By Omeiza Ajayi & Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA— For the first time since the 2015 general elections, national leader of ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has met with the party’s national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, in a move widely seen as the beginning of his new task as presidential negotiator into the crises bedeviling the party.
Speaking with journalists after the meeting, which lasted nearly four hours, Tinubu, said though the party remained the hope of Nigerians, it had lost tremendous goodwill since the 2015 elections.
The APC leader spoke on a day Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said the advice he gave Nigeria’s ex-Presidents to quit politics and join the retirees’ club should also be heeded by President Muhammadu Buhari in the interest of the nation.
Tinubu, who was recently appointed by President Buhari to reconcile warring parties within the party, said he was visiting the national secretariat as part of consultations on how to carry out his assignment.
He said: “Since we won the elections, the expectations were very high and the goodwill was extremely high. But where are we today?
‘’The solution is to seek opinion and advice on the various complex issues around some states or if there is any national one, to reconcile, move the party in a cohesive manner, reposition it and build confidence among ourselves.”
Though he declined comments on whether he was among the foremost aggrieved stakeholders of the party, having last year called for the sack of Chief Odigie-Oyegun, Tinubu said challenges faced by the government and the President were enormous.
He said: “It is only because people are not paying attention to the various statistics that are available. We have never governed before, but we won the confidence of Nigerians to govern.
“We have a creed to really serve the country, change and reform the country. It is not easy to have those changes implemented like instant curfew. We have to grow and face challenges. I sympathize with us and we should equally look at ourselves.”
Tinubu’s visit to Oyegun
Welcoming Tinubu to the APC national secretariat, national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said the assignment given to him (Tinubu) by the President was significant to heal the wounds where necessary.
“Your visit is very significant, in view of your Presidential assignment which I will describe as a peace ambassador, to heal wounds where the party has wounds and bring everybody together behind one single objective, which is the APC being in good condition to be a fighting political force, such that in 2019, the election will become virtually a runaway victory for the party.
“There is no question at all that we have major issues with the National Assembly, major issues in Kano, Kogi, Benue states with the current challenges that we are facing.
“So, we truly welcome your appointment and I want to say that we will give you all the assistance that you will possibly need to make your assignment a most successful one.”
Tinubu’s counsel on retirees’ club, good for Buhari — PDP
Meanwhile, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has said the advice by APC national leader, Tinubu, that Nigeria’s ex-Presidents should quit politics and join the retirees’ club should be heeded by President Buhari in the interest of the nation.
The party said Tinubu’s position completely vindicated the positions of former Presidents, including Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida, PDP as well as majority of Nigerians, who believe President Buhari should not seek re-election in 2019, having failed woefully in governance and nation building.
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, said the former Lagos State governor had invariably weighed Buhari and found him unfit to remain in office beyond 2019.
The statement read: “Every discerning Nigerian has discovered the fact that Tinubu is subtly passing a critical message to President Buhari and his supporters that he should not contest the 2019 election and that Nigerians have already moved on even without them.”
“Even Tinubu knows that President Buhari, for obvious reasons, is the most qualified of all our elder statesmen to join the retiree’s club and save the nation the agony of more years of misrule characterized by untold economic hardship, heavy bloodletting and general indignation.
“The supporters of President Buhari should therefore accept the reality by reading the handwriting on the wall and heed wise counsel from well- meaning Nigerians. In any case, the APC is already on a death throe, having led the worst government in the history of our nation and will end up as the first party in government at the centre that will be rejected by Nigerians at a second attempt.”