Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
• President asks APC warring factions to reconcile differences
A National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu has denied claims that he has been making demands of President Muhammadu Buhari on whom the latter should appoint to his government.
Speaking to State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa last night after breaking fast with the president, Tinubu said he respects Buhari and remains loyal to him.
Ostensibly, the dinner with the president was held in furtherance of the peace initiatives by the ruling party to reconcile the warring factions in the National Assembly.
APC lawmakers in both chambers of the federal legislature have been at loggerheads since the elections last month that threw up Senator Bukola Saraki as Senate President and Hon. Yakubu Dogara as Speaker of the House of Representatives, in defiance of the preferred nominees of the party for the posts.
The former Lagos State governor said: “I have no demands. If you understand what party politics and leadership is all about, it is about loyalty and commitment to the values, which the leadership believes in.
“I believe in what the president believes in. I respect him and I stand firmly loyal to his cause. So you can go to any length of speculation that you might want, I have not responded to all of that because I understand the president and the president understands me clearly.”
When asked about the crises in the National Assembly, Tinubu was evasive in his response, stating: “That is an area where I am very cautious of my position and my utterances. I still want to keep my side of the interpretation or analysis to be able to achieve a resolution of the matter as quickly as possible.”
He stated that he was in support of what the president had carefully enumerated and articulated to the party on the issue, adding: “The party is supreme. The party must have disciplined leadership and followers. The party’s process must be respected because that is the confidence and the trust of the people.
“However in every environment, we could have conflicts and conflict resolution mechanisms would be applied to resolve all the problems so we are there.
“There is honour in every struggle and every competition, there must be honour in victory too.”
Tinubu also asked Nigerians to ignore the claim by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that Buhari was too slow, adding that Buhari could not be expected to clean up the mess left behind by the PDP’s 16 years of bad governance in 30 days.
“We are different, we cannot be PDP, we are APC, we will not repeat their mistakes. We know their mistakes, errors, we understand what Nigeria wanted and Nigerians gave this party victory because of our manifesto,” he said.
“We are pro-people, we are progressives. We have had a conservative government in the last 16 years, this is a progressive party, just coming in barely 30 days.
“We understand the hopes of Nigerians, we understand the expectations of Nigerians, we believe in that expectation and in our promise of prosperity to the people. We will not change that,” he said.
Buhari, during the dinner with the APC leaders, which also had the former Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi and Publisher of the Leadership newspaper, Sam Nda-Isaiah in attendance, appealed to the warring members of the APC to reconcile their differences in order for the party to deliver on its campaigns to the electorate.
He also called on them to exert their influence both in the party and the country, in order for the party to achieve its campaign manifestos of addressing security, economy, employment and corruption.
He recalled the difficulties the party went through to emerge strong enough to dislodge the PDP, and asked the APC stalwarts to bury their differences and unite for the sake of the country.
Buhari commended Tinubu for his support and words of encouragement, noting that it was important to reflect on their journey in order for them to appreciate how lucky they are as a political group.
He said: “I always like to go down memory lane to show how lucky we are as a political group. At no stage was the decision taken by chance, it was all deliberate.
“The leaders of the parties felt the only way to wrest power from the PDP was for us to come together. I in particular was scared after previous failures in the elections of 2003, 2007 and 2011.
“We dissolved our various parties to form APC then we applied to INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission), for once I was grateful to INEC.
“We had gone with nine people to INEC to apply and INEC advised us that we needed at least 25 people across the country to form a political party. We were able to go back and raised 35 members across the country and then successfully registered the party.
“INEC then informed the federal government that we had met the requirements, hence we could not be denied registration. Many doubting Thomases said a merger had never succeeded in Nigeria but here we are.”
Buhari explained that he decided to go down memory lane so that the party’s leaders would appreciate how far they had come, adding: “For a society as ours, if we respect the constitution, then all the greed and problems will be a thing of the fast.”
“We should just look at Nigeria as Nigerians, no matter the level you are, lose your influence so that we can help achieve the manifestos – security, economy, employment and corruption, because if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria. We have to ensure that people we bring forward are those that will move the society forward,” he said.
Responding, Tinubu described the APC as the armoured personnel carrier (APC), saying it represented the diversity of Nigeria.
While thanking Buhari for the opportunity to break fast with him and for bringing together people for various background regardless of religious affiliations, he said: “We believe this diversity will continue to propel us for economic growth under your leadership.
“This is the first Ramadan after the election, we thank God for cutting down the opponents’ 60 years of fake promises to 16 years.
“I heard them say we are slow. Yes, we didn’t campaign to be fire fighters, but planners and meticulous ones at that. A latrine pit of 16 years can’t be cleaned up in 30 days because the mess is much.
“Mr. President you started well, you hit the ground running. You promised Nigerians that you will address security and your first meeting to ECOWAS was on security because we cannot fight it alone.
“You have been to other places; if they think it is a game of Ludo, we will say it is serious business. If they forgot G7 we will remind them.
“We have faith in you Mr. President, we have faith in your capacity and uprightness. I’m here filled up and not fed up.
“We promise to continue to be with you and support you, no matter what they are saying we are not re-running the election until four years time.
“We pray to God to give us four more years of this month and pray to Him to forgive our misdeeds and for peace and stability.”
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