Presidency differs with PDP over Buhari convening APC meeting at council chamber

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The presidency has defended President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to hold a meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) inside the Council Chamber of Aso Villa, Abuja.

Recall that the president hosted the meeting last Thursday, June 24 at the chamber where the national working committee of the party was dissolved and a caretaker committee headed by the governor of Yobe State, Mr. Mala Buni sworn in by the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami.

Traditionally, the expansive facility is reserved for top government functions including the federal executive council, National Council of State, National Economic Council (NEC) and National Security Council (NSC) meetings.

In its reaction, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) described the development as “shocking” and “unfortunate” and called on the president to tender an unreserved apology to the nation and desist from further “desecration of our national values and official conduct requirements.”

In a statement by the PDP spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan (Details below), the party further described Buhari’s use of public facilities and resources for APC’s national executive committee meeting as “the height of corruption as well as desecration of the sanctity of the seat of power and our national values.”

“Never in the history of our nation has governance been so devalued to the extent of using the hallowed chamber of the highest executive body in the country, where high-level executive decisions are taken, for an illegal, wrongly constituted and Nicodemus meeting of a political party.”

The PDP also slammed Malami for desecrating the 1999 Constitution (as amended) “by functioning as a notary public to a political party, in total disregard for his oath of office, the code of conduct prohibitions under the 5th Schedule and extant public service rules.”

Responding to the issues raised by the PDP, the media aide to the president, Mr. Garba Shehu said in a statement (Read the details below) that the APC national executive council held a virtual meeting, not a physical one at council chamber.

He said since the president lives in the villa, there was nothing wrong if he conducted digital conference from there.

“Since the President lives in the Villa, no one can, legally speaking, choose or dictate to him where he can sit to hold meetings. So, what is wrong in the President presenting himself before a camera and a TV screen in a digital conference at a given location within the Villa?

“Just for the sake of the argument, this meeting, we say emphatically, was not convened at the Council Chamber. It was virtual, not a physical meeting,” he stressed.

Shehu’s statement:

APC NEC held a virtual meeting, not a physical one at council chamber

It is necessary that we put records in their correct perspective concerning the recent meeting held by the National Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress, APC, which has, unfortunately drawn criticism due to lack of understanding.

The stubborn opinion held by the critics of the administration is that President Muhammadu Buhari had called a political meeting in the “hallowed” chamber of the Federal Executive Council, as if there is a law that says the President is barred from holding meetings in certain sections of the vast Presidential Villa.

Since the President lives in the Villa, no one can, legally speaking, choose or dictate to him where he can sit to hold meetings. So, what is wrong in the President presenting himself before a camera and a TV screen in a digital conference at a given location within the Villa?

Just for the sake of the argument, this meeting, we say emphatically, was not convened at the Council Chamber. It was virtual, not a physical meeting.

Why was it a virtual meeting? The idea was to observe social distancing in view of health concerns. Knowing how small the conference hall of the party is, social distancing would only have been observed in the breach.

President Buhari was billed to address the meeting from his office (just any of his offices) and chose the Council Chamber where the digital facilities are located, and other members, including the bulk of National Executive Committee members, state party leaders and members of the National Assembly were all linked using video conference calls. You saw them all on TV.

Yes, it is true that Governors and leaders of the National Assembly joined the President from the Chamber from where he spoke. But the larger body of the members in attendance were all connected via video calls.

Do not forget that these are not the normal times in view of the COVID-19 circumstances in which we have found ourselves. President Buhari placed health and safety above courtesy to the party by not going to its headquarters.

In the end, a wise thing had been done because the President wants to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus disease.

Ologbondiyan’s statement

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rebuked the Buhari Presidency for denying that the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) held inside the chambers of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

The party described as unfortunate that the Presidency would post a denial even when the media and the public space are already awash with photographs and videos of the NEC meeting with APC leaders physically in attendance inside the FEC chambers where President Muhammadu Buhari presided.

It is therefore shocking that the Buhari Presidency can state in denial that “this meeting, we say emphatically, was not convened at the Council Chamber. It was virtual, not a physical meeting”.

This is even when the world watched Mr. President addressing the applauding APC leaders, in addition to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), Abubakar Malami, physically administering oath of office on the Chairman of APC National Caretaker Committee, Mai Buni, on the floor of the FEC chamber.

It is a fact before Nigerians that the meeting was physical and only virtual to the extent that some members of the APC NEC members were linked via conference call.

Moreover, our party refers the Buhari Presidency to reports already in the media where the AGF admitted administering oath of office to the Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee; an event that took place on the floor of the FEC Chamber.

Such a denial by President Buhari’s handlers has further exposed the decadence in the APC and the Buhari Presidency.

What Nigerians expected of the Buhari Presidency and the APC, was to tender an unreserved apology to the nation and desist from further desecration of our national values and official conduct requirements.

The PDP charges President Buhari to call his handlers to order so as to protect the integrity of his Presidency from further damage.”

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