15 September 2017
The leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, is not going to overlook the open declaration of support for Atiku Abubakar’s presidency by Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, Aisha Alhassan.
Making a move to address a move that has clearly led to serious outcry within and outside the APC, the party’s leadership wants the minister to clear the air over the rationale behind her actions.
The embattled Minister on Thursday appeared before the National Working Committee, NWC, of the APC where she was grilled for two hours. Aisha was queried for reasons behind her comments, which APC described as ill-timed and far reaching.
The minister last week openly announced former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar as her preferred candidate for the 2019 presidential election, adding that she was ready to beg President Muhammadu Buhari on bended knees not to seek second term.
She told BBC Hausa Service: “Atiku is my godfather even before I joined politics. And again, Baba Buhari did not tell us that he is going to run in 2019.
The minister boasted that she was unperturbed by the consequences triggered by her comments, including being sacked as minister.
At about 2 p.m. on Thursday, Alhassan showed up at the party secretariat, and went into a closed door meeting with the APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and other national officers of the party. She came out at about 4.10 pm, in company of the party’s national publicity secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi.
When approached by newsmen, Alhassan declined interview, saying: “I cannot make any statement when the party spokesperson is here with me. I am not the party spokesperson. If you want any interview, come to my office.”
Abdullahi however confirmed to journalists that the embattled minister was invited by the party National Working Committee, but said that there was nothing wrong in her support for Atiku as he noted that the former Vice-President is a member of the ruling party, not a rival platform.
He however declared that the party leadership accused her of lack of discretion as he further noted that time was not ripe to engage in campaigns for any aspirant seeking elective office, until next year.
According to the APC spokesperson, “Yes, we invited her for discussion. Since she made her comments, the party hasn’t responded.
“Of course, we respect the right of our members to express opinions, freely. We told her that as a senior member of the party, we expect her to exercise discretion. We didn’t query her right to her choice of candidate in 2019.
“What we told her was that as a senior member of our party, she ought not to have spoken the way she did; we have no reason to quarrel with her, after all, she isn’t supporting somebody from another political party.
“If she has reserved her comments till 2018, it wouldn’t have been an issue,’’ Abdullahi said.