Following discordant tunes over whether or not President Muhammadu Buhari will be given an automatic ticket to contest the 2019 presidential election, the ruling All Progressives Congress has said it will be guided by its constitution to resolve the issue.
This position was made public by the Governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abubakar, who spoke to reporters in Abuja, after an expanded meeting of the party’s National Working Committee with state governors and principal officers of the National Assembly, at the party’s National Secretariat, on Wednesday.
Abubakar, who was flanked by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, and the Senate Majority Leader, Ahmed Lawan, was asked whether the party’s presidential ticket was open to all or restricted to the President.
He said, “This meeting has not deliberated on that but the APC has a constitution and that is one of the items that was discussed – the amendment to the constitution of the APC in order to faithfully hold the convention in line with democratic principles, and we will abide by the provisions of our constitution.”
Article 20 (iii) of the APC Constitution 2014 stipulates that “nomination of candidates for (f) President shall be through direct or indirect primary election to be conducted at the appropriate level.”
Abubakar also dismissed reports that the President indicted governors for failing to meet their financial obligations to civil servants and pensioners, in spite of the fact that they received billions of naira in form of budget support and part of the money from the Paris Club loan refund.
He said, “The President is concerned about the plight of the downtrodden and when you sit with him, he always talk about that. He did not direct any accusation at the governors because the governors have actually utilised the Federal Government’s intervention for the payment of the salary.
“In Bauchi, I do not owe a dime in salary and pension. We are not begging for support but asking that what is due to us should be paid to us.”
Abdullahi said the party backed Buhari’s appeal to the World Bank to shift its developmental attention to northern Nigeria.
The party spokesman explained that the President’s statement was not meant to pit one part of the country against the other, adding that the President made the appeal within the context of the devastation caused by Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East.
He said, “You will recall what was canvassed in the media was that President Muhammadu Buhari had asked the World Bank to focus their attention on the North.
“The issue came up for discussion at the meeting and they threw their weight behind Mr. President. And we would like to clarify in addition to all that had been said that the import of Mr. President’s message to the World Bank was in recognition of the particular devastation that Boko Haram has caused in the North.
“Therefore, when the President asked the World Bank to focus its attention on the North, he had in mind, the necessary reconstruction that need to happen in that part of the country, especially in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states that have suffered as a result of the Boko Haram activities.
“It was not therefore a statement intended to bifurcate any part of the country and show preference for any part of the country against the other.
“So, the APC throws its weight completely behind the President’s position and we believe that as long as the North-East remains and continues to represent a dark spot in the human development indices for Nigeria, there is a need to direct special attention to that particular region of the country.”
Earlier, in his opening remarks, the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, had congratulated the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, on his birthday and his “feat of bringing some of the significant figures on the African continent to Nigeria.”