The former acting Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief Bisi Akande, on Thursday, said President Muhammadu Buhari had yet to inform the South-West leaders of the party that he would be seeking re-election in 2019.
Akande spoke at the meeting of the APC South-West stakeholders at the executive chamber of the Oyo State governor’s office in Ibadan.
The former governor, who was the chairman of the meeting, spoke to newsmen at the end of the deliberations.
Among those who were present at the meeting were the Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi; his counterpart from Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu; Osun State Governor, Rafiu Aregbesola; and Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State.
Also in attendance were the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun; a former Oyo State governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala; a former Osun State governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola; the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yussuff Lasun; and the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu.
A National Leader of the party, Bola Tinubu, was said to be unavoidably absent as he had earlier made plans to be at the meeting.
When asked if the party would pick Buhari as its presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Akande said the party would take a decision at the appropriate time.
He added, “He has not told us that he is contesting again. Anybody in our party is free to become the President of Nigeria. As soon as they indicate interest, we will set a process through which a candidate is elected.
“If he (Buhari) is lucky to have the ticket, we will present him as our candidate.”
He said what the South-West leaders of the party were advocating was devolution of powers from the centre to the states and local governments.
Akande, a former Osun State governor, stated, “The APC leaders from the South-West, together with our members in government at the state and the national levels, met to review what we decided at the last meeting in January 2017 and to see whether the efforts of our leaders in government have been fruitful.
“We are happy that we have had a happy meeting. Our governors and ministers are performing satisfactorily.”
Akande told newsmen that restructuring was not the language of the APC, adding that it was not in its constitution or manifesto.
“Restructuring is not our language, go and ask those who are advocating restructuring to define it.
What we want is devolution of functions from the centre to the states and the local governments.
Restructuring is the language of other groups of people. Restructuring is not in the APC constitution or manifesto,” he said.
Speaking on the forthcoming Osun and Ekiti governorship elections, Akande said the party was ready to put an end to the reign of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ekiti State.
He however said the meeting focused on governance and not electoral matters.
“We tried to review our position and we are poised to see, as a party, what we will be able to do to have Ekiti State back. We are concerned about the services of our government to the people rather than electoral matters.
“The decision of this meeting is about how to advise the government to allow the states that have land to practise agriculture and improve on their education,” said Akande.
In his opening address, Ajimobi said the meeting presented a veritable ground for the leaders to reconnect with their political root.
The governor stated, “Our meeting today presents a veritable ground for us to reconnect with our political root and keep re-engaging ourselves as people whom nature has entrusted with the political leadership of the region at this material time.
“Similarly, it is to reconnect to the ideals that are germane to the progress of our people and, by extension, to the growth and development of Nigeria.”
He said after more than two years of the APC in government at the national level, it was vital to reflect on what the party had been able to give to the people.
Ajimobi stated, “It is only natural for us, particularly in the South-West region, to take time off to reflect on the journey so far and compare what we promised to deliver to our people in the country in general and the South-West region in particular, with what we have indeed been able to deliver.
“It is imperative for us, as we approach the third year of our tenure at the federal and state levels, to engage in some introspection to identify what could have been done differently, and if necessary, go back to the drawing board to proffer agreeable methods on the way forward with our people as the ultimate beneficiaries.”