There is a growing rumour from a section of the media that President Muhammadu Buhari is secretly planning to back the presidential ambition of Peter Obi, the Labour Party's flagbearer in 2023.
But for the avoidance of doubt, President Buhari, through his media aide, Garba Shehu, released a statement on Wednesday, August 24, debunking the claim.
In his statement, the president described himself as a disciplined soldier of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who will support only candidates fielded by the ruling party in the next general elections.
The president sent a clear warning to aggrieved members who are challenging candidates of the party in court that they are on their own, adding that he is not connected to the activities of such persons.
Ultimately, Buhari's message to the ruling party is that he will not betray it in any way come 2023.
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The statement reads:
“The Presidency wishes to put it on record, and at the same time, reassure faithful party members that President Muhammadu Buhari remains a “disciplined soldier” of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and will, in all the coming elections, support only those candidates fielded by the party and no other.
“This is a warning to decamped party members and some others who are still in court against official candidates of the APC that they are on their own and nobody outside the party tent should link what they are doing to President Buhari.
“The President wishes to be quoted as saying that he is the “occupant of the high office of the President by the Grace of God who used the instrumentality of the APC to bring him to power with a historic verdict in 2015.”
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“In 2019, he was returned with a bigger majority. For the first time, a non-PDP government came to power with a huge majority after 16 years of the Fourth Republic. His constant refrain is: “I will not betray or undermine my party by supporting candidates other than those of the APC.”
“This statement is not against any particular candidate. However, our stand is clear that only those candidates fielded by the All Progressives Candidates, APC will enjoy the support of the President and they are the ones he will campaign for. However, we welcome support for our candidates at all levels by other parties.
“The President says he will continue to support the party at all levels to enforce discipline, synchronization and coordination.
“He also directs officials in and around the Presidential Villa and all those engaging in loose talk to resist making controversial statements that eventually end up hurting the party and the government, thereby providing a weapon for the opposition to use against the administration, the party or its candidates in the coming elections."
Peter Obi attempts to kneel while greeting Atiku Abubakar at NBA conference
Meanwhile, Obi made an attempt to kneel to greet Atiku Abubakar when he entered into the hall where the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) 62nd was ongoing on Monday, August 22.
The former Anambra governor walked towards the former vice president and tried to kneel before him to exchange pleasantries but Atiku stopped him, stood up and gave him a hug.
Obi and Atiku have maintained mutual respect for each other since they emerged presidential candidates of their various parties.