As Buhari commences campaigns in Bauchi tomorrow
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA—Ahead of tomorrow’s flag-off of President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign rallies, the President was, yesterday, locked in a strategy meeting with his Presidential Campaign Council.
The absence of all 24 All Progressives Congress, APC, governors at the meeting, however, prompted mutterings of disharmony in the campaign.
The claims of muttering arose from President Buhari’s charge on the electorate not to re-elect any governor found to be owing salaries during the inauguration of the council last Monday.
That claim was, however, rebuffed by several APC operatives, including the party’s national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Governor Rochas Okorocha, chairman of APC Governors Forum, APC national publicity secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu and APC presidential campaign spokesman, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN.
Yesterday’s meeting of APC presidential campaign council was graced by Buhari, the co-chairman, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Director-General, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, and other officials of the council.
The meeting was called to strategise on operations for the APC presidential rallies flagging off tomorrow in Bauchi.
Speaking at the meeting yesterday, President Buhari charged those who were present to uphold the virtues of the party as he said there was no political challenge that they cannot conquer.
“You are the cream of the party, and I assure you that with unity of purpose and effective harmony and communication, there is no political opponent you cannot overcome,” he said before the meeting went into closed doors.
A senior campaign official present at the meeting told Vanguard, yesterday, that Buhari would attend the rallies in all 36 states beginning with the one in Bauchi tomorrow.
However, particularly missing at the meeting were all 24 governors of the party who are members of the council and at the same time state coordinators of the Buhari campaign.
However, that insinuation was pooh-poohed, yesterday, by the APC national chairman, Oshiomhole who said the governors stayed back in their states to attend to governance issues.
He said: “Don’t forget that elections are not defined in Abuja, it will take place in the 36 states, and I am sure there are APC members who are campaigning for the House of Assembly, various federal House and Senate constituencies, governorship constituencies.
“So, it will not be helpful to bring them to Abuja. Here, it is about policies; it will be consummated and translated to practice across the 36 states, 774 local governments and awards.”
Chairman of the APC Governors Forum, Owelle Rochas Okorocha also concurred with Oshiomhole on the reason for the absence of the governors.
Rejecting assertions of a collective boycott, Okroocha said: “I don’t think any governor is thinking in that direction and several of the governors depending on the nature of their activities had their reasons.”
Why govs were absent
In its formal reaction to the absence of the governors at the meeting, National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Issa-Onilu, said the meeting was not an inaugural one even as he claimed that the governors had attended at least three previous meetings.
He said: “The agenda for the meeting had to do with drawing the timetable and deciding on the messaging. It didn’t require everyone in the council to be present.
‘’Meanwhile, this is not the inaugural meeting. After the inauguration on Monday, there have been not less than three meetings of the council.”
Campaign spokesman, Mr. Keyamo also dismissed negative insinuations to the absence of the governors as he told Vanguard that there were communication gaps between the campaign and the governors even as he said that it was not an issue.
“There is no fuss over the issue, in fact, I can say that it was a matter of communication gap and their absence has no negative connotation.”
Speaking after the meeting yesterday, former Senate Minority leader and immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio said that his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP had nothing except criticism to campaign with.
He said, “I will say that APC is very poised not just to undertake very smooth and scintillating and enjoyable campaign but also very poised to win the next election.
“As you are aware, so far so good, we are running on the basis of our first term performance.
“The achievements of Mr. President are all there for people to see and I think the entire country is quite excited quite unlike our colleagues in the PDP who do not seem to have anything except to criticize, attempt to run campaigns of calumny and false accusations against us in the APC.
“Today (Thursday) we are meeting to restrategize and conclude, dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s in the campaign structure so that we can come out with not just a formidable campaigns across the country but also sensitive our people in terms of voter education, we are ready for it.”