In what appears like the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is going into this month’s presidential election with a fractured house, Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of running a different programme from the collective decisions of the Party.
Premium Times reported that during an interview on Channels Television on Wednesday, Governor el-Rufai, dissociated the APC and its presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, from some key decisions of the Buhari-led Federal Government.
The governor said the decision of the Buhari administration to redesign the Naira and mop it up in a very short period could ignite voters to reject the ruling party at the 25 February presidential election.
The governor noted that all the blames for the redesigning of the Naira should not go entirely to the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, noting that Mr. Buhari has a history of redesigning the currency with the intent to check illicit funds.
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He also faulted the administration for failing to implement the removal of petroleum subsidy and restructuring of the country, noting that those actions are inconsistent with the manifesto of the APC. He, however, blamed all these on “elements” within the presidential villa, who lost at the presidential primaries.
“This is not the policy of our candidate (Bola Tinubu), this is the policy of fifth columnists. They want to bring us down, they want to bring this country down.
“We have held the conversation (subsidy removal) at the National Economic Council. It was Buhari himself that made the decision that this subsidy will hurt the poor. It is not about national conversation. Everyone agrees but the president took that decision– that is why our presidential candidate, in the same political party, says I will remove it. It is not a party position. It is a personal decision of the president.
“The people in the villa—most of them are not (members of our party). I believe there is. I believe there are elements within the villa that want us to lose the elections because they did not get their way. They have their candidate, but their candidate did not win the primaries. I believe they are trying to get us to lose the election. They are hiding behind the president’s desire to do what he thinks is right.
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“People are blaming the Central Bank Governor, but you have to go back to the first outing of the president. He did this—Buhari /Idiagbon regime changed our currency and did it in secrecy with the view to catching those with illicit funds. It is a good intention, very clean intention but doing it at this time just does not make any political, economic sense,” he said.
Crack within the APC
Over the past couple of weeks, there has been an increase in bickering within the upper echelon of the ruling party since the commencement of the redesigning of N1,000, N500 and N200 currency notes by the CBN.
During a campaign rally in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, Mr Tinubu took a swipe at the policy and the scarcity of petroleum products in the country. Speaking in Yoruba, he said the policies were targeted at him.
Many interpreted the outburst as a sign of cracks between Messrs Tinubu and Buhari, particularly in the face of the perceived lukewarm attitude of the latter to the campaign of the former.
Despite being the chairperson of the APC presidential campaign council, Mr Buhari has only attended four of the campaign rallies.
Also, the Kano State governor, Umar Ganduje, a very close ally of Mr Tinubu, recently wrote a letter to Mr Buhari ahead of his visit to Kano State, stating disquietness in his state against the administration over the naira redesigning.
Although the president later visited the state after the extension of the deadline for the legality of the old naira notes, there were reports that some angry youths allegedly stoned the convoy of the president.
Also, recently, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who contested the primaries against Mr Tinubu, said the naira redesigning will curb “illicit election financing.”
Mr Osinbajo, an erstwhile ally of Mr. Tinubu, has refused to join the campaign train. Coincidentally, Mr Tinubu made the statement in the home state of the vice president, Ogun. It was in the same state he made the famous “Emi lokan” speech during the primaries. In that speech, he reminded Messrs Buhari and Osinbajo of his role in their emergence as president and vice president respectively.
Governor el-Rufai revealed some of the actions taken to reform the country, notably the removal of petroleum subsidy and restructuring. He stated that on several occasions the actions are not taken despite an agreement with the president.
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He accused the defunct Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of sabotaging the removal of the subsidy regime.
“When we came into office, the price of oil collapsed to $26 per barrel. That was when we thought—I was one of the persons that led the governors to the president that this is the time to deregulate the market because the price of oil was so low. That was when it was moved up to that price of N144.
“The whole idea was that the government would hand it off. If the price moves up slightly, then you adjust it slightly. But who sabotaged it? The NNPC made an announcement and linked it to the president as if it was the president that fixed the price.
“We submitted the report, the president agreed with it, and action was supposed to be taken. Some bills were even drafted and sent to the National Assembly. It did not get the traction it needed.
He added that “There are some things that we sit with the president and agree on, and he says this will get done and it does not get done. And those that refuse to get them done don’t get punished.”