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‘You’re free to leave’: Tinubu tells APC members who disagree with party’s choice of NASS leaders

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NATIONAL leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, says members of the party elected to the ninth National Assembly may leave if they are not satisfied with the party’s choice of legislative leaders.

Stressing the need for party discipline, the former governor made this remark on Friday while addressing journalists following a multi-religious prayer programme held in Lagos to mark his 67th birthday.

“We must be disciplined in the party. We were a little careless in 2015. We created the opportunity for serpent to get into our party and that did not allow Nigeria to make the desired progress,” he said.

“You have seen the result of it and we are not going to allow that to happen again. We are going to respect our party and we are going to apply the whip.”

He said party members may choose to either stay or leave if they are not comfortable with the decision. “You have the freedom to choose but the freedom does not give you as a minority to go and collaborate and protrude our mandate given to you to another party who was our opposition and who is still our opposition,” he noted.

“We would not take that this time, no matter who you think you are. That is how it is built. Why do you want to deviate from what has been structured? We look at our reward system equally, zone by zone.”

Tinubu, at the event, also described his journey into politics as “very fulfilling”, thanking his mother for standing by him and giving him good advice. He also said his party exists as an alliance of progressive thinkers to serve the common man and the people.

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“It is not by criticism alone. You have to have the opportunity to even change the life of the people and quality of their standard of living,” he said.

“So, we stood by it, we persevered persistently, uttered our voice, offered our recommendations, and then we are here. And today I am extremely happy that we are in government for the common man. The only way to change Nigeria from penury is to fashion out our own organic economic strategy and plan that will continue to cater for all.”

Ahmed Lawan has been favoured by the leadership of the APC for the seat of senate president and Femi Gbajabiamila for the seat of speaker of the House of Representatives.

Former senate majority leader, Ali Ndume, has however repeatedly expressed his dissatisfaction with this decision, accusing the party of not consulting other lawmakers who have shown interest in the position.

“I am surprised that the decision was taken and we were not given the chance to ask questions or make comments. The President was called upon to make his remarks and after that we sang the National Anthem,” Ndume said on Wednesday.

“Even the chosen candidate was not given the chance to thank us or to say something about it. Those of us that are interested in contesting the position were not even consulted. I left the venue in shock,” he added.

“If this is God’s decision, it will last, if it is not, God will take His own decision. I have a vision for the Senate because the Senate has drifted and is drifting to a position where it will not be able to serve its purpose.”

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A similar scenario played out in 2015 when Bukola Saraki connived with members of the opposition People’s Democratic Party to become president though his party, the APC, had endorsed Lawan.

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'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via aadebajo@icirnigeria.org or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.

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