At a meeting, Sunday night, with members of the National Advisory Council of the All Progressives Congress (APC), at the State House, Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari, appraised the series of consultations held so far towards getting a widely acceptable presidential standard bearer, and concluded, the party was on its way to winning its third straight victory since 2015.
Speaking at a meeting convened to provide leadership and direction during the transition period, the president, who added that the motive was “to strengthen our unity and to focus on building upon our electoral fortunes,” also promised to sustain national unity and cohesion in the party.
“I am optimistic that the outcome of this consultation with the National Advisory Council will in addition to sharpening our focus, help to fortify the positive democratic principles, practices and culture that already exists within the party system.
“In the course of these consultative processes, I have already met separately with the Progressive Governors and with all our eminent members who are aspiring to become the Presidential flag bearer for our party during the 2023 elections.
“I am pleased to inform you that those meetings have been fruitful and indicative of a party that is prepared and marching towards a third straight victory since 2015, at the presidential polls,” he said.
Buhari recalled that at the meeting with the governors and the aspirants, “I underscored the important roles consensus building and consultation have played in the survival of successful political parties around the world, adding that our party should not be an exception.
“Recognising the foregoing, therefore, I also emphasised the need to strengthen our unity, stabilize our internal cohesion and system as well as present a formidable Presidential candidate who has the ability to build a unified nation and the capacity to deal with our challenges.
“The party machinery has also screened all our aspirants to the office of the President and found that they consist of eminent personalities, rich in experience, capacity, commitment to service and accomplishment in life. This gives us a lot of confidence but it also comes with its challenges.”
He said in the circumstances, in order to prevent any post-convention acrimonies and also reduce noticeable anxiety among members on the possible outcome of the process, the party leadership has recommended the intensification of consultation and consensus building to reduce the number of aspirants as it approaches the convention, which commences Monday , June 6, 2022.
Also, to further support the efforts of the party, the president said he has admonished the aspirants to consult among themselves and with the party, so that the objective of the recommendation by the leadership would be actualized.
And as members of the National Advisory Council of the APC, the president claimed torecognise the fact that they all had diverse interests, spheres of influence and expectations.
“You similarly possess the collective ability to ensure our victory at the 2023 polls by strengthening the stability and unity of the party.
“My charge and appeal to all of you, therefore, is to reach out to your various spheres of influence to actively promote the spirit of consultation and consensus building so that a formidable candidate for the 2023 Presidential elections would emerge from the convention. Our citizens do not expect less from us.”
Buhari assured them as he did to the governors and the aspirants, that in the interest of the nation and the party, he would lead the transition processes and on-going consultations, “till we successfully choose our candidate for the 2023 presidential elections and record our third straight victory, thereafter, by God’s grace.”
They were unanimous that with hard work and a united front, the APC would win the presidential election billed for February next year, as well National Assembly, governorship, and State Assembly polls.
At another meeting with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; the leadership of the National Assembly including the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila and other prominent members of the ruling party, the president used the occasion to press ahead with his desire to achieve a consensus on the race for the party’s presidential ticket before the convention.
“Looking at this assemblage of personalities and considering your rich pedigree of accomplishments in life, I have come to the conclusion that our party, the APC, is rich in human resources and also that our nation is blessed with capable people that can successfully steer the ship of state into the future,” Buhari stated.
He said with his firsthand knowledge of the demands of the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the expectations of the citizens, “I must salute your courage and your selfless spirit, in volunteering to serve in the highest office of the land.
“Our party, the APC, has won two successive presidential elections in 2015, first when we were in the opposition and in 2019, when I sought re-election. Both processes were achieved through unity of purpose, strategic alignment, consultation, fairness, determination and effective leadership. In both instances, national and party interests were overriding factors in our deliberations and decision-making.
“The 2023 general election are fast approaching in a global, regional and national environment that is constantly changing and challenging. This demands that our party should become more aware of the changing environment, be responsive to the yearnings of our citizens, re-evaluate our strategy and strengthen our internal mechanism so that we would sustain the electoral successes.
“I am pleased to note that the party, recognising the significance of all these demands, has over time developed several democratically acceptable processes and policies, that promote consultation, internal cohesion and leadership to facilitate victories at the polls.”
The President recalled the consultation he had held with stakeholders “that would help the electoral fortunes of our party, beginning with the State Governors. This is the second in the series and I still look forward to meeting with party stakeholders. These steps are being taken to ensure that the unity and cohesion of the party are sustained and to provide direction.
“Among others things, I reminded the APC Governors of the need for the party to proceed to the 2023 Presidential elections with strength, unity of purpose and to present a flag bearer,who will give Nigerians a sense of hope and confidence, while ensuring victory for our party. I extend a similar reminder to all of you distinguished aspirants.”
Saying the APC would today commence its national convention during, which one candidate will be picked by delegates to fly the flag of the party for the 2023 presidential election, President Buhari said, he was aware that there was anxiety among party members about the outcome of the process.
“Given these circumstances, I charge you to recognise the importance of the stability and unity of the party, which cannot be overemphasised. Similarly, I wish to remind you that our choice of flag bearer must be formidable, appealing to the electorate across the board and should command such ability to unify the country and capacity to address our critical challenges.
“Ahead of the Convention, the party machinery has screened and found all aspirants eminently qualified. Recognising this fact, the Screening Committee has, among others, recommended that consensus building through consultation, be intensified. Without prejudice to your qualifications, I urge all of you to hold consultations amongst yourselves and with the party, with a view to building a consensus in a manner that would help the party reduce the number of aspirants, bring up a formidable candidate and scale down the anxiety of party members.”
The president, therefore, assured that in the interest of the nation and the party, he would continue to provide effective leadership during the transition processes and on-going consultations, “until we successfully make the choice on the candidate that will fly the flag of our party for the presidential elections and make the party stronger. I seek your support in this all important responsibility.”
Earlier, Adamu promised that all stakeholders of the party would be reached in the consultation process.
Responding on behalf of the aspirants, former Governor of old Abia State and immediate past Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu; Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, thanked President Buhari for his leadership and guidance, pledging that they would hold the consultations as counseled “for the unity and strength of our party, the APC.”