‘Tinubu Did Not Boycott APC Meeting’
• Laughable To Say We’ll Move To PDP, Says
CONTRARY to belief that he, and his loyalists in the All Progressives Congress (APC), shunned the party’s National Executives Council (NEC) meeting, held on Friday in Abuja, former Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was not present “because he had no business attending the meeting.”
A party source told The Guardian: “It is absolutely untrue that he was forced to stay away. Nobody forced him to stay away, neither could anyone have forced him to stay away.
“In the first place, he is not a member of the NEC, and I can assure you he would have received a standing ovation had he come to the meeting, especially against the background of President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech to the NEC.”
The source, a member of the APC NEC, said the seemingly coordinated attacks on Tinubu is a direct result of the frontline role the APC national leader played in ending the 16-year reign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Tinubu has been blamed for the crisis rocking the governing party, especially the stalemate triggered by the National Assembly leadership election.
He has been criticized for not attending the NEC meeting in Abuja, called to resolve the National Assembly leadership crisis.
Also absent at the meeting was the former interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande.
A source said Akande stayed away from the meeting because the invitation reached him at about 8pm on Thursday.
Party stalwart, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, put the crisis rocking the party at the doorsteps of persons he described as anti-change elements, within and outside the APC.
The way out, according to him, is to recognise that there are some powerful elements that do not want the programme of change, designed by the APC, to succeed.
“So, we should look at the bigger picture and the tremendous goodwill the APC and government are enjoying nationally and internationally and not allow temptations fanned by opponents of progress and change to lure us into a crisis that may shift our attention from our laudable goal,” he said.
Meanwhile, determined to bridge the gaps in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, met with chairmen of the party from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja.
The meeting held behind closed doors at the conference hall of the First Lady’s office for about an hour.
President Buhari urged the APC state chairmen and other political leaders in the country to keep to prescribed legal processes for the resolution of political disputes and never resort to violence, criminality and other forms of unacceptable behavior in seeking redress for any perceived injustice. He also called on the state chairmen to work with the party’s elected officials to ensure the APC delivers on its promise of better living conditions for all Nigerians.
In a statement by the President’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, Buhari assured Nigerians that all cases of alleged intimidation and political harassment and kidnappings of Nigerians would be investigated and thoroughly dealt with, and perpetrators brought to justice, irrespective of their status in the society.
“At every point, the law must be supreme and everyone must respect the law, if our democratic system is to survive. Injustice cannot survive for long. Justice will ultimately prevail. We will make sure that those saddled with the responsibility of ensuring justice and equity do not rest on their oars.
“The only way we can sustain our democracy is ensure that the law remains supreme at all times. If the law is upheld, people will have confidence that they can vote for who they want to vote for, without intimidation or threats. People must have protection to exercise their rights freely or we could be headed for anarchy.
“The police and the judiciary must ensure that justice is done in the country. We won’t allow impunity to continue in certain states, where the rights of the people are being violated. I have a personal commitment to fair play and respect of personal rights. This government will do all that is possible to enforce that.”
The spokesman for the chairmen, Alhaji Umaru Doguwa, who is chairman of the APC in Kano State, said contrary to insinuations by the opposition, Buhari has actually hit the ground running, taking steps to bring back the lost glory of governance.
He said the chairmen were satisfied with the APC Federal Government and said those accusing the government of motionlessness were doing so out of mischief.
In a related development, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has described as laughable insinuations by some people that he and some All Progressives Congress (APC) members in the House are planning to defect from the party to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs Turaki Adamu Hassan, yesterday said the Speaker made this known when he received APC state party chairmen in his office yesterday.
Dogara said: “I want to discountenance this very ludicrous and laughable discussions that some of us in the House are conniving with some people, so that we can defect. Only a fool will believe that.
“We have toiled day and night. We control the government at the centre, and in our states. (Should we) then park and move to a house we deserted before? It is even unthinkable and unimaginable that someone will even make such assertions.”
Dogara also gave assurance that the APC will overcome the current crisis saying: “We have been through a lot. But, obviously, it is expected, as it is a new party. We are beginning to know ourselves. It is expected that from the beginning we will have some kind of friction. But those frictions cannot consume us. And like vehicles, from the frictions, we can gather the traction we need to move forward. And I guess that is one reason why we are here today.”
The Speaker said although he agrees that the party is supreme, absolute sovereignty and supremacy rest with the people.
He said: “It is my deepest conviction as a student of democracy. I know that democracy is loosely defined as government of the people by the people and for the people. In actual fact, sovereignty in a democratic regime belongs to the people. The government is for the people and the party too is for the people.”
According to the Speaker, “absolute supremacy must be anchored on the sovereignty of our people because if we don’t pursue the interest of our people, you can guarantee the fact that sooner than later there may be no APC.”
Still on the leadership crisis in the National Assembly, some senators drummed support for the peace initiative by the President.
Immediate past chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Solomon Ita Enang, said: “I want Mr. President and all the parties in this matter to please come in because he (Buhari) is the Commander-in-Chief who commands the Armed Forces and the political forces. Let him come in and intervene as a leader. Let him just lift his hands and say, ‘peace be still’ and then put the House and everybody back together.
“Nigerians respected him and voted for him. He will be sure that Nigerians and the legislature, all the aggrieved sides, will listen to him and abide by whatever he says.
“He should also take steps to make sure that no leader of the party makes statements that incite one section against the other because this is how the PDP problem also started. Let us have one APC, one Nigeria and one government under President Buhari.”
Also speaking, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) representing Abia North Senatorial District said the time has come to forget about all issues relating to the election of presiding officers and concentrate only on matters that could promote good governance and peace in the country.
Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, had in an interview with journalists in Abuja, suggested that all external influences particularly those capable of destroying the peace process be curtailed.
Na’Allah said: “Let me say that we do not have a crisis in the Senate. What we have are disagreements between our colleagues, senators, on how certain things should be done. When you have a crisis, then, you are talking about reconciliation; but when you have a disagreement, it is not about reconciliation, it is about sorting out the matter based on what all of us believe in.
“The happy thing about it is that there is not a single senator in both groups, who does not believe in the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerian as (they relate) to the Senate. So, it is going to be a very simple issue to settle, provided the external influence cease for the time being.”