The Chieftains of the All Progressive Congress (APC) have provided their several reactions to the stance of a serving minister Aisha Alhassan, who declared her support for another presidential candidate in 2019.
Mrs. Alhassan, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, had left many Nigerians appalled after a video surfaced on Tuesday, in which she can be seen drumming her support for a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, for the 2019 presidential election, ahead of her principal, president Muhammadu Buhari.
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In a separate interview with the BBC Hausa service, the minister said she would support Mr. Abubakar even if President Buhari chooses to contest.
Her action sparked condemnation and outrage on social media, particularly among supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
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Speaking on the development, the Deputy National Chairman of the APC, Segun Oni, expressed shock over her statement.
“I am surprised that it happened in the first instance, but that is for the President and the party to talk about it at the appropriate time,” the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quoted him as speaking at the Makurdi airport in Benue State.
The Nation quoted a party leader as saying “The remarks rattled us. It is totally unexpected. But it is her view, not a collective opinion.”
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Senator Shehu Sani (APC Kaduna Central) advised the minister to resign.
He said: “The difference between that woman who made the statement as a minister and others is that she was open and others are still having it in their minds.
“If she is prepared to work for the former vice-president, she can easily excuse herself from this government and concentrate on what she believes in for 2019.”
On his part, a chieftain of the APC in Bayelsa State, Preye Aganaba, said:
“She has a right to her choice but I think she is not being fair. If she wants to make such public statement as a serving minister, she should resign her appointment.”
“So, I don’t think for now that the APC has any other choice than to re-elect President Buhari, though people are free to contest; nobody is stopping them. This is APC where we usually have free and fair primaries. The last presidential primaries in Lagos, President Buhari won more than half of the votes.
“During the last APC presidential primaries, the campaign slogan for Buhari was ’12 million assured votes’ and I don’t think one single vote has left that 12 million assured votes. In fact, more have even been added.
“I am not bothered about the economy because that will be fixed. For me, I’m looking at the politics of various zones because that will determine how much we win the election. To win, we will win, but by what margin? These are my issues and then if we can also do well at National Assembly elections.
“In government wise, I think we have done well. Yes, may be not where we are supposed to be because we also did not know about what we met when we came in 2015 but we have done well. A few days ago we heard that Nigeria exited the recession. The prices of food stuff are coming down, in Abuja here where I live I get minimum of 20 hours of electricity and some days light doesn’t go off for five days and so on.
“If President Buhari runs election today, he is going to win. I don’t think the President is terminally ill and, like every other human being, people fall sick but the problem is because he is the President, is in government you begin to hear stories, but he is back. I saw him yesterday; he was looking very fresh, atleast he rested very well in Daura.”
Also, the chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, while reacting to the comment credited to Mrs. Alhassan, disclosed that President Buhari will make his decision on the 2019 elections public.
Vanguard reports that Oyegun made this known in Benin on Thursday, September 7, where he said the president was still focused on his administration.
He added that if President Buhari plans to seek re-election, he would make it public.