By Chesa Chesa
The All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors on Wednesday declared that they were not jittery over the emergence of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to challenge President Muhammadu Buhari in next year’s election.
Atiku was elected by the PDP as its standard bearer during the party’s national convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State last weekend; and Buhari camp has since responded with a series of caustic campaigns against the ex-VP.
The Chairman of the APC Governors’ Forum and governor of Imo State Owelle Rochas Okorocha spoke to State House correspondents shortly after he led four other governors to a closed-door meeting with Buhari over the party’s primaries that ended last weekend, many of them in controversies.
The other governors were Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi), Rochas Okorocha (Imo); Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano); Kashim Shettima (Borno); and Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos). Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, also attended the meeting.
Expressing confidence in the chances of Buhari being re-elected in 2019, Okorocha said that the governors and the APC had no reason to be perturbed over Atiku’s emergence because the President had done well to deserve a second term.
“We can’t be jittery; and history is there to speak. History is very important and it is there to speak. We are not going to engage in verbal war with anybody, we will be talking about issues. If we say look, you are not good, we tell you what we can do and we cannot do and what others cannot do.
“APC is not going to join in those talkshop but right now, we are discussing issues of what our party can do for our people,” the governor stated.
He stressed that “our campaign this time will not engage in castigations or talking. We will be taking on issues; Nigerians are tired of political abuses. What we want to be talking about are issues, the track records of people involved in our elections.
“Nigerians are very wise now, before they elect anybody they will ask questions, what has been your track records, who were you before, who are you now and everything about you. And for that reason we are confident that in 2019, APC will go through.”
On the party primaries, Okorocha admitted that some of them were contentious enough to require the President’s intervention and that they raised the issue with him.
Nonetheless, he enthused that the APC would resolve all the issues and go into the 2019 polls united and formidable.
“We are talking about reconciliation, what is important to us is that we must never go into this battle, a divided family and we want to make sure that all governors are intact, all National Assembly members are intact while going into this battle. We will never speak differently; we will speak as members of the party. Zamfara State (crisis) is one of the issues that we have addressed also.”
He also said that the governors had come to Aso Rock not only to congratulate Buhari for being elected as the APC presidential candidate, but to also request for a date when they would bring all the party’s governorship candidates to him to show their readiness for the 2019 political battles.
Also speaking on the outcome of the meeting, the SGF, Boss Mustapha, harped on the need for reconciliation among warring parties within the party as well the efforts in motion “to ensure that we quickly heal the wounds and bring the family together for a greater task ahead”.
He added that the campaigns would “not be a noisy campaign, and anybody that is preparing for noise should be prepared to receive defeat in February of 2019; a reason for which he had earlier in the day at cabinet meeting launched a 1,042-page compendium of the policies, programmes and projects initiated and implemented by the Buhari government in two and half years.
A day earlier, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State also met with the President, while Governor Jubrilla Bindow of Adamawa State met with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo over similar issues issues of primaries controversies. Both governors declined to speak with journalists afterwards.
Nine APC governors started the avalanche of visits last Thursday when they met with Buhari over primary elections in their states.
That day, Okorocha told journalists that the governors were just keen to see that the “right thing” be done so as to sustain justice and fairness in the party.