Facts have emerged on the circumstances that surrounded the non-attendance of the dinner of the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC) by the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Cheif Bisi Akande.
President Muhammadu Buhari held a dinner with selected party leaders at the Villa in Abuja, on Thursday night to discuss party affairs.
However, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande were among leaders who were absent at the meeting.
In response to enquiries about the attendance at the meeting,Royal News quoted the party’s national spokesman, Bolaji 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.
Abdullahi 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.”
Speaking in a similar vein, Tinubu’s Media Adviser, Mr. Tunde Rahman, 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. ”
A top government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told one of our correspondents on Friday that the dinner President Muhammadu Buhari held with APC chiefs was planned to hold in batches.
He said 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 one of our correspondents, described the meeting as “routine”.
The source said the meeting 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.”
There are, however, feelers that the issue of the tenure of the present National Working Committee formed part of discussions.
It was learnt that while some party leaders were of the opinion that the present crop of NWC members should have their tenure extended by three months to enable them to conduct the party’s primaries, others felt that might not go down well with other stakeholders. Those in this school of thought argued that a new NWC should be allowed to handle the primaries.
The President was said to be non-committal arguing that the proper procedure should be followed.
Attempts to get the reaction of the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and the Deputy National Chairman (South), Segun Oni, who were at the meeting, were futile.
They neither picked their calls nor returned them. Responses to the text messages sent to them on the subject were still being awaited as of the time of filing this report.
Party leaders who attended the meeting include Odigie-Oyegun, National Secretary of the APC, Mai Mala Buni, and National Organising Secretary, Sen. Osita Izunaso.
Others include a Deputy National Chairman (North), Sen. Lawal Shuaibu and his counterpart from the South, Segun Oni.
A former governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime was also among the non-National Working Committee members in attendance.