Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State and chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum has absolved President Muhammadu Buhari of wrongdoing in the All Progressive Congress virtual NEC meeting held on Thursday in Abuja
Mr Bagudu said this while fielding questions from reporters on Monday in Birnin Kebbi.
President Muhammadu Buhari recently hosted the meeting of an organ of a political party in the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja, the first leader to do so, drawing widespread criticisms.
But the governor said the president did not violate any constitutional provision at the meeting, contrary to the opinions of some public commentators.
He said that the country’s Constitution provided that the president must be a member of a political party before becoming the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“It is that party that sponsors people and has obligation for anybody, who is a president, who contested on its platform.
“Hence belonging to a political party is not partisanship.
“This is created by the qualifying section of the constitution, without which he/she cannot even contest the presidency or any political position.
“So, this partisanship, if belonging to a political party can be described as such, is constitutional as it is imposed upon us by the constitution,’’ he said.
The governor said President Buhari would have possibly won if the law had allowed him to contest as an independent candidate because of his popularity.
“But unfortunately, the Nigerian Constitution necessitates that aspirants can only contest on a party’s platform and Buhari contested on such platform, won and took oath of office.
“I don’t know of any sentence in that oath of office that could have been violated by the president, attending a political party meeting in a virtual manner.
“The COVID-19 pandemic made the president to adjust his itineraries and activities so that he can participate in meetings across the country, as part of his official duties and obligation to a political party in a virtual manner.
“We should all remember that were the meeting to have held at APC headquarters, the president would have attended and that is not partisanship.
“The president has to attend the activities of his political party and he has to pay his dues for being a member of the political party.
“So, when circumstances had dictated that he participated in the virtual meeting and in a place set for him to participate, as he had been participating in many virtual events, it is unfair to call it a violation of the constitution.’’
On the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami’ s role in the APC swearing-in the Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee, Governor Mai Buni of Yobe, Mr Bagudu said the action had also not violated any law.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Malami, on Thursday, swore-in members of the caretaker and convention planning committee of the APC, an act some observers say violates the party’s constitution.
“He (Malami) fully complied with Nigeria’s Constitution. Nothing stops him as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) to administer oath of office.
“As a law officer in the country, he stood to administer the oath to the chairman and if the opposition party invites him for such action, he will definitely discharge his duty as a SAN.
“Also, he fully complied with the constitution of Nigeria because he belonged to a political party before becoming a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,’’ Mr Bagudu said.