A national leader of the All Progressives Congress says President Muhammadu Buhari asked him to reconcile feuding and aggrieved members because the ruling party is no longer where it was when it won the 2015 general elections.
Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State, said this on Wednesday before meeting, behind closed-doors, the party’s National Working Committee at its National Secretariat in Abuja.
He said the party came into power with a lot of expectations and goodwill some of which have dissipated. He said he was at the secretariat to consult and seek opinions on how to reconcile and move the party forward.
“I am here to consult since you are already aware of the directive and announcement of the President who is the leader of our party and the President of this country.
“First, let me sympathise with our National Vice Chairman’ North Central for the various incidents happening around that corridor and extend our condolences on behalf of the people and our party and equally condole you on the death of John Shagaya, a very great national patriot. May his soul Rest In Peace and may God bring peace to Benue, Taraba, Plateau and to the country as a whole, including Nasarawa and all other places being affected by the age-old system that we are now currently facing the challenges of.”
On the friction in the party, he said the solution was to seek opinions and advice of members “on the various complex issues around some states or if there is any national one, to reconcile, move the party in a cohesive manner and reposition if any and build the confidence among ourselves.”
He said he was prepared to listen to various views on the challenges the party has.
“After the last convention of the party, congresses were held from various wards to elect representatives from the ward, local government and states levels as well as the national level.
“We worked hard for victory. We have never govern before, but we won the confidence of Nigerians to govern. We have a creed to really serve the country, change and reform the country. It is not easy to have those changes implemented like instant coffee. We have to grow it and face challenges. I sympathize with us and we should equally look at ourselves.”
“The challenges faced by our government and the President is enormous. It is only because people are not paying attention to the various statistics that are available and we have to push that. I won’t touch those areas yet.
“The challenges of security, the challenges of reforms and re-engineering the finances of this country, stopping the corruption and challenging the status quo to change and reform ourselves is there. It doesn’t go away over night. You work on and work hard at it.
“For us, we have been patient, we have persevered to having this victory, but how are we now? We should equally face the immediate, medium and serious challenges that politically, we will be facing. I believe that our party is the hope of Nigeria to improve quality of lives and we will do that.”
The National Chairman of the party, John Odigie-Oyegun, while welcoming Mr. Tinubu, said his visit was important as it would unify the party behind one objective.
“Your visit is very significant in view of your Presidential assignment which I will describe as a peace ambassador, to heal wounds where the party has wounds and bring everybody together behind one single objective, which is the APC being in good condition to be a fighting political force such that in 2019, the election will become virtually a runaway victory for the party.
“There is no question at all that we have major issues with the National Assembly, major issues in Kano, Kogi, Benue states which the current challenge that we are facing. So, we truly welcome your appointment and I want to say that we will give you all the assistance that you will possibly need to make your assignment a most successful one.”
After the meeting, he asked by journalists how he planned to go about the reconciliation task given to him.
“We are in the building of APC national secretariat and we have a spokesperson,” he said. “I just made a personal appearance to you out of respect. I will handover to the spokesperson of the party. Those personal questions come another day.”
Addressing the press after Mr. Tinubu left, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Bolaji Abdulahi, said the party was ready to work with Mr. Tinubu on his assignment.
“In this meeting we made it clear that we want to work together and the National Chairman said in whatever way we need to support in this assignment.”
The terms of reference of Mr. Tinubu, according to the publicity secretary, was to reconcile members and build the party towards 2019.
“To look at areas across the country where we have issues, to reconcile members and to build the party to move forward ahead of 2019 election.”
Speaking on who will work with Mr. Tinubu in his assignment, Mr Abdullahi said: “He has been given the assignment and he will determine how to run it and we have decided to work with him.”