President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday moved to stem the exodus of Senators from the All Progressives Congress (APC) following their inability to get return tickets to the National Assembly.
Meeting with some of them including Senator Smart Adeyemi who was led by Senator Orji Uzor Kalu to his office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, he noted their concerns about the future of the ruling party but praised their effort to find a solution.
The President assured them that as the leader of the party, one of his roles is to create an environment for members to vent their grievances.
He said he had noted their concerns over the outcomes of the just concluded party primaries, the threat to the majority held by the APC in the National Assembly and its likely consequences to the fortunes of the party.
While pointing out that there must be a winner and loser in every contest, he revealed that he had been inundated with complaints about the primaries, assuring that he would continue to address the challenges through the party machinery.
He urged party members to exercise restraint, promising that justice would be done.
The President said: “I thank you for the decision to approach me with your concerns over the future of the party and for pursuing a solutions approach for the challenges thrown up by the recent election-related activities, particularly the Primaries.
“As the leader of the party, one of my primary roles is to ensure that our culture of internal democracy and dispute resolution is strengthened by creating the opportunity for members to ventilate their opinions, views and grievances at different levels.
“Notwithstanding the fact that we have accomplished 23 years of uninterrupted democratic governance, our journey is still in a nascent stage and we continue to learn from our challenges and mistakes.
“Similarly our party is still evolving in its culture and practice and it is my expectations and hope that we should attain a mature level in our internal conduct.
“I have noted your grievances particularly as it concerns the just concluded processes. The cost to the nation, the threat to the majority of positions held by our party in the legislative chambers and likely consequent causes to the electoral fortune of the party as we approach the General elections. We must not allow these dire threats to come to pass.
“I must acknowledge that in every contest there must be a level playing ground, just as there would be grievances at the end. That is the test of our democratic credentials, systems and practices.
“I have since the conclusion of the process been inundated with various reports and complaints. In keeping with our ethos therefore I shall continue to address the insuring challenges and grievances through the party machinery while paying keen attention to the outcomes.
“I must also remind you of the primary primacy of justice in all our actions if Justice is denied its outcome is usually unpleasant, this is because you the members keep the party running. I should add that as part of the policy of using the party machinery for effective resolutions of conflict, the chairman and some members of the national working committee visited the National Assembly recently to dialogue with our legislators.
“The leadership of the party is currently addressing the outcomes as part of the way forward. I am encouraging all party functionaries to adhere to the truth and to be fair to all parties in any dispute. This is important because our strength and victory in the election lie in the unity of the party in our ability to prevent or heal any injustice perceived unread.
“I urge you and all party members to exercise restraint and continue to demonstrate commitment to the ideals while we continue to build and develop the party and the country.
“Finally, Let me assure you that Justice shall prevail, aggrieved members shall be assuaged in the interest of the party and the nation shall be protected.’
In his remarks, the leader of the delegation, Chief Whip of the Senate, Sen. Kalu, said at least 22 senators and members of the party were unhappy with the outcome of the primaries in their states, noting that they felt disenfranchised by the process.
He said the legislators had made sacrifices for the growth of the party and democracy in the country, asking for the President’s kind intervention.
“Mr President, in the Senate we have worked hard and consistently sold your programmes beyond party lines. Be assured always of our support,” he added.