prefers to do than to talk.”