Fresh facts have emerged on the reason for the absence of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors at the inaugural meeting of the party’s Presidential Campaign Council for the 2019 election. The governors elected on the platform of the party had on Thursday shunned the meeting meant to consider and approve the structure and operational modalities of the campaign for the reelection bid of President Muhammadu Buhari. Buhari had on Monday inaugurated the APC Campaign Council with the appointment of the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as the co-chairman of the council to fully take charge of the campaign. Though the party had denied insinuations that the governors’ absence was as a result of disaffection, credible sources within the party however confided in Saturday Telegraph that the governors stayed back due to their non support for Tinubu’s appointment.
Lead your campaign –CUPP
This is coming as the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) asked Buhari not to leave his campaign to Tinubu, while doubting the president’s fitness. Addressing journalists at a news conference in Abuja, CUPP chairman, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, said Buhari would go down in history as the first President to hire a proxy in a presidential contest. The group of over 46 political parties said Buhari must also debate against its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and account for his stewardship to Nigerians. “President Buhari has, indeed, said Senator Bola Tinubu would do the campaigns on his behalf. We hope he was misquoted. Otherwise, Nigerians should simply ask him to step back from the contest and let his party put Tinubu forward as its candidate. “Buhari would go down as the first candidate in history to hire a proxy in a presidential contest. He is the one contesting, he should not be afraid to be the one to interface directly with Nigerians.”
“We urge Nigerians to insist that President Buhari must show that he is fit and able for the nation’s top job by leading his own campaign and by being at the presidential candidates’ debate.” Checks by our respondent show that aside being unhappy with the rising profile of Tinubu within the corridors of power, some of the governors kicking against Tinubu’s co-chairmanship of the council believed that he is wielding too much powers that could place them at his beck and call. Denying that there was any rancour, APC spokesman, Lanre Issa-Onilu, had said that the Thursday’s parley was not the inaugural meeting and that it was not one meant for everybody.
“The agenda for the meeting had to do with drawing the timetable and deciding on the messaging, it didn’t require everyone in the council to be present. “This is not the inaugural meeting. After the inauguration on Monday, there have been not less than three meetings of the council”, Issa- Onilu had said. However, one of the sources, who happened to be a close aide to one of the governors, revealed that his boss had informed his kitchen cabinet that there is misgivings over the announcement by Buhari. Explaining that they were taken by surprise when the announcement was made, the source said most of the states’ helmsmen were not happy with the situation. He further explained that many of those who witnessed the inauguration went home unhappy, as they were baffled with Buhari’s statement. “If you had noticed the countenances of some of those around, they were not happy but had no choice than to agree with the president.
They just couldn’t believe it. In fact, there was a meeting that day where some people vowed not to work with Tibubu. Another source told our correspondent that the major-ity of the governors shunned the parley because they believed that given such position to Tinubu would be placing him above the governors.
The second source, who was a member of the 2015 campaign team said the governors believed that, with the announcement, Buhari had effectively placed Tinubu above them. “Tinubu knows how to wield powers and giving him such position is as good as equating him with Buhari which will make him be above the governors.
“Before this time, he had been trying to wield powers but he wasn’t giving much chance, now, he will show that he is in charge” The source also linked the governor’s action with Tinubu’s rumoured 2023 presidential ambition, saying that the former Lagos governor had been scheming to worm his way into the heart of the party’s hierarchy in order to succeed Buhari. “All these are nothing but scheming towards the 2023 election, we all know it, it is an open secret within the party. The man is positioning himself for 2023 to succeed Buhari and this is another good opportunity to prove that he can deliver. “If he can deliver Buhari’s election, who says he won’t deliver himself when the time comes? The announcement by Buhari was a good one for him but the majority of the governors are not happy with the situation”, he said.
The National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, also denied that there was any rancou r while giving reasons for the absence of the governors. “Because they are governors, they are governing their states. Don’t forget that elections are not defined in Abuja, it will take place in the 36 states and I am sure there are APC members who are campaigning for the House of Assembly, various federal house and senate constituencies, even governorship. “So, it will not be helpful to bring them to Abuja. Here, it is about policies, it will consummated and translated to practice across the 36 states, 774 local governments and wards’ he said, reiterating that the party remains one indivisible body. Meanwhile, Tinubu has dismissed the report of his collapse. Tinubu, who was reported to have collapsed on Wednesday, reacted, after 72 hours that the news of his collapse was fake.
The APC chieftain, who spoke when the Yoruba traditional rulers visited him in Abuja, also punctured the report that the APC governors stayed away from the inaugural meeting of the Presidential Campaign Council. According to him, the report of the governors boycotting the meeting was also fake. The APC National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, had said while reacting to the governors boycotting Presidential Campaign Council that they were not part of the meeting. He said: “The agenda for the meeting had to do with drawing the timetable and deciding on the messaging. It didn’t require everyone in the council to be present. Meanwhile, this is not the inaugural meeting. After the inauguration on Monday, there have been not less than three meetings of the council.” Also asked why the governors were not at the meeting of the APC PCC, Tinubu said: “That is negative and fake news too. “The point is, the governors had to stay back home because we all don’t have to converge on one place to decide certain modalities when we can easily go back to them on what was discussed and what we expect from your state. “That is what we call structuring in an election. There are some jelly fish reporters around Nigeria these days.”
‘My collapse, fake news’
On his collapse, he said: “Fake news. Whoever is manufacturing it, you better not believe them.” Addressing the traditional rulers on the character of the opposition Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, he said, Atiku was Vice President of this country when the local government allocation for Lagos State was seized. “When we led a protest to Atiku then, he said go away. Go and comply. Without those allocations, you cannot bring development. When we said we needed power to power Lagos and the industrial base in our region, they said no. “They were taking away N250 million from our allocation every month for being innovative and creative. Everywhere we turn; they rejected us and punished us. But we never gave up.
“Today, we are in that progressive development championed and led by President Muhammadu Buhari. Thank you for not looking back. Thank you for visiting and encouraging him.” Speaking on the visit of the traditional rulers and their message, he said: “I am very happy and proud of the very promising situation. When you have the endorsement of your royal fathers, it means you have the people with you and the voice of the people is the voice of God.” On their message of peace, he said: “When you have believed that you can get a proper result, you work hard because you want peace. When you believe that you can win, you don’t want violence. “We all love our children, our brothers and our followers and none of us would want our followers to become sacrificial lambs. We won’t encourage violent disruption of any election because we are confidence of winning. “Those who are crying wolf before the election have already accepted defeat before the election as far as I am concerned.” Ooni of Ife in his reaction said: “My message to Nigerians in this time of election is peace. Peace and peaceful coexistence all the way.
“The power of every Nigerian and every electorate lies in the thumb. As traditional rulers, we are father to all and in playing that role, we pray that there should be peace in this country. “That is what we are preaching and it is very important to all of us to know that Nigeria is greater than any of us. So, we should continue to preach peace and identify with good things that will be beneficial to the nation. That is why we are here.”