President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday declared that all who defected from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to other political parties were selfish, weak and corrupt people that could not align with the vision of his administration.
He made the remarks while accepting the expression of interest and nomination form donated by a group, the Nigerian Consolidation Ambassadors Network (NCAN), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
"I am honoured today to receive youths from all over the country contributing to buy the form for me," Buhari said, as he received the N45 million document.
"The corrupt, the selfish have left APC. Today, I am pleased to say the weakest among us, those whose selfish expectations did not align with our patriotic zeal, have exited out party.
We are now a party of strong and patriotic individuals who are ready, willing and able to continue on this journey of building a secure, self-sufficient and corruption-free Nigeria," he added.
It will be recalled that last month, the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, also referred to "Buhari's critics" as "saboteurs and thieves."
The president listed some achievements of his administration as the completion of rail projects and construction of new ones; support for farmers; rehabilitation of fertiliser plants; the introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), which he claimed had curbed looting in the public service; provision of jobs; and cash aid to vulnerable Nigerians.
Earlier, the deputy chairman of the NCAN board of trustees, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, said the group purchased the form based on its conviction that the president had performed outstandingly in reviving the economy and combating graft and terrorism.
But three APC presidential aspirants, Dr. SKC Ogbonnia, Chief Charles Udeogaranya and Alhaji Mumakai, criticised the cost of the form, saying it was too exorbitant.
In a joint statement, they threatened: "We demand that the party should, without further delay, scrap nomination fees, in line with the laws of the land.
Failure to adhere to the demands will give us no other option but conduct our own primaries in line with extant electoral laws and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria."
Also, the APC clarified its position on the controversy surrounding consensus candidacy.
Its spokesman, Yekini Nabena, said though the party's constitution makes provision for the option, there are conditions attached.
According to the party, consensus does not foreclose direct or indirect primaries for all elective positions, as contained in resolutions at the sixth meeting of the party's National Executive Committee (NEC).
Consensus will apply when no other aspirant signifies interest through the purchase of a nomination form for the position in question, the party said.
Notwithstanding, an APC governorship aspirant in Abia State, Prince Paul Ikonne, backed the arrangement.
Ikonne told reporters after he obtained his form at the national secretariat in Abuja that the mode would help the party upstage the opposition Peoples Democratic party (PDP) in Abia.
According to him, "As long as our party comes together with a consensus candidate, which we will eventually go for, we will come out strongly."
This came as Senator Shehu Sani and 14 other APC aspirants rejected indirect primaries adopted by the party in Kaduna State.
In a letter to Oshiomhole, the aspirants, led by Sani, demanded direct primaries.
The APC state executive committee had announced it would use indirect primaries or the delegate method to select candidates for the 2019 polls.
The indirect method, the aspirants said, is a "direct antithesis to the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to fight against corruption at all levels.
The party, having touted the change mantra, must shine the light into those dark places in the electoral system where the corruptive influence of ill-gotten wealth is used to subvert the will of the electorate.
The indirect method will only perpetuate the vicious circle of corruption, bad governance and weak and dysfunctional institutions and processes."
The national secretary of the APC, Maimala Buni, meanwhile, has disclosed that Buhari is the sole candidate of the party¬ for next year's presidential election.
According to him, those who are intere¬sted in the p¬osition are free to pick the nomination¬ form but the National Executive Council¬ (NEC) has already endorsed¬ the incumbent.
"Once the NEC of the party passes a vote o¬f confidence in the president, that pres¬ident stands accepted because the NEC is¬ the highest organ of the party.
It m¬et to take the decision where every int¬erest was represented.
The NEC of the APC has passed ¬a vote of confidence in our president an¬d that means every APC member has endors¬ed him," Buni told reporters.