The chinks appearing in the previously formidable walls of the All Progressives Congress (APC) appears to be widening by the day as party leader, Asiwajo Bola Tinubu, has again restated that the choice of the party’s presidential candidate will be democratic and not a wholesome endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He has also debunked the spin Imo Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, put to a comment by Tinubu.
Recently, Vice President Atiku Abubakar and others have left the party; others are resisting calls for a wholesome endorsement of Buhari, while there are talks of an insidious plot to leave the President in APC with his “CPC’ elements.
Tinubu’s media adviser, Mr. Tunde Rahman, In a statement on Monday night said: “We note Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha’s statement.
“It is important that the record of what Asiwaju Tinubu said when approached by journalists during his last visit to Akure is accurate.
“Thus, I make this statement in the hope of clarifying a misinterpretation that seems to have taken hold in some quarters.
“I was at the interview session. Asiwaju never said anything that could be interpreted as meaning or even implying the governors are irrelevant or insignificant to the party’s nomination process.
“As a former governor and a leading statesman within the party, such words would never come from him.
“Moreover, Asiwaju is a democrat who believes that the open and democratic processes of the APC, which led to the nomination of President Buhari in the first instance, have served the party well and have helped distinguish the APC from PDP and other parties where fairness and internal democracy are rare commodities.
“Every individual has a right to endorse or support a candidate of his choosing. What Asiwaju said at that encounter and still canvasses is that the APC should not mimic the PDP’s penchant for short-circuiting internal democracy by promoting the idea of an automatic ticket.
“The exercise of internal democracy and honoring the letter and spirit of party rules can only strengthen the party and enthuse its members.
“APC’s all-inclusive philosophy was not devised today. It had been with the party since its creation.
“It was this spirit, which we believe, attracted fellow progressives and those who genuinely believe in democracy in all of its aspects to the party. Asiwaju includes Governor Okorocha in this group.
“The APC governors are essential and important voices in the party. Asiwaju values and respects each one of them and gives their individual and collective opinions much weight.
“Yet, in the exercise of our opinions and support for candidates, we all must be guided and never lose clear sight to the democratic ideals that separate the APC from other parties.
“We must maintain the integrity of the processes no matter how clear-cut a decision or an outcome may seem to be. With regard to democracy, the process is of equal import as the outcome itself.
“That is the essence of what Asiwaju said that day in Akure. He merely asked APC members to adhere to the democratic path that thus far has served the party so well. There can be no true dispute with such a sentiment.”
Said Tinubu last Wednesday in Akure: ““No governor can appropriate the power of endorsement to themselves. Buhari is a believer in process, the Buhari I know believes in 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 follow all the constitutional provision and an individual opinion does not 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 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’s constitution.
“What you are hearing is just a campaign. Buhari has not excluded anybody, and he has not affected ambition of anybody.”
In response at the weekend in the same Ondo State, Okorocha said: The (Tinubu’s) statement came to me as a surprise; come to think of it, I never referred to him. I referred to the governors of Nigeria, including the PDP governors and I said only one or two of them had not joined yet.
“Since I made the statement, no governor has said something contrary to what I said. I am surprised that Asiwaju will now be speaking for the governors. He looks like somebody crying more than the bereaved. I did not see reason for the statement actually. But he commands my respect and I don’t want to take issue with the national leader of my party.
What I mentioned was for the governors and secondly what I said is support. The word I use is support that does not mean there will not be a primary. Governors can only contribute 37 votes; we still have over 5,000 votes up there. What I was talking about was about governors. I was not talking about other party members. Governors alone do not determine the standard bearer of a party.”