The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, has said that the party is yet to endorse President Muhammadu Buhari as its sole candidate for the 2019 presidential election.
He also said the party would follow the ”normal democratic processes” in choosing its candidate for the election.
Mr. Tinubu spoke with journalists on Wednesday in Akure, the Ondo State capital, after a meeting with the leadership of Afenifere at the Akure home of its leader, Reuben Fasoranti.
His statement is coming on the heels of a recent endorsement by state governors of the party for the president to run in 2019.
The meeting with Afenifere was held behind closed doors with the Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu; his deputy, Agboola Ajayi; the National Vice Chairman (South-west), Pius Akinyelure; and Olu Falae in attendance.
Others present at the meeting were the APC chieftain, Bisi Akande; and the secretary of Afenifere, Seinde Arogbofa.
According to Mr. Tinubu, Mr. Buhari, ”stands for normal democratic process and the rule of law.”
“No governors can appropriate the power of endorsement to themselves. Buhari is a believer in due process”, Mr. Tinubu asserted.
“The Buhari I know believes in the rule of law. We wanted him even before the last convention and primary of the party and Akeredolu is here standing with me, he was not the governor then. He was one of the leading delegates that voted properly and Buhari was a clear winner.
“We followed all the constitutional provision and an individual or group’s opinion does not really matter at this stage, Buhari will want a normal process. Buhari that I know, who says he will lose at any convention? But if the national body, the NEC (National Executive Committee) and all of us as members endorsed him as our single candidate, we will not be violating INEC regulations, we will not be violating our party constitution.
“What you are hearing is just a campaign by other people who might like to do so. Buhari has not excluded anybody, and he has not infringed on anybody’s ambition if there is. We cannot be sycophantic about it.”
Speaking on his visit, Mr. Tinubu said he came to pay homage and to acknowledge the leadership of Mr. Fasoranti as one of the leaders of the Yoruba nation and the leader of the Afenifere group.
“I am in Akure to acknowledge the leadership of Pa Fasoranti in our own race, as a great leader of the Omoluabi. In his evening, we want him to be happy, he has been a great leader in his youth”, Tinubu said.
“His intellectual (capacity) is still very intact. We are here to seek his advice, seek his understandings and prayers; that is why I am here.”
Mr. Tinubu parted ways with the leadership of the Afenifere shortly before the 2003 elections over his opposition to an alliance with the former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The alliance eventually led to the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the South-west states, except Lagos State where Mr. Tinubu was then governor.
Asked why it took so long for him to visit the Afenifere leader, the former Lagos State governor said it was his decision to come at the time he came.
“What is my decision is my decision and as an ‘ordinary reporter’, you cannot be asking me that”, Mr. Tinubu said tersely.
“I decide on my time based on the charter of United Nations on Human Rights. I am a democrat and I believe in constitutional democracy.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Fasoranti described the visit of Mr. Tinubu as a sign of good things to come to the Yoruba race, stating that the meeting would further foster great understanding among the Yoruba people and states.
“It is an indication of great things to come, the coming together of Yoruba leaders, there will be an understanding on major issues affecting Yoruba race. We will consult and move ahead. As it is now, there will be a great understanding among the leaders as Tinubu is a leader in his own right,” Mr. Fasoranti said.