Many at the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, which held at the APC secretariat in Abuja, were shocked as President Muhammadu Buhari declared his intention to seek re-election in 2019.
The meeting, which rejected tenure elongation for APC Chairman Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and other members of the National Working Committee (NWC), granted them waiver to recontest, if they wished.
There was pin-drop silence as the President made his declaration, which he said was in response to the people’s clamour for him to recontest.
The Nation learnt that some excited NEC members started chorusing “Sai Kayi, Sai Kayi”(it must be you who should become the leader) after the President’s declaration.
A source in the Presidency said:
“None of us (the associates) expected it that the declaration for second-term bid will be done by the President at the NEC meeting.
“All along, he had not been forthcoming on whether or not he will seek re-election. What we heard was that he disclosed his aspiration to very few people, including one or two ministers, to avoid leaks.
“This is the second time in two weeks that the President will surprise some of us. At the last NEC meeting, he raised some constitutional issues against tenure elongation without giving us any inkling.
“And barely hours after he spoke, he left for London. So, we had no time to ask him how he arrived at his decision to make the declaration on Monday.”
A source at the NEC meeting, who spoke in confidence, captured the mood there:
“The NEC meeting was almost being concluded when the President shocked all of us.
“Buhari told us:
‘I came because of two things- to finally nail this tenure elongation and my ambition in 2019. I hereby announce to you that I am seeking re-election as permitted by the 1999 Constitution.’
“Most NEC members, especially the critical stakeholders, were transfixed because the President never gave them the benefit of doubt. Those plotting against him in the party were left bewildered most.
“The declaration changed the atmosphere and shortly after, we rose for the National Anthem.”
The President was said to have confided in a few kitchen cabinet members that he would seek re-election but kept the declaration plan to himself.
It was gathered that he acted swiftly to avoid “leaks” on his plan.