The presidency has defended the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to hold a meeting of his political party inside the Council Chamber of the State House, Abuja.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Buhari became Nigeria’s first president to hold a party meeting in the chamber which was historically used for prominent official government functions.
Built by the Ibrahim Babangida military administration in the early 90’s as part of the Presidential Villa, otherwise called Aso Rock, the expansive chamber hosts the meetings of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), National Council of State, National Economic Council and National Security Council, all of which are purely governmental affairs.
Presidents also host their visitors in the chamber.
In an apparent response to the story and criticism of the action by the main opposition party, PDP, presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, defended Mr Buhari in a statement released Sunday evening.
Mr Shehu argued that the All Progressives Congress National Executive Council meeting held in the chamber was largely virtual and only a few members were physically present inside the chamber.
He also argued that there was no law banning the president from holding any kind of meeting inside the council chambers.
“Since the President lives in the Villa, no one can, legally speaking, choose or dictate to him where he can sit to hold meetings,” Mr Shehu said.
Read Mr Shehu’s full statement below.
APC NEC HELD A VIRTUAL MEETING, NOT A PHYSICAL ONE AT COUNCIL CHAMBER
It is necessary that we put records in their correct perspective concerning the recent meeting held by the National Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress, APC, which has, unfortunately drawn criticism due to lack of understanding.
The stubborn opinion held by the critics of the administration is that President Muhammadu Buhari had called a political meeting in the “hallowed” chamber of the Federal Executive Council, as if there is a law that says the President is barred from holding meetings in certain sections of the vast Presidential Villa.
Since the President lives in the Villa, no one can, legally speaking, choose or dictate to him where he can sit to hold meetings. So, what is wrong in the President presenting himself before a camera and a TV screen in a digital conference at a given location within the Villa?
Just for the sake of the argument, this meeting, we say emphatically, was not convened at the Council Chamber. It was virtual, not a physical meeting.
Why was it a virtual meeting? The idea was to observe social distancing in view of health concerns. Knowing how small the conference hall of the party is, social distancing would only have been observed in the breach.
President Buhari was billed to address the meeting from his office (just any of his offices) and chose the Council Chamber where the digital facilities are located, and other members, including the bulk of National Executive Committee members, state party leaders and members of the National Assembly were all linked using video conference calls. You saw them all on TV.
Yes, it is true that Governors and leaders of the National Assembly joined the President from the Chamber from where he spoke. But the larger body of the members in attendance were all connected via video calls.
Do not forget that these are not the normal times in view of the COVID-19 circumstances in which we have found ourselves. President Buhari placed health and safety above courtesy to the party by not going to its headquarters.
In the end, a wise thing had been done because the President wants to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus disease.
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
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