By Dapo Akinrefon & Shina Abubakar
LAGOS—Two groups promoting the presidential bid of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and national leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, were yesterday at each others’ throats over the proposed meeting of South West aspirants contesting on the platform of the party.
While the Director-General of Bola Ahmed Tinubu Our Choice 2023, BATOC23, Dr. Ayo Owoade, described the meeting as a necessity to keep the zone in a vantage position to pick the ticket, the Convener of Progressive Lawyers for Osinbajo, PLO, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, alleged that the meeting had been prepared to favour a particular aspirant.
The meeting, slated for Lagos today, is convened by former governors of Osun and Ogun states, Bisi Akande and Olusegun Osoba, as well as other party stakeholders.
Aspirants as the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, and former governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, who have all declared interest to contest the presidency on the platform of the party, are expected to attend the meeting.
It’ll place region in vantage position — BATOC23 D-G
Reacting to the scheduled meeting, BATOC23’s Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Abimbola Tooki, urged the party to go for a candidate who could unite the people and develop Nigeria.
The statement read: “Fairness and justice should be the watchword of APC in the zone in picking its candidate for the presidential election, ahead of 2023.
“The conveners of the meeting should work to build a united front for the South West to take over power from President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023. The party must also realise that in-fighting, internal wrangling and crisis will not help it to achieve its desired result in the forthcoming presidential election.
“BATOC23 believes that the party, at this time, needs a strong personality with a lot of experience, who can bring the nation together.
“What is urgently required is for the party to present a candidate with pedigree and clout to salvage the country. The zone needs to field a candidate with the capability to ruthlessly tackle insecurity, unemployment, poverty and other worrisome conditions that plague Nigeria and Nigerians.
“We need someone that will bring succour and joy to every home and for this to happen, South West has to put its house in order to occupy this position in 2023 and if we don’t get it right internally, resolving all crises from within, it may spell doom for our zone in particular and the party in general.”
It’s a wrong motive, wrong move — PLO
But in its reaction, the PLO convener, Dr Ajulo, however, described the meeting as a wrong move.
Ajulo said: “The attention of the Progressive Lawyers for Osinbajo, PLO, has been drawn to a proposed meeting by some leaders of the APC in South West for the APC presidential aspirants of South West extraction slated to hold today, at State House, Marina, Lagos.
“We want to commend this initiative which we believe was borne out of our earlier call on the Yoruba leaders to hold a strategic conference to provide direction towards the fate of the South West in the coming presidential election.
“While it is our utmost desire that such an important meeting be conveyed to establish a consensus harmony among the aspirants of the APC in South West, we want to state clearly that it should be designed appropriately to promote fairness.
“This scheduled meeting should have been a welcome development but for the following configurations which were not rightfully designed.
“The composition of personality invited for this meeting is a testament to our position that the meeting is a sectional affair of the APC and clearly not in the interest of the southwest and Nigeria.
“The Choice of Venue: Lagos Flag House in Marina, Lagos belongs to Lagos State and associates. This venue should not play host to such a meeting if it will be adjudged to be credible and fair. The meeting, if it is for the collective good of the people, should be held at neutral locations like Ibadan, Oyo State or Akure, Ondo State.”
Faulting what it described as an unclear agenda of the meeting, Ajulo said: “We can state for a fact that the motive of this meeting is inexplicit and undefined to many of the invited aspirants as most of them were never engaged. How the meeting is conveyed like a secret proceeding shows that the conveners have no defined agenda productive enough to be for the benefit of all.
“Information at our disposal has it that a communiqué has already been prepared, and in favour of a particular aspirant. This document is currently in circulation among some of the invitees.
“The above-stated positions have lent credence to the incredibility of the proposed meeting as well as the unreliability of same as a compass for the Southwest in the 2023 presidential election.
“We want to reiterate in clear terms that our recent call was directed at notable, respected and apolitical Yoruba leaders, who are genuinely interested in the development of the South West and Nigeria; leaders who patriotically and tenaciously hold on to the history and heritage of Yorubaland and the upliftment of the masses against inordinate personal gains.
“It is undoubted and without gainsaying that the meeting as conveyed with a prewritten communiqué without the inclusion of notable statesmen on the list of invitees is premeditated and planned to serve a purpose which will not be beneficial to the southwest and Nigeria.”