File ptuneo: Akande, Buhari and Tinubu
While speaking to PUNCH newspaper, the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bolaji Abdullahi, spoke on why party leaders such as Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande were absent at a dinner President Buhari recently had with party leaders.
The party spokesman said the APC leaders would have attended the dinner at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, on Thursday with President Muhammadu Buhari if there was a need to.
In a reaction to enquiries about the attendance at the meeting, Abdullahi said he wasn’t aware of the criteria used to select those who attended but that he was certain that if there was the need for the leaders to attend they would have been in attendance.
He said, “I don’t know what parameters they used to invite people to the meeting so I cannot say whether there was a reason why they (Tinubu and co) were not at the meeting. But I am sure that if there was a need for them to be a part of the meeting, they would have been there.”
Tinubu’s Media Adviser, Tunde Rahman, who also reacted to enquiries, noted that “there shouldn’t be any issue about this at all. Why are you trying to make a mountain out of a molehill? If there was a need for Asiwaju Tinubu to attend the dinner, he would not hesitate to be there.
“He had attended many meetings and dinners at the Presidential Villa before when it was required of him to attend.”
A source close to Akande, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said, “I am sure that Baba would not turn down such an invitation from President Buhari if he had been invited to the said dinner.
“You know that Baba Akande clocked 79 on Tuesday and he is around. I am sure to a very large extent that he was not invited to the dinner. He would have honoured the invitation if he was invited. “
While also speaking on the condition of anonymity, a top government official, said on Friday that the dinner President Muhammadu Buhari held with APC chiefs was planned to hold in batches, adding that there was no big deal that some party chiefs like Chief Bisi Akande and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu did not attend that of Thursday.
He said, “There is no big deal in the absence of some party chiefs at the dinner. Chief Bisi Akande and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will surely have their turn.
“The President’s dining table cannot take more than 20 people at a time, so it has to be in batches. How many party executive members did you see among the delegates? It is not all of them that were there.”
When asked why Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo was also not at the dinner, the source said, “I hope you are not insinuating that there is a crack in the Presidency or in the party because there is nothing like that.”
A high ranking member of the party, who also spoke in confidence to a correspondent, described the meeting as “routine”, adding that it was aimed at seeking the President’s input into the preparations for the party’s long overdue National Convention.
The source said, “This meeting would have held long ago but due to some housekeeping issues it was not held before now.
“It afforded the selected party leaders to seek the President’s input into the preparations for the convention. There were issues about the logistics required and that sort of thing.
“Next week, beginning from Monday all through Wednesday, the National Working Committee will be holding a meeting to work out the modalities for the ward congresses which is expected to commence in late in February.”