Tinubu pointedly told the APC Governors’ Forum, led by Rochas Okorocha, that all candidates interested in the party’s presidential ticket would go through the due process of primaries.
He spoke with reporters when he met with the leader of Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba Socio-political group, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
The meeting was part of rapprochement ahead the 2019 general elections.
Tinubu, who was flanked by leaders of the party in the South-West, ruled out automatic ticket of the APC for President Buhari in 2019 general elections and faulted the endorsement given by some governors of the party.
Okorocha and some APC governors had repeatedly said that there is no alternative to Buhari in 2019 and that more than 34 governors had endorsed the President for the next presidential election.
But Tinubu said due process of the party’s constitution would be followed before anybody can emerge as candidate of the party for the election, saying the governors were only expressing their personal opinions.
His words: “I have not heard about that and the party spokesman has not said that. No governor can appropriate the power of endorsement to himself. Buhari is a believer in due process. The Buhari I know believes in rule of law and due process.
“We wanted him even before the last convention and primaries of the party and Akeredolu is here standing with me, he was not the governor then. He was one of the leading delegates that voted properly and Buhari was a clear winner.
“We will follow all the constitutional provision and an individual opinion does not matter at this stage, Buhari will want a normal process. Who says he will lose at any convention? But if the national body, the National Executive Committee (NEC) and all of us as members endorsed him as our single candidate, we will not be violating INEC regulations; we will not be violating our party constitution. What you are hearing is just a campaign. Buhari has not excluded anybody and he has not affected ambition of anybody.”
At the meeting held at Pa Fasoranti’s house were former governor of Osun State, Chief Bisi Akande; National Vice Chairman (South-West) of APC, Chief Pius Akinyelure; Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, his deputy, Agboola Ajayi; the APC state chairman, Engr. Ade Adetimehin; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae; Secretary of Afenifere, Bashorun Seinde Arogbofa, Chief Femi Aluko, Baba Omojola and former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Dr. Bakitta Bello, among others.
Speaking on the reason it took him so long to visit the leadership of Afenifere, Tinubu said: “Whatever is my decision is my decision and as a reporter, you cannot be asking me that. I decide on my time based on the charter of United Nations on Human Rights. I am a democrat and I believe in constitutional democracy.”
Tinubu, who met with the nonagenarian Afenifere leader behind closed doors, said the visit was in recognition of Pa Fasoranti as the leader of Omoluwabi in Yoruba land.
The visit of Tinubu to Fasoranti, 14 years after the crisis in Afenifere, has put an end to the dispute over who is the leader of Afenifere and who has the mandate to speak for the Yoruba race.
Tinubu, who recognised Fasoranti as leader of Yoruba race, said: “I am in Akure to acknowledge the leadership of Pa Fasoranti in our own race as a great leader of the Omoluwabi and in his evening, we want him to be happy. He has been a great leader in his youth and daytime. His intellect is still very intact. We came to seek his advice, seek his understanding and prayers. That is why I am here.”
In his reaction, Fasoranti said the visit would see to the end of leadership crisis in the South-West and allow the Yoruba to speak with one voice.
According to him, the visit would likely lead to the end of the rivalry between Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) and the mainstream Afenifere.
Fasoranti said: “This is an indication of great things to come. With the coming together of Yoruba leaders, there will be an understanding on major issues affecting Yoruba race. We will consult and move ahead.
“As it is now, there will be a great understanding among the leaders as Tinubu is a leader in his own right. I think it should lead to reconciliation between Afenifere and ARG as Tinubu has a leg there. They are his supporters. This signal shows we will come together.”