Support Lawan, Gbajabiamila or leave APC, Tinubu tells Ndume, other aggrieved lawmakers

Newly elected APC lawmakers must tow the party line or be whipped out of the party, Bola Tinubu has said

Mr Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader, said that party discipline would be upheld in addressing the leadership tussle of the 9th National Assembly.

Mr Tinubu said this while speaking with journalists in Lagos on Friday after a prayer programme organised by Islamic and Christian clerics to mark his 67th birthday.

“Party discipline is key, we must be discipline 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.

“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.

“It is either you stay with us or you follow us or you leave. 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.

“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,” he said.

The APC leadership recently declared support for Yobe senator, Ahmed Lawan to become the next Senate President. Lagos lawmaker and Mr Tinubu’s protege, Femi Gbajabiamila, was also endorsed to become the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The move was condemned by other APC lawmakers including Borno senator, Ali Ndume, who seeks to be the Senate president. Mr Ndume has vowed to continue with his ambition, saying he enjoys the support of many of the elected APC senators.

A Gombe senator, Danjuma Goje, is also in the race to be Senate President.

The APC enjoys a clear majority in the incoming Senate, winning over 60 of the 109 Senate seats.

The party is expected to produce the Senate president, but as it happened in 2015, a different candidate other than that endorsed by the party leadership may emerge the winner of the topmost legislative position.

While both Messrs Lawan and Gbajabiamila were endorsed for the positions in 2015, Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara emerged the Senate President and Speaker of the House respectively.

The two winners later defected from the APC to the PDP.

Tinubu speaks on his past

Also at the event on Friday, Mr Tinubu said that his life as a politician at 67 had been a fulfilling journey.

“When I joined politics, there were a lot of uncertainties because it was during the military regime. There were lots of struggles but my concern is about people and the future of my country.

“My mother stood by me when I told her then that I was joining politics. She told me to be ready to take all sorts of insults whenever they cross my way. May her soul rest in peace,” he said.

“The struggle was tough. It created a justice on June 12 election of MKO and some people deserted the camp, the struggle, the spirit.

“We have stayed with this struggle. We know democracy is not easy but it is the only system of government that we chose.

“Ever since, it has been a very fulfilling journey. There is always the twist and turns in politics.

“Today, we endure, we persevere, we think, adjust, collaborate, merged and became single party just like yesterday,” he said.

Mr Tinubu said that the APC was in government for the common man.

“You will think that APC had been on for twenty years but is not up to six years. We went through compromises because we know that if we form a good alliance of progressive thinkers and believers in the ideology of common man, we will be able to serve the people.

“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.

“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,” he said.