• Reaches out to Afenifere for reconciliation
James Sowole in Akure
Contrary to the impression created by the Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Wednesday said his party has not endorsed any person as the sole candidate of the party for the 2019 presidential election.
Okorocha on Monday had stated that 34 governors in the country had endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari to contest the 2019 election, but did not name the governors, some of whom are not even members of the APC.
On Wednesday, he also said that only Buhari could defeat him in the presidential election.
Tinubu spoke in Akure, Ondo State while fielding questions from journalists after a closed-door meeting with the leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, and other leaders of the organisation.
Commenting on Okorocha’s remarks, Tinubu said: “I have not heard about that and the party spokesman has not said that. No governor can appropriate the power of endorsement to themselves.
“Buhari is a believer in due process. The Buhari I know believes in the rule of law. We wanted him even before the last convention and primaries of the party and Akeredolu is here standing with me and he was not the governor then.
“Akeredolu was one of the leading delegates that voted properly and Buhari was a clear winner.
“We follow all the constitutional provisions and an individual opinion does not matter at this stage.”
The APC leader, who was accompanied by the former chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande and the National Vice-Chairman, South-west, Chief Pius Akinyelure, said the Buhari he knows would want a normal process.
“Who says the Buhari that I know will lose at any convention? But if the national body – the NEC (National Executive Committee) – and all of us as members endorse him as our single candidate, we will not be violating INEC regulations; we will not be violating our party constitution.
“What you are hearing is just a campaign. Buhari has not excluded anybody and he has not affected the ambition of anybody,” he said.
The visit of Tinubu signalled the beginning of a truce among the leadership of pan-Yoruba groups.
While Chief Reuben Fasoranti is the leader of Afenifere, Tinubu is the leader of the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), which the APC leader founded as a counter-force to Afenifere in the South-west.
On his meeting with Afenifere, Tinubu said: “I’m in Akure to acknowledge the leadership of Pa Fasoranti in our own (Yoruba) race, as a great leader of the Omoluabi and in his evening we want him to be happy.
“He has been a great leader in his youth and heydays. His intellect is still very intact. I am here to seek his advice, seek his understanding and prayers. That is why I am here.”
Responding, Fasoranti said the visit by Tinubu was an indication of good things to happen to the Yoruba race.
“It is an indication of great things to come. With the coming together of Yoruba leaders, there will be an understanding on major issues affecting the Yoruba race.
“We will consult and move ahead. As it is now, there will be great understanding among the leaders as Tinubu is a leader in his own right.
“I think it should lead to the reconciliation between ARG and the mainstream (Afenifere), as Tinubu has a leg there. They (Afenifere) are his supporters. This signals that we will come together,” Fasoranti stated.