- Raise special caucus named G19
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja and Olawale Olaleye in Lagos
The leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) wednesday held its inaugural special caucus meeting where it discussed issues of national importance, particularly the recent Supreme Court judgments on the governorship elections in some states that did not go the way of the ruling party, the state of the economy, and the forthcoming bye-elections in Rivers State, among other issues.
The ruling party, which replicated the Second Republic caucus platform of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in a bid to foster a better working relationship between the party and the government, created the special caucus named the G19, to meet regularly on national issues and matters pertaining to the party.
The special caucus of the APC members or G19 held its meeting in the office of the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
Those who make up the G19 include President Muhammadu Buhari, his deputy; National Chairman of APC, Chief Odigie Oyegun; President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Senate Leader, Ali Ndume; and Deputy Speaker of the House, Yusuf Lasun.
Others include former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar; former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu; former interim National Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande; Minister of Science and Technology, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal; Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh; Chief Tony Momoh; and two governors, among other party executives.
Apart from the president, who was in Saudi Arabia, other members of the G19 were said to have attended the maiden meeting, which commenced at exactly 11am in the vice-president’s office.
Although Saraki was said to have arrived at the meeting about one and a half hours late, a source said the Senate President was held back because he had to preside over yesterday’s Senate plenary before heading for the meeting.
The NPN caucus meeting was held every Monday ahead of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesdays and National Assembly plenaries on Tuesdays.
The caucus meetings of the ruling party in the Second Republic provided a platform for its members to discuss issues that would set the tone in the executive and legislative arms of government for the week. Such issues involved contract awards, the economy, executive bills and party concerns, among others.
A party source explained that the special caucus of the APC was being set up in order to ensure that the party and government do not work at cross-purposes. But it was uncertain if the special caucus of the APC or G19 will meet weekly like that of the NPN.
Since the Supreme Court rulings on the governorship elections in Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Taraba States, APC has not hidden its disappointment at the judgments, and this was evident in a recent statement by Oyegun, who expressed dissatisfaction over the party’s loss of the oil producing states.
According to a party source, it was against this backdrop that yesterday’s meeting was held to look at both the immediate and remote factors responsible for the Supreme Court rulings and to fashion a way forward.
Other than the judgments, the state of the economy was also discussed at wednesday’s meeting, which sources said the leadership tabled and advised the government on some of the measures to be taken to stem the economic decline, especially the depreciation of the naira, the negative impact of forex curbs on businesses, rising inflation, unemployment and widespread poverty.
Also on the agenda of the meeting were the forthcoming bye-elections in Rivers State. Sources said the APC, which is still smarting from the Supreme Court ruling on Rivers, discussed the bye-elections and came up with suggestions on how to thwart the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the polls.
The source further revealed that forthcoming party activities and funding of the APC were also discussed.
At the end of the meeting, frantic efforts by State House correspondents to make the chieftains of the APC open up on their deliberations, met a brick wall. At best, they all beamed with smiles as they departed the Presidetial Villa.
Speaking to newsmen, the Special Adviser (Political) in the vice-president’s office, Senator Femi Ojudu, said a statement would be issued by the vice-president’s office on the meeting, which he described as a “consultative meeting” of the party’s leaders.
Later, a two-paragraph statement issued by the media aide of the vice-president, Mr. Laolu Akande, said the meeting was “very useful and resourceful”.
“Select leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) drawn from the party’s national headquarters, the legislative and executive arms of government had a consultative meeting on issues affecting the party and the nation.
“The meeting, which held at the vice-president’s conference room, was very useful and resourceful towards achieving the goals of the party and the government,” the statement said.