By Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja
A founding member of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change CPC, one of the “legacy parties” which merged to form the now ruling All Progressives Congress APC, Mr Osita Okechukwu has dismissed speculations of a succession pact between President Muhammadu Buhari and a leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Okechukwu who is currently the Director-General, Voice of Nigeria VON was in the same CPC with President Buhari before the duo followed the now-defunct party to form the APC.
Speaking with journalists Thursday in Abuja, the VON DG hailed the leadership of the APC for proposing the presentation of a consensus candidate for the 2023 presidential election.
He however conceded that despite Tinubu not having any succession pact with President Buhari, the former stands in a good stead to be considered for the plum job.
“One slept well last night after reading the profound statement from the social media credited to Distinguished Senator John Akpanudedehe, our National Secretary that at the appropriate time APC will come up with a consensus and agreeable presidential candidate that will fly its flag in 2023. I hail the consensus proposal for it is a deft move which will perish the phobia of implosion of our great party as touted by some naysayers.” Okechukwu said.
Akpanudoehede had on Tuesday said the adoption of a consensus arrangement is one that is bound to upset permutations by some pundits who are hoping that with 22 governors, majority parliamentarians at national and state levels and uncountable presidential hopefuls that the APC will definitely implode.
The party’s statement was in reaction to allegations by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party PDP that President Buhari had a self-succession plan.
“After our congresses and the National Convention, we will shock them (PDP) by bringing a consensus and an agreeable candidate that will fly the flag of the party come 2023. APC has no third term agenda like PDP. What we are doing now is to stabilise the party and not allow individual ambitions to derail President Buhari’s administration,” Akpanudoedehe had stated.
Vanguard recalls that in an earlier media interview, a former National Chairman of the CPC, Senator Rufai Hanga had disclosed of an agreement between Messrs Buhari and Tinubu.
However, in his reaction, Mr Okechukwu said; “First it is refreshing that President Buhari is not for 3rd Term Agenda. Second, in my slightest imagination one doesn’t think any committee handling such delicate matter will miss out on our national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the matrix. Methinks, he will be among the top aspirants to be considered, given his immense contribution to the success of our great party in 2015.”
Asked if there was any specific agreement between the president and Mr Tinubu as Sen. Hanga suggested, the VON DG said; “As a member of the defunct CPC, I never heard of such an agreement and most importantly Mr President is not wont to, or better put, rarely enters into any formal or informal agreement with anybody. But he appreciates good deeds.”
“All I know was that Asiwaju automatically could have been the Vice President if not for what lawyers will call force majeure. For our leadership warned against Muslim/Muslim ticket. Our leadership then argued that the Abiola/Kingibe Muslim/Muslim ticket which worked in 1993 may not work in 2015, if Buhari/Tinubu both Muslims were to run, as the scenario differs. That was how Asiwaju nominated Professor Yemi Osinbajo, GCON as a replacement”, Okechukwu added.
The VON DG however conceded that as one out of the over 40 million members of the party, he could not say with all certainly how the pendulum would swing ahead of 2023.
“Who am I, an ordinary member to decide for the over 40 million membership of the APC? As a political scientist, all I fear is the Governor Bala Mohammed PDP Committee’s report which recommended open contest, rather than rotation. It is a big albatross to rotation of president to the south.
Albeit the PDP by throwing it open, is covertly plotting to harvest Buhari’s 12 million Vote-Bank. Indeed, a lot of people take it that PDP is tacitly waiting in the wings for APC to go South and they go North to quickly harvest the Buhari’s Vote-Bank, domiciled mostly in the North.”