Saturday, 9 September 2017

APC National Working Committee To Meet Over Alhassan After Publicly Supporting Atiku

According to reports, there are strong indications that the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress will meet on Monday to discuss statements credited to the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Alhassan, as regards the 2019 presidential election.

Saturday PUNCH gathered on Friday that besides discussing the minister’s 
declaration of support for former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar’s presidential ambition, the NWC would also deliberate on a statement credited to the ex-vice-president.
Alhassan had, in an interview with the BBC Hausa Service on Wednesday, said she was ready to support the former vice-president against President Muhammadu Buhari if they both choose to run for the 2019 presidential election.

She also said she respected Buhari, but Atiku remained her godfather.
Alhassan, in the interview, also confirmed her statements in a leaked video, where she endorsed the former vice-president in a private meeting with him.
The former vice-president, had on the Hausa Service of Voice of America, said that the APC sidelined him after helping it to win the 2015 elections.
It was learnt that the National Working Committee would deliberate on these issues in Abuja on Monday with a view to resolving them.

This development was confirmed by the APC National Vice Chairman, North-East, Mustapha Salihu, in a telephone interview with Saturday PUNCH in Abuja on Friday.
He explained that the issue at stake was a national one, which the party’s NWC would look into.

Salihu, however, said to the best of his knowledge, there was currently no petition against the minister before the party.
He stated, “This is a national issue. I think by Monday, we will sit and we will address the matter, but I can assure you that there is no cause for alarm. Our party is intact and on ground.”

We warned Buhari not to appoint minister –El-Rufai

Meanwhile, Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State has said President Buhari appointed Alhassan in 2015 despite repeated warnings from APC leaders.
El-Rufai said this while fielding questions from State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Friday.

The governor said he was not surprised by the minister’s recent endorsement of Atiku Abubakar because she was never a supporter of Buhari.
He said, “In the APC, she was never in Buhari’s camp, she did not support our candidates during the National Convention and she didn’t vote for Buhari during the primaries.
“But out of the largeness of the President’s heart and to encourage women in politics, he felt that even though she was never a supporter of his politics or his beliefs and because of what she had tried to do in Taraba State, he felt she earned being nominated as a minister.
“Many in Buhari’s camp did not support it, but he overruled everybody because that is how he is; he tries to be inclusive, he considers every Nigerian as his own son or daughter and he nominated her as a minister.”

The governor also said that the President was not losing any sleep over the endorsement of the former vice-president by Alhassan.
When asked if he thought the President should sack Alhassan for what some described as disloyalty, el-Rufai said that was the sole prerogative of the President.
He said if Buhari felt she was doing a good job in her ministry, then he could leave her to continue, but if she wasn’t doing well, then he could sack her.

The governor added, “It is the President’s prerogative. Look, you can retain a person in the cabinet even if he doesn’t support you, but adds value to the country because in the end, this is a government and it is not a political grouping.
“If Alhassan is performing as Minister of Women Affairs (and Social Development) and adding value to the government and the people of Nigeria, it is the President’s prerogative to retain her despite her political views. But if she is not adding value in spite of her political views, she can be dispensed with; that is the President’s decision.

“I don’t think people should get worried about it. I have worked closely with the President, I know him and I know how he thinks. He doesn’t take these things personally or to heart.  What is primary to him is Nigeria’s progress and how well the government is doing and what everyone is contributing (to make it work), that is what matters ultimately.”
When asked to address reports that he was nursing a presidential ambition, the governor said as far as he was concerned, Buhari would win again in 2019.
He said he would remain loyal to the President because he (Buhari) was the one who told him to contest the governorship election in 2015.

El-Rufai said, “Look, my name has continuously been mentioned as a presidential aspirant since 2007, after my years in the Federal Capital Territory. There is nothing new about that. What I want to say here, very clearly, is that I have never been a presidential aspirant; I have never even been a governorship aspirant.
“I am governor today by the grace of God, (and) because President Buhari called me and said ‘go and run for Governor of Kaduna State’. As far as 2019 is concerned, my position is that the President is looking very well, he is recuperating very fast. My hope and prayer is he will contest in 2019.”

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