Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development Hajia Aisha Jummai Alhassan— who last week said she would not support President Muhammadu Buhari should he decide to seek reelection in 2019 —has apologised for her “indiscretion”, the All Progressives Congress (APC) said yesterday.
The minister, who said she would support former Vice Presdent Atiku Abubakar who is her mentor, to run in 2019, met for two hours with party leaders led by National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun. She was summoned to clarify her statement.
National Publicity Secretary Bolaji Abdullahi told reporters after the meeting that Hajia Alhasan had accepted her fault, adding that while she had a right to give support to whosoever she like, the timing of her statement was wrong.
The minister, who arrived at the secretariat at about 1.50 pm, did not leave until 4.05 pm.
She declined to speak with reporters, saying: “I can’t talk when the APC spokesman is here with me. I’m not the party’s spokesperson.”
Abdullahi, who saw her off to the car,said the party recognised the minister’s right to say her mind but was of the view that with her position in the government and the party, the timing of her statement was wrong and capable of sending the wrong signal to Nigerians.
He said: “Since the issue of the comment she made came up, the party had not said anything regardless of what individuals might have told you because we are a party that recognise the right of her members to express their opinions or views.
“We also had an opportunity to discuss with the minister to understand what she said and in what context she said so before knowing 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 the explanation.
“Now, having offered her explanation, 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 statement represents an act of indiscretion because with the kind of position she occupies 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.
“She ought to have exercised greater judgement than she did and she acknowledged that yes, maybe she ought not to have. Maybe the timing was wrong and she apologised if she had put the party in any difficult position.
“I want you to take note of the fact that nobody is questioning her right to take the position she has taken. We have not come out to say, ‘why are you saying you are supporting this person?”
The APC spokesman said the party never discussed the option of resignation with the minister. “That did not come up.”
He added: “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. We are still far away.
“(Former Vice President) 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.”