Bola Tinubu, national leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, says the party must not derail in its all-inclusive policy of internal democracy.
Mr Tinubu said this while reacting to comments credited to Rochas Okorocha, governor of Imo state, who criticised his opposition to an automatic ticket for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
The APC leader had said if Buhari decides to re-contest, there would be no automatic ticket for him but Mr Okorocha accused Mr Tinubu of “crying more than the bereaved.”
However, the APC leader said he never underrated the importance of governors in the party’s nomination process.
He said contrary to Mr Okorocha’s claims, he only said the APC should not mimic the Peoples Democratic Party’s, PDP, “penchant for short-circuiting internal democracy” by promoting the idea of an automatic ticket.
“Asiwaju (Tinubu) never said anything that could be interpreted as meaning or even implying the governors are irrelevant or insignificant to the party’s nomination process,” read a statement which Tunde Rahman, Mr Tinubu’s spokesman, issued on his behalf.
“As a former governor and a leading statesman within the party, such words would never come from him.
“Moreover, Asiwaju is a democrat who believes that the open and democratic processes of the APC, which led to the nomination of President Buhari in the first instance, have served the party well and has helped distinguish APC from PDP and other parties where fairness and internal democracy are rare commodities.
“Every individual has a right to endorse or support a candidate of his choosing. What Asiwaju said at that encounter and still canvasses is that the APC should not mimic the PDP’s penchant for short-circuiting internal democracy by promoting the idea of an automatic ticket.
“The exercise of internal democracy and honouring the letter and spirit of party rules can only strengthen the party and enthuse its members.
“APC’s all-inclusive philosophy was not devised today. It had been with the party since its creation. It was this spirit, which we believe, attracted fellow progressives and those who genuinely believe in democracy in all of its aspects to the party. Asiwaju includes Governor Okorocha in this group,” he concluded.