Ahead of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential primary, President Muhammadu Buhari has met with governors who are members of the party, Daily Trust learnt from credible sources.
The sources told this newspaper that the president met with the governors on Tuesday night.
The meeting, it was gathered was convened to discuss issues revolving around the party’s presidential primary.
The ruling party had slated its presidential primary for Sunday/Monday, where delegates will elect the party’s flag bearer for the 2023 presidential election.
There has been anxiety among the 23 presidential aspirants of the party as the screening, which was scheduled for last Monday was postponed indefinitely.
Top shots of the party, governors and presidential aspirants had told this paper that they were awaiting the president’s guidance ahead of the primary.
One of them, a former governor said, “The tension and confusion in the party is as a result of lack of direction by the president. Everybody is confused.”
But a source close to the president told one of our correspondents that the governors and the party leadership have been told to ensure the conduct of a peaceful and transparent primary.
“The president has told the governors and the party to ensure that the primary is transparent and fair. He did not mention anybody as his preferred candidate during the meeting,” the source, who is an ally of the president, said.
A presidential aspirant, who also confirmed the meeting of the president with the governors, said they were anxiously waiting for Buhari’s direction.
“Two governors told me that they met with the president and that he did not say anything about his choice. We are afraid it would be at the venue of the primary that we will get to know,” he said.
While some observers felt that the “suspense” on the side of the president was too heavy, others believed President Buhari was setting good precedence.
Muhammad Sani, who teaches in one of the higher institutions in the North East, said the fact that the president allowed all the contenders to go round the country and consult is good and commendable.
“Even if he has a preferred candidate, who is not known to anybody going by the fillers we are getting, the president is setting excellent precedence and opening the political space.
“Look at how he travelled out of the country at a critical hour; some people might think what he did was wrong but the opposite is the case. Let the race be the survival of the fittest with limited influence from the president,” he said.
Off to Malabo for AU summit
Meanwhile, the president on Thursday left Abuja for Malabo, Equatorial Guinea to participate in the African Union Extra-ordinary Session of Assembly of Heads of State and Government with a special focus on security.
The president was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd); Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management & Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq; National Security Adviser, Maj-Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd); Director General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Amb. Ahmed Rufa’i Abubakar and Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
Mrs Aisha Buhari, who is the President of the African First Ladies Peace Mission, also accompanied her husband to the African Union meeting.
A presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, in a statement, said the three-day summit, which will hold between May 26 and 28, will also focus on humanitarian challenges in Africa, with related issues on migration, refugees, returnees and Internally Displaced Persons.
He said the African leaders will look at terrorism and unconstitutional change of government, with attendant spiralling effects on human rights and economies at the summit.
High profile meetings ahead of primary
Forty-eight hours to the party’s primaries, the party leadership and the governors have not been forthcoming with what Nigerians should expect.
After their meeting on Monday night at the Kebbi State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja, the governors, who are critical stakeholders, refused to brief newsmen.
Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello; Jigawa State Governor, Abubakar Badaru; Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi and Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi were some of the presidential aspirants among the governors who attended the meeting.
Governor Nasir-El-Rufai of Kaduna State; Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State; Kebbi State Governor and Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Senator Atiku Bagudu and a few others were also at the meeting.
The governors left the venue of the meeting one after another and declined to speak with newsmen, referring them to Governor Bagudu, Chairman of the Forum who also declined to brief at the end of the meeting which lasted for several hours.
On Tuesday, the NWC met at the APC National Secretariat in Abuja, and equally refused to brief newsmen at the end of their meeting, which lasted for over three hours. No NWC member agreed to speak to newsmen.
The APC National Publicity Secretary, Barrister Felix Morka, neither answered his calls nor responded to a text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report.
We’ll be fair to aspirants – Nat’l chair
In an interview with the Hausa Service of the Voice of America, the National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu assured that they would be fair to all the aspirants.
“Our goal is to ensure justice in the choice of who emerges as the candidate of the party that does not mean we are perfect, but we pray we do the right thing. We have aspirants from across the country in the presidential race. We will make the decision when we get there.
“However, the party has laid down its rules and regulations for the aspirants; we would scrutinise all of them based on our guidelines to be sure we pick the right candidate for the party,” he said.
By Ismail Mudashir, Muideen Olaniyi, Saawua Terzungwe & Dalhatu Liman