President Goodluck Jonathan has warned the Peoples Democratic Party governors against backing unpopular candidates as their successors in their respective states.
This is one of the issues discussed at the meeting the President had with the governors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Sunday night.
The meeting ended in the early hours of Monday.
The meeting was said to have discussed the presidential ambition of a former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) on the platform of the All Progressives Congress.
While some of the governors were said to have asked the President for “a Buhari challenge”, others were said to have dismissed it, saying that the former leader could not defeat the President in 2015 if he emerged as the candidate of the APC.
President Jonathan was said to have invited the governors to the meeting over the growing complaints of endorsements in their states.
A source at the meeting, who spoke with one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said the President said he was not against the governors picking and working for their preferred candidates as their successors.
The source said, “The President said he was not against us (governors) picking our candidates, but that we should make sure we have a popular person without blemish. He said such a candidate must also be acceptable to the generality of the members of the party in our states and that the candidates must be able to win the election.
“It is wrong to say the President is against us. He also said that we should also make sure that the candidate must have a clean record so that the opposition will not capitalise on this against such a candidate at the election petition tribunal.”
The source said that the meeting also discussed the desire of some of the governors to vie for senatorial seats on the platform of the party.
While saying that no concrete agreement was reached on this, he said the meeting agreed that there would be another round of discussions, which he said would involve the national leadership of the party.
The issue of senatorial seats involving the governors and sitting senators is also causing confusion in some states as senators who the governors are angling to replace are said to be demanding that they should be made to also replace their state governors in 2015.
“If the governors want to take our position, they should also allow us to take their positions as governors,” one of the aggrieved senators was said to have complained to the President.
Earlier, some state governors who spoke with State House correspondents at the end of the meeting had confirmed that the President summoned the parley to enable them to further strategise ahead of the 2015 elections.
Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State said the meeting devised means of ensuring that the party’s primaries were rancour-free.
He said, “We discussed our party and the primaries that will soon come. We looked at how to fortify our party to avoid rancour or infighting to enable us to do very well both in the primaries and general elections in 2015.”
He said the issue of the alleged rancour between state governors and members of the party’s National Working Committee over endorsements of candidates was not discussed at the meeting.
He however assured all stakeholders that the party’s primaries would be free and fair.
Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State, Governor James Ngilari of Adamawa State and the deputy governor of Kogi State, Yomi Awoniyi, also corroborated Orji’s position.