The All Progressives Congress has said it will rely on the support of all Nigerians, including that of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in order to retain power in 2019.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, and the party’s National Vice Chairman (South-South), Hillard Eta, said this in separate interviews with Saturday PUNCH in Abuja on Friday.
Abdullahi said the APC was relying on the support of all Nigerians irrespective of their ethno-religious affiliations in order to retain power and complete the “good work this administration started in 2015.”
According to him, the party considers every vote important to its cause, noting that the party would continue to seek for a broad support base to ensure that Nigerians get the full benefit of the change which the party promised three years ago.
Abdullahi was responding specifically to a question as to whether the party would need the support of former President Obasanjo to retain power in 2019.
In response to the question, he said, “We need the support of every Nigerian and former President Obasanjo is an important person. But the ultimate support is that of the majority of Nigerians.
“Former President Obasanjo is not someone you can say you don’t need his support. He is an important Nigerian.”
Speaking in a similar vein, Eta explained that the party welcomed constructive criticisms.
He said, “We welcome the various levels of communication and the coming together of opposition parties because Nigeria will be better for it. When it comes to elections, we are not afraid at all, we have the backing of the majority of Nigerians.
“We have yet to hear of any of those coalitions, whether it is the Coalition for Nigeria movement, Nigeria Intervention Movement and all of those. We have yet to see any inspirational figure that will be able to galvanise Nigerians to even give us a fight.
“I admire their ingenuity in bringing to the political sphere different kinds of voices, but I tell you, the conversation is going to be deepened. As for the 2019 election, I can say it has been won and lost.”
In response to the same question as to whether the party will need Obasanjo’s support, Eta said, “We respect him, no doubt; we count on the support of all Nigerians even as we are doing our political calculations.
“We are not under any illusion, the support of the majority of Nigerians who wish our country well is all we require to succeed.”
Another member of the NWC who pleaded anonymity for fear of retribution said, “Nigerians already know where President Obasanjo stands, you cannot ignore him.
“You can see that even President Muhammadu Buhari has chosen not to respond directly to issues raised in the letter by Obasanjo, who is his (Buhari’s) former boss. It shows he (Buhari) respects him (Obasanjo) a lot.
“There are aspects of Obasanjo’s letter that are advisory. And as a party, we will take his suggestions as such. Nothing is permanent in politics, he may wake up tomorrow and see a reason why Buhari remains the best option for Nigeria.”
Also speaking on the issue, the Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, said, “My position is not different from what my minister (Lai Mohammed) said in our administration’s public response to Chief Obasanjo’s letter.
“His (Obasanjo’s) observations are noted and his advice taken in good faith.”
Obasanjo had in an open letter declared that neither the ruling APC nor the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, was good enough to lead Nigeria in 2019.
In their place, he expressed support for the Coalition for Nigeria, a movement which he said was needed to move Nigeria forward.
He, however, announced that he would cease to be a member of the coalition as soon as it transforms into a political party.
The former President formally registered as a member of the coalition a few days after it was inaugurated in Abuja.