Aspirants, who are waiting for refunds from the All Progressives Congress after stepping down at the March 26 national convention of the party, may have to keep waiting as the Presidency has said the President, Muhammadu Buhari, only “advised” the APC to refund aspirants who stepped down.
In an interview with Channels Television, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said Buhari only advised the party to refund the aspirants.
“In the case of the chairmanship aspirants, there was a consensus agreement and the President said, ‘Party, I advise you’, not that he directed. He advised the party to return the money to those that agreed to the consensus plan,” Shehu stated
The APC had at its March 26 convention called on aspirants, whose names did not appear on the unity list, to jettison their ambitions.
Buhari had insisted that officers for all the 78 party positions emerge through a consensus. After endorsing Senator Abdullahi Adamu, as the national chairman, he asked governors to draw up a unity list to fill the remaining 77 positions, a move which sparked outrage by some of the aspirants.
One of the aspirants for the position of National Youth Leader, Dada Olusegun, even cried while announcing his decision to step down.
No fewer than six chairmanship aspirants stepped down after paying N20m each. They include Niger East Senator, Sani Musa; a former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Tanko Al-Makura; and the Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, Turaki Salihu Mustapha.
Others, who stepped down, are former governor Abdul’Aziz Yari of Zamfara State; Minister of Special Duties, Senator George Akume; and Mohammed Etsu. All the aspirants paid the joint sum of N120m.
At least six persons stepped down for the two deputy national chairmanship positions, including Sunny Moniedafe, Adamu Farouq; former governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State; a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; a former Senate President Ken Nnamani; and two others. They paid N10m each.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Felix Morka, did not respond to inquiries on Friday. However, he had earlier promised that the party would refund the aspirants.
In a chat on Saturday, an aspirant for the deputy chairmanship position, Moniedafe, said the APC must not renege on its promise to refund the aspirants.
Moniedafe also berated Shehu for saying the President only “advised” the party to refund the aspirants who stepped down.
The APC chieftain said he was at the convention venue when he was invited to Senate President Ahmad Lawan’s guesthouse in Abuja.
He stated, “I beg to disagree with Garba Shehu. I heard the President right. He directed that those who stepped down should be refunded. I was called on the day of the convention. I was at the venue of the convention when I was invited to the Senate President’s house.
“They pleaded with me to step down with the assurance that we would be given our money.”
On what he would do if he was not refunded, Moniedafe said, “If they try that, it will destroy every opportunity for reconciliation. It will destroy trust in the party. I heard it loud and clear. Garba Shehu should not be saying such a thing. It is unfair. I campaigned for 21 months. The form was just a fraction of the funds spent.”