The All Progressives Congress (APC) has warned leaders of the party, especially former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, to desist from making “misleading statements aimed at causing division within the party.”
The National Vice Chairman of the APC (North West), Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir, who gave the warning in Abuja yesterday, also came down hard on the Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Aisha Alhassan, by demanding that she should quit the federal cabinet, for pledging allegiance to Atiku.
On the same day, the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, said the public disclosure of loyalty to Atiku by Alhassan should not come as a surprise because she had never shared President Muhammadu Buhari’s beliefs or ideology.
In the warning, seen as APC’s first major reaction to the scathing criticisms leveled against the ruling party and President Buhari by both Atiku and the serving minister, the National Vice Chairman of the party described the action of the two top party members as not only misleading but also unbecoming of their status.
He said that Atiku’s claim of being sidelined by the ruling party and its administration, despite his contributions to electoral victory in 2015, was misleading and not factual.
Abdulkadir, who addressed journalists yesterday at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja, said the statement credited to the former Vice President was capable of causing division in the ranks of the party and government.
Abdulkadir said: “By virtue of his office and his age, Atiku is qualified to be a statesman but when you reach that stature and age, there are certain things you have to come to terms with, which is to exhibit a high sense of decorum in your conduct. You have to guard what you say, how you say it and when you say it because what is expected of you as a statesman is nothing but factual.
“More importantly, there should be some decorum in what we do. People who have attained those high privileged positions should know that they have attained certain status in the society and cannot afford to talk anyhow.”
Speaking on the complaint by Atiku that he had been neglected by the party, Abdulkadir said such a position was not correct, considering the level of his access to Buhari and the party.
He also disagreed with the former Vice President’s charge that the ruling party had not been holding meetings as required, insisting that there was at least two major high level meetings that had Atiku and President Buhari in attendance.
According to Abdulkadir, whose North-west zone produced President Buhari, the area Atiku should be most concerned about is success or otherwise of the current APC-led administration.
“The reason is that the North-west is the most populous zone in terms of the APC membership and in terms of electoral victory. That is apart from having seven APC state governors, and 20 out of the 21 senators in the zone are from the APC,” he said.
He said, Atiku, like many others, made certain contributions to the 2015 elections but that the bigger picture which Atiku gave was not correct.
In terms of electoral value, Abdulkadir said that the North-west zone held eight presidential campaign rallies during the 2015 presidential election but “Atiku did not attend any.”
“Of recent, Atiku made some statements that created an impression of the failure of the party and the President Buhari-led government. At that level, good party members, especially of his status, should not be seen to be making public statements even if those criticisms are factual, whereas in this case, some of these statements were misleading and incorrect.
“These statements give an impression of a crack in the house and in the party or that the party is not doing all that which it ought to. As leaders, we shouldn’t be seen as joining issues in the public domain but since he has made a public statement, the public is entitled to get the other side or be told the truth,” said Abdulkadir.
On the outburst by Aisha regarding the 2019 presidential election, the APC chieftain said the minister should have respected her principal by not making her statement public.
He said that the president was not going to act in a spontaneous manner, “rather, it should be the minister that will have to resign based on moral grounds.”
Commenting on the issue of Buhari’s alleged promise not to go for second term, the Vice Chairman said: “Whether Buhari has said that he would re-contest or not is immaterial; what is material is that a serving Minister should not be seen making public statement suggesting that they are not on the same page with the team because she is a member of a team.”
El-Rufai: Alhassan never believed in Buhari
In a related development, the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, yesterday said the public disclosure of loyalty to Atiku by the Minister of Women Affairs, was not a surprise because she had never shared President Buhari’s beliefs or ideology.
El-Rufai, who made this remark while answering questions from journalists in the State House, described Alhassan as a former student union activist, who failed to support the aspiration of Buhari for presidency prior to the 2015 general election.
According to him, Alhassan had never been in Buhari’s political group, neither did she vote for him at the presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) which held in Lagos in 2015 but was only offered a cabinet position because of the president’s magnanimity, as well as her influence on the party in Taraba State.
“The Minister of Women Affairs, Jummai Alhassan, had been in the student union. In the APC, she has never been in the Buhari camp. She did not support our candidate during the national convention. She didn’t vote for Buhari during the primaries. But out of the largeness of the president’s heart and to encourage women in politics, he felt that even though she was never a supporter of his politics nor his beliefs or ideologies, but because of what she had tried to do in Taraba, he felt she had earned being nominated as a minister.
“Many in Buhari camp did not support her appointment as minister but he overruled everybody because that is how he is. He tried to be inclusive. He considered every Nigerian his own son or daughter and he nominated her to be minister. Her comments are not surprising. She has never been a supporter. She has never believed in Buhari ideology. So, I am not surprised and as a Nigerian, as an individual, she has every right to express her views and support whoever she wants.
“But what I am saying is, Nigerians should not be surprised or shocked. This has always been her position because from time, she has never supported Buharism or what Buhari stands for. Being part of Buhari’s government is a different thing because government sets policies and if you are a minister, you execute the policies. You can execute those policies while pursuing a different brand of politics. And it is okay. There is no problem with that,” el-Rufai said.
The governor added that Alhassan’s continuous retention in the cabinet of Buhari remains the president’s exclusive preserve, observing that this administration is not a political cleavage and hence, the minister may retain her position despite her political views.
On the protracted clamour for restructuring of the country, el-Rufai said the committee set up by the APC on restructuring, which he chairs, would commence public hearings on the matter on September 18, during which the views of Nigerians would be collated.
According to him, 13 public hearings have been earmarked for the exercise in various parts of the country, with youths as the targets. The youths, he added, “have the largest population in the country and hence, it is their perception on the subject of restructuring that is of paramount interest to the committee.”