President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday advised the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress to avoid what he called “illegal manoeuvres” in picking the party’s candidates at all levels for the 2019 elections.
Buhari said this during the opening ceremony of a meeting of the party’s national caucus held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said, “Now that INEC has come out with the timetable for elections in 2019, the party should prepare itself for congresses at the wards, local governments, states and the centre.
“We should strictly follow the constitution of the party in undertaking these party elections. We should ensure internal democracy and avoid shortcuts and illegal manoeuvres which have characterised the opposition party with the consequences that they are now divided.
“The APC has a history of conducting free and fair primaries whenever consensus about any candidacy is not reached.
“Regardless of the outcomes of the primary processes, it is imperative that we all work together to ensure the victory of our party.”
Buhari thanked party officials and members for the successes the APC achieved in the 2015 elections by winning majority of the governorship seats, majority in the National Assembly and is the state Houses of Assembly.
He added, “This unity needed now more than ever, because elections are now looming
“I must state at the outset that to succeed we must in all our actions and decisions follow strictly the constitution of our party.”
The President insisted that he inherited a country that was at the brink of collapse.
He said, “Lest we forget, we must always remind ourselves of the dire situation in which we came to office. Therefore, we must not be shy in projecting our tremendous achievements from 2015 to date.
“The territorial integrity of Nigeria is no longer under threat. A number of security challenges still exists, but they exist in even the most well policed and well secured countries.
“I am confident that the measures we are taking will tackle the acts of rural banditry, herdsmen/farmers’ conflicts, communal clashes, kidnappings and other crimes.”
He also called on the party members to support a national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in his assignment to reconcile aggrieved members.
“I now turn to the party differences in various states. To this end, I have appointed a committee, headed by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a leader of the party, to reconcile differences in various states.
“We hope the committee will be given maximum support and cooperation to enable it to satisfactorily carry out its work and get the party united in purpose and in shape for the battles ahead,” he said.
Earlier, the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said despite the successes recorded by the current administration, the 2019 elections beginning with Ekiti and Osun would be challenging.
Odigie-Oyegun described the two governorship elections as ones that the party must win to serve as harbingers of prospects in 2019.
He urged the party leaders to put aside their differences and work for the party’s victory.
He said, “Disagreements and differences of opinions are normal features of democratic associations, but we must not allow these to develop to the extent that they become fatal to the existence of our party, and the achievements of its basic objective of winning elections and forming a government that serves the interests of our people.
“I therefore fully support the Asiwaju Peace Committee constituted by the President to reconcile all aggrieved groups within the party, and I encourage all of us to support the committee.”