Barely 24 hours to its presidential primary election billed to hold tomorrow, governors and leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are yet to agree on a consensus presidential candidate for the 2023 polls.
This is even as about 2,340 delegates of the governing party will arrive in Abuja today ahead of the party’s special convention to pick it presidential flag bearer.
A meeting of leaders, governors and presidential aspirants from the South West region to pick one of the aspirants from the zone as consensus candidate of the APC failed to hold in Abuja last night.
The meeting scheduled to hold at the Asokoro residence of former Ogun State governor, Olusegun Osoba, was at the instance of the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari and northern APC governors that the South should produce the next president of Nigeria.
Our sister publication, LEADERSHIP Sunday, had reported yesterday that President Buhari and northern governors on the platform of the APC had narrowed the search for the party’s presidential flag bearer in the forthcoming 2023 presidential poll to the southern part of the country.
In a statement issued on Saturday night, 10 APC governors from the North and Senator Aliyu Wamakko had asked the president to pick a southern presidential candidate as his successor.
It was reported exclusively that at a meeting with all the presidential aspirants of the APC in Aso Villa, Buhari told party stakeholders that the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) bloc of the party should be allowed to produce his successor.
This necessitated the withdrawal if Jigawa State governor, Abubakar Badaru from the presidential race, just as other aspirants from the North were expected to follow suit.
But LEADERSHIP gathered that as at yesterday night, the South West governors and leaders were yet to agree on a consensus candidate as instructed by the president that they should hold consultations amongst themselves “and with the party, with a view to building a consensus in a manner that would help the party reduce the number of aspirants, bring up a formidable candidate and scale down the anxiety of party members.”
A source close to the South West caucus of the party said leaders from the zone are still unable to pick a consensus presidential candidate because all the presidential aspirants from the zone have refused to step down.
They are Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; APC leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, and Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
“Each of the aspirants is insisting that if there must be a consensus, he should be the anointed one,” our source who spoke in confidence told our correspodent last night.
This is even as leaders from the South East are insisting that the zone must produce the next president in 2023.
Following the development, President Buhari last night met with members of the National Advisory Council of the APC at the presidential villa where he asked them to deploy their diverse interests, spheres of influence and expectations in the search for a credible presidential candidate from the South.
He told them that as members of the National Advisory Council of the APC, he recognises the fact that they “similarly possess the collective ability to ensure our victory at the 2023 polls by strengthening the stability and unity of the party.
A statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, noted that President Buhari assured the meeting with members of the APC caucus, as he did to the governors and the aspirants, that in the interest of the nation and the party, he would lead the transition processes and on-going consultations, “till we successfully choose our candidate for the 2023 presidential elections and record our third straight victory, thereafter, by God’s grace.”
He said the meeting was convened to provide leadership and direction during the transition period, the President added that the motive was “to strengthen our unity and to focus on building upon our electoral fortunes.”
He added: “I am optimistic that the outcome of this consultation with the National Advisory Council will in addition to sharpening our focus, help to fortify the positive democratic principles, practices and culture that already exists within the party system.
Responding on behalf of members of the National Advisory Council known before now as Board of Trustees members, former Internal Affairs minister and Senator, Major General Mohammed Magoro (rtd); former Osun State Governor and first Interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, and former Senate president, Ken Nnamani, thanked the president for the consultative meetings, and commended him for the great service he had rendered to the country, particularly in the areas of agriculture and infrastructure.
They were unanimous that with hard work and a united front, the APC would win the presidential election billed for February next year, as well National Assembly, governorship, and State Assembly polls.
But the apex Igbo Social-cultural Organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, insisted yesterday that for Justice to be wholesome, the APC should zone its presidential candidate to the South East, noting that any small thing away from justice creates a gap.
It commended President Buhari and Northern leaders, including the APC, for the decision to zone the presidential candidate of the party to southern states ahead of the 2023 general election.
Spokesman of Ohanaeze, Alex Ogbonnia, made the position of the organization in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP in Enugu.
He said the position of the northern leaders was a welcome development, adding that Ohanaeze was happy about it.
Ogbonnia however pointed out that the South East has vibrant and dynamic visionaries that can help bring out Nigeria from its present status.
Southern leaders Commend President, Northern Governors For Zoning Presidential Ticket To Region
Meanwhile, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) has applauded President Buhari and the northern APC governors as well as leaders of the APC for their support for zoning of the presidency to the South.
The regional leaders appealed to Southern APC presidential aspirants to close ranks as suggested by the president, and present a credible consensus candidate that will represent and protect the interest of all Nigerians.
In a statement made available to LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, yesterday, the southern leaders described the decision of leaders of APC in the North as “a remarkable development and fetches huge relief to well-meaning Nigerians, from the needless political theatrics.”
The statement was signed by the forum’s leader, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark; Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; president-general of Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr Pogu Bitrus, and president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Prof George Obiozor.
CNG, AYCF Accuses Northern Governors Of Betrayal
But the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) and Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF) yesterday expressed displeasure with the northern APC governors for what they termed “their last minute concession of the right of northerners to seek party’s presidential ticket, describing it as treacherous”.
CNG, in a statement by its spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said, “For the APC governors from the North to take such a weighty decision at the expense of the collective interest and future of the North, amounts to arbitrary treachery and blatant abuse of privilege,”
The group further said the decision was also clearly a brazen breach of the standard democratic practice by the ‘selfish’ Northern Governors who see power as an end in itself.
On its part, AYCF in another statement issued by its national president, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, said they have been following “with keen interest the open disdain for the ethics of democracy by 11 Northern Governors who, willy-nilly traded off our region’s right to participatory democracy by taking a stance on direct power shift to the South”.
He said they are deeply disturbed that in addition to the failure of the northern governors to save the North from massive poverty, insurgency, banditry and kidnapping, they are turning around to deny the region the right to freely choose where its people want the next president to come from, adding that it doesn’t expect party delegates to follow the self-serving agenda of the northern governors.
They Are Patriots Worthy Of Honour – Tinubu
On his part, APC presidential aspirant, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, through his campaign organisation, described the 10 northern APC governors as worthy patriots for their decision to support power shift to the South.
Bayo Onanuga, director of Media and Communications of the campaign organisation, in a statement on Sunday in Abuja, said the governors should be celebrated by Nigerians.
He said, “All lovers of peace, progress, equity, justice and stability of the country should celebrate and honour the Northern APC governors.”
APC Presidential Primary: Adamu Inaugurates 18 Committees
Meanwhile, national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Adamu, yesterday inaugurated 18 committees for the party’s special convention and presidential primary election billed to be held at Eagle Square, Abuja, tomorrow.
Some of the committees include Budget chaired by Gombe State governor, Muhammad Yahaya, with minister of Finance, Jajiya Zainab Ahmed, as the co-chairman; finance and logistics headed by Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and accreditation and decorations chaired by governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun.
Also, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State is the chairman of media and publicity sub-committee, and Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State is the chairman of security and compliance committee, while former minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, is the co-chairman.
Governor Abubakar Atiku-Bagudu of Kebbi State is the chairman of election sub-committee, with Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State as co-chairman, while Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State and minister of State of FCT, Ramatu Tijani Aliyu, are chairman and co-chairman of transportation sub-committee.
Speaking during the inauguration, Adamu charged the comittees to work hard for a seamless convention, which he said is very critical to the party as it deals with the nomination of a presidential candidate for the 2023 general election.
“We are very carful that we chose different persons to be part of the committees that have been enumerated by the national secretary. We assigned the committees at the thoughts and discretion of the party. So, it is our prayers and hope that every person who is allotted a committee will be satisfied to give his or her best to serve in the slot that is given him or her.”
In their separate remarks, Governors Bagudu and Uzodinma, chairman and co-chairman of the management committee, assured the party’s leadership of their commitment to organise a hitch free convention.
I’ll Pursue People-oriented Policies The I Did As Governor I Become President – Onu
Meanwhile, immediate past minister of Science Technology and Innovation, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, has sought the support of delegates to tomorrow’s presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), saying if given the chance to become president of Nigeria, he will pursue policies that made people from other states feel at home in Abia State when he was governor of the state.
In a statement he personally issued yesterday, Onu said he has a dream that Nigeria would be greater than it is at the moment.
Noting that his party must bring in discipline into rhe nation, promote justice, fairnes and equity and allow creativity and prosperity to flourish, the former Abia governor said a vote for him would guarantee all these.
He said, “have a dream that Nigeria will be greater than it is today and will one day lead the world. Give me your votes in our forthcoming Presidential Party Primaries (PPP) for a greater and more united Nigeria.
“As a Nationalist, a detrabalised Nigerian and former Governor of Old Abia State, I pursued policies that helped make people from all states feel at home in Abia State. I will do that better if I become The Chief Servant of Nigeria.
“Dear Delegates of our great Presidential Party Primaries, as you prepare to vote, think of a true Nationalist, Think of Dr Ogbonnaya Onu.
“As The National Chairman of the No.1 opposition party in Nigeria (ANPP) in 2014, I travelled round the 36 States, incubated, Initiated, Masterminded and Facilitated the series of plans, interractions, and extensive merger activities, resulting in the successful birth of APC and the winning of the 2015 & 2019 general elections.
“If we truly desire a better Nigeria, we must do away with all forms of sentiment and choose a leader based on character. Let’s make Nigeria work.”