Lagos, Ibadan – Leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South West geopolitical zone in Ibadan on Thursday declared that the presidential ticket of the party for 2019 general election should be made open to all party members.
Their position was made known at the end of a meeting hosted by Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, which was held at the Executive Council Chambers of the Governor’s Office.
At the meeting were Governors Ajimobi of Oyo, Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun, Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo, Rauf Aregbesola of Osun and former Interim National Chairman of the party, Bisi Akande, as well as former Governors Olusegun Osoba, Adebayo Alao Akala, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo.
Others are Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Lasun Yusuff, its Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister for Solid Minerals Development, Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, among others.
Addressing newsmen after the meeting, Akande said President Buhari has not informed the APC leaders in the region that he would contest in 2019.
“The president has not told us anything. Anybody in our party is free to become the president of Nigeria. As soon as people show interest, we are going to put in place a process of selection.”
Akande maintained further that the party’s presidential ticket will be made open to any interested party member, adding that if President Buhari emerges at the end of the day, he will be supported.
The former APC national chairman also revealed that the party leadership in the South West is currently working to win next year’s governorship election in Ekiti.
While maintaining that all the APC governors and ministers of the region have performed satisfactorily well, Akande revealed that “we are looking at what we can do as a political party to have Ekiti State back in our fold.”
Earlier, Governor Ajimobi in his welcome address said the meeting was to provide veritable ground for the APC governments to “connect with our political root and to keep re-engaging ourselves as people whom nature has entrusted with the political leadership of the region in this material time.”
Buhari: Punishing Alhassan Would Have Polarised Our Party—APC
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on Thursday said it decided not to wield the big stick on Hajia Aisha Alhassan, Minister of Women Affairs, over her comments that she will not support President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election in 2019 because doing so would have caused sharp division in the party.
The minister, popularly called ‘Mama Taraba’ had pledged her support for former Vice President Atiku Abubakar should he decide to contest the 2019 presidential election over her boss, President Buhari.
Many Nigerians thought the party leadership led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun will sanction Alhassan after summoning her to a meeting at the party secretariat in Abuja but that was not to be.
In an exclusive interview with INDEPENDENT, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, said the minister did not commit any offence by stating that she will support one party member against another in the 2019 presidential election.
Saying the party’s actions are always guided by the constitution, Abdullahi said there is no offence the party can accuse the minister of committing by expressing her opinion or stating where she will be politically in the future.
Abdullahi, who also faulted the claim by some Nigerians that the leadership of the party is weak, added that the party cannot expel Alhassan from the party since President Buhari whom she spoke against was magnanimous enough to still retain her as a minister.
“I am surprised that some Nigerians said we didn’t wield the big stick on Mrs. Aisha Alhassan and that what we did was just a slap on the wrist. What did Nigerians expect us to do? To expel her from the party?
“We are the ruling political party and our actions must be guided by the constitution. She said she will not support Mr. President in 2019 if her political mentor decides to contest, under which offence will you categorise a statement like that? Which offence will we say she has committed to warrant her being punished?
“They said we should have wielded the big stick. What does that mean? To expel her from the party? Even the man she said she will not support in 2019 was gracious enough to keep her in government. Why should we as the party weep more than the bereaved? The man who appointed her as a minister has the largeness of heart in spite of what she said to retain her in her position. So, why will we as a party say because of what she said then we should punish her?”
Shedding more light on why the party didn’t sanction the minister, Abdullahi said it would have amounted to another issue entirely if the person the minister vowed to support is a member of the opposition party.
According to him, punishing Alhassan for declaring support for one party member against another would have polarised the party, a situation which the leadership of the party is trying to avoid.
“When she made the statement, she said she will support Atiku Abubakar and not President Muhammadu Buhari. The person she said she is going to support is not a member of the opposition. He is a chieftain of our political party as well as Mr. President whom she said she will not support.
“The moment we now begin to take action against her because she said she will support one party member rather than the other, we are already dividing the party. We have a responsibility to keep the party together. But we did what we have to do, which was to invite her and ask her to clarify her position.
“When she restated her position, we told her the statement you made was inappropriate in the context that you made it because it is capable of creating other situations for the party. If you are going to take position, you should have waited for people to declare their intentions.
“After the aspirants have done that, then you can now decide whom to support. And of course, it means you know full well the implications of your choice. Nothing warrants you making that statement now because it is too early to do so.
“We accused her of indiscretion and she apologised and said she shouldn’t have said so when she did. That was why we made it clear that we were not inviting her because she said she will support Atiku, we invited her because she made the statement at an inappropriate time”, he said.
The post 2019: Keep Presidential Race Open, South West APC Tells Party appeared first on Independent News Nigeria.
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Author: Temidayo Akinsuyi, Gbenga Abegunrin