2019: APC govs offer Buhari automatic ticket
Party’s NEC raises committee on convention, passes confidence vote in Oyegun
Governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari for the party’s 2019 presidential ticket, stressing that only the president could stop himself.
Speaking at the APC national secretariat, on arrival for the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting yesterday, Governors Simon Lalong (Plateau), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa) and Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), collectively agreed that President Buhari has done well to be given an offer of first refusal.
Governor Lalong, who was the first to react to a possible sole ticket for Buhari, emphatically said the APC does not have any other person to challenge the president.
Said he: “Concerning the issue of sole ticket for Mr. President, I want to say that if Mr. President is performing, well respected and carrying everybody along, all of us have resolved that we will work for him.
“Do we have any other person that will challenge the president again? Whatever you call it, as far as we are concerned, we have one president and that is the ticket we will fly.”
Asked if northerners could produce a credible candidate, should Buhari decline interest in re-contesting, Bagudu of Kebbi State said: “I thought that the nation has moved beyond, North-South; East-West. The APC, in late 2014, held one of the most successful primaries in Lagos. It shows the importance of democratic competition to even strengthen both the party and country.
“President Muhammadu Buhari emerged candidate in a very keenly contested primaries and those who contested with him were happy about the contest and the party became stronger. The country won accolades for a free, transparent primaries that was attested by all and it produced a leadership that today is still supported by the majority of Nigerians.
“Whether APC presidential ticket can go anywhere is not the question. I think for APC members, it is a democratic party first, but the performance of the president, in the last two and half years, suggest that if he wants to contest, l will certainly support him and l know that our party members feel the same about him.”
Confronted with the same question of the party offering automatic ticket to President Buhari, Governor Al-Makura said: “You see, APC as a party epitomises democracy. For anybody to preempt the consensus opinion of the people is, to say the least, unfair to the vision of our party.
“I can tell you that if there is anything that is clandestine the president will not honour it. So, let us wait and see, as we embark on these meetings. I believe the consensus and the preponderance of opinion of all party members will be what is good for this country.
“We have already known the will of this country. The future of this country, as we are now, is associated with one person, who is impeccable, who has the greatest amount of integrity that you can find in any human being around; so your guess is as good as mine.”
Governor Okorocha was more pungent in his submission over automatic ticket for President Buhari, even as he warned that he could only sacrifice his presidential ambition on the condition that Buhari would contest.
According to him, “my president is very democratic. If Mr. President wants to run for election, he will follow all the processes and if he is the person, we will all support him. In APC, there is no imposition of candidate. If Buhari is running, I will allow that man to continue, but if he is not running, I won’t sacrifice my presidential ambition.”
Others present at the APC NEC meeting include, President Buhari, his deputy, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Governors Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Jibrilla Bindo (Adamawa), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Tankk Almakura (Nasarawa), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara) and Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna).
Others are Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger), Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto), Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina), and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo).
Senators present at the meeting include Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan; Senate Minority Whip, Francis Alimikhena; Senators Abdullahi Adamu, Binta Garba, Andy Ubah, Magnus Abbe, Dino Melaye, Ahmed Sani Yerima, Gbenga Ashafa and Barnabas Gemade.
From the House of Representatives came Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun, House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila and Majority Whip, Ado Dogowa, among others.
Pioneer National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande; Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audi Ogbe; FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello and Special Adviser to the Vice President on Political Matter, Babafemi Ojodu, were also in attendance.
Before the meeting, a mild drama played out at the entrance to the APC secretariat, as the presidential guard on duty insisted that governors would be dropped at the gate, and then walk in.
Security aides attached to Governor Bello, who was the first to arrive the secretariat for the meeting, engaged the presidential guard in a shouting match, which almost resulted in fisticuffs.
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari, was furious that his colleagues were asked to walk into the secretariat, insisting that they be allowed to be driven in, while the cars were taken out later. The head of the security team, however, told him: “It will not work that way.”
Meanwhile, APC NEC rose from over two hours meeting yesterday, resolving to set up an ad-hoc committee to fix a date for the party’s national convention and the programme of activities for the 2019 general elections.
Briefing journalists, after the meeting, Speaker Dogara and the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said although somebody raised a motion for an automatic ticket for President Buhari, no decision was taken.
On whether the party discussed automatic ticket for President Buhari, Dogara said: “When we talk about 2019, in the context of the agenda you saw, we are talking about membership registrations, the drive for membership and others. We are not talking about elections. Even though there was a motion on the floor for a vote of confidence passed in the president, some of us felt it was not necessary because there is nowhere his confidence is shaking. But the motion was taken and passed.
“But there was a second leg to that motion, which called for the adoption of the candidature of the president, but it was differed for now and no decision was taken because that is not the major reason we are here.”
Making further clarification, the party’s spokesperson said: “In the motion that was put after the Minister of Agriculture had briefed the NEC about the activities and achievements of his ministry, one of the NEC members said we should pass a vote of confidence in Mr. President.
“There was no formal motion moved on the issue of second term for Mr. President. Somebody in the crowd shouted that we should move a motion and we don’t even know that member. But the motion that was formally moved was that NEC should pass a vote of confidence in Mr. President and that was after the briefing by the Minister of Agriculture, especially when he said by 2018, Nigeria would have no need to import a single grain of rice. That is the context and I need you to understand that very well.
“The only discussion or conversation on 2019 was the activity of the party in 2018, especially the issue of convention. It was agreed that since we have all these activities lined up, including the mini-convention, congresses and elective convention, a small team be set up to put dates to these party activities up to 2018.
“There was no discussion about election of 2019 or who will be the party flag-bearer. The committee will decide when all these activities will take place.”
Speaking on the future of the National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun, the spokesperson said: “The NEC passed absolute vote of confidence in Oyegun and the NEC.”
On aggrieved members, Dogara said: “I don’t think you can find any family that is as large as the APC family without some squabbles. No such family exists in the whole world and if there are disagreements, they are okay because without disagreements, you cannot even move forward. Progress comes when people refuse to agree with the status quo and they put forward their positions.
“If their positions are good enough, they are adopted and we move forward. So, for us, I don’t think we are having a situation or run into a situation whereby we have crisis the party cannot overcome. What I will advocate is that we should be the ones, as the APC family, to define what type of crisis and not allow crisis defines us.
“So, we will do everything possible to reach out to whoever is aggrieved. We are not like other parties that will say to hell with you because we value every member of this family. If we have members of the family who have grievances, we will do everything possible to reach out to them and attempt to bring reconciliation. I believe that with God on our side, we should be able to overcome.”
Dogara and Abdullahi equally spoke on constitution amendment, noting: “Obviously, we had that on the agenda and there were other items, which just passed as information. The proposal for the review of the constitution is being sent to our emails and it is when we have reviewed this that we will be able to take a binding decision on them. But as it is now, it was just noted for information.”
APC gov’s endorsement of Buhari: Nigeria is sick –Ozekhome
Avoid Jonathan’s mistakes, says Sani
By Ismail Omipidan, Moshood Adebayo and Romanus Okoye Senior Advocate of Nigeria and constitutional lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, has said Nigeria is sick if anybody is thinking of endorsing President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term in 2019. “The president who has spent his tenure so far spreading poverty, hunger, hopelessness,” was Ozekhome’s summation of yesterday’s endorsement of Buhari, by the All Progressives Congress (APC) Progressives Governors Forum (PGF). Ozekhome said this in reaction to the governors’ forum’s endorsement of Buhari for a second term in 2019, shortly before the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Abuja. The governors had declared that there is no candidate better than Buhari to fly the party’s flag in the 2019 presidential election. Speaking in separate interviews with reporters before commencement of the National Executive Committee meeting of the party in Abuja, the governors said the belief that President Buhari’s integrity, coupled with his performance since 2015, remain unbeatable. General Secretary of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Mr. Anthony Sani, urged Buhari to avoid the mistakes of former President Goodluck Jonathan. Sani, who made it clear that he expressed his personal opinion on the issue and not that of the ACF, further noted that what the APC governors did was what PDP governors did in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election, which, according to him, contributed to Jonathan’s defeat at the polls. “I would prefer democracy be allowed to take its course, by way of party primary, in order to avoid the fate which befell (former) president Jonathan when PDP printed only one nomination form for him; after all, an incumbent could hardly lose in party primary. “It was such attitude which made other aspirants not to work for (former) president Jonathan at the general elections.The rest is now history.” Afenifere spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, viewed the governors’ action differently. He said adoption of Buhari for the 2019 presidential poll will not in any way distract from governance as being feared in some quarters. “This is because of the fact that politicking has already started. “However, if there are people to run this country, who have better ideas of running the country, they should also organise themselves and face the APC in the election. “This is the way I view the situation now,” Odumakin said.