By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – GOVERNOR Rochas Okorocha of Imo State yesterday said that there will be no automatic ticket for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 election if he decides to seek re-election.
The Governor said that the process that will produce any candidate in the All Progressives Congress, APC, must be democratic and transparent.
Speaking to State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Buhari, the Imo State Governor said though the President was constitutionally qualified to contest, every interested contestants must pass through a transparent and democratic process.
Fielding question whether he was lending his voice to those that were calling on the President to run in 2019, he said there was nothing wrong about that.
He said, “There is nothing wrong. The gentleman is looking much more handsome than even before he went to hospital. He is looking stronger and so he has every right and qualification to contest, there is nothing wrong at all.
“But we don’t allow imposition of candidates, it must be democratically done. If President Buhari will lead the ship in 2019, it must be democratically done and I say democratically done, transparently to the amazement of the whole world, the way it will take place and the way we do our thing in APC.
“President Buhari is qualified constitutionally to run and good thing he is in good health, stronger than he has ever been. I think the hospital he went was a mere exercise to strengthen his nerves and bones.”
Okorocha who is Chairman of the APC Governors Forum otherwise called progressive forum said he was at the State House to see the President on some political issues as it affected the South East geopolitical zone.
He said, “I have come to see Mr. President and to discuss politics as it affects the South East and APC and the way forward and the politics of APC as it also concerns the governance.
“It was a very fruitful meeting was the opinion that more efforts should be made in the South East to really let the people understand the APC roll in Nigeria and in the South East.
“So Mr. President was quite receptive and was quite happy with the the deliberation that we just had upward of 45 minutes.”
On the way forward after the meeting, Okorocha said, “The way forward is that South East before now was not majorly in APC but we have worked out strategies and modalities on how to improve relationship between the people of South East and APC government.
“And that is top on the agenda and the need for Mr. President to come to the South East as quickly as possible to begin to show his presence and luckily Mr. President will come to Ebony soon very soon.
“He will pass through Imo State to Anambra State. So covering three states within this short time is a right step in right direction because we have come to realize in the South East that we are better off in APC than any other party in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Commenting on the agenda that the APC has in the South East to make it stronger in the region, he said, “The agenda we have set is making sure that we bring in more people and the decampees.
“We have more decampees in PDP coming to APC than the number of APC people leaving for PDP. Hardly is there any story of APC people leaving for PDP but we have more PDP coming to APC.
“For instance Ken Nnamani, Orji Uzor Kalu and host of them have joined APC. These are some of the strategies in making sure that APC becomes bigger and bigger in the states.
“And nationally speaking, most Senators and federal House members have jumped into APC. Today we have 24 governors and we are also looking forward to see what happens in Anambra State.
“So, APC is doing very well and our last meeting we had with Mr. President and NEC also restored the hope and the peace in the party and people went home very happy.
“In fact, our party is much stronger than it has ever been in the history even before the last election we had in 2015. The relationship now among the party members and federal government is more cordial now than it had ever been. So we are happy that we are in the right direction and that there is no qualms for 2019.”
On whether he discussed the infrastructural decay in the South East especially on roads, he said, “Yes, definitely we discussed about that and efforts are being made to make sure we fix those infrastructures.
“South East is in dire need of roads seriously above every other thing and the Federal Government has assured us of their presence and action is being taken.
“The Minister of Works has also visited the South East and he gave his words. The challenges we have is not having enough money in the budget but the little they have in budget will commence the work and I am sure by next year we shall have more funds in the budget to address all the road challenges that we have in the South East.
“But so far so good, the South East has every course to be happy that the presidency has remembered the South East. Believe me, he that laughs last may laugh best.”
On the preparation of APC for 2019, he said, “There is no cause for alarm for 2019, everything will be in order. All structures are intact and everybody is working in the right direction.
“We are all together as a family, we have been able to ensure ourselves that APC is a family and we will remain a family and what people have expected, exchange of blows and exchange of words will not happen. We are in peace, we are one, we are so united that we have never been.”