Buhari: I was Given List of 30 APC Presidential Aspirants to Choose Successor But I Declined
For the first time, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday opened up on the intrigues preceding the presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), revealing that he was given a list of 30 aspirants to choose a successor but he declined.
Buhari, who stated that the presidential candidate of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu emerged through a free and fair democratic process, added that if he had anointed a candidate, his decision would have affected Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who was also an aspirant.The National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, had 24 hours before the primary election, announced the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, as the party’s consensus presidential candidate, saying that President Buhari was behind the decision.
But following the backlash that greeted the announcement, President Buhari, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, told the Northern Governors’ Forum in his office in Abuja that he had “no preferred candidate” and had “anointed no one”.
Providing more clarification yesterday when he paid Sallah homage to the Emir of Katsina, Dr Abdulmumini Kabir Usman, at his palace in Katsina, the state capital, President Buhari recalled the circumstances surrounding the emergence of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the APC presidential candidate.According to him, the APC delegates were given a free hand to elect Tinubu to demonstrate the internal democracy in the party.
President Buhari admitted that APC stalwarts gave him a list of 30 presidential aspirants to choose a preferred successor but he declined and allowed the delegates to elect the candidate of their choice, hence the emergence of the former Lagos State governor.
He said: “We are doing our best and I hope that our efforts will be a blessing. There is nothing more important than peace and because of that those who are instigating insecurity whatever their reasons, we pray God will give us more wisdom to tackle them.“I was given a list of 30 aspirants to pick from; most of them were my ministers and governors. So, who will I choose or support? One of the governors even came to see me and asked who we should choose.
“But if I do that, it would affect my vice president because he was listening to our conversation. I then told them to choose who they want. So, they elected Tinubu as APC presidential candidate.“I hope that the way they (APC) conducted their congress where they elected the party’s National Chairman, the presidential candidate and how the presidential candidate picked his running mate – I hope the forthcoming (2023) general election will also be peaceful. I hope God will help us to conduct the general election peacefully.
“May God help us to overcome the problem of this country. But if Nigerians know the condition that other African countries are in, they will thank God for the situation in Nigeria. We are doing our best and hope that God will give us more wisdom to continue to help and serve our people”.
Buhari admonished Nigerians to continue to be patient with the APC-led government and allow peace to reign during the forthcoming 2023 general election.He explained that if Nigerians know what other African countries were going through in terms of insecurity and economic challenges, they would appreciate the Nigerian situation and his government’s efforts.
The president added that there is nothing more important than security and peaceful coexistence and that his government would adopt revolving security measures to nip in the bud those instigating insecurity in the country.Meanwhile, in a statement issued by presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, President Buhari, said “when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) signalled parties to elect their presidential candidates, we had 30 aspirants, mostly ministers in my cabinet and governors.
“I told each of the aspirants to go and do their best. One particular governor, in his wisdom, came to meet me and asked who they should vote for at the party convention, checking if I had a preferred candidate. “There was no need for interference, knowing the competence of all the aspirants. They went and elected Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and he picked his running mate, Senator Kashim Ibrahim, for the 2023 elections. I am praying that we will have peaceful and successful elections,’’ he said.The President while thanking Nigerians for their support for the APC in 2015, and 2019, said he had a rich experience in the 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 presidential elections, travelling to all the 774 local councils in the country, and in 2019 visiting 36 states.His words: “They say he who wants to serve should be ready for the responsibility of leadership. Three times I wanted this position and three times I ended up at the Supreme Court. For that reason, in terms of experience, I have gathered a lot. I visited 774 local councils in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015.“I feel privileged that Nigerians elected me in 2015. Since then, we have been doing our best to tackle the challenges, with God helping us. We are not alone. If only we know what other countries in Africa are passing through, we will be grateful to God, and protect our country. Other African countries are passing through a lot.According to him, since Nigerians elected him in 2015, his administration had been doing everything to fix the country.He, therefore, called on all citizens to do their best to protect the country, saying if Nigerians know how difficult it has been for other African countries, they will thank God for their country.“As leaders, we are doing our best and will keep doing our best to improve the situation. I am praying that the Almighty God will give us more strength and wisdom to protect our people, and fulfil our promises of ensuring wellbeing”, he said.He also urged all Nigerians to be tolerant of the government as it continues to tackle the challenges facing the country, noting that the situation is worse in other African countries.Earlier, the Emir called on the president to expedite actions for the completion of the Kano-Katsina road dualisation project; the Kano-Katsina-Maradi railway and the Rimi Windmill Power generation projects.The traditional ruler said apart from contributing to the economic and social development of Katsina State, the projects if completed would also generate employment opportunities for unemployed youths in the state.In his remarks, Governor Aminu Bello Masari said security operatives were doing all they could to tackle banditry and other crimes in the state, calling on residents to also give them the needed support to ward off the criminals.Governor Masari in the company of other top government officials later saw the president off to the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Airport where he later took off for Abuja in a Nigeria Air Force (NAF) plane.