Presidency says the use of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, by the All Progressives Congress is part of the benefits the ruling can derive while its candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, enjoys incumbency.
Main opposition Peoples Democratic Party and others could not enjoy the same privilege now because they didn’t win last year’s election, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, however, said.
Shehu spoke on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme on Sunday against the backdrop of criticisms from the PDP and other opposition figures that Buhari was wrong to have dissolved the APC’s National Working Committee and inaugurate a caretaker committee at the council chambers.
Reacting to Buhari’s critics, the President’s spokesman said, “Incumbency confers on a leader a number of advantages. The chairman of the PDP cannot say today ‘give me a room in the Villa, I want to go and sleep there’. They will not admit him because he didn’t win an election.
“The opposition cannot go to the Villa and say give us a conference room, we want to use it. You have to win an election to go in there. Those who won elections before us have used the Villa. When we have finished our own term we will leave and new people will come to come and occupy it. The incumbency advantages are there. That is the essence of winning. If you lose, you don’t get there.”
He added that the President had the right to choose anywhere in the Villa, including his bedroom to host a video/telephone conference, arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic forced Buhari to use the council chambers.
Shehu said, “If you look at the laws of the country, there is nothing that says a section of the Villa is designated for this meeting or that meeting. So, no law was violated. The President is a permanent resident of the Villa so long as he is serving his elected term in office.
“He was required to present himself before a TV camera and be part of a digital meeting. This meeting had been called not to take place in the Villa but to talk place digitally and the President had around himself some governors who came and some members of the National Assembly and the President chose to do this from the council chambers because no law says he cannot make a conference call from the bedroom or any chambers.”