The governing All Progressives Congress (APC) is in a dilemma regarding who emerges as its presidential candidate. The special convention was shifted till Monday next week for the presidential primary.
No doubt, the emergence of former vice president, Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has necessitated the need for the ruling party to put its best foot forward.
Indeed, the APC would have preferred anyone but Atiku to emerge as its presidential candidate and the reasons are not far-fetched. The former Vice President boasts of an extensive network across the country and is seen as a pan Nigerian politician with friends across political divides, ethnicity, and religion. For that, the APC must present its best candidates.
Some have called for the APC to also zone its presidential candidate to the north to match Atiku in the region but so far none of the northern aspirants have the clout to match the former Vice President.
Most of the party faithful have contended that former Lagos state governor, Bola Tinubu should be the candidate of the party as he is the only one that can match the former Vice President. However, there is the burning question of who will emerge as the running mate to Tinubu from the north. The thinking is that a northern Christian may not swing enough votes for Tinubu in the north and a Muslim Muslim ticket will alienate most Christian voters in the country.
Also for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, there are fears that Tinubu will withdraw his political machinery and support in the southwest if he is pushed out. Anyone but Tinubu in the southwest would draw the ire of his supporters who may work against that party.
With a weak base in the southwest, Osinbajo would not stand a chance against an Atiku.
Recently, speculations were rife that the former president, Goodluck Jonathan was going to run as a consensus candidate for the APC. There have been denials and counter denials from both camps but his non-appearance for the screening may have ended the speculation. But analysts aver that the APC will find it difficult to market a Jonathan after spending the last 10 years demonizing the former president.
It is instructive to note that the list of the presidential aspirants of the APC includes Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Sen. Bola Tinubu, and Rotimi Amaechi, who was until recently, the Minister of Transportation.
Others are former Minister of Niger Delta Development, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, and former Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.
Former Imo Governor, Sen. Rochas Okorocha and former Ogun Governor, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun, Pastor Tunde Bakare; Cross River Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, and his Ebonyi counterpart, Gov. Dave Umahi are also in the race.
Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; former Senate President, Sen. Ken Nnamani; Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi; and Jigawa Governor, Mohammed Abubakar are also in the race.
Others are Senate President Dr. Ahmad Lawan; former Zamfara Governor, Sen. Ahmed Yerima; the only APC female aspirant, Mrs. Uju Kennedy-Ohnenye; and Pastor Nicholas Nwagbo; and a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole.
There were also whispers that the party may adopt the consensus arrangement for the presidential primaries as some political analysts contend that may spell doom for the party.
To ensure the emergence of a consensus candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, told governors of the party that he wanted to pick the party’s flagbearer.
The president, who made this demand during a meeting at the State House, Abuja, told the 22 governors of the party and the APC national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, that most successful political parties globally have always relied on their internal cohesion and a strong leadership brand to achieve bigger electoral fortunes.
He said, “In keeping with the established internal policies of the Party and as we approach the Convention in a few days, therefore, I wish to solicit the reciprocity and support of the Governors and other stakeholders in picking my successor, who would fly the flag of our party for election into the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023.
In a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, Buhari urged governors of the APC to ensure that the forthcoming convention to pick a presidential candidate reflects all the values and virtues of the party.
“Our party, the APC, shall not be any different, more so as we are still implementing the blueprint for a more prosperous nation,” he said, adding that as he begins the last year of his second term as president, he knew the importance of providing stronger leadership to the party in the transition process and to ensure that it happens in an orderly manner.
According to him, “Such leadership is required so that the party remains strong and united. It is also needed to improve our electoral fortunes by ensuring that it retains power at the center, holds the great majority in various legislative chambers, and also gains an additional number of states.”
He told them that as the party holds its convention in a few days during which primaries would take place to pick the presidential flag bearer for the 2023 general elections, it would be a very significant process whose outcome should prove to the world the positive quality of the APC regarding democratic principles, culture as well as leadership.
The president appealed to all the governors “to allow our interests to converge, our focus to remain on the changing dynamics of our environment, the expectations of our citizens, and the global community.
“Our objective must be the victory of our party and our choice of candidate must be someone who would give the Nigerian masses a sense of victory and confidence even before the elections.”
Buhari gave the assurance that the consultation process will continue to ensure that all aspirants and stakeholders would be brought on board right through to the convention, stressing that it would also ensure that any anxiety occasioned by different factors is effectively brought under control, “and that our party emerges stronger.”
Indeed, it remains to be seen if the consensus arrangement is going to work or whether the party will remain the same after the primaries.