President Muhammadu Buhari has directed presidential aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to consult among themselves and choose a formidable candidate before the party’s presidential primary on Monday.
According to a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President gave the advice during a meeting with all the APC presidential aspirants at the State House, Abuja.
“Without prejudice to your qualifications, I urge all of you to hold consultation among yourselves and with the party, with a view to building a consensus in a manner that will help the party to reduce the number of aspirants, bring up a formidable candidate and scale down the anxiety of party members,” Buhari was quoted as saying by his spokesman.
The statement was titled, ‘President Buhari to APC presidential aspirants: Consult, build consensus and come up with a formidable candidate’.
According to Adesina, the President said the meeting was the second in a series of consultation with party stakeholders to ensure that the unity and cohesion of the APC were sustained and to provide direction.
Recalling the consultation he had with stakeholders “that would help the electoral fortunes of our party, beginning with the state governors. This is the second in the series and I still look forward to meeting with party stakeholders. These steps are being taken to ensure that the unity and cohesion of the party are sustained and to provide direction.”
Noting the forthcoming presidential primary that would midwife the emergence of one candidate to fly the party’s flag in next year’s presidential Election, Buhari said he was aware that there was anxiety among party members about the outcome of the process.
The President was further quoted as stating, “Given these circumstances, I charge you to recognise the importance of the stability and unity of the party, which cannot be overemphasized.
“Similarly, I wish to remind you that our choice of flag bearer must be formidable, appealing to the electorate across the board, and should command such ability to unify the country and the capacity to address our critical challenges.
“Ahead of the convention, the party machinery has screened and found all aspirants eminently qualified. Recognising this fact, the screening committee has, among others, recommended that consensus building through consultation be intensified.
“Without prejudice to your qualifications, I urge all of you to hold consultation among yourselves and with the party, with a view to building a consensus in a manner that will help the party reduce the number of aspirants, bring up a formidable candidate and scale down the anxiety of party members.”
The President assured attendees that in the interest of the nation and the party, he would continue to provide effective leadership during the transition processes and ongoing consultation “until we successfully make the choice on the candidate that will fly the flag of our party for the presidential election and make the party stronger. I seek your support in this all-important responsibility.”
Earlier, National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, had promised that all stakeholders would be reached in the consultation process.
Responding on behalf of the aspirants, the immediate past Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State, and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, thanked the President for his leadership and guidance, pledging that they would hold the consultation as counselled “for the unity and strength of our party, the APC.”
Those in attendance included a former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu; an ex-Zamfara State governor, Ahmad Yarima; former Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha; former Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun; and Senate President, Ahmed Lawan.
Others are governors Yahaya Bello (Kogi), David Umahi (Ebonyi), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Ben Ayade (Cross River); former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Goodwill Akpabio, former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Onu; former Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba; and businessman, Tein Jack-Rich.
The Secretary of the APC, Senator Iyiola Omisore; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; and Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, also attended the meeting.
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