No law stipulates where Buhari can hold meetings within Aso Rock, Presidency tackles PDP/ Garba Shehu

The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, has tackled those criticising his principal over the recent meeting between him and executives of the All Progressive Congress (APC).

Buhari had come under attacks from some quarters for using the Federal Executive Council (FEC) chamber for the conduct of the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of APC.

The People's Democratic Party (PDP) in a statement through his spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Friday described the president’s action “as the height of corruption as well as a desecration of the sanctity of the seat of power and our national values”.

But reacting on Sunday, Shehu said no one should decide where the president holds his meetings, since there are no laws that stipulate such.

He said: “The stubborn opinion held by the critics of the administration is that President Muhammadu Buhari had called a political meeting in the ‘hallowed’ chamber of the federal executive council as if there is a law that says the President is barred from holding meetings in certain sections of the vast Presidential Villa.

“Since the President lives in the Villa, no one can, legally speaking, choose or dictate to him where he can sit to hold meetings. So, what is wrong in the President presenting himself before a camera and a TV screen in a digital conference at a given location within the Villa?”

Shehu also dismissed claims that basic COVID-19 safety guidelines were not adhered to during the meeting. 

He added: “Just for the sake of the argument, this meeting, we say emphatically, was not convened at the Council Chamber. It was virtual, not a physical meeting.

“Why was it a virtual meeting? The idea was to observe social distancing in view of health concerns. Knowing how small the conference hall of the party is, social distancing would only have been observed in the breach.

“President Buhari was billed to address the meeting from his office (just any of his offices) and chose the council chamber where the digital facilities are located, and other members, including the bulk of national executive committee members, state party leaders and members of the national assembly were all linked using video conference calls. You saw them all on TV.

“Yes, it is true that governors and leaders of the national assembly joined the president from the chamber from where he spoke. But the larger body of the members in attendance were all connected via video calls.

“Do not forget that these are not the normal times in view of the COVID-19 circumstances in which we have found ourselves. President Buhari placed health and safety above courtesy to the party by not going to its headquarters.

“In the end, a wise thing had been done because the president wants to curtail the spread of the coronavirus disease.”