A former acting chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bisi Akande, on Thursday in Ibadan said President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to inform South-west leaders of the party that he would recontest in 2019.
Mr. Akande also said that Mr. Buhari, a member of the ruling party, will have to contest with other members interested in the slot to secure the party’s nod.
Mr. Akande spoke on Thursday at the meeting of the APC South-west leaders at the executive chambers of the Oyo State governor’s office in Ibadan.
The former governor and chairman of the meeting also spoke with journalists on national issues at the end of the deliberations.
Responding to a question on whether the party would support the president’s re-election, he said the decision ”will be taken at the appropriate time and that the president hasn’t said anything about a re-run.”
“He has not told us that he is contesting again. Anybody in our party is free to become the President of Nigeria. As soon as they indicate interest, we will set a process through which a candidate is elected. If he (Buhari) is lucky to have the ticket, we will present him as our candidate.”
He also said South-west leaders of the party are advocating for devolution of powers from the centre to the states and local governments.
“The APC leaders from the South-west, together with our members in government at the state and the national levels, met to review what we decided at the last meeting in January 2017 and to see whether the efforts of our leaders in government have been fruitful. We are happy that we have had a happy meeting. Our governors and ministers are performing satisfactorily,” Mr. Akande added.
Mr. Akande also made a demarcation between the terms, restructuring and devolution of powers.
“Restructuring is not our language, go and ask those who are advocating (for) restructuring to define it. What we want is devolution of functions from the centre to the states and the local governments. Restructuring is the language of ‘other groups of people.’ Restructuring is not in the APC constitution or manifesto,”
Speaking of the upcoming Osun and Ekiti governorship elections, Mr. Akande said the party is ready to put an end to the reign of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Ekiti State particularly.
He, however, said the meeting was “focused on governance and not electoral matters of any kind.”
“We tried to review our position and we are poised to see, as a party, what we will be able to do to have Ekiti State back. We are concerned about the services of our government to the people rather than electoral matters. The decision of this meeting is about how to advise the government to allow the states that have land to practise agriculture and improve on their education.”
In his opening address, the governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi said the meeting presented a legitimate platform for the leaders to reconnect with their political roots.
“Our meeting today presents a veritable ground for us to reconnect with our political roots and keep re-engaging ourselves as people whom nature has entrusted with the political leadership of the region at this material time. Similarly, it is to reconnect to the ideals that are germane to the progress of our people and by extension, to the growth and development of Nigeria.”
He said after more than two years of the APC in government at the national level, it was vital to reflect on what the party’s performance so far had been and what they have been able to achieve.
“It is only natural for us, particularly in the South-west region, to take time off to reflect on the journey so far and compare what we promised to deliver to our people in the country in general and the South-west region in particular, with what we have indeed been able to deliver.”
Present at the meeting apart from the Oyo state governor were Rotimi Akeredolu, governor Ondo state; Rafiu Aregbesola, Osun State governor and governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode.
Also present was the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun; former Oyo State governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala; former Osun State governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola; Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yussuf Lasun; and the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu.
A national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu, was absent at the meeting.