GOVS ABSENT AS BUHARI HOLDS CAMPAIGN COUNCIL MEETING

Governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were yesterday conspicuously absent at the inaugural meeting of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) for the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari during the February 16 election. The President presided over the meeting, which held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja. It was unclear why the governors, who have vital roles to play in the council as state coordinators, stayed away from the meeting. Many of the governors were at the inauguration of the PCC on Monday. Findings indicate that yesterday’s session, which was a strategy meeting, needed the inputs of the governors as the campaigns for the 2019 general elections gather momentum. Neither the presidency nor the APC, however, gave official explanations for the absence of the APC governors. Speaking at the event, Buhari said the meeting was to outline the operational structure of the Council with a view to assigning key responsibilities to members for effective planning and delivery to achieve success during the campaigns. “Our main objective is to serve as the forum for collective decision-making to enhance the effectiveness of the campaign effort,” he said. The President said the agenda was also to further consider and approve the terms of reference of the various directorates and organogram that will determine how members will relate with each other and discharge their roles in the campaign. Buhari appealed to the team to dedicate and commit themselves once again to the task at hand as victory was already at the horizon.

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He said: “There is no doubt that victory is with us: it is ours, but that shouldn’t mean we should rest even for a moment. “Even though we are confident of winning, I urge you to work as hard as you can so that we can maximize the scale and extent of our victory. I urge you to rise to the challenge of the great expectations this party and Nigerians have for you and the confidence that I personally have in the ability of all of you to deliver.

“You are the cream of the party and I assure you that with unity of purpose and effective harmony and communication, there is no political opponent you cannot overcome. “I trust this will ensure a smooth campaign and a resounding victory for our party and its candidates. I, therefore, urge you to carefully read the documents and make observations designed to improve our performance.” Buhari had, during the inauguration of the campaign council last week in Abuja, announced that his re-election campaign in 2019 would be headed by former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said the PCC will cover all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) within the stipulated campaign period. He spoke when he fielded questions from State House correspondents at the end of the Council meeting. He said that the meeting reviewed the programme of activities and calendar of campaigns for the presidential campaign. According to him, the APC intends to campaign across the length and breadth of the country, to canvass for votes for the party at all levels.Oshiohmole added that the campaign train would continue to remind Nigerians that the Buhari administration had done a lot for the country, having inherited a battered economy from previous administration. “The key issue was to go through the programme of activities, calendar of campaigns, various interest groups within the country, the business community, the youth, women, people with disabilities and various special interest groups.

“The whole country is Mr. President’s constituencies. So, he will have to visit each of the 36 states with appropriate message. “We need to constantly remind Nigerians of what happened in the last 16 years and what has changed over the past three and a half years, and what will change even more over the next four years, if given the mandate to continue and consolidate,” he said. Also, former Senate Minority leader, Godswill Akpabio, expressed confidence that the APC was set to win the February 16 presidential election. Akpabio, who was governor of Akwa Ibom State for eight years and Senate Minority Leader on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), also said that the main opposition party had no ground upon which to predicate its campaigns. He said that the APC Presidential Campaign Council’s inaugural meeting was to strategize on how to execute the project, saying that President Buhari’s achievements will be the focal point in their campaigns. “I will say that APC is very poised not just to undertake very smooth and scintillating and enjoyable campaign, but also very poised to win the next election.

“We have very few weeks to the general elections, first the Presidential election and we are quite ready. As you are aware, so far so good, we are running on the basis of our first term performance,” he noted. Akpabio continued that: “The achievements of Mr. President are all there for people to see and I think the entire country is quite excited unlike our colleagues in the PDP who do not seem to have anything except to criticize, attempt to run campaigns of calumny and false accusations against us in the APC. “Today (Thursday) we are meeting to restrategize and conclude, dot the I’s and cross the T’s in the campaign structure so that we can come out with not just formidable campaigns across the country, but also sensitise our people in terms of voter education, we are ready for it,” he said.