…Why I Frequent Presidential Villa–Mimiko
Chris Steven, Abuja
Governor of Plateau State and Chairman of the All Progressives Congress Governorship Campaign in Ondo State, Solomon Lalong has said the absence of the party’s national leader,Bola Tinubu at the grand finale rally at the weekend was inconsequential.
He said the party was sure of clinching victory at the November 26th polls,noting that President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, presence at the rally was enough confirmation that the party was on course in the state.
Tinubu, and some South West governors like Governors Rauf Aregbesola (Osun); Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo); and Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos) were conspicuously absent at the rally which held at the Democracy Park in Akure on Saturday.
Lalong made this comment at the Presidential Villa,shortly after himself and Minister of Mines and Steel,Kayode Fayemi met with President Muhammadu Buhari behind closed doors at the villa.
He however said Tinubu duly communicated to the party in writing that he was indisposed and that he will not be attending the rally,adding that the party in its magnanimity accepted his apology and prays for quick recovery for him.
Besides President Buhari,Senate President,Bukola Saraki, APC National Chairman,Odigie Oyegun and other party members were in attendance at the event.
Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State was the only APC state governor in the South West who attended the rally.
It is being speculated that Tinubu and other governors who did not attend the rally are not favourably disposed to the candidature of Rotimi Akeredolu, who emerged as the APC gubernatorial flagbearer in the state.
Lalong in a brief interview told State House correspondents,saying,“their absence was not a problem. We explained their absence. They sent in their apologies. You heard what happened there.
“As far as we are concerned, the President who is the leader of the party was at the rally. The national chairman was also there. As far as we are concerned, everybody was there.
“To the party, their absence did not make any difference. If a leader was not there and he has said he was not there because of ill-health, we have prayed that God will heal him.”
The governor expressed confidence that the APC would emerge victorious in the Saturday election.
He said he and Fayemi were at the Presidential Villa to thank Buhari for making time out to attend the rally personally.
On the party’s fears over opposing forces in the state,the governor said,“We have finished our campaign. You saw what happened at the grand finale. We are not in doubt that APC will win the election in Ondo.
“It is other parties that are scared of the APC and not APC being scared of other parties.
“We have come to thank the President for going to Ondo for the grand finale rally”.
Meanwhile,Ondo State Governor,Olusegun Mimiko who was at the Presidential Villa earlier on Monday, explained that his frequent visit to the Presidency was merely to intimate the President on the security situation in the state.
He debunked insinuations that he was planning to defect to APC following the reception he accorded President Buhari when he visited the state at the weekend.
He said,”this is my second visit to the villa since this crisis in our party started. Like I said, as the chief security officer of my state, if there is any credible threat to security, I owe the responsibility to Nigerians to appraise Mr President of what is going on in the state.
“Mr president was in my state to campaign for his party. I extended to him the courtesies of receiving him at the airport and seeing him off as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, not as APC.
“I understand that people have speculated that this means I am going to APC. There is nothing of such. I only extended him normal courtesies that protocols demand.
“As a governor and security of the state, if the president is visiting, no matter the party he belongs, it is only appropriate for me to extend the courtesies to him. That was what I did in Akure.
“And I have also come to brief him about the security situation in my state”.