Amid criticism of the hosting of the recent meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) inside the presidential villa, Abuja, the presidency on Sunday asserted that nobody can dictate where President Muhammadu Buhari will have meetings.
It also affirmed that rather than what critics believe, the NEC meeting hosted by the president inside Aso Chambers of the presidential villa was virtual in line with social distancing protocols to contain COVID-19.
A statement issued by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity) in Abuja on Sunday said the conference hall of the ruling party would have been too small to observe physical distancing.
The statement said: “It is necessary that we put records in their correct perspective concerning the recent meeting held by the National Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress, APC, which has, unfortunately, drawn criticism due to lack of understanding.
“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 be 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?
“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.”
Recall that President Buhari presided over a virtual meeting of the governing party last Thursday where a resolution to dissolve its national leadership and replaced with a caretaker/convention planning committee was reached.