Tinubu: My Ogun Statement Lost in Translation, Respect for President Buhari High, Unfailing
*Bagudu, Sule meet with President, Femi Adesina says Buhari didn’t tell govs to pick consensus presidential candidate for party
*Kano court clears APC’s statutory delegates to vote, may be too late
*Court asked to disqualify Tinubu for ‘questionable educational background, date of birth’
Charles Ajunwa in Lagos, Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha, Adedayo Akinwale and Alex Enumah in Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential aspirant and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, yesterday moved fast to douse the anger created by the speech he delivered last Thursday while on a consultation visit to the delegates of the party in Abeokuta, Ogun State, during which he bragged about installing President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Dapo Abiodun.
On the same day, President Buhari returned to Abuja after a three-day state visit to Spain and shortly after met with a two-man delegation of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) led by its Chairman and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu.
In a statement he pushed out yesterday, Tinubu said his comments had been misinterpreted by the media and that he did not disrespect President Buhari.
The APC Presidential aspirant in the statement he signed declared that his respect and regard for Buhari as Commander-in- Chief of this nation, and as a person, are high and unfailing.
He said: “My respect and regard for President Buhari as Commander-in- chief of this nation and as a person are high and unfailing. I shall never denigrate him. I certainly did not do so in Abeokuta. We have been political partners for a long time and I hope that partnership continues well into the future. I would do nothing to jeopardize it. I believe our party is the best hope for the nation to right itself. I believe I have a future role larger than the one I now have. I also believe President Buhari has a continuing and important role to play even after his tenure as president is over.
“Indeed, I consistently supported the president and his administration. Even when the administration has come under intense criticism, my feet have always been planted solidly in defence of the president. The president personally nominated me to coordinate his re-election campaign in 2019. He did this not because I opposed him or because I was indifferent. He did so, because I was firmly with him in 2015 and has stood firmly beside him ever since.
“When I publicly announced my aspiration to seek the party nomination for the upcoming presidential election, I stressed that my strategic objective was to build on the foundation laid by the Buhari administration. In fact, I believe I was the first aspirant to inform President Buhari of this presidential intention. It was a sign of the respect I have for him and his office. It is unthinkable that I would aspire to be the leader of the party for which I hope to be the next flag bearer. It makes no sense at all to do such an indelicate, unseemly thing.
“I am proud of my role in the advent of the APC and its electoral successes. But President Buhari, of course, stands as the main driver of this success. He was elected president twice. He has borne the weight of national governance for seven years. Nothing can rival that. I would not dare belittle what he has done and what he has meant to the party and nation.”
Tinubu described Buhari as a Nigerian patriot and a man of integrity and that these qualities won him tremendous mass support leading to electoral victory in 2015 and 2019.
He said: “I am proud to have been his partner in the political merger that became the APC and in making history by ousting an incumbent president for the first time in Nigeria.
“I make no apologies for seeking the party’s nomination. I believe I have something important to offer Nigeria that the other aspirants do not have, although I see them as good and committed Nigerians in their own rights. While I want this office, there are certain things I will not do and certain lines I shall not cross. I shall never belittle myself by denigrating the president or his office. I dare not seek an office and disrespect it at the same time.”
Buhari Back from Spain
President Buhari yesterday returned to Abuja after a three-day state visit Spain.
Shortly after his return, the President met with a two-man delegation of the PGF, led by its Chairman and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu.
Bagudu and the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, met behind closed-door with President Buhari.
Sources told THISDAY last night that the meeting was a follow up to the one held on Tuesday before the President travelled to Spain when he appealed to the 22 APC governors to allow him determine who among the 23 aspirants will flag the party’s presidential flag during 2023 general elections.
It was gathered that Bagudu told President Buhari that the APC governors had met this week to review their Tuesday meeting with the President.
He was said to have also told the President that the PGF would still meet this weekend ahead of the party’s presidential primaries convention scheduled for next Monday.
President Buhari, sources said, will this weekend meet with critical stakeholdees in the APC with a view to carrying everybody along on what format the party’s presidential primaries will take.
Meanwhile, the President is expected to leave Abuja today for Accra, Ghana to attend an extra ordinary meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
President Buhari who will be accompanied by some Ministers and top government officials is expected back in Abuja later today.
Saraki, Babachir Lawal Chide Tinubu
APC chieftain, Babachir Lawal and former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, yesterday came down hard on Tinubu over his Abeokuta speech in which he talked about how he enthroned political leaders.
In his response to Tinubu, Saraki stated that when he opposed the plan to foist a Muslim-Muslim presidency on Nigeria in 2014 he acted in the national interest and believed Nigeria was bigger than anybody’s ambition, including that of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Saraki, in a statement signed by the head of his Media Office, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in response to the speech by Tinubu in Abeokuta, claiming that Saraki and others opposed his desire to be running mate to President Buhari in the 2015 elections, noted that he would oppose any plan that causes a religious crisis in a multi-religious country like Nigeria.
“When I and other leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014 stood against having a Muslim-Muslim ticket, it was not a decision targeted at any individual or group but one taken in the national interest. Asiwaju knows this and he is just being mischievous by presenting this decision as something aimed at stopping his ambition.
“Let me make it clear that the decision to oppose the plans by some people to make APC present a Muslim-Muslim ticket in 2015 was in the national interest and I will take the same stand today, tomorrow, and any other day. My stance is based on the fact that such a ticket is not good for the unity of the country and will further accentuate one of our fault lines.
“The opposition to a Muslim- Muslim ticket was not targeted at Tinubu or any other person. It was a decision that even all party leaders know helped the victory of the party and also worked for the unity of the country. That decision is not about self but national and collective interests. It is a decision which served the purpose of the people of Nigeria and I have no regret supporting it”, Saraki stated.
While expressing surprise that Tinubu refused to move on and still sulked over what happened in 2014, the former Governor of Kwara State added that the APC presidential aspirant had become so fixated on the Muslim-Muslim ticket issue of 2014 that he worked so hard to stop the emergence of Saraki as Senate President in a move he considered as retaliatory.
Saraki also stated that after he was elected Senate President, Tinubu maintained an adversarial position against the eighth National Assembly, initiated covert and overt measures aimed at undermining the federal legislature, and set the executive against the legislature.
Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal declared that it was very difficult supporting a Yoruba person in national politics, following Tinubu’s outburst.
He said: “They have a way of making you regret your support because they eventually make you seem like a traitor to your own people. Now all these comments about Bola’s Yoruba presidency and his support of Buhari without which Buhari would not have been president is bulshit.
“He wasn’t the only one whose support made a difference. There were many others from all around the country and they are not bragging about it. You may wish to know that all of us Buhari supporters are shocked and pissed off by Bola’s speech on this occasion. It is unlike him.”
The former SGF said Tinubu’s speech was massively trending in the North “and being given a negative connotation as you can well imagine.”
He said he first read it on an Adamawa group platform “and the anger is palpable and all round.”
“Will Tinubu win Monday’s APC primaries without Northern support? You would think Yorubas will resist the temptation of joining in the northerners-bashing game at this very critical time – the primary election is only three days away. It is unfortunate that Bola himself chose to join in this bashing game – choosing to speak in the Yoruba language and in Yoruba land in a manner that seems to denigrate Buhari. I could vividly imagine the discomfort of all the northerners sitting beside him on that podium.
“This appears to be the Abiola saga being replayed. Abiola won the election with majority Northern votes but they took the brunt of the post-election protests that followed.
“Just survey all the people that are doing more meaningful practical things to enthrone Bola as president and you will find that almost all are northerners while his kinsmen engage themselves in social media activism and Northern bashing.
“When Yorubas vilify the North like this, our sense of fear and insecurity under a Yoruba presidency gets heightened and in the end, pushes us to rethink our support for not only Bola but any Yoruba as president for that matter. Please, do not join our opponents to destroy our chances of clinching Monday’s primary elections.”
Court Asked to Disqualify Tinubu
Some members of the APC under the platform of the Gaskiya Youth Movement have dragged Tinubu to court over what it alleges as discrepancies in the academic qualifications submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in aide of his qualification for the 2023 presidential election.
The plaintiffs, Umar Iliyasu, Suleiman Baba, and Abubakar Adama, in the suit filed on June 2, 2022, are claiming that the educational history of Tinubu “is not consistent with the earlier forms C.F. 001” he filled in preparation for the Governorship election of Lagos State in the year 1999.
Outside the academic issue, plaintiffs are also alleging discrepancies in the age as well as the indigeneship of the former Lagos State Governor and as such want the court to stop Tinubu from participating in the June 7 primary election from the selection of the APC’s candidate in the 2023 presidential poll.
The APC, Tinubu, and INEC are 1st to 3rd defendants respectively in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/774/2022.
Specifically, the plaintiffs are accusing the APC presidential aspirant of giving false information in contravention of the electoral laws and constitution.
In a 31 paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Miracle Udeaja in support of the suit, the plaintiffs submitted that “The 2nd defendant presented an incorrect educational history and inconsistent dates of birth in his forms and ought to be disqualified from seeking or contesting for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended)”.
Plaintiffs further submitted that any person seeking an elective position under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), who presents a false document is disqualified from that election or any subsequent elections
Amongst the issues for determination are; “whether, upon the due consideration of Section 131 of the Constitution, section 84(3) of the Electoral Act 2022, Article 20(111) and (iv) of the Constitution of the APC and Articles 9, 13 and 17 of the guidelines for the nomination of candidates for the 2023 general election issued by the APC, the 2nd defendant can participate or contest in the primary election on the platform of the 1st defendant.
“Given the questionable educational background and date of birth of the 2nd defendant, amongst other questionable issues, whether the 1 st defendant can allow and/or permit the participation of the 2nd defendant in the primary election for the office of the president.
“Whether the 2nd defendant can participate by presenting himself in any primary elections with any political party in Nigeria to be nominated as a presidential aspirant for the 2023 general election scheduled to take place in June 2022.
Plaintiffs urged that where the court answers the above questions in the affirmative, then the following reliefs should be granted: A declaration that “given the questionable educational background and date of birth of the 2nd defendant, amongst other questionable issues, the 1 st defendant cannot allow and/or permit the participation of the 2nd defendant in the primary election for the office of the president.
“A declaration that the 2nd defendant cannot participate by presenting himself in any primary elections with any political party in Nigeria to be nominated as a presidential aspirant for the 2023 general election scheduled to take place in June 2022.
“An order disqualifying the 2nd defendant from contesting in the primary elections on the platform of the 1 st defendant scheduled for June 7, 2022, or any other day as may be fixed by the 1st defendant having not met the statutory requirements.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 2nd defendant from participating or presenting himself in any primary elections with any political party in Nigeria to be nominated as a presidential aspirant for the 2023 presidential election.”
Buhari Didn’t Tell Govs to Pick Consensus Presidential Candidate
Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, yesterday faulted claims that the President Buhari asked members of the PGF to pick a consensus presidential candidate for the APC.
He said that contrary to reports, the President only met with the governors and gave them his “expectation” for the forthcoming presidential primary of the party.
Adesina stated these in a piece titled, ‘Visit to Spain: Let’s Buga for Mr. President’.
Making clarifications on what transpired during the meeting, the presidential spokesperson explained that Buhari never discussed issues bordering on zoning, consensus, or imposition of candidates during his conversation with the governors.
According to him, Buhari told them what he would like to see at the APC presidential primary to elect a presidential candidate early next week.
“He said no word about zoning, consensus, or imposition of candidate. He just charged them to let their plans converge, so that the party would put its best foot forward. Shortly after the meeting, we headed for the airport.
“A short time into the about five hours flight, I went on social media, to see that all hell had broken loose. Trust some Nigerians. When there’s no controversy, they simply create one. They will die of boredom if they don’t have something to wail or ululate about.
“What were they bellyaching on? Oh, he used the words ‘my successor,’ instead of ‘APC candidate.’ That means he wants to rig the election.
“Oh, he talked about Governors who performed well being given opportunity to get a second term, for continuity. That means he wants to impose someone from within the government to succeed him. Consensus is what he wants. Puerile.
“Is consensus not one of the acceptable ways of choosing candidates, according to the Electoral Act? So the party can jolly well decide on the method it wants.
“Oh, he didn’t talk about zoning. APC wants to give its ticket to the North. Really? Did you see anything like that in the speech?
“I tell you. When some Nigerians don’t see what they expect in a speech or statement, they simply conjure and create their own. And the wailing starts.”
Buhari had while addressing the governors on Tuesday ahead of the party’s presidential primary taking place on Monday, said he would be seeking reciprocity from the governors ahead of the presidential primary.
“In keeping with the established internal policies of the party and as we approach the convention in a few days, therefore, I wish to solicit the reciprocity and support of the governors and other stakeholders in picking my successor, who would fly the flag of our party for election into the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023,” the President added.
He asked the governors to ensure that all interests ‘converge’ as regards the outcome of the presidential primary. The President added that the person who emerges as the presidential candidate must be one who could give Nigerians a sense of victory even before the polls.
Kano Court Clears APC Statutory Delegates
A federal High Court in Kano yesterday declared statutory delegates of the APC eligible to vote at the June 6 National Convention in Abuja.
The judgement by Justice A.M Liman was sequel to an originating summons dated May 23, 2022 and filed on the 24th day of May, 2022.
The decision of the court allows senators and House of Reps members to vote during conventions, congresses and meetings.
The Suit No FHC/KN/CS/137/2022 had prayed the court to declare that Section 84(8) cannot be interpreted to have excluded statutory delegates from voting at the convention, congress or meeting by virtue of Section 223 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Article 20(iv)(c) of the APC Constitution, which allow statutory delegates to vote at conventions, congresses or meetings.
The suit, which was filed by Senator Mas’ud El-Jibrin Doguwa, Hon. Habibu Sani and Hon. Bilyaminu Yusif Shinkafi, had The Senate President, National Chairman of the APC, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as defendants.
However, the court judgement may be difficult to implement as necessary parties to the case, like the National Chairman of the APC, were not served.