For the second time in a week, the meeting between the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the governors of the party, members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) as well as Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) Wednesday again failed to agree on a date to flag-off campaign.
The National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdulahi Adamu, was conspicuously absent at the meeting that lasted for over three hours.
The meeting was a follow up to last Wednesday’s tripartite committee meeting aimed at harmonising the party’s presidential campaign council list.
THISDAY checks revealed that the 422-member campaign list initially released created discord within the party with the governors, party leadership and stakeholders expressing dissatisfaction.
It was against this background that the campaign activities of the ruling party were put on hold indefinitely to ensure all hands were on deck and everyone carried along.
The meeting held at Transcorp Hotel Abuja started few minutes after 11a.m and ended 2:15 a.m. It had in attendance Tinubu, the Campaign Director General and Governor of Plateau state, Simon Lalong, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, party’s Vice-presidential candidate, Senator Kashim Shettima.
The governors at the meeting are: Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Dr. Abdulahi Ganduje (Kano), Abubakar Badaru ( Jigawa) ), Bello Matawale (Zamfara), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Abubakar Bello (Niger), AbdulRahman Abdulrazaq (Kwara), Abdulahi Sule (Nasarawa), Lalong (Plateau), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Babagana Zullum (Borno) and Mai Mala Buni (Yobe).
Speaking with journalists after the meeting, the Director of New Media of PCC, Chief Fani-Kayode described the allegation by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the ruling party was trying to stop the use of Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in the 2023 elections as ‘nonsense’.
His words: “The answer to that is absolute nonsense. It’s what you call poppycock. And these are the words of a drowning party spoken by a drowning man with a drowning candidate. There is nothing like that. We are above board, we are serious about what we are trying to do, we are going to achieve our objective, we are going to win this election fair and square. And they are the ones that have lost five governors. They’re the ones that can’t get their party leaders to come to their rallies at their presidential inauguration. We don’t have that challenge. We are working slowly but surely. As one together, everybody’s coming together. And I’m very proud to be part of this.”
Fani-Kayode noted that the meeting has put to rest any controversy on the campaign list.
According to him, *This meeting we just had as more or less clarified everything,. That is why the Publicity Secretary of the party is here, that is why all the four media directorates in the PCC were represented. Everybody was there, the governors, the PCC. We are all speaking as one, we all agree on everything. We’re working towards an objective which is to launch as soon as possible and to come out strongly and there’s really no hurry about this as far as we are concerned.”
Fani-Kayode noted that the ruling party had a very strong team, candidate, governors, as well as a very strong party input, adding that the PCC is waxing strong.
Also, the Spokesperson of PCC, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN) said the schedule of President Muhammadu Buhari, being the Chairman of the campaign council, was delaying the flag of the campaign.
He said Buhari’s schedule has to be put into consideration before a specific date would be fixed for the commencement of campaign.
Keyamo stated: “You know that the structure of our campaign involves Presidential diary. I have said that our campaign is not going to be like those that they can kick and start like small vehicles. It is maneuvering a 50-ton tanker on a highway and once we hit the highway, it will be in motion and movement.
“Since Mr President is the chairman of the Campaign Council, we are going to take his diary into consideration in picking and choosing the date. However, we have all virtually agreed to hit the street very soon. We have also agreed on the region we are going to kick-start but I won’t say that now. We have also agreed on all the basic issues. We just want to carry along the leader of the party, Mr President and hit the street.”
The spokesperson also assured that all the organs of the party were united and working in unison towards one purpose.
He also revealed that Tinubu presented a draft manifesto to the party.
Keyamo added: “What you have seen here is the meeting of different layers of the party. It was the meeting of the major stakeholders of the party. The Progressive Governors, the NWC, and the PCC with the presidential candidate. We are a very united party with all the organs of the party working in unison towards one purpose. All we did today during the meeting was to review the draft of our manifesto.
“Our candidate is not the type that operates on his own. He carries everybody along. He presented the draft of the manifesto to all the stakeholders that looked at it. And guess what, almost all the stakeholders gave that draft more than 90 per cent pass mark.”
When asked to give details about Tinubu’s manifesto, Keyamo noted: “We can’t give you the content because we are not going to take it away from our candidate. He is going to present himself before Nigerians on a particular date and occasion. We have set up a small committee charged with the responsibility of reducing the manifesto documents to major highlights in message form we will sell to even the market women, street traders in the most simple language.
“We don’t want to present to Nigerians a very complicated document that they cannot understand in simple terms.”
Keyamo further explained that they have accommodated all the interest groups in the campaign list, adding that there was virtually no disagreement in the meeting today.
On the allegation made by the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), that APC had connived with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Keyamo described the allegation as absolute nonsense.
His words: “There has been absolutely no occasion where the APC, either through NWC or any of levels of leadership put any kind of pressure on INEC. Those sensing defeat are already looking for reasons for that defeat. It is one of the reasons, it is one of the excuses they are trying to generate to accommodate their defeat, but they should know that the defeat is imminent.”
Reacting to the commencement of PDP’s presidential campaign, Keyamo said APC would allow the “little boys to continue, the big boys are coming behind.”
Defending the absence of Adamu at the meeting, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Felix Morka maintained that the chairman wasn’t missing at the meeting because he was represented by his deputy.
He said, “The National chairman was not missing, he was adequately represented by the Deputy National Chairman, North and the Deputy National Chairman, South and he was in touch with every stakeholder who was here. The candidate did inform them of his inability to be here, but he was effectively represented.”
Morka said the issue of campaign financing of the party was still being discussed
“Well, that’s a matter that is still in progress. Our campaign financing is really important without it, you can’t do a whole lot, but that is a subject that we will discuss in due course.”
Meanwhile, the wife of the APC presidential candidate, Senator Oluremi Tinubu has called on women to mobilise for election victory of the party at next year’ elections.
The lawmaker representing Lagos Central in the Senate made the call Wednesday in Abuja.
She also expressed confidence Tinubu and Shettima would protect the interests of women and safeguard their rights if elected at the polls.
Tinubu said the women’s wing of the APC presidential campaign, comprising of seasoned politicians, market women, media professionals and others, possesses the ability to bring the party over the finish line in first position at next year’s polls.
She stressed: “When women are united, wonderful things happen; and I have immense confidence in the ability of the amazing team assembled here today to secure the women’s vote for APC.”