The All Progressives Congress said on Wednesday that what the party’s National Executive Committee did at its last meeting, was to pass a vote of confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee.
This, the APC said, was not the same as endorsing the President for a second term.
The party explained that the issue of endorsing the President for a second term did not form part of discussions during the NEC meeting.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said this in a telephone interview with The PUNCH, in Abuja, on Wednesday.
In response to a question on whether the endorsement of Buhari for a second term in 2019 was part of decisions taken during the party’s last NEC meeting, Abdullahi said, “No.”
He added, “You will recall that the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, addressed this issue while responding to a question on the issue of 2019 at yesterday (Tuesday’s) briefing when he said, the President has not said he wants to contest and that for now, his focus is on the issue of governance, so the issue of endorsing him (President) for a second term in 2019 did not arise.”
Reuters had early on Wednesday, quoted two unnamed APC leaders as saying the APC National Executive Committee of the APC had endorsed President Buhari to seek re-election.
In another development, the National Chairman of the governing APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, on Wednesday said it was normal for party members to express contrary opinions on the decision of the party’s NEC to extend the tenure of party executives at all levels.
Odigie-Oyegun said this while speaking with reporters in his office, in Abuja, on Wednesday.
He was reacting to a question on the views expressed by some party members denouncing the decision to extend the tenure of the APC NEC and party executives at all levels.
Specifically, the Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, had while speaking to reporters in Abuja, late on Tuesday, said, “What has been done is a mere expression of interest. The power of the convention to extend tenure is exercised only by way of constitution amendment. The power of the NEC of our party cannot go beyond doing so by way of constitution amendment.
“Article 30 of the APC Constitution states: ‘This constitution and the schedules hereto, can be amended only by the National Convention of the party.”
However, Odigie-Oyegun explained that it was impossible for everyone to agree 100 per cent with the decision of the party’s NEC on this “sensitive political issue.”
The APC NEC at its meeting held in Abuja, on Tuesday, voted in favour of extending the tenure of the Odigie-Oyegun-led NEC and all elected and appointed party executives at all levels by 12 months.
Odigie-Oyegun said, “Well, I don’t want to talk on this sensitive political issue, suffice to say that whatever is happening; naturally, there will be a contrary view.
“So, it will be so difficult if you come out with total, 100 per cent unanimity but I think the reasons for not wanting to hold some of these elective congresses this year, is very clear.
“We have such mighty works to do (within) this one year and each one has the potential of causing crisis. It has always been like that, once there is an election, it always creates its own issue.”
Giving further clarification on the views expressed by Yari to the effect that NEC could not usurp the powers of the National Convention, the APC National Publicity Secretary told The PUNCH that the party did not prevent individual members from expressing personal opinions on any issue.
He said, “With due respect, the governor in question did not canvass his position during the NEC meeting. The only governor that said something close to that was Governor Rochas Okorocha who eventually saw things differently after his colleague, the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu SAN, a senior lawyer in his own rights, explained issues to him.
“As a party, our members have a right to express their personal opinions on issues but like in every democracy, the minority will have their say but the majority will always have their way.” Punch