The Presidency has clarified that President Muhammadu Buhari was not taking a jab at Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, when he said the zoning of the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and his successor can’t be decided by someone sitting in Lagos.
During his interview with Arise TV, on Thursday, the President was asked about his succession plan and which part of the South the position of president will return to.
Responding, Buhari said: “I just told you we started from bottom up. And I gave the acting Chairman (Mai Mala Buni) the end of this month of June…to give me report on the convention we are going to conduct and then arrange the elections and started this from bottom up.
“So, members of the party will feel they are involved in decision making. Nobody is just sitting in Lagos and asking them what to do.”
Many Nigerians assumed that the President’s comment was a subtle dig at Tinubu.
Clarifying the comment, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garaba Shehu, in a statement said the President, Tinubu and the rapidly growing members of the party want a dynastic succession of elected leaders.
“The Presidency wishes to distance President Buhari from a malicious campaign aiming to drive a wedge between him and a staunch ally, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“This is nothing short of a mischievous attempt to drag the President into controversies. Our citizens and especially the members of the APC should not fall for this.
“The ruling party, the APC, unlike others before it is a popular political party owned by its entire membership, hence Mr. President was making the point during the 45-minutes interview that neither he nor anyone in the leadership could impose their wishes on the party.
“This is a basic consensus that binds the entire party leadership. The party leaders remain firmly committed to the principles that succession must be through the democratic norms and processes.
“The mention he made of Lagos was not a reference to the respected party leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, as the opposition party’s predatory designs would put it in order to damage the excellent relationship between the two of them.
“The President, the Asiwaju and the rapidly growing members of the party, want a dynastic succession of elected leaders.
“The APC should not be distracted from its progress as a democratic party,” Shehu said.