President Muhammadu Buhari outrightly rejected governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) request for him to change his mind on his preference for Senator Abdullahi Adamu as the consensus candidate for the national chairmanship.
A source who was present at the meeting Tuesday with the President at the presidential villa, Abuja shortly before he left for Kenya, confirmed the development.
The President was said to have bluntly refused to shift ground when the governors advanced their reasons against the serving senator representing Nasarawa West Senatorial District becoming the national chairman.
Meanwhile, the governors have insisted that the national convention scheduled for March 26 in Abuja will hold despite the tight time frame provided by the timetable of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released for next year’s general elections.
The chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, gave this assurance after he led governors of the party to meet with President Buhari.
The chairman of the APC Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, (CECPC) and Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, was however absent at the meeting.
There had been speculation that a section of the party was pushing for the postponement of the national convention so that both the election of the national executives and the primaries to select its candidates for the 2023 elections can be done simultaneously.
But fielding questions from State House Correspondents, Bagudu assured that the party will maintain the March date for the exercise.
He said the governors met with the president to congratulate him for signing the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2022 as well on the victory of the APC in some of the by-elections conducted over the weekend.
On INEC timetable for next year’s election and reports that some APC governors are moving for the postponement of the planned National Convention so that everything can be done together, Bagudu said: ‘Last week, we were in this hall, about 20 APC governors, and this question came up and we clearly said we came to discuss the National Convention, which is slated for March 26 and are working hard to ensure that on March 26, we have our convention and elect our national officers and that remains the case.’
Asked how united the APC governors are, as feelers from the meeting show that there was an altercation, he said: “There’s no altercation, I’m not aware of any. Mallam Nasiru (El-Rufai), again last week, answered that look, if by altercation people are talking about differences of opinion before a decision is arrived at, then maybe, that is what people can… but as a body, the 22 governors of APC are united behind the party and behind Mr President.
Speaking on the purpose of the visit, Bagudu said: ‘Today, Tuesday, 1st of March, a number of APC governors came to Mr President to, among others, congratulate him on signing the Electoral Act. This is something many Nigerians have expressed different views about, but Mr President had once again taken the courageous step of, even while having observations, signed and requested the National Assembly to look at it.
‘So, we congratulate the National Assembly for passage of the amendments and equally congratulate Mr President for signing the amendment.
‘Secondly, our party, the All Progressives Congress, participated in a number of by-elections over the last weekend and equally, we congratulated Mr President and in addition, we spoke about other issues that concern our party.’
On reports in some quarters that governors are still not satisfied with the provisions of the Act, the Kebbi Governor said: ‘I’ve always had cause to address this. Legislation, everywhere in the world, is based on continuous improvement. Constitutions that are 200 years old are subject to reviews sometimes and those reviews are not cut and dry. Even people who truly believe in the need for legislation may have to worry about the implications of it.
‘Like I said, we’re never against the principle of amending laws. They are never against the National Assembly, but even among the National Assembly, there’s debate and this debate is also in the … To imagine that there is some legislation that is punitive to the governors or to the National Assembly. I think that will be tantamount to negation of the Oath of Office, if whoever is participating in doing that.’
Apart from Bagudu, other APC governors at the meeting included Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Aminu Masari (Katsina), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Hope Uzodinma (Imo), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Sani Bello (Niger), Umar Ganduje (Kano), and outing deputy governor of Anambra State, Nkem Okeke.