The All Progressives Congress (APC) on Sunday said it will not grant automatic ticket to President Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the 2019 general elections.
This was coming ahead the allegation that some leaders of the party had been planning to give automatic ticket to Buhari, a development that was said not to be favoured by other presidential aspirants who are planning to run on the party’s platform.
Speaking with Daily Independent , a governorship aspirant of the party in the 2015 general elections, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he is planning to slug it out with President Buhari for the party’s ticket “but people around me are asking me not to waste my time as the party had already zeroed in on the incumbent president.
“I know of other presidential aspirants who believe the party has technically given President Buhari the ticket of the APC. They keep saying there will be a primary but deep down, their actions and words give the impression that they have already settled for President Buhari as the party’s flagbearer”.
But in a chat with Daily Independent , Yekini Nabena, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, said there will be no automatic ticket for President Buhari as other aspirants who intend to vie for the number one position in the country on the party’s platform will also be given the opportunity to prove their worth at the primaries.
“There is going to be primaries. Other aspirants will also be given a chance to test their popularity. So, it is not as if there is an automatic ticket that has been given to President Muhammadu Buhari”.
On whether any aspirant has indicated interest in the presidential ticket aside Buhari, the APC spokesman said “though one or two have shown interest, the actual number will be known when the forms go on sale.
“Yes, there are people. One or two persons have indicated interest but when the forms go on sale, the aspirants will come out and the real number will be known”.
It would be recalled that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the National Leader of APC, had last year declared that the party would follow the normal democratic process in choosing its flagbearer in the 2019 presidential election, adding that the leadership of the party had not endorsed President Buhari as its sole candidate for the forthcoming presidential election.
Tinubu’s statement was at variance with the endorsement of Buhari as the sole candidate of the APC for the 2019 election by APC governors.
“No governors can appropriate the power of endorsement to themselves. Buhari is a believer in the process. The Buhari, I know, believes in the rule of law. We wanted him even before the last convention and primary 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.”
He added, “We followed all the constitutional provision and an individual or group’s opinion does not really matter at this stage, Buhari will want a normal process. Buhari that, I know, who says he will lose at any convention? But if the national body, the NEC (National Executive Committee) and all of us as members endorsed 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 by other people who might like to do so.
Buhari has not excluded anybody, and he has not infringed on anybody’s ambition if there is. We cannot be sycophantic about it.”
Meanwhile, APC has scheduled its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting for Wednesday.
Governors elected on the party’s platform, members of its Board of Trustees (BoT) and National Working Committee (NWC) members, among others, are expected to attend the meeting.
This will be the first NEC meeting which the party will be holding following the defection of Senate President Bukola Saraki, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Samuel Ortom of Benue and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State.
A party source said one of the issues that will be discussed is the proposed date for its primaries which could be changed or ratified by the NEC.
According to the timetable released by the party and forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) , the party proposed its presidential primary for September 19; House of Representatives primary for September 19, Senatorial primary for September 20, governorship primary for September 24 and State Assembly primary for September 29.
Our source also said the party will also discuss strategy for the forthcoming September 22 governorship election in Osun state.
In a related development, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said it will soon meet with all the aspirants seeking to contest the presidential election on its platform in order to encourage consensus building.
Kola Ologbondiyan, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, however, said it will ensure that its presidential primary will be transparent and will be accepted by all
“We have always encouraged the aspirants to talk to one another. As a party, very soon, we are going to meet with the presidential aspirants as part of encouraging consensus building.
“However, the rule of the party is very clear as regards national convention. What the party owes every aspirant is to ensure that the process is credible and transparent.
“The party, like I have always said, will give equal opportunity to every Nigerian who desires to run for the position of president on our platform.
“The outcome of the primary election will be transparent, credible, free, fair and will be generally acceptable to majority of Nigerians”, he said