Governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari for the party’s 2019 presidential ticket, stressing that only the president could stop himself.
Speaking at the APC national secretariat, on arrival for the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting yesterday, Governors Simon Lalong (Plateau), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa) and Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), collectively agreed that President Buhari has done well to be given an offer of first refusal. Governor Lalong, who was the first to react to a possible sole ticket for Buhari, emphatically said the APC does not have any other person to challenge the president.
Said he: “Concerning the issue of sole ticket for Mr. President, I want to say that if Mr. President is performing, well respected and carrying everybody along, all of us have resolved that we will work for him.
“Do we have any other person that will challenge the president again? Whatever you call it, as far as we are concerned, we have one president and that is the ticket we will fly.”
Asked if northerners could produce a credible candidate, should Buhari decline interest in re-contesting, Bagudu of Kebbi State said: “I thought that the nation has moved beyond, North-South; East-West. The APC, in late 2014, held one of the most successful primaries in Lagos. It shows the importance of democratic competition to even strengthen both the party and country.
“President Muhammadu Buhari emerged candidate in a very keenly contested primaries and those who contested with him were happy about the contest and the party became stronger.
The country won accolades for a free, transparent primaries that was attested by all and it produced a leadership that today is still supported by the majority of Nigerians.
“Whether APC presidential ticket can go anywhere is not the question. I think for APC members, it is a democratic party first, but the performance of the president, in the last two and half years, suggest that if he wants to contest, l will certainly support him and l know that our party members feel the same about him.”
Confronted with the same question of the party offering automatic ticket to President Buhari, Governor Al-Makura said:
“You see, APC as a party epitomises democracy. For anybody to preempt the consensus opinion of the people is, to say the least, unfair to the vision of our party. “I can tell you that if there is anything that is clandestine the president will not honour it. So, let us wait and see, as we embark on these meetings.
I believe the consensus and the preponderance of opinion of all party members will be what is good for this country. “We have already known the will of this country.
The future of this country, as we are now, is associated with one person, who is impeccable, who has the greatest amount of integrity that you can find in any human being around; so your guess is as good as mine.”
Governor Okorocha was more pungent in his submission over automatic ticket for President Buhari, even as he warned that he could only sacrifice his presidential ambition on the condition that Buhari would contest. According to him, “my president is very democratic. If Mr. President wants to run for election, he will follow all the processes and if he is the person, we will all support him.
In APC, there is no imposition of candidate. If Buhari is running, I will allow that man to continue, but if he is not running, I won’t sacrifice my presidential ambition.” Others present at the APC NEC meeting include, President Buhari, his deputy, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Governors Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Jibrilla Bindo (Adamawa), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Tankk Almakura (Nasarawa), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara) and Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna). Others are Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger), Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto), Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina), and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo). Senators present at the meeting include Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan; Senate Minority Whip, Francis Alimikhena; Senators Abdullahi Adamu, Binta Garba, Andy Ubah, Magnus Abbe, Dino Melaye, Ahmed Sani Yerima, Gbenga Ashafa and Barnabas Gemade.