The All Progressives Congress, APC, yesterday barred former military Head of State, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, from publicly commenting on his 2015 presidential ambition.
The party gave the order at the first meeting of its national leaders in Abuja, which was attended by the state governors, officers and major stakeholders. The meeting was called to mobilise for nationwide registratioan of new members and solicit the support of members for finance to run the new party.
The leadership also gave its nod to the former governor of Anambra State, Senator Chris Ngige, to carry the flag of the party in the November 16 governorship election.
APC, however, said that the party would still hold primaries in the state.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had last month formally registered APC with the fusing together of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, and Congress for Progressive Change, CPC.
During the question and answer session with newsmen, Buhari was asked to confirm if he would contest the presidential election in 2015 and before he could answer, the party’s Interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, cut in to restrain Buhari.
Akande said: “I overrule Buhari from answering that question. This is my press conference and if anybody wants to declare to contest, he should call his press conference in his house.”
Buhari also declined to comment on the ongoing restructuring in the party, saying that henceforth all questions about the party and its politicies must be directed to the national chairman.
Akande noted that the meeting was to commence the process of sensitising party members and millions of supporters to “who we are and what we stand for, as a party that represents and champions the aspirations of most Nigerian citizens.
He said: “It is common knowledge that our country has for many years now been confronted by fundamental, daunting and multi-dimensional challenges.
“This is clearly indicated by the recurring crises that bedevil its social fabric, political processes, structure of governance, and indeed, its economic and developmental processes. The result is that the nation and its citizenry continue to exist in a state of near permanent trauma.
“The philosophy underpinning the coming into being of the APC, therefore, is the determination to bring the country back from the brink of collapse, despair, and possible disintegration; reposition it decisively on the route to emerging into a modern stable democratic nation, with a productive economy that is based on equity and justice for all citizens.
“This would be attained through the harnessing of the abundant energies, enterprise and intellect of all Nigerians.
“We believe that at the core of the paralysing challenges confronting Nigeria today is the failure of governance, which is manifested in the continuing inability of the Nigerian State to meet the basic requirements and aspirations of the nation and of its citizenry.”
The national chairman, however, said that the task before APC was to create a partnership with the people to decisively change both tone and substance of governance in the country.
“The Nigerian state must not only be strengthened but reconstituted to become the veritable tool of resolving and managing the fundamental challenges confronting the nation.”
He said that such challenges could be broadly categorised to include the challenge of national unity and integration; perennial threats to security, law and order; ensuring rapid economic growth with equity (people centered economic management); protecting and consolidating Nigeria’s emerging democratic tradition.
Others are prioritising human development in health, in education – particularly intensification of mass women education and employment opportunities for all our youths; instituting a sustainable management of the environment; and that Nigeria assumes its proper place in world affairs commensurate with its size and status as the leading black nation in the world.
Akande explained that a large part of the APC’s agenda would centre on the Nigerian youth.
“It is common knowledge that Nigeria’s current population is now constituted in such a manner that, if not carefully handled, would pose the biggest challenge that this country has confronted.
“According to many reliable reports, nearly two thirds of the over 160 million citizens of Nigeria are youth, meaning; people below the age of 35 years. Unfortunately, the process of governance in Nigeria, for all practical purposes, remains impervious to the aspirations of this category of Nigerians.
“Consequently, no priority is assigned to education, job creation, entrepreneurship skills and vocational training that would have turned our youth into truly productive citizens. We in the APC see engagement with the youth on the above as a strategic imperative.”
The highlight the meeting was the announcement by Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha that the party’s Interim Deputy National Chairman, Annie Okonkwo, had stepped down for Ngige for the Anambra State governorship race.
Okorocha, who took the audience by surprise, called out Okonkwo and Ngige to the podium and asked Okonkwo to raise the hand of Ngige, though it was obvious Okonkwo was not happy. Speakers at the gathering commended the unity of purpose in the Anambra project, saying that such development was needed to win the election.
The governor also said that with the APC’s arrival, Nigerians would begin to see true dividends of democracy and that “APC victory come 2015 has come, signed and delivered.”
He, however, called on the leadership of the party to de-emphasise ethnic politics, saying that “it is time for men of integrity to be considered to lead the party and not where he came from.”
Senate Minority Leader, Senator George Akume, said: “You have to join APC because for the first time, change is about to take place, 2015 is a date with destiny, it is a date with history and with APC in government, I believe, we can make a difference in power sector.”
The Chairman of the merger committee, Chief Tom Ikimi, also said APC should not be seen as an opposition party but an alternative party because, “PDP has done 14 years and have failed us but now Nigerians need an alternative.”
Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole also hailed the leadership style of Akande, adding that the party was positioned to take over the leadership of the country from PDP.
Source: National Mirror