APC unsure of campaign flag-off as Adamu insists on party supremacy over PCC

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• Adamu: Without governors, APC will lose in 2023
• Bagudu: Release of campaign list unfortunate
• Muslim-Muslim ticket: I won’t vote APC, says Onaiyekan
• PFN: We can’t vote a candidate not sensitive to Nigeria’s unity
• 2023: Nigeria can’t afford war, say Christian youths

Just as it was with the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Tuesday when its meeting to mend fences ended in a deadlock, the meeting called, yesterday, by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) between its governors and the party leadership ended in similar fashion, as it failed to reach a compromise on the commencement date for the 2023 election campaign.

Also, the APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, yesterday, insisted on the party’s supremacy on matters relating to the flag-off of the nationwide campaigns of the party.

This position came against the backdrop of speculations that President Muhammadu Buhari would inaugurate the revised list of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) on Monday upon the return of the presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu this weekend.

Recall that the PCC had released a 422-member campaign list, which plunged the party into crisis. APC had initially scheduled a peace walk and prayers on September 28, to officially kick-off campaigns for the 2023 presidential election before it was put off indefinitely.

This followed the expression of grievances by APC governors over the composition of the PCC released by the secretary of the council, James Faleke. As a result, Director General of the Campaign Council and Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, postponed the kick-off indefinitely, saying the move is to allow room for inclusion of more party chieftains.

Speaking yesterday at the opening session of the meeting, which started at 12 noon and ended around 5:10p.m., National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, said APC would lose the 2023 presidential poll without the support of governors who are members of the party.

He said: “Being the chief executive officers of their various states, the onus of our great party lies in the hands of God and in their hands because they are the commanders of the party’s fortunes in their various states.

“We cannot make meaningful progress in the affairs of these states, particularly, in an election year that is approaching. We cannot plan without the buy-in of our governors so that we can stand together, believing that we share same aspirations.

“We will plan together to see how best we can deliver the interest of the party and ensure that victory is ours in 2023 general election that is by the corner. That is the essence of this meeting.”

Addressing newsmen after about five hour closed-door deliberation, Adamu assured that the party leadership had established machinery to resolve whatever issues they had, adding that the party will have the final say on the way and manner the campaigns would be prosecuted.

Asked when the ruling party would commence its campaign, he said the party would determine when the campaign will start, adding that they can’t run faster than their shadow.

He said: “Don’t be faster than your foot. Whenever you want to have something in a hurry, you may end up not having it. The fact of the matter is, we as a party, will determine when we will do what as long as it is within the framework of INEC’s guidelines.”

On his part, Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF) and governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, described the release of the 422-member campaign list as unfortunate, but assured that it would be sorted out. He stressed that the governors’ visit to the Secretariat was to strategise and discuss the campaign.

Asked if the governors were comfortable with the campaign list, Bagudu added: “Governors are very proud of our party, we are very proud of our party leader, President Buhari, we are very proud of the conventions that produced both our national chairman and our presidential candidate in person of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the vice presidential candidate in the person of Kashim Shettima, we are very proud of the actions of the national chairman and the NWC, we are very proud of the actions of the PCC.

“We are happy that we are discussing, even though there were lists that were unfortunately released by the campaign council, which the party would have announced. It was a mistake, but I am happy that the party is solidly behind our candidate and our party and whatever lists that have come out erroneously, we believe it will be sorted out.”

In attendance at the parley were Governors Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Sani Bello (Niger), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) and Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo). The former chairman of the party and deputy chairman of the PCC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole also attended.

MEANWHILE, Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, yesterday, said he would not be voting for Tinubu because of the party’s decision to fly a Muslim-Muslim ticket.

He made this known while delivering a talk entitled: ‘The Church as an agent of dialogue and reconciliation in our community in quest for a just and peaceful social order,’ at the ongoing First Synod of the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo at St. Kizito Pastoral Centre, Ede, Osun State.

The cleric said the ruling party would have to accept responsibility for the decision they have taken, stressing that the Catholic Church is not partisan.

Onaiyekan said his decision not to vote APC was personal and stressed that every Christian, like other Nigerians, would have to take their own decision on the political party to vote.

He added that the Catholic Church wouldn’t direct members to vote for a particular political party, adding that the decision of APC to float a Muslim-Muslim ticket was the best way it wanted to win election and that Nigerians too had a choice to either vote the party or not.

Addressing Catholic faithful and leaders of other religions, the Cardinal said: “You will note that the Catholic Bishop Conference has not taken any action on Muslim/Muslim ticket of APC.

“The reason is that Muslim/Muslim ticket is a political decision taken by APC as a party on the calculation that it is their best way to win the election. There is no point telling them not to take such decision, all you can say is that, they will have to accept responsibility for the decision they have taken. I only have one voter card and by God’s grace I will use it. I will definitely not vote for Muslim/Muslim ticket, that is my decision.

“When the APC leadership appointed Governor Lalong as the Director of Campaign, who is a Catholic, he took the decision politically. The only time when we called him to order was when he dragged the name of Pope into the appointment and political discussion, he tendered his apology, which was accepted by us because he is a member of Papal Knight.”

Speaking, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo, Most Rev John Oyejola, called on Nigerians to maintain religious harmony, live in peace and co-exist in love.

The Grand Imam of Osun State, Sheikh Musa Animashaun, represented by Imam Abdulsalam Akinwunmi, enjoined Christians, Muslims and adherents of other religions to trail the path of peace and be their brothers’ keepers at all times.

HOWEVER, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) has said Christians would not vote for a presidential candidate that is not sensitive to the yearnings and aspirations of a united country.

The Cross River State Chairman of PFN, Dr. Lawrence Ekwok, stated this, yesterday, during the Greatest Nigeria Project Solemn Assembly with the theme: ‘Anything is Possible’, at the Assemblies of God Church, in Calabar.

Ekwok said many people now understand that the church’s role is beyond praying, it should also be involved in ensuring that the right candidates that have the fear of God are voted into elective positions.

He said: “There is nothing wrong in getting involved, seeking to represent their people in elective positions in any level of government. We are talking about credibility, integrity and we are talking about a party or candidate that will not discriminate on religious grounds. We are talking about a candidate that has the fear of God.

ALSO, a coalition of Christian youths, under the aegis of Christian Association of Nigeria (Youth Wing) has declared that the 2023 election is going to be a litmus test for Nigeria’s unity and cannot be traded for anything.

The organisation also took a swipe at politicians making derogatory utterances against their political opponents, saying the nation can’t afford war at this period.

It warned that every political party in Nigeria or candidate has right to campaign in any state, zone or region of their choice without restriction.

National chairman of YOWICAN, Belusochukwu Enwere, said election must not be won with violence.

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