The presidency yesterday flayed the opposition for sponsoring public commentaries suggesting that President Muhammadu Buhari's sterling act of resolving the crisis in the All Progressives Congress was a showdown between the president and a national leader of the party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Specifically, it described as "political vulturism" masquerading as "smart analysis" rumours making the rounds that the dissolution of APC's National Working Committee (NWC) and setting up of a caretaker committee for the party was a ploy by the president and his men to clip Tinubu's wing, saying "nothing can be farther from the truth".
In a statement by senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, the presidency noted that President Buhari's recommendations adopted by the National Executive Committee (NEC) at its emergency meeting last Thursday were meant to wriggle the governing APC out of the crisis it had been enmeshed in.
It said, "The very essence of the requests put to the Emergency National Executive Committee meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by President Muhammadu Buhari, which were unanimously approved aim to pull back the party, faced with an existential crisis from the brink of collapse, follow the constitution and take everyone along.
"While this action has been widely accepted with great relief by lovers of democracy and the rank and file of the membership, we are concerned that political vulturism masquerading as "smart analysis" is selling the commentary that this is a Buhari-Tinubu "showdown." Nothing can be farther from the truth".
Shehu pointed out that Buhari and Tinubu are being motivated by national interest and democratic rules rather than biased political interest, even as he said the relationship between the duo was intact.
He noted: "To put the records straight: In the formation of this great party and giving it leadership, President Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who are reckoned as the founding fathers of the APC are both inspired by democratic norms, national interest and not at all by partisan motivations. These are the qualities that have made them move past cynical distractions.
"They are in touch with one another. Their relationship remains as strong as ever and between the two of them, only they know how they manage their enviable relationship".
Accusing the opposition of sponsoring the reports suggesting rift between the president and Tinubu, the presidential spokesman said, "Try as hard as they could, the opposition parties have used all their intellectuals and their supporters in the media to break this relationship and have failed. And they won't.
"For President Buhari who has received much of the cynical commentary, Nigerians know him as someone who will not do anything with bad intentions. Neither will he do anything out of partisan motivations or for himself.
"This whole exercise, that should lead to massive reform and overhaul of the leadership of the party, as he said in that brilliant speech, was "to save the APC from the imminent self-destruction. We have to move ahead. We have to take everyone with us and ensure that the party is run in accordance with democratic norms and with consensus. We have to work for the benefit of the country."
"The leaders of the party, who have received two successive massive mandates to govern the country and a majority of the states should be judged by how this exercise turns out in achieving these objectives, not cursed at the mere commencement of the process".
I Have Not Made Up My Mind On 2023 - Tinubu
On his part, Tinubu yesterday dismissed his rumoured presidential ambition, saying he has not made any decision to run for president in the 2023 presidential election.
The former governor of Lagos State, in a statement he personally signed entitled, 'Becoming The Party We Were Intended To Be', said contrary to opinions of many Nigerians that the dissolution of the NWC led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole by APC NEC had dealt serious blows to his presidential ambition, he was more concerned about the present challenges rocking the country, especially the ravaging coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout.
Tinubu who said President Buhari did what any parent in his position and with his authority would do, urged all party members to abide by the president's decisions irrespective of the sacrifices the president's pronouncement had imposed on them.
He averred that with the numerous lawsuits, President Buhari reasonably decided that he has seen enough.
He said, "To those who have been actively bleating how the President's actions and the NEC meeting have ended my purported 2023 ambitions, I seek your pity. I am but a mere mortal who does not enjoy the length of foresight or political wisdom you profess to have. Already, you have assigned colourful epitaphs to the 2023 death of an alleged political ambition that is not yet even born.
"At this extenuating moment with COVID-19 and its economic fallout hounding us, I cannot see as far into the distance as you. I have made no decision regarding 2023 for the concerns of this hour are momentous enough.
"During this period, I have not busied myself with politicking regarding 2023. I find that a bit distasteful and somewhat uncaring particularly when so many of our people have been unbalanced by the twin public health and economic crises we face. I have devoted these last few months to thinking of policies that may help the nation in the here and now. What I may or may not do three years hence seems too remote given present exigencies.
"Those who seek to cast themselves as political Nostradamus' are free to so engage their energies. I trust the discerning public will give the views of such eager seers the scant weight such divinations warrant.
"Personally, I find greater merit trying to help in the present by offering policy ideas, both privately and publicly, where I think they might help. I will continue in this same mode for the immediate future. 2023 will answer its own questions in due time.
"I have toiled for this party as much as any other person and perhaps more than most. Despite this investment or perhaps due to it, I have no problem with making personal sacrifices (and none of us should have such a problem) as long as the party remains true to its progressive, democratic creed. Politics is but a vehicle to arrive at governance. Good politics promotes good governance. Yet, politics is also an uncertain venture. No one gets all they want all the time. In even a tightly-woven family, differences and competing interests must be balanced and accommodated".
Tinubu appealed to aggrieved APC members to accept the sacrifice they have been asked to make in order to clear the air and allow the party assume its proper role of helping the Buhari administration in leading the country toward "enlightened improvement, and the party itself can grow and firmly establish itself as the best, most democratic party in the land."
Oshiomhole Accepts Dissolution Of NWC, Lists Gains Of Stewardship
Meanwhile, immediate past national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, announced yesterday that he has accepted, in good faith, the dissolution of the party's NWC by NEC, saying he had no regrets over the decisions he took within the period.
Oshiomhole also stated that he would not be seeking redress in the court of law, revealing that he has also withdrawn his case at the Supreme Court, even as he promised to support the Buhari administration.
The former chairman who spoke for the first time since an Abuja High Court upheld his suspension and the eventual leadership crisis that bedeviled the party until Thursday's NEC meeting also said that it was President Buhari who, two years ago, invited him to come and reposition the APC and that since it was the same president who also agreed to the dissolution of the NWC, he was bound to obey him as the leader of the party.
Oshiomhole, while addressing journalists in Abuja, used the opportunity to list some gains of his over two-year stewardship.
He said, "I thought that it is important that I formally react to the recent events as it affects our party. We are all aware that on Thursday, a special NEC meeting was called and was attended by Mr President, governors, APC leadership of the two chambers of the national assembly and some other leaders of our party.
"At the end of the meeting as you all know, the national working committee was dissolved and accordingly I cease to be the chairman of the All Progressives Congress.
"Mr President graciously invited me to run for the office of chairmanship of the party in 2018 precisely about two years ago. The president told me then that if we do not reform the APC, we can as well forget about the party.
"You know that reforms are challenging and it will entail taking difficult decisions. Mine has been a life of trouble and I accepted this and I believe I did my best. I'm happy that at the end of the day, 2019 elections have come and gone thanks to Nigerian people, our president had more votes in 2019 than we had in 2015. We have more members in the senate and House of Representatives.
"Unlike 2015 we were not able to manage our victory in the two chambers such that we had an APC president in the senate and PDP deputy senate president. This time, working hard with my colleagues in the NWC and in consultation of leaders of our party across board, we have the kind of unity expected in the governing party in the two chambers of the national assembly.
"I'm happy that the leadership of the National Assembly is working harmoniously with Mr President. The APC under my chairmanship has done its best and the results are there. Of course we have now been dissolved and I have accepted that dissolution in good fate.
"I'm not going into the question of legality or illegality. The bottom line is that the president who invited me to lead the party and who mobilised all the support for my emergence as chairman also presided over the meeting where the NWC has now been dissolved."
No Law Stops Me From Swearing In Party Caretaker Committee - Malami
Meanwhile, the Attorney-general of the Federation and minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) yesterday denied violating any provisions of the country's constitution by administering oath of office on members of the APC caretaker committee at the presidential villa on Thursday.
The People's Democratic Party (PDP) had frowned at Malami for performing the administration of oath for the newly inaugurated APC caretaker committee in Aso Rock.
But Malami fired back at the opposition party, maintaining that it was not out of place given that the administration of justice, political and advisory, among others, roles were part of the functions of his office.
In a statement issued by his special assistant on media and public relations, Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, the AGF said as a lawyer, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, notary public and a legal practitioner, he was expected to play a role in the country's democratic process.
Malami said, "The fundamental question that begs for an answer remains whether there exist any legal impediment on Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in relation to administration of oath being a lawyer, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and a legal practitioner".
"A federation is an embodiment of the governance inclusive of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary with a possible expansion to accommodate private, corporate and associated entities.
"Within that context, it will not be out of place for an Attorney-General of the Federation to administer an oath on any one inclusive of leadership of any political party whether he belongs to it or not".
PDP Govs Debunk Rumours Of Defection
Meanwhile, the PDP Governors Forum yesterday said there was nothing attractive in the APC to make its members join the governing party.
The forum under the leadership of Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, stated this while debunking allegation by Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, that about 10 PDP governors were planning to join APC.
Governor Bello had made the claim, while featuring in an interview on Channels Television's 'Politics Today' on Friday night.
But reacting, director-general of the PDP Governors' Forum, Hon C.I.D. Maduabum, said the forum chose to respond to the statement by Governor Bello because it may demoralise PDP members and Nigerians who are not aware of the facts.
He said, "It is obvious that this is a diversionary tactic to shore up the sagging morale of APC members who are ruing the loss of yet another state Governor, Godwin Obaseki of Edo State to the PDP, as a result of the chaos and anarchy currently existing in the APC, following the mismanagement of their affairs as acknowledged even by Mr President, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.
"The PDP Governors are very focused on delivering good governance and the benefits of democracy to their respective states and working tirelessly to strengthen and reposition the party.
"There is no attraction whatsoever for any PDP member not to talk of a PDP Governor to join the APC, a party bedeviled by crises, without even an elected leadership as envisaged by Section 223 of the 1999 Constitution that specifically requires the Executive Committee of every political party in Nigeria to be democratically elected.
"We advise His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello, to concentrate on providing good governance to the people of Kogi State".
Similarly, PDP has described Governor Bello's claims that some PDP governors are planning to cross over to the crisis-ridden APC as childish, laughable and pathetic.
The PDP described the claims as a desperate attempt to divert public attention from the imminent mass exodus from