The North-West caucus in the House of Representatives last week provoked another debate in the polity, when it passed a vote of confidence on the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari as well as the leadership of the House of Representatives led by Speaker Yakubu Dogara. The caucus also resolved to throw its weight behind the president if he chooses to re-contest in 2019.
This endorsement came on the heels of an attrition war between Buhari’s aides and a former member of House of Representatives from Kano, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, who had penultimate week taken a swipe at the President and his administration. Incidentally, the outspoken medical doctor turn politician is also from the North-West. Mohammed is not the first high ranking opinion leader from the North-West to criticize Buhari’s style of leadership.
The president’s wife, Aisha, had late last year, in an unprecedented manner, took on her husband and his administration in a no holds bare interview with the BBC. It was the first time in recent times that a first lady could take head on, her spouse administration in such a critical manner.
The kind of confidence and openness the President’s wife exuded left many mouth gapping. The First Lady almost declared that the President may be rejected in 2019 and that she may not support him as well if he does not make amends in his style of leadership. Of course, Buhari, in his characteristic jocularly manner responded that his wife “belong to his kitchen and the other room.”
Despte trivializing the weight of his wife’s interview, there was no doubt that the First Lady succeeded in passing her message. Similarly, a bosom friend and erstwhile close political ally of the President, Engr. Buba Galadima, had also passed a negative verdict on his person and administration. Galadima, who had been with Buhari over the years but veered off the retired Army General’s track in the run up to the 2015 presidential election, is also from the North-West geopolitical.
The trio are not the only ones, who have criticized the present administration, many other Nigerians have had cause to complain especially about the hunger in the land and other economic and political decisions taken by the President since he assumed office. The critics have picked holes in Buhari’s appointments and the war against corruption.
But one area, the President has received general applause is the successes recorded in the fight against insurgency. It was against this back ground that the North- West caucus after a marathon meeting resolved to pass a vote of confidence and declared support for the President should he take a another shot at the exalted position in 2019.
The leader of the North-West caucus and Chief Whip of the House of Representaives, Hon. Alhassan Doguwa, who fielded questions from journalists after the meeting, declared that “2019 will come and we will engage all stakeholders because Nigerians cannot afford to miss President Buhari in 2019.”
He said the decision of the caucus to pass vote of confidence on the President was borne out of his sterling achievements, especially in the area of security, disclosing that they have resolved to support him individually and collectively.
His words: “I want to believe that the security situation in the North-West has improved seriously and Nigerians are commending the President and we just have to commend him, support him and identify with him. We have also individually and collectively passed a vote of confidence in the leadership of Buhari’s government and also the leadership of the House of Representatives ably led by Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara. “We are speaking on behalf of the North-West people.
I think as far as we are concerned; it doesn’t matter what the people say; we want to say openly that Mr. President has done a lot in the area of security. In spite of the challenges, our people in the zone can sleep with their eyes closed and Nigerians are commending him. We have to commend him and we must support him.”
The House Chief Whip said apart from the issue of Buhari and security, the caucus also discussed the 2017 budget and decried the lopsidedness in the allocation of capital budget, which is heavily skewed against the region. “When we looked at the budget, we have a lot of concerns that our zone is relegated to the background, especially in the area of capital provision. We looked at interventions in the budget and discovered that we have been under represented in the project allocation in the power sector and in education.
“Also, in the area of zonal interventions; we have concerns about it, and we have agreed that as soon as the budget is committed to the committees, all members of the zone should be on the lookout and vigilant,” he said.
The lawmaker also said that the meeting of the zonal caucus dwelt on security in the zone, adding that they raised concern on the issue. He added that what they have in the zone is an organised and syndicated security challenge.
“We also discussed the issue of security. We said, we being members of the National Assembly should take the issue of security seriously.
Recall that recently Northern governors met in Kaduna on the same issue. “It is not about satellite operations; it is not about local governments. But the security situation we have in the North is a syndicated one and we expect the Federal Government to come up with a coordinated and concrete plan on how to end this mess. We want the security agencies to come up with a concise plan in the seven states because we believe that the security situation is syndicated from outside these states.”
The lawmakers were however skeptical about the security situation in Southern Kaduna and this has been the headache of the Buhari’s administration although the 19 northern state governors at their meeting in Kaduna recently claimed that the marauding herdsmen are not indigenous Fulani, but from neighbouring countries.
The confidence vote, notwithstanding, some analysts are of the view that given the myriad of problems starring the Buhari administration in the face, it is too early in the day for the caucus to start talking about 2019.
The analysts said though it is incontestable that the President has good intentions for the country, the reality is that Nigerians are in difficult times, and that while the confidence vote is welcomed because it will serve as an impetus for the President and his team to strive to do better; it would be a distraction for a government that is confronted with a multitude of problems to be talking about reelection with more than two years to the end of its tenure. The analysts maintained that if President Buhari performs to the satisfaction of Nigerians, they will reward him with a second, but if he disappoints, no amount of endorsement can return him.