2019: Akande’s Comment on APC Presidential Ticket His Personal Opinion – Oyegun
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has said the statement credited to his predecessor, Chief Bisi Akande, that the party’s presidential ticket for 2019 election was open to all was his personal view.
Although Oyegun who had declared in May that the party would give Buhari right of first refusal for the party’s presidential ticket in 2019 was unperturbed by Akande’s remark when responding to a question from Thisday on telephone last night, that was not the situation with some South-west leaders of the party, who were taken aback by the development, as they maintained that the former national chairman of the party spoke outside the agenda and resolutions of the zonal leaders’ meeting.
Akande had at the end of a stakeholders meeting of South-west APC last Thursday, involving governors, National Assembly members, ministers and other party members, held at the Agodi Government House, Ibadan, Oyo State, declared that the presidential ticket of the party was open to all in the 2019 general election.
Responding to a question about the position of the party on Buhari’s speculated second term ambition, Akande had stated thus: “He has not told us he is running in 2019. Anybody in our party is free to become the president of Nigeria as long as he indicates interest. We have a process through which a candidate will be selected. If he is lucky to get the ticket, then we have no option than to present him as our candidate.”
The meeting, which lasted four hours and held in the executive council chambers of the governor’s office, had in attendance Governors Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo State), Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos State), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun State), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo State), former Governors Adebayo Alao-Akala, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Olusegun Osoba, Adeniyi Adebayo, Kayode Fayemi, who is also the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu, Minister of State for Niger Delta, Claudius Daramola, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Lasun Yusuff and House Majority Leader Femi Gbajabiamila, among others.
Speaking last night, Oyegun, who was not keen on commenting, said there was really nothing to say as far as the reportage of Akande’s statement was concerned, because it was his personal position and he had a right to it.
“That’s his personal view. He said what he felt. There is really nothing to comment about – nothing. That is his personal view,” Oyegun said.
But Thisday reports that it learnt last night that the statement had since unsettled the South-west APC as a majority of stakeholders, who attended the Ibadan meeting were dismayed that Akande would go completely off the thrust of the meeting and create avoidable controversy for the party in the zone.
In his reaction to the development, a chieftain of the APC and Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, said regardless of Akande’s view on the party’s presidential ticket for the 2019 election, a majority of the state chapters in South-east have endorsed Buhari for reelection.
Okechukwu said Buhari had “more than a right of first refusal” as far as the 2019 presidential election is concerned.
“Well, Akande was our first interim national chairman and a highly respected elder of the party but Chief Oyegun is today our current national chairman of APC – substantive – so we align with Oyegun’s submission, because he is the current chairman.
“Even some state chapters of the party like Enugu, Ebonyi and Kaduna had endorsed the president for a second tenure. To be honest with you, the good luck is that his miraculous recovery has encouraged us to endorse him. He has more than a right of first refusal.”
Okechukwu, a close ally of President Buhari since his days in the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, spoke to Thisday on telephone last night, noting: “From my understanding of what Chief Akande has said, I think he meant that President Buhari has not formally informed the party and it is only when he tells the party. I don’t think what he is saying is that the issue of the right of first refusal be discountenanced. For me, I am one of those, who is saying we should support him to finish what he is doing to set the nation on a solid foundation.”
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