- Buhari must go through primaries, says Okorocha
- Buhari running chop-I-chop govt, says Fayose
John Alechenu,Olalekan Adetayo and Kamarudeen Ogundele, Ado Ekiti
The All Progressives Congress has come out with its strongest position yet on the controversy generated by the clamour by some party members for an automatic ticket for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
In separate media interviews in Abuja, on Thursday, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, and the Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, said neither the President nor any member of the party would be given an automatic ticket.
Abdullahi, who was responding to a question on whether President Muhammadu Buhari would be given an automatic ticket to contest the next elections, said the party’s constitution did not have provisions for such.
He noted that as a law-abiding party, the APC would abide by its own rules as enshrined in its constitution when dealing with the issue of nominations.
The party spokesman further argued that Buhari had not indicated interest in seeking re-election, stressing that the talks about his second tenure was, at best, “presumptuous.”
“What I can assure you is that the APC will abide by the APC Constitution on such matters and our constitution does not provide for automatic ticket, our constitution does not provide for the right for first refusal. So, our party will abide by the constitution.
“We have looked at what our President has done and as a party we are happy with his achievements; if he comes up today to say he wants to contest, we will support him but to begin to throw things like automatic ticket, right of first refusal, they don’t exist in our constitution.”
Speaking in a similar vein, Okorocha on Thursday said there would be no automatic ticket for President Muhammadu Buhari to seek re-election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress.
Okorocha, who is also the governor of Imo State, said all candidates on the party’s platform must emerge through transparent democratic process.
The governor made his position known in an interview with State House correspondents after a meeting he had with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said although the President was qualified and healthy enough to seek re-election, due process must be followed.
He said the ruling party would not encourage imposition of candidates.
“The gentleman (the President) is looking much more handsome than even before he went to hospital; he is looking stronger and so, he has every right and qualification to re-contest, there is nothing wrong at all.
“But, we don’t allow imposition of candidate. It must be democratically done.
“If President Buhari will lead the ship in 2019, it must be democratically done, and I said, democratically done, transparently (done) to the amazement of the whole world, the way we do our things in APC and people will be happy.”
The party stalwarts made the statements three days after some governors on the platform of the All Progressives Congress had tried to use the platform of the National Executive Council of the party to seek the endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term. The move, however, failed.
The PUNCH reported on Tuesday that the governors began the campaign for the endorsement of Buhari before the commencement of the NEC meeting. The Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, set the ball rolling by saying that all the governors had agreed to work towards the President’s re-election in 2019.
He was quoted as saying, “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.”
Similarly, his Kebbi State counterpart, Atiku Bagudu, had said, “The performance of the President in the last two and half years suggests that if he wants to contest, l will certainly support him and l know that our party members feel the same about him.”
As the meeting commenced, one of the party members had moved a motion asking that a vote of confidence be passed in the President and that he should be endorsed as the party’s candidate for the forthcoming elections.
Meanwhile, in order to increase the fortunes of the APC in the South-East, Okorocha said on Thursday that Buhari would soon visit states in the region to shore up the population of party members.
He disclosed that the President’s trip would soon start from Ebonyi State.
“The South-East before now was not measuring up to standard in the APC but we have worked out strategies and modalities on how to improve relationship between the people of the South-East and the APC government.
“That was top on the agenda and the need for Mr. President to come to the South-East as quickly as possible to begin to show his presence. Luckily, the President will be coming to Ebonyi State very soon and he will pass through Imo State to Anambra State.
“So, covering three states within this short time will be the right step in the right direction because we have come to realise in the South-East that we are better off in APC than any other party in the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the governor said.
Buhari running chop-I-chop govt, says Fayose
The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has described President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to members of the All Progressives Congress that the Federal Executive Council would be expanded to bring in more supporters of the APC as appointees as a sad reminder that Nigeria is now under a “chop-I-chop” government of settlement.
The governor called on those who left the Peoples Democratic Party for the APC to return.
He referred to a statement reportedly made by the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), that the ruling APC could not fulfil its promises because more than 50 per cent of the positions in Buhari’s government were being held by members of the PDP.
Fayose said the statement,” was a direct and clear way of telling those who left the PDP for the APC that they were sojourning in a land where they were seen as strangers.”
He stated this in a statement on Thursday by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka.
The governor said it was sad that while people were still facing the heat of the economic recession with foodstuffs and drugs out of the reach of ordinary Nigerians, the President was only concerned with settling his party members.
“Since those who manipulated votes for President Buhari, especially in the North, had already been settled with our collective wealth, it appears that it is now the turn of those they believed will assist them to retain power in 2019.
“If President Buhari could acknowledge that he had been working with a trimmed cabinet to avoid waste, one wonders the improvement that he has brought to bear on the country’s economy to warrant his new decision to expand the Federal Executive Council to bring in more supporters of the APC and settle the party members with other federal appointments.”
On Ali’s comment that the PDP members were holding 50 per cent position in Buhari’s government, Fayose said it would be nice to have members who left for the APC back in the PDP.
“Even though the PDP is already emerging stronger from its 2015 electoral misfortune, we won’t mind having our members who left for the APC back in our party.
“Going by Col. Ali’s comment, those who do not belong to President Buhari’s original platform, the Congress for Progressive Change, are seen as strangers in the Buhari-led government.
“Buhari’s men do not want anyone else, apart from those with whom they ran the CPC and that has been reiterated by Col. Ali, a close ally of the President. What remains to be done by those Col. Ali referred to as reasons the APC government of Buhari has failed is for them to summon courage and return to where they were before they moved to the APC.” (Punch)