•Confident deal with Rivers gov won’t affect Amaechi
•Buhari: I’ll not betray, undermine APC by
Posted By Godwin Onyemaechi
supporting candidates of other parties
After weeks of speculation and moves shrouded in secrecy, former vice presidential placeholder for the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Alhaji Ibrahim Masari, yesterday, confirmed that the much-talked about pact between Tinubu and Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike was true and real. Masari disclosed that the two men agreed to work together without Wike necessarily leaving the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Masari spoke in an interview with BBC Hausa Service from London, where the talks between the APC presidential candidate and the Rivers State governor, allegedly, took place.
He said Wike would work for the emergence of the APC candidate as president in next year’s election, but did not need to defect to the party.
Masari explained that the kind of understanding Tinubu and Wike had was such that would not affect the place of former governor of the state and immediate past Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi
The revelation came as President Muhammadu Buhari, in an attempt to allay the fears of some members of the ruling APC, said he would not betray or undermine his party by supporting candidates other than those fielded by APC in next year’s general election. Buhari said this in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu.
The president promised to support all APC candidates in 2023. He denied maintaining any connection with persons who defected from the party as well as those, who had dragged APC to court.
The president warned presidency officials against loose talk that could heat up the polity.
However, the political discourse and political debate surrounding the controversial Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of APC continued yesterday, as former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, and erstwhile Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, met with two former military leaders, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar, as part of consultations on the options open to northern Christians.
Masari, while affirming that the arrangement with Wike would not affect the APC leader in Rivers State, Amaechi, said, “The meeting was basically on the 2023 presidential election and, by God’s grace, we are going to work with His Excellency, Governor Nyeson Wike; he will assist and we are going to win the election with ease, by the will of God.”
On whether Wike would defect to APC to work for Tinubu, Masari said, “This is because Wike is a big politician, a governor and has control in some other states apart from his state. He is good to the people and has associated with his people peacefully. By the grace of God, he will be of help to us.”
Addressing the finality of the working agreement, given the equal desire by the Atiku Abubakar camp to make peace with the Rivers State governor, Masari said, ”Well, only God knows what would happen next. But what we are seeing now, what has transpired is that we are going to work with Wike and he will be useful to us.
“If you could remember, it was APC that caused the failure of APC in Bauchi; it was members of the party that led to the defeat of the governor from their own party. In Adamawa, too. So, what I want people to understand, someone can still assist you even without joining your party if he wants to.
“Furthermore, with the widespread acceptance of His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu to Nigerians, I can assure you, by the will of God, he is going to win the election, with or without help. But there is the Hausa adage, which says even if you’re beautiful, you should add to it by taking bath. So, it’s not only about Wike, we are also talking with many other governors.”
Masari also spoke on the effect of the Tinubu, Wike agreement on the political structure of APC in Rivers State, with Amaechi as leader. He said the political alliance with Wike would not side-line Amaechi and other APC members in the state.
Nobody will do anything that will hurt Rotimi Amaechi. He is a party member; a formidable member of the APC,” Masari said.
Meanwhile, the presidency, in a statement by Buhari’s media assistant, said it wished to put it on record, and reassure faithful party members that the president remained a “disciplined soldier” of APC, who will, in all the coming elections, support only candidates fielded by the party.
According to the release, “This is a warning to decamped party members and some others, who are still in court against official candidates of the APC that, they are on their own and nobody outside the party tent should link what they are doing to President Buhari
“The president wishes to be quoted as saying that, he is the ‘occupant of the high office of the President by the Grace of God, who used the instrumentality of the APC to bring him to power with a historic verdict in 2015.’ In 2019, he was returned with a bigger majority.
“For the first time, a non-PDP government came to power with a huge majority after 16 years of the Fourth Republic. His constant refrain is: ‘I will not betray or undermine my party by supporting candidates other than those of the APC
This statement is not against any particular candidate. However, our stand is clear that only those candidates fielded by the All Progressives Candidates (APC) will enjoy the support of the president and they are the ones he will campaign for. However, we welcome support for our candidates at all levels by other parties.
“The president says he will continue to support the party at all levels to enforce discipline, synchronisation, and coordination.
“He also directs officials in and around the Presidential Villa and all those engaging in loose talk to resist making controversial statements that eventually end up hurting the party and the government, thereby providing a weapon for the opposition to use against the administration, the party or its candidates in the coming elections.”
Regarding the meeting with two former Nigerian leaders, a source told journalists that the two leading opponents of APC’s Muslim-Muslim presidential preference were accompanied on the visit by former deputy governor of Kogi State, Simon Achuba.
The trio met separately with Babangida at his Hilltop residence in Minna and Abubakar, also in the Niger State capital.
The source said though the meeting was held on Monday behind closed doors, some of the details had begun to emerge.
Dogara and Babachir were in Minna to felicitate with IBB on his 81st birthday and also consult with him on their stance on the APC Muslim-Muslim ticket.
The duo had recently convened a summit of APC Northern Christian Forum in Abuja, where representatives and delegates from the 19 Northern States and the Federal Capital Territory vehemently rejected the Muslim-Muslim ticket of APC.
An inside source said Babachir, Dogara and other northern Christian leaders in APC “are consulting ahead before they can take decision on which of the presidential candidates they will adopt and support ahead of the 2023 general election
The source, however, stressed, “The choice is now between Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, and Peter Obi of the Labour Party.”
In a related development, a political support group, Asiwaju Project Beyond 2023, confirmed talks between Tinubu and Wike, and called it a good omen for the party ahead of 2023 the elections.
Director-General of the group, Realwan Okpanachi, in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, said the Tinubu-Wike alliance was a good omen for APC, adding that Wike’s step is justified.
Confirming the talks between the two sides, Okpanachi said, “We can confirm to you authoritatively that Wike and his team met with Tinubu in London to discuss strategic alliance ahead of the 2023 presidential election. Both leaders appreciate the need to work together to ensure that Tinubu becomes the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023.
“The question is, is Wike justified to take this particular step? The answer is capital yes. What do you expect from a governor that has given everything to sustain the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) only to be slighted, compromised and embarrassed by the same party and its leaders/officers?”
Okpanachi further said that Wike was equally taking the step to ensure his political survival after 2023 election.
According to Okpanachi, “Wike is old and politically experienced and savvy enough to make his decisions. He is entitled to take any necessary step or measure that will guarantee his political survival after 2023 elections. There’s no better way to do it than forming a strategic alliance with Tinubu ahead of 2023 general election.
“There is nothing in PDP for Wike anymore. He has lost his bearing and goodwill in the party. The political conspiracy against him in PDP is huge and unprecedented.”
Wike had on Monday, with some of his allies, reportedly travelled to London to meet Tinubu for talks on their political future. The talks with Tinubu were sparked by the internal crisis in the PDP following the party’s presidential primaries, which Wike believed was skewed against him after one of his rivals endorsed Atiku Abubakar.
Wike was also said to have recently given the party some conditions for amicable resolution of the crisis, following failure to emerge the choice for vice president.