The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bola Tinubu, has clarified the misrepresentation in the statement attributed to him by Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha, saying he never underrated the importance of governors in the party’s nomination process.
He further explained that what he said in that encounter with journalists in Akure “and still canvasses is that the APC should not mimic the PDP’s (Peoples Democratic Party) penchant for short-circuiting internal democracy by promoting the idea of an automatic ticket”.
Last month, Okorocha had said all the governors in the country, save for two, had endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari for re-election, thus implying the governors had given the president an automatic ticket for 2019.
Asked to respond to the issue after a meeting with Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, in Akure recently, Tinubu had said such was strange to the party and that Buhari was a man who believes in due process.
The Imo State governor, however, interpreted that to mean a slight on the party’s governors.
Speaking with journalists at the weekend in the same Akure after he received an honourary doctoral degree at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, he said his own statement referred to the party’s governors and that Tinubu was crying more than the bereaved.
Clarifying Tinubu’s statement in a statement Monday night in Lagos, his media adviser, Mr. Tunde Rahman, said: “We note Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha’s statement.
“It is important that the record of what Asiwaju Tinubu said when approached by journalists during his last visit to Akure is accurate.
“Thus, I make this statement in the hope of clarifying a misinterpretation that seems to have taken hold in some quarters.
“I was at the interview session. Asiwaju never said anything that could be interpreted as meaning or even implying the governors are irrelevant or insignificant to the party’s nomination process.
“As a former governor and a leading statesman within the party, such words would never come from him.
“Moreover, Asiwaju is a democrat who believes that the open and democratic processes of the APC, which led to the nomination of President Buhari in the first instance, have served the party well and have helped distinguish the APC from PDP and other parties where fairness and internal democracy are rare commodities.
“Every individual has a right to endorse or support a candidate of his choosing. What Asiwaju said at that encounter and still canvasses is that the APC should not mimic the PDP’s penchant for short-circuiting internal democracy by promoting the idea of an automatic ticket.
“The exercise of internal democracy and honoring the letter and spirit of party rules can only strengthen the party and enthuse its members.
“APC’s all-inclusive philosophy was not devised today. It had been with the party since its creation.
“It was this spirit, which we believe, attracted fellow progressives and those who genuinely believe in democracy in all of its aspects to the party. Asiwaju includes Governor Okorocha in this group.
“The APC governors are essential and important voices in the party. Asiwaju values and respects each one of them and gives their individual and collective opinions much weight.
“Yet, in the exercise of our opinions and support for candidates, we all must be guided and never lose clear sight to the democratic ideals that separate the APC from other parties.
“We must maintain the integrity of the processes no matter how clear-cut a decision or an outcome may seem to be. With regard to democracy, the process is of equal import as the outcome itself.
“That is the essence of what Asiwaju said that day in Akure. He merely asked APC members to adhere to the democratic path that thus far has served the party so well. There can be no true dispute with such a sentiment.”