From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former interim national chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, has said President Muhammadu Buhari will not get automatic ticket to contest the 2019 presidential poll.
He said this in Ibadan yesterday, while briefing newsmen after a meeting of the leadership of the APC in the South West, held at the Executive Chamber of Oyo State Governor’s Office.
Akande, who was reacting to a question on whether the South West would endorse Buhari for 2019 general elections, said if the president indicates interest to re-contest in 2019, he would have to slug it out with other presidential aspirants in APC for the party’s ticket for the poll.
“He has not told us. Anybody in our party is free to become the president of Nigeria. As soon as they indicate interests, we will set a process through which a candidate will be selected. If he (Buhari) is lucky to have the ticket, then we will have no other thing to do than to present him as our candidate,” Akande said.
The former Osun State governor also dropped a bombshell that the issue of restructuring of Nigeria being agitated for by many people and groups in the country is not in APC’s constitution. He said the party only stands for devolution of functions of the Federal Government to the state and local governments.
Akande said: “Restructuring is not our language. Go and ask those who are advocating restructuring to define it. What I told you just now is devolution of functions from the centre to the peripheral governments – the states and the local governments.
“Restructuring is a language of other bodies and groups of people. You can always direct your questions to them on what they mean by restructuring, whether restructuring in economy or in politics or whatever, go and ask the advocates what they mean by restructuring; that is not in the APC’s manifesto or constitution.
On the significance of the crucial meeting, he said: “We leaders of APC in South West, with our leaders in government, both at the state and national levels, met to review what we decided in our meeting of January, and to see whether the efforts of our leaders in government have been fruitful. We are happy that we have had a very happy meeting and the resolutions are that we are on course. We are happy that our governors and ministers are performing satisfactorily.
Akande said the party would work assiduously to win the forthcoming governorship election in Ekiti State from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
The host governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, while welcoming dignitaries to the meeting, said the gathering was the second leg of the previous one held at the same venue in January, noting that the party has made significant impact on the overall development of the South West region and Nigeria at large.
Ajimobi challenged leaders of the party to continue to work for the development of the region and country in the area of infrastructure development, education and the economy.
Regardless, former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was absent at the meeting
Also absent was Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.
Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole and Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun.
However, Akande gave reasons for Tinubu’s absence, as well as why Fashola, Adewole and Adeosun, were not at the meeting. He explained that Tinubu returned to Nigeria from the United Kingdom on Wednesday morning and had put a helicopter on line to arrive in Ibadan on Thursday afternoon for the meeting that was scheduled to commence by 2:00pm, “but he took a bit ill” yesterday morning.
Akande also explained that Adeosun, Adewole and Fashola excused themselves from the meeting due to a national assignments.
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