Ademola Babalola in Ibadan

The South-west governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), National Assembly members, ministers and other stakeholders of the party Thursday evening rose from a meeting in Agodi Government House, Ibadan, Oyo State, after which the former National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande, declared that the presidential ticket of the party was open to all in the 2019 general election.

Akande, who spoke to reporters after the meeting, said the contest for the presidential ticket of the party was open to all, as President Muhammadu Buhari had not indicated that he would be contesting the 2019 elections, but if he does there will be process for his selection.

The meeting, which lasted for four hours, was held in the executive council chambers of the governor’s office and had in attendance Governors Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo State), Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos State), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun State) and Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo State).

Others present were former Governors Adebayo Alao-Akala, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Olusegun Osoba, Adeniyi Adebayo, Kayode Fayemi, who is also the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu, Minister of State for Niger Delta Claudius Daramola, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Lasun Yusuff and House Majority Leader Femi Gbajabiamila, among others.

The party’s National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, who was billed to attend, cancelled it at the last minute because of a stomach ache, said Akande, the group’s spokesman.

But Tinubu’s media aide, Tunde Rahman, later held a media parley with journalists and allayed fears over the health of his boss, stressing that “he considered it wise to stay back in Lagos to attend to the ache and he is part and parcel of the decisions going on at the meeting. I can assure you that he is well and there is nothing to worry about his health”.

Amosun and Akeredolu also left midway into the meeting, as they had other appointments elsewhere.
Speaking on behalf of the APC stakeholders after the meeting, Akande said they were in Ibadan as a follow-up to the January meeting they held in Ibadan to appraise the state of affairs of the party and how the zone was fairing in the scheme of things.

Dissatisfied, the journalists fired questions and Akande replied as follows: “We are happy that our governors and ministers are performing satisfactorily. As a party, we are trying to review our position to see what we are going to do to get Ekiti back for APC in 2018.”

Asked about the position of the party on Buhari’s speculated second term ambition, Akande said: “He has not told us he is running in 2019. Anybody in our party is free to become the president of Nigeria as long as he indicates interest.

“We have a process through which a candidate will be selected. If he is lucky to get the ticket, then we have no option than to present him as our candidate.”

On the clamour for restructuring, Akande said: “Restructuring is not our language. Go and ask those who are advocating for restructuring to define it.

“What I told you just now is devolution of functions from the centre to the states and to the local governments. Restructuring is the language of other groups of people.

“Go and put your question to them on what they mean by restructuring, whether restructuring of economy or governance. That is not in the APC manifesto.”