By Sani Tukur
Governors elected under the platform of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) have said that they will campaign strictly based on “issues” in 2019.
The governors said they believe campaigning on issues will ensure victory for the party and help it defeat opposition candidates and parties.
This was revealed by the chairman of Progressives Governors Forum, Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, while speaking with State House correspondents after he led some of his colleagues to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday.
The meeting took place inside the president’s office at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
Mr Okorocha said they came to congratulate Mr Buhari on his emergence as the party’s sole presidential candidate and to also discuss the crises bedevilling the party following its primary elections which held last week.
“Our election this time will not engage in castigations, we will be talking on issues. Nigerians are tired of political abuses, what we want to be talking about are issues and track records of people involved in our elections,” the governor said.
Mr Okorocha said they decided to adopt this campaign method because they realise that, “Nigerians are very wise now. Before they elect anybody, the will ask questions: what has been your track record, who were you before and who are you now and everything about you. For that reason, we are confident that 2019, APC will pull through,” he said.
He said they also discussed the crises that followed the conduct of primaries across the states.
“We have also looked at issues concerning our primaries. In every democracy, expect some kind of disagreements and we have kindly requested that something be done to bring all warring factions together so we can have a united party to face the challenges ahead,” he said.
The conduct of APC primaries in Imo, Rivers, Kaduna, Zamfara and Adamawa led to crises in the ruling party.
Mr Okorocha however, said most of the problems have been solved except for one or two states.
The crisis was more pronounced in Zamfara State which made it impossible for the APC to conduct primary elections.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the electoral umpire, INEC, wrote to the APC saying it does not expect a list of candidates for Zamfara State because of the party’s inability to organise primary within the stipulated time.
Mr Okorocha said they have already asked for Mr Buhari’s help to “intervene on the matter”.
He said they told Mr Buhari that he must ensure reconciliation of all aggrieved factions ahead of the 2019 elections.
“What is important to us is that we must not go into this battle a divided family and we want to make sure that all governors are intact, all National Assembly members are intact while going into this battle. We will never speak differently, we will speak as united leaders of the party,” he said.
The governor also spoke about the emergence of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He said the ruling party is not bothered because “history is there to speak”.
“Like I said we are not going to get involved in this verbal war with anybody, we will be talking about issues. If you say, look you are not good, we will tell you what we can do and what we cannot do and what others cannot do.
“So APC is not going to engage in those kinds of talk show, but we will discuss on what our party can do for the people,” he said.
Mr Abubakar, who left the APC for the PDP last year, is expected to be the main challenger to President Buhari in next year’s election.
Mr Okorocha also said they have asked Mr Buhari to fix a date for the governors to hold a special parley with him.
He said the president expressed happiness with the decision.
“He is looking for a date to invite the governors to celebrate him and tell the world about our joy and happiness that he emerged as our presidential flag bearer which is victory assured 2019,” he said.
Also speaking, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said the decision by the governors is a welcome development.
He said the APC is ”one big family” and in contests such as the party’s primaries, there are bound to be winners and losers.
“But in the spirit of the game of politics, which is like any other sport ,after the game is over, whoever has emerged victorious must be magnanimous and gracious in his victory, and whoever has lost out should also accept it in the spirit of sportsmanship.”
He said the proposed parley with the governors will help the APC, “quickly heal wounds and bring the family together for the greater task ahead.”
On the mode of campaign proposed by the governors, Mr Mustapha said the APC administration performed creditably well.
“This morning I had the privilege of laying before the council a compendium of the policies and programmes and projects initiated and implemented by this government in two and a half years.
“A 1042 page document, not stories, facts of what we have been able to achieve and I think we have set the tone that this campaign will be driven by issues; this campaign must be predicated upon what you are able to bring to the table for the people of Nigeria. It’s not going to be a noisy campaign, anybody preparing for noise should be prepared to receive defeat in February of 2019,” the SGF said.