President Muhammadu Buhari has urged leaders and members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to channel their energies toward improving the fortunes of the party in the coming elections by avoiding squabbling that easily distracts and creates disharmony.
The president made the call when he received the APC National Assembly leadership at the State House, Abuja on Thursday.
The president had met the APC governors and the national chairmanship aspirants separately on Wednesday over the proposed convention.
Mr Buhari reminded them of the proximity of the election dates set by INEC, admonishing that positions should be harmonised with a bigger picture of winning elections and providing good governance.
“As you all know, the National Convention of our party, which we have committed to, is holding on March 26. And we cannot afford to do anything that will jeopardise the chances of the party in the 2023 General Elections.
“The limited time frame of the INEC time table does not permit us any room for delay or further squabbling. We must therefore in the light of this reality consistently keep our eyes on the ball and refuse any distraction.
“A critical segment of our national democratic process is the National Assembly.
“Being representatives of our people from all over the country, the National Assembly especially the 9th Assembly has exhibited commitment to a peaceful democratic process in its conduct and utmost maturity in its relationship with other arms of government, I commend you, the leadership for this success,” he said.
He added: “Distinguished Senators and Honourable Members, we have an obligation to conduct the upcoming convention in a manner that not only fortifies the unity of our party but also improves the prospects of our electoral fortunes in the 2023 general elections.
“You have an important role to play in ensuring that this happens.”
Mr Buhari told the lawmakers that a zoning template was produced and adopted by the party after wide consultations in order to ensure that the leadership was reflective of the country ‘s diversity, while representing various dynamic interests.
“It is imperative that we adhere to that template.
“The time available to us is limited and I therefore enjoin you to collaborate with the various stakeholders within and outside your respective states and zones to agree to work together and harmoniously in electing into the allotted positions appropriately, as stipulated in the provided template.
“This will not only produce a smooth process and limit friction but will enhance the image of the party positively and strengthen our overall position of dominance in the political space,’’ he said.
The president said he met with the governors and the party national chairmanship aspirants on Wednesday, to reiterate the need to go into the convention with a united front.
“It is the same reason why I invited you today.
“We should all do our part to ensure the success of this convention. This will fortify us for the campaigns ahead of us,” Mr Buhari said.
The APC lawmakers were led to the meeting by Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila of the House of Representatives.
The Senate President, who spoke to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, said it was held at the instance of the Nigerian leader to ensure a rancour-free convention as well as remain focused in delivering development projects to Nigerians.
He said the National Assembly had also resolved to work towards the emergence of consensus candidates to ensure smooth convention.
The resolution is coming ahead of Saturday’s National convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said the president emphasised the need for party members to be united ahead of the convention, adding that it was a very important exercise for the party.
“This is not what we’re used to in the legislature. The president, our leader of the party, the All Progressives, Congress in the country, and beyond, invited the principal officers of the APC in the National Assembly, to hold today’s meeting with us.
“The President emphasised the need for us, in the APC to be united, always acting as a family, to ensure that we remain focused. We have the leadership of Nigeria today at the national level and of course, we have many states, about 22 states, under the leadership of the APC.
“We have 22 states and then control of the federal government that requires that APC as a political party remains very focused, energetic, and purposeful, as it has always been, and ensures that we maintain the trajectory of development for our country. Because that is the trust Nigerians gave us in 2015 and renewed that, in 2019.
“Mr President also emphasised the need for us to ensure that we have a successful convention on March 26.
“This convention, by way of emphasis, is a very important convention for us in the APC, and by the grace of God, through our processes and procedures, at different levels of the party, the convention would be a very successful one and very peaceful one,” he said.
He expressed the hope that the party would achieve consensus for all its positions at the national level before Saturday.
He affirmed that their meeting with the president had galvanised them to do more for the nation.
“I want to say that this meeting with the President has given us more energy.
“We believe that there is a father, at least in our party, there is a president who will ensure that once there are disagreements, he is able to call everybody to order and ensure that the family continues to remain united and that is what we have been able to achieve over the years.
“Well, I don’t want to be very partisan but of course, when you have a father in the family and a mother, then you’re likely to have a stable family.
“And when you have only one or none in the family, you are not likely to be successful, the family is likely to be disunited, and that is what other political parties probably are facing.
“And I want to add here, finally, to say that we are committed to ensuring that this political party does not only have a successful convention, but a very successful, peaceful and safe electioneering campaigns during 2022/2023 general campaigns and the general elections, by the grace of God,’’ Mr Lawan said.
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