Despite the rumours in some media (not Daily Times) of division in the opposition party top hierarchy, the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress( APC), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and top leaders of the party met with media executives in Abuja.
Buhari ruled out any presidential debate with President Goodluck Jonathan stating that there is nothing to debate after 16 years of misrule, especially the six years of bad governance under the present administration.
Speaking at an interactive session with members of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria( NPAN) and the Nigerian Guild of Editors( NGE) in Abuja, the presidential candidate of APC, Muhammadu Buhari said there was no basis for poll shift on February 14.
He said: “To be fair to me and Mr. President, after 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and six years of his time, is there anything to debate about?
“Very seriously, you know the condition we are in, we are all experiencing it, no matter who you are. So, what should I debate there?”
Commenting on the general election, Buhari said the poll shift on February 14 was unnecessary.
He said INEC made it clear that it was prepared for the general election.
He gave insights into what INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega told the Council of State meeting and how the military differed.
He said Nigerians were waiting to see whether or not the military would have rid Adamawa, Borno and Yobe of Boko Haram insurgency.
He said: “I will give you the latest. When INEC submitted a comprehensive document on February 14th election to the Council of State, a number of us made comments. INEC did a good job and they put it on record because after submitting a document, you cannot withdraw it.
“They submitted a document on what they had been doing since 2011 including training of personnel, acquiring election materials and how they have been distributing them; and how they secured them.
“They even said they were ready to conduct the election because they have achieved about 60 per cent distribution of the voters’ cards. In the previous elections, it had never been better than 45 per cent. But they were prepared.
“Somehow, the military told them they cannot guarantee their security. Then six weeks were given and for Nigerians, those six weeks were within the perimeter allowed for the election. So, INEC said they should be allowed to give the military six weeks.”
Buhari said Nigerians had been watching the military on how it will secure the remaining LGAs before the poll.
He added: “The reasons given have exposed the inefficiency of the leadership because there were only 14 local government areas in the hands of Boko Haram. These were 10 in Borno, two in Yobe and two in Adamawa.
“If Nigerian military cannot secure 14 LGAs in six years, how can they do it in six weeks? We are watching. We have only about 10 days to go in the six weeks. Let us see. In spite of the help of our generous neighbors, let us see whether the remaining LGAs can be secured.
“So, those in favour of presidential debate have a lot to do to convince me to do it.”
The presence of Atiku at the session added flavour as it dispelled rumours of cracks in APC following a meeting between Jonathan Atiku recently.
Clad in a white Kaftan, Atiku, who sat on the high table with Buhari, was all smiles.
A close aide said: “What happened was that Jonathan in his desperation visited Atiku at odd hours to seek his assistance to win the poll. There was no way the former VP can snub the nation’s leader. He only listened to him.
“But the ex-VP will not back out of his support for Buhari. His presence at this briefing is a message that the game is up for Jonathan. Has he forgotten how he disgraced Atiku at the Eagle Square to secure the presidential ticket?”