The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, says President Muhammadu Buhari as the APC leader, remains consistent in his belief that the National Assembly is independent and this would guide his approach to the leadership crisis in Senate.
He said this during an interview on the Thursday morning (June 25) edition of Sunrise Daily on Channels Television where he did a review of the meeting held between Nigerian state governors and the President.
He 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 ‘stay above it and allow us to handle it’ and I think this is what you saw coming from the governors.”
Many Nigerians have wondered if the President would remain unwilling to directly get involved with the matter should the efforts by the governors fail to yield results but Mr Garba Shehu believes this would be fatalistic.
“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,” he said.
He noted also that there must have been some misinterpretation of President Buhari’s promise during his campaign that he would not interfere with the activities of the parliament, especially if the lawmakers would consistently use the President’s pronouncement to justify their refusal 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.”
He, however, noted that the President would not impose any candidate on the lawmakers for any position.
Who Is The Leader Of APC?
The crisis in the National Assembly has been blamed on the All Progressives Congress, APC’s seeming stance that they do not have an individual as their leader, who could drive the effort to unify the party in times of crisis.
“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,” Mr Shehu said.
He 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 for 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, adding that coming from different states there would be different needs influencing the interests every politician would promote.
He also noted that the lawmakers should be appreciated for allowing varying views, “They just cannot pile up in a single line and say ‘here we are, we are all present’.
“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.”
He affirmed that if the governors are unable to resolve the matter then the President would wade in directly.
“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.”
100 Days Pressure
President Buhari had said while addressing state governors on the financial crisis being faced by many of them that expectations of the first 100 days in office “is bringing so much pressure even when one assumes (office) with a treasury which is virtually empty.
“With debts in billions of dollars, with state workers and some federal workers not even being paid their salaries, its just a disgrace for Nigeria.
“I think Nigeria should be able to at least pay its workers.”
His Spokesman affirmed that the treasury has indeed been emptied, wondering why the media had not asked the former Minister and Deputy Chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC), Abubakar Suleiman, to provide explanations about the 30billion dollars he claimed was left in the country’s coffers by Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
“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.
“Its a woeful situation and the President needs understanding and he needs help.”
He also spoke about the 100 days pressure which the President claimed to be under.
“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.”