President Muhammadu Buhari has said the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) would sustain the hearing and healing process that it started to ensure fairness, justice and oneness before the 2023 general elections.
In an audience with some APC senators Tuesday in Abuja on the outcome of the party primaries and its implications, the President noted that complaints were received by some members, and machinery had been put in place by the National Working Committee (NWC) to address their various concerns.
Of recent, the APC fortune dwindled in the Senate over gradual loss of the party’s majority after losing seven senators to the opposition parties.
Tension also heightened over rumoured bid of 18 other senators to defect to other political parties as a demonstration of the lawmakers’ angst over the conduct of the party primaries.
Pleading with the aggrieved lawmakers, however, President Buhari assured them that justice would be done to all.
“In keeping with our ethos, therefore, I shall continue to address the ensuing challenges and grievances through the party machinery while paying keen attention to the outcomes.
“I must also remind you of the primacy of justice in all our actions. If justice is denied, the outcome is usually unpleasant.
“This is because you are the members who keep the party running. I should add that as part of the policy of using the party machinery for effective resolution of conflict, the Chairman and some members of the National Working Committee visited the National Assembly recently to dialogue with our legislators.
“The leadership of the party is currently addressing the outcomes as part of the way forward. I am encouraging all the party functionaries to adhere to the truth and to be fair to all parties in any dispute,’’ he said.
The President told the APC senators that the strength and victory of the party in the election would depend on unity of members and ability to prevent injustices or heal them, perceived or real.
“As the leader of the party, one of my primary roles is to ensure that our culture of internal democracy and dispute resolution is strengthened by creating the opportunity for members to ventilate their opinions, views and grievances at different levels.
“Notwithstanding the fact that we have accomplished 23 years of uninterrupted democratic governance, our journey is still in a nascent stage and we continue to learn from our challenges and mistakes. Similarly, our party is still evolving in its culture and practices and it is my expectation and hope that we shall attain a mature level in our internal conduct,” Buhari further said.
The President urged party members to exercise restraint and continue to demonstrate commitment to the ideals, while the leadership continues to build and develop the APC and the country.
“I have noted your grievances particularly as it concerns the just concluded processes, the cost to the nation, the threat to the majority position held by our party in the legislative chambers and likely consequent cost to the electoral fortunes of our party as we approach the general elections. We must not allow these dire threats to come to pass.
“I must acknowledge that in every contest, there must be a level playing ground just as there would be grievances at the end. That is the test of our democratic credentials, systems and practices. I have since the conclusion of the processes been inundated with various reports and complaints,’’ he said.
The President assured that “justice shall prevail, aggrieved members shall be assuaged and the interest of the party and the nation shall be protected.’’
He thanked the senators for suggesting a meeting on the issues, which include the future of the party and pursuing solutions to the challenges thrown up by the recent election related activities, particularly, the primaries.
In his remarks, leader of the delegation and Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, said at least 22 senators and members of the party were unhappy with the outcome of the primaries in their states, stressing that they felt disenfranchised by the process.
He said the legislators had made sacrifices for the growth of the party and democracy in the country, asking for the President’s kind intervention.
“Mr. President, in the Senate we have worked hard and consistently sold your programmes beyond party lines. Be assured always of our support,’’ he said.
Speaking further on the outcome of the meeting through a signed statement, Senator Kalu said the aggrieved lawmakers would no longer pursue defection from the APC.
“Earlier this afternoon, I led the 22 aggrieved senators and members of the All Progressive Congress to President Muhammad Buhari, GCFR.
“Our meeting with Mr. President was successful and the issue of decamping from our party has been laid to rest,” he said.
Uzodinma on Tinubu’s certificate
Meanwhile, Imo state Governor Hope Uzodinma has said there was no need for the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to make fresh submission of his credentials if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) record keeping was efficient and its server functional.
The governor said this Tuesday in Abuja while fielding questions from State House correspondents after a thank-you-visit to President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the hosting of Army Day celebration in Owerri.
“For my presidential candidate, the issue of certificates shouldn’t even arise. In 1999, he contested elections and became the governor of Lagos; in 2003 he contested election as second term governor of Lagos.
“He ran and won as a senator in the country. Where record keeping is efficient, and INEC server is functional, he doesn’t need to do fresh submission.
“However, if whatever he is supposed to submit is not handy, it is not late yet. I’m sure before the time he will submit whatever is required of him,” he said.
On the hosting of the 2022 Nigerian Army Day celebration, the governor said the event would help address the security challenges in the state.
“Basically, I came to see the President to thank him for his gracious approval for Army Day celebrations to be held in Owerri, Imo state, South-East of the country.
“That of course you know will help strengthen the measures that are already on ground to curtail the effects and excesses of banditry and insecurity in the region.
“So for me, it is a good thing and for the people of Imo state, we are indeed very delighted over that. Basically, that is why I am here and the President is also very comfortable with the visit,” he said.
The governor called on bandits and trouble makers in the state to surrender or be dealt with.
“Only two days ago, I called on the criminal gangs operating in any part of Imo state; the unknown gunmen, bandits who are hiding one way or the other in our forests and the bush to come out.
“I granted a 10-day period during which if they laid down their arms, we will grant them pardon. As of this morning, I am told that some people are already surrendering their arms and it is a good development,” the governor said.
Commenting on the general security in the South-East, he said all the governors in the region were working in synergy to address the problem.
He said the sit-at-home order issued by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) was not effective in Imo state.
Uzodinma said: “We the governors in the South-East are all working to ensure that security is guaranteed, for people to go about their businesses. The sit at home order is not operational in Imo State neither is it working in Owerri, the state capital.
“Really, it is still in operation in some parts of the South-East but the governors are also working in synergy to ensure that it becomes a thing of the past,” he said.
On the recent call by the Governor of Zamfara state, Bello Matawalle, on the citizens of the state to acquire guns for self-protection, the Imo State Governor said there was no need for such.
“The situation in Imo is not the same with that in Imo State. However, on the Governor’s call for individuals to apply for licenses, I think the authorities will only give licenses to a qualified and a legible candidate.
“I don’t think there is a need for individuals or unauthorized people to carry arms. The situation in Imo state is currently being managed and we have seen relative peace for the past weeks in Imo and normal businesses have incrementally resumed in Imo State.
“I am not in Zamfara state to know the s there but I don’t think that the security situation in Zamfara state or any other part of the country is beyond our security agencies. In Imo State, the security agencies have risen to the occasion, they are working in synergy and the situation has been controlled to a barest minimum.”
The governor also condemned recent attacks and the kidnapping of some clergymen.
“Regrettably, of recent, some Catholic Priests became victims of the banditry saga in Nigeria. It is an unfortunate and condemnable. It is not as if other people being killed are not important but we detest any form of violence or taking of lives.
“The Church condemns that and Islam is also against that, likewise our local traditions and I am calling on security agencies to do everything humanly possible to fish out those who are behind this and bring them to book,” he said.