Several of the state chief executives had arrived at the presidential villa, Abuja on Tuesday, only to learn that the meeting would no longer take place.
No official reason was given for the cancellation but the president’s activities for the day had been scheduled to end earlier than usual as he was meant to depart for Belgium later the same day for Europe-African Union Summit taking place in the country.
It is not clear whether the cancellation was for time constraints and when the meeting may be rescheduled.
The president is rescheduled to return from Europe on Saturday.
Some of the governors that were sighted in the villa include the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Ekiti state Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi; Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Simon Lalong (Plateau; Ben Ayade (Cross River), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Hope Uzodinma (Imo) and Yahaya Bello (Kogi).
Also sighted were Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege and Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Ahmed Wase.
Despite the cancellation of the meeting, both Uzodinma and Bello were able to have separate private audiences with the president on matters concerning their individual states.
The two principal officers of the National Assembly also had a session with the president.
Fielding questions from correspondents after his meeting with the president, Uzodinma explained that there is nothing wrong if the APC decides to shift its national convention from the February 26 scheduled date.
Responding to queries about the fate of the conversation following the party’s inability to agree on offices zoning and setting up convention subcommittees with less than two weeks to the date, he explained: “Of course, that is the decision of the party and there is nothing wrong even if it doesn’t hold. What is important is that we must have our convention. We have said it is the 26th. If anything, for any reason tomorrow, it is not doable in the opinion of the party, we will move. But that does not mean that there is any intention to move.
“We shouldn’t worry about little issues. I think our focus and attention should be towards having a workable democracy in Nigeria, like we have shown, supporting government policies and programmes and then being patriotic. Our democracy will do better if supported with the right attitude. You may not like my face, but the federal government is the Federal Government, the state government is state government.
“We should be able to exhibit sense of nationalism and patriotism. We should be able to support government that is in power. Today, the President, even though produced by APC, is President of all the political parties in Nigeria and the government of all the political parties in Nigeria.
“This mentality of war, war, war, politics and democracy is not about war, it’s about ideology and the ability to sell your policy and the people will buy into it.
“So, I’m confident that our party, contrary to the expectations in some quarters, will be stronger and stronger as we make progress and of course, in the nearest future, I’m very confident that APC will still be in power because the programmes are the party, the manifesto of the party, the individuals in the party, majority of the political class in Nigeria understands that APC is the party to beat and that is why they are joining day by day.”
The Imo governor dismissed fears over the national convention as he affirmed that the APC being the ruling party has the wherewithal to deal with any issues that may arise.
He stated: “Don’t forget that the APC is not a mushroom party, APC is a giant, it’s the largest party today in Africa and that is the party that other small parties should copy. Because small parties come to do zoning and all that does not mean their internal mechanism must be the same with that of APC.
“APC is already the party on the ground that owns the federal government of Nigeria and up to 21 state governments. So, the discretion on how and when to do their convention should be an internal party affair and APC is the one wearing the shoe, with credible leadership, they know when to move and when not to move.
“So, I think we should just watch because, under the constitution of APC, buying form is one thing. We have three modes that we can adopt to elect our officers; either by direct primaries, by indirect primaries or by consensus. What if APC has adopted consensus and is not yet to the public knowledge? We don’t need again to begin to sell forms and do that zoning or not zoning.
“We are democratic enough to know when to shoot and when not to shoot. I think you should just bring your people who have not joined APC to join the party.”
Also answering questions from correspondents after his separate meeting with President Buhari. Governor Bello stressed the need for the north-central to produce the successor to President Buhari as he noted that the region is the most marginalised in the country.
While reacting to the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, an Igbo apex socio-cultural organisation insistence that zoning the presidency to the South-East was necessary for national unity, Bello pointed out that the North Central has never produced the president or vice president of the country.
He argued that it is therefore proper for the region to be given the opportunity in 2023.
The Kogi governor stated: “Well, if you’re talking of Southeast, then you will equally talk of north-central, not only since 1999 but since 1960. So what do you say of north-central both the president and vice president?
“So, put the situation of the southeast and that of north-central side by side, then who is more disadvantaged in terms of the position of presidency both presidents and vice presidents?
“So, if you put both sides together, then let’s do justice. And whichever way you look at it, I’m eminently qualified.”
Bello, who is nursing presidential ambition said he did not need to announce whether he had informed President Buhari of his plans but noted that he will officially declare for the race in the next few weeks.
Also speaking on the qualities a potential successor of Buhari should possess, he said: “Mr President would want a vibrant, experienced, energetic, patriotic Nigerian to take over from him and in all of the qualities that Nigerians are yearning, or looking for today, I possess all of these qualities by the special grace of God.
“Nigerians are yearning and asking me to run for the President come 2023 and by the special grace of God I will not turn down that offer. Also, Mr President is one of the Nigerians like I said, who would want a qualified person to take over from him. Informing him is between myself and him, it is not what I should come to the public to tell the world that I have informed Mr President, that I want to run.
“But surely in days, and possibly weeks ahead we are going to come to the public to declare our intention by the special grace of God.”
When reminded that the presidency by 2023 would have stayed eight years in the north and going by the north, he said: “First I’m an advocate of capacity and ability to serve. In Nigeria today, we need somebody who have the capacity to serve the country. Today if you’re flying from one place to another, you don’t care who the pilot is, but who is that person who is experienced to fly from one point to another.
“Also coming from the angle of north and south divide then let us be very fair and equitable. Then you look into the number of years the north has held this position and the number of years the south has held this position. If you add eight years to what the South has had and then looking at the north, then you know that there’s injustice as far as that is concerned.
“So if we’re talking about justice, fairness and equity, we’re not just looking at the eight years by the grace of God of that of President Muhammadu Buhari, we should add them together to the number of years the north has had it since 1999 till date, and the number of years south have had it since 1999 till date. Whichever divide whichever argument that comes up I perfectly fit into the arguments.”
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