The All Progressives Congress, APC, has denied claims by former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar that he was sidelined by President Muhammadu Buhari despite contributing immensely to his emergence in 2015.
The allegation by the former Vice President was debunked by the North West Zonal Vice Chairman of the party, Inuwa Abdulkadir.
Abdulkadir also cautioned members of the party to be careful of their public utterances and not hide under the guise of freedom of speech to undermine the party or bring the party and the leadership to disrepute.
Abdulkadir who was reacting to the statement credited to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar that he has been sidelined by both the President and the party describe the statement as an “unguided statement” which should not be coming from a statement of his repute.
Abdulkadir who spoke with selected newsmen at the APC national secretariat on Friday also said that the Minister of Women Affairs was practically blackmailing the President with her statement which has attracted public comments in recent times, pointing out that while she was entitled to her own opinion, she was morally bound to either keep quiet or resign from the government, rather than creating the impression that things were not working well within the government.
He said the former Vice President gave the impression of failure on the side of both the party and the government formed by the party, pointing out that as a statesman who contributed to building the party, statements of fact was expected from him.
He said: “Atiku Abubakar is a very important member of this party. He is one of the leaders of this party and I have no doubt about his contribution to building this party. He has also added value by his personality during the last election
“People of such statue and reckoning in this country, particularly being a former Vice President, of this great nation, he has attained the position of a statesman and what we expect from him is nothing less than that. By virtue of former his office and his age, he is qualified to be a statesman.
“But when you reach that statue and age there are certain things you have to come to terms with, most important of which is to exhibit a high sense of decorum in your conduct. What I mean is that 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.
“Secondly, the majority of the people look up to you to provide leadership in the sense that from what you say people can learn a lot.
“Of recent Atiku has made some statements to the effect that or create an impression of the failure of the party and the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government. At that level, good party members, especially of his status should not be seen to be making such 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 as if there is a crack in the house and in the party or that the party is not doing all that which it ought to. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have been here to respond to certain statements because 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.
“Yes, Atiku like many others made certain contributions in the 2015 elections and in building the party. But the bigger picture which he gave is not correct. I know that in the North West zone which I represent, we had eight presidential campaign rallies and Atiku did not attend any.
“Yes, he added value by his personality, but there are so many other members of the party, who made financial contribution and added electoral value. North West is the most populous zone in terms of the APC membership and in terms of electoral victory, not only to the president, but we have seven state governors and 20 out of the 21 senators in the zone are from the APC.
“I think we are critical and major stakeholders in this party. So one of the reasons why I am making this statement is to calm our members in these states and not to be distracted and that APC is well on ground as all efforts are being made to solidify those gains and we shouldn’t be distanced by such unfortunate statements which are suggesting that the party is neglecting a particular person or group persons.
“Some of these things are processes and you don’t expect everything to happen at the same time. More importantly, there should 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 so, they cannot afford to talk anyhow.
“On the issue of consultation by the Mr. President, though I don’t work in the Villa, it is an open secret that whoever visited the president is no longer a secret. Whoever is meeting the president of Nigeria more than 20 people will know and the information will be shared.
“As a matter of fact, several times, Atiku Abubakar has visited Mr. President and what they discussed, we don’t know but we know that he has visited. I am sure he is not just there to greet him. Those two leaders will meet without discussing one thing or the other.
“On party meetings, I know that immediately after the convention where Buhari was nominated as the party flag bearer, there were a number of leadership meetings which he participated. Also, there were formal party meetings, some of which were held in the Villa and he was present.
“There were some meetings here at the National Secretariat including two NEC meetings which he attended and other functions of the party. So the claim that the party only met once is not correct.
“On his criticism of the President in the area of security and the fight against corruption, I want to say that if you critically listen to what he said, you will discover that it is not correct because we know where we were in 2015 and where we are now especially in terms of security and what the situation is now.
“This is just a sign of caution. As a party, we caution our members from making unguarded statements that are capable of ridiculing the leadership of the party and the leadership of the government formed by this party. I think that we as a party, we will not relent in our effort in installing discipline and ensuring decorum among our members.
“We should always remember that this party is an institution and it is not a personal enterprise belong to one person, a group of persons or a class of people. It has its own rules and regulations. People should not hide under the freedom of speech to undermine the party or bring the party and the leadership to disrepute. We all appreciate the efforts of members of this party in producing the president.
“So, the party has a duty to ensure that party members e committed to the party and its principles. APC respects the right of all its members and the citizens from this country to make constructive criticism and we embrace such.
“At the same time, we have a responsibility to ensure that those privileges, those rights being exercise by the members does not encroach into the reputation of the party or the party as an institution.”
Speaking on the statement credited to the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Jummai Alhassan, Abdulkadir said the action of the Minister could be interpreted to mean that she was either blackmailing the President or boxing him into a corner.
He said while she was entitled to her opinion, she is morally bound to resign her appointment if she is not satisfied with events in the cabinet, pointing out that her statement were suggestive of things not working well within the cabinet.
He said: “People have rights to express their opinions and express their views. But those rights are morally suspended if you found yourself in a situation where you find yourself as a member of the cabinet or as a member of the party.
“There are certain things that are expected from you because it sends wrong signals of your commitment to the party as well as the person you are serving. However, some of these things are within the discretion of the Principal of that Minister who is the President.
“The situation is that her statement is capable of creating an impression that even at the cabinet level, things are not well. As far as the party is concerned, everything is well in terms of the cabinet. But there is personal responsibility on that minister to do the right thing.
“As a leader and somebody who has accepted to serve in a government formed by the party, the right thing to do if you think otherwise is to honourably quit. What we have right now is a situation of blackmailing the President or boxing him which will not be accepted by the party.
“These two issues have come to the public domain and it is part of our responsibility as leaders of this party to ensure that the current things are known and to correct whatever wrong impression that would have been created.
“You are making such suggestion in respect of your principal in public, this is something that she can discuss with her principal to express to him so that he (President) will know her position. And if you feel like it should be public then you are saying that I’m no longer comfortable with this situation, if this situation should continue I’m not comfortable with it.
“Whether Buhari has said that he will recontest or not is immaterial, what is material as serving Minister should not be seen to be making public statement that suggests that they are not on the same page with the team because she is a more member of a team.
“In order places, the right thing is for her to resign, that she can no longer continue to be in this thing because my spirit ir my thought is not in conformity with this team, so we can no more work together. She is entitled to that. So, you can not you eat your cake and have it, that is the situation.
“As high as that office is people resign and leave on principle that if not that I’m a member of APC I would not have accepted to serve but I’m not convinced still, so I think giving an opportunity to somebody else I will support him not you”.