The Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, met with the National Working Committee, NWC, of the All Progressive Congress, APC in a bid to clarify her recent controversial statement concerning who she would support in the 2019 presidential election on Thursday.
The minister caused a stir recently when she said she would support the presidential bid of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in 2019 even if her principal, President Muhammadu Buhari decided to run. She referred to Mr. Abubakar as her political godfather. She had further touched some nerves when she said that President Buhari had not indicated that he would re-contest.
In a follow-up interaction with reporters a few days later, she said she was not scared of losing her job over her statements, adding that President Buhari would not be swayed by her traducers seeking sanctions against her.
The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, and his Ogun State counterpart, Ibikunle Amosun, tackled her days later saying that she (minister) had never believed in the Buhari ideology.
It was learned that Mrs. Alhassan was invited by the leadership of the party to defend her controversial statements on Thursday.
The minister, who arrived at the APC National Secretariat at about 2 p.m. entered into a closed-door session with the party chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, and members of the NWC. The meeting lasted until 4 p.m.
Emerging afterwards, she told waiting journalists that she could not speak on what transpired at the meeting because ”that is what the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi is there for.”
“I can’t make any statement when the party spokesperson is here with me. I am not the party spokesperson,” she said.
Mr. Abdullahi after the minister left, confirmed that the minister was at the Secretariat to respond to issues relating ”to a series of controversial comments she made about the 2019 presidential election.”
The party spokesperson said the party refrained from making any public comments until they heard her position directly.
Mr. Abdullahi said while the party was not concerned about her decision on who to support for the presidency in 2019, ”she exhibited indiscretion in her mode of communicating her intention.”
Mr. Bolaji also gave some insight into what transpired at the meeting.
“Since the issue of the comment she made came up, the party has not said anything regardless of what individuals might have told you because we are a party that recognises the right of her members to express their opinions. We also had an opportunity to discuss with the minister to understand what she said and in what context she said before we knew how to respond.”
“So, when she came, we asked her to explain to us what truly transpired and in what context she said what she said and she did offer explanations. Now, having offered her explanations, we acknowledged that as a member of this party, she is entitled to her opinion and she is entitled to her choice."
“However, as a senior member of this party, her statements represent an act of indiscretion because, with the kind of position she occupies even within the party, she is a party leader in her own right, what she said was not what she was supposed to say at the time that she said it,” he added.
The party spokesman said Mrs. Alhassan did not exercise ”greater judgment than she did” and ”proper timing” for her comments adding that the minister however apologised.
The party spokesperson said there was no controversy as the person the minister supported in her comments (Mr. Abubakar) is a party member.
When asked a question whether the minister was advised to resign her appointment, Mr. Abdullahi said that was not discussed.
“No. That did not come up. What we just said was that we understand the context in which she said what she said, but it was an act of indiscretion for someone occupying the position she is occupying in the party to make that kind of statement."
“If this was 2018 and the people have filed their applications to say they are contesting and she now comes out and says she is supporting this person; how can that be an issue? But we are still in 2017," he said.
“We are still far away. Atiku (Abubakar) has not said he is contesting. He has not collected any form. He has not announced to anybody that he is contesting. So, that is what we mean by the timing. It is not that she had no right to say what she had said.”
Mr. Abdullahi, however, avoided any comments regarding the recent comments made by Mr. Abubakar
Mr. Atiku, it would be recalled, had also initiated a debate when he criticised the APC-led administration for sidelining him in the nation’s affairs even when he contributed to its success in the 2015 polls. The former president is believed to have contributed funds towards the success of Mr. Buhari in the said polls.
The APC National Vice Chairman, North-west, Inuwa Abdulkadir, had chided the former vice president a few days later warning him and others to stop “misleading statements aimed at causing division within the party.”