Governors elected on the platform of All Progressive Congress APC met on Thursday and denied that there was rift in the Presidency, tagged the allegations of division as a mere rumour concocted by mischief makers.
According to them, there is a cordial relationship between President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN).
The ruling party, APC, chided the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for fuelling “fallacy” to distract the President and his deputy.
But the PDP, which maintained that there is division between President Buhari and Prof. Osinbajo, dared the Vice President to waive his constitutional immunity to face the claims against him.
The ruling party and its governors spoke on separate occasions in Abuja.
Addressing reporters during the inauguration of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) Steering Committee on Media and Communication, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who is the chairman of the committee, described the alleged face-off in the Presidency as a “gossip”.
Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by Deputy Governor Obafemi Hamzat, explained that the Buhari administration had carried on with its normal duties in the last few days, despite the alleged bad-blood.
He said: “There is no crack. It is in the realm of gossips. By the time they said that, the Vice President went to Zimbabwe to represent this country. It was the prerogative of the President but he nominated him.
”Like I said earlier, it is in the realm of gossips because only on Wednesday, the vice president presided over the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, which is the highest decision making body in the country. So, we don’t listen to rumours. We deal with facts and the fact is that they are working together. So, it is all rumour and don’t take it that serious.”
Shedding light on the purpose of the steering Committee, co-chaired by Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai, Sanwo-Olu said it was inaugurated to support the Progressive sovernors to achieve the vision of rolling out progressive public/media engagement initiatives in APC states.
He said the move underscored the party’s commitment to citizens’ participation as a necessary condition for the expansion of the democratic space.
Sanwo-Olu recalled that, between 2015 and 2019, the committee adopted a number of initiatives, which included the PGF Monthly Progressive Strides, online sectoral campaigns and Town Hall Meetings.
“The forum recognises the fact that the successes and impact of these activities especially in relations to stimulating the envisioned public engagements in our states is constrained by factors.
“These may have to do with capacity gaps of state officials and associated issues of conservative mindsets. We, however, should be able to strengthen our capacity to rollout more progressive public/media engagement initiatives between the 2019 and 2023.”
Sanwo-Olu said the committee has a mandate to strengthen the capacity of APC controlled states to implement approved initiatives.
Describing the allegation of a face-off in the Presidency as a fallacy, APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said: ”We have important issues of governance than to continue to respond to fallacies. How do you determine a crack?
“The vice president had been sent out to represent the president at an international event. After PDP saw a crack, the vice president presided over the FEC meeting on Wednesday. Is that part of the PDP’s crack? Let us stop this joke. We know we have challenges in this country. Let us face these challenges”.
Issa-Onilu also alleged that the PDP has been erecting campaign billboards and printing of campaign posters, purportedly in preparation for the 2023 elections.
He said APC is preoccupied with solving the challenges facing the country and working to fulfill her campaign promises to Nigerians. He said the party does not have any room for election thoughts at the moment, adding that those who wanted to distract the party from its task of providing leadership will use anything to do so.
Issa-Onilu added: ”As a party, we want to state clearly that, having won elections convincingly and having been given the mandate to run government for the next four years, our major and only focus now is governance. We are not engaging in any other activity on 2023 elections and wherever you see such (posters), you can be sure it is from mischief makers and, of course, we know it is part of the strategy of the PDP to continue to take actions to cause distractions for the governing party from focusing on anything that is important to the people of Nigeria which is to deal with the challenges that we are all faced with; the challenges of governance, security, economy and corruption as well as other associated issues. That is what we are focused on.
”So, as a party, we understand the social contract we have signed with the people of Nigeria with the renewal of our mandate. Whatever poster you might have seen about any of our leaders anywhere in this country is irrelevant to us. We do not have a hand in it and it is not from those leaders. It is strictly part of the strategy of a party that is supposed to provide alternative to our governance model and since they do not have such, the only thing they can do is to continue to throw spanners into the works”, he said
Urging Prof. Osinbajo to fulfill his threats to set aside his immunity, PDP also challenged him to immediately resign from office to enable him face corruption allegations leveled against him by his traducers.
PDP National Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan said immunity under Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is conferred on an official by virtue of his/her election into an office within a duration and cannot be waived by any means other than resignation.
He said: “It is instructive to state that Section 308 confers immunity to the holder of the office during his period in office. There is no provision for waiver while the holder is still in office.
“Vice President Osinbajo should know that it is settled that section 308 can only be set aside by vacating the office. It is not a jacket to be put on or dropped at will.
“Significantly, our party invites the vice president to note that his pronouncement has set off a process, which is expected to terminate in his resignation”.