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The worst is over

Tinubu governors can’t appropriate power of endorsement

• Govs, North Central leaders urge Buhari to contest 2019 presidential election

• Why no automatic ticket for Buhari in 2019 -Tinubu

By Dayo Johnson & Henry Umoru

ABUJA-AGAINST the backdrop of a gale of second term endorsements for President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 Presidential race, especially by governors, National Leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday, ruled out an automatic ticket for the President.

This came on a day governors, political leaders and other stakeholders from the North-Central geo-political zone of the country asked President Buhari to re-present himself for election in 2019.

According to the APC leader, no governor can appropriate the power of endorsement to himself.

Tinubu stated this when he had a closed door meeting with leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti. His visit to the Afenifere leader was, yesterday, being viewed by many as a realignment with the mainstream Yoruba group. This was upon the discord that followed Tinubu’s relationship with the apex Yoruba socio-cultural body.

The visit to Fasoranti came 14 years after he parted ways with the mainstream Afenifere to form a splinter group, called Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG. The APC chieftain was accompanied to the meeting by the former Interim National Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande; Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State; his deputy, Agboola Ajayi; members of the state executive council and the South-West National Vice-Chairman of the party, Chief Pius Akinyelure.

No automatic ticket for Buhari

Speaking to newsmen on the gale of endorsements for a second term for Buhari by some APC governors after the closed-door meeting, Tinubu declared that an individual opinion didn’t matter at this stage.

He said: “I have not heard about the endorsement 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; he was not the governor then.

“He was one of the leading delegates that voted properly and Buhari was a clear winner. We followed all the constitutional provisions and an individual opinion does not matter at this stage.

“Buhari will want a normal process, the Buhari that I know. Who says he will lose at any convention? But if the national body, the NEC and all of us as members endorse him as our single candidate, we will not be violating INEC regulations and our party constitution.

“What you are hearing is just a campaign. Buhari has not excluded anybody and it does not affect the ambition of anybody.”

Asked of his mission in the residence of the Afenifere leader at this crucial time, Tinubu said: “I am in Akure to acknowledge the leadership of Pa Fasoranti in our own 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 day time. His intellect is still very intact. We are here to seek his advice, seek his understanding and prayers. That is why I am here.”

When probed further why it took him so long to visit the Afenifere leader, Tinubu said: “Whatever is my decision is my decision and as an ordinary reporter, you cannot be asking me that. I decide on my time based on the charter of United Nations on Human Rights. I am a democrat and I believe in constitutional democracy.”

Tinubu, a leader in his own right -Fasoranti

Speaking with newsmen after the meeting, Pa Fasoranti described the meeting with Tinubu as an indication of great things to come.

He said: “With the coming together of Yoruba leaders, there will be an understanding on major issues affecting Yoruba race. We will consult and move ahead. As it is now, there will be a great understanding among the leaders as Tinubu is a leader in his own right.”

On the rivalry between the mainstream Afenifere and the Afenifere Renewal Group, Fasoranti said: “l think it should lead to reconciliation. Tinubu has a leg in ARG; they are his supporters. This signal shows we will come together.”

Also present at the closed-door meeting were former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Chief Olu Falae; Afenifere Secretary-General, Sehinde Arogbofa; Chief Femi Aluko, Baba Omojola, Bakitta Bello, among others.

Northern stakeholders for Buhari

Meanwhile, governors, political leaders and other stakeholders from the North-Ccentral geo-political zone yesterday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to re-present himself for election in 2019.

The group, under the aegis of Buhari Support Groups, at a meeting in Abuja, yesterday, noted that it was not in anyway prepared to persuade or preach to him, but compel him to re-contest.

According to the group, there is no other person who can come up for now to sustain the change and economic growth taking place in the country at present.

Prominent among those who called on Buhari to seek a second term in office were Governors Samuel Ortom of Benue, Simon Lalong of Plateau, Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa, as well as Senator George Akume.

The motion at the meeting for Buhari to seek a second term in office, was moved by Senator George Akume, seconded by Governor Lalong. The motion was thereafter unanimously adopted by the audience, comprising All Progressives Congress, APC, stalwarts from the zone.

In his remarks, Senator Akume noted that the decision was taken following Buhari’s successes in the fight against terrorism, economic recovery, sustenance of democracy, restoration of Nigeria’s reputation in the comity of nations, and his personal integrity and patriotism as justification for their call.

According to him, the constitution recognises that four years are too short for leaders to record lasting achievements and legacies for the people, hence the provision for a second term. Also speaking, Governor Ortom said: “For 2019, there is no credible presidential candidate for the APC other than Buhari.”

The worst is over – Buhari

In his remarks, President Muhammadu Buhari who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, assured that the economy was set to be on a better pedestal, following steps already taken by government in that regards.

Buhari said: “When you elected us into office, you did so with the conviction that our dear nation needed to be put on a new pedestal for the dreams conceived by our founding fathers, dreams that we have adopted to be realized.

“The full weight of this responsibility informed our careful, slow and steady start to the governance of Nigeria in the last 30 months. We took a deliberate decision to take a closer look at the situation we found before setting out to implement our plans for the country’s recovery.

“We are convinced of the need to establish a firm foundation upon which a united, peaceful and prosperous nation can be built for succeeding generations of Nigerians. I remain very grateful to all Nigerians for their patience and understanding as we go through the difficult steps necessary to achieve this objective.

“We are aware that the journey has been difficult in the last two and half years, but we have managed to stop the downward spiral and can confidently assert that the worst is over.

“Nigeria is back on the path to growth, having eased out of recession. We shall continue to vigorously pursue the task of diversifying the nation’s economy to remove our over-reliance on oil, while making the land set for all enterprising Nigerians to survive and thrive.

“Toward this end, we shall continue to count on the unflinching support and understanding in every area, especially those of you who trooped out to convince fellow countrymen and women of our sincere commitment to the cause of Nigeria.”

-Vanguard

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