MORE revelations have emerged about Friday’s meeting held by South-West leaders of the All Progressives Congress ((APC) with aspirants from the zone, whose main objective, was on how to avert a crisis that will create a fractured party as it prepares for primary on May 30 and 31, Sunday Tribune has reliably gathered.
A top source at the meeting informed that the motive informed the presence of a national officer of the APC at the closed-door session facilitated by a former interim national chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande and former governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba.
The meeting was held at the State House, Marina, in Lagos with the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; a national leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu; Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi; ex-Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, among other presidential aspirants on APC platform from the South-West in attendance.
Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, as well as speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and some serving ministers in the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari were present at the meeting.
The source said talks about the need to create a congenial atmosphere in the South-West region and among the aspirants before and after the conduct of APC primaries was among two key issues that dominated discussion between the party elders and the aspirants.
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According to the inside sources at the Lagos meeting, the South-West leaders talked about the importance of the seven contestants working harmoniously in the event of not getting a consensus candidate by avoiding a campaign of calumny and propaganda to denigrate each in other as such tendencies were capable of jeopardizing the overall mission of the zone picking APC ticket.
They declared that it was in the interest of all the stakeholders, especially the aspirants to focus on how they could collectively work to present a united front that would ensure that the zone gets APC presidential ticket.
They were reportedly asked to collaborate and resolve to rally round any of them, stressing that each of the aspirants was eminently qualified to run for the office of president.
“We don’t want the contest to generate bad blood among the aspirants,” a source told Sunday Tribune.
“There is also the need for the South-West to present a formidable common front so that it can win the ticket. Already, with about seven aspirants, if the situation is not well managed, it may create problem for the region and the party.”
It was learnt that the issues became imperative because of the directive by President Buhari to the APC National Working Committee that its main preoccupation should be to conduct a free, fair and transparent primary to elect the candidate of the party for the presidential election in February next year.
The source at the Lagos meeting said the presence of national officers at such meetings during the ongoing power play for positions across the zones should be seen as part of the measures to demonstrate the neutrality of the APC leadership.
“You may be wondering why the National Secretary, Senator Iyiola Omisore, was at the meeting. He was invited to the meeting as an observer.
“As a national officer of our party, other regions: South-East, North-Central or any such zone eyeing the Presidency may also deem it fit to invite him to this kind of peace meeting as a witness and observer just as SouthWest leaders have done,” explained the source.
According to the source, the clarification became necessary so that stakeholders across the country do not misconstrue the presence of national officers at the meetings of the APC elders with the aspirants for the ticket of the party.