6 days to presidential primaries… APC postpones screening, Southeast aspirants, Bankole echo consensus



The cloud over who emerges the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2023 general elections got  darker, Sunday, as the governing party postponed its presidential screening earlier scheduled  for Monday 23rd of May 2022.

The development came as some stakeholders, including aspirants of the South-east extraction and former Speaker House of Representatives Dimeji Bankole, also a presidential aspirant,  are  mulling the idea of consensus arrangement to produce the party’s flag bearer in the presidential contest.

But Borno state Governor Professor Babagana Zulum is of the view that President Muhammadu Buhari has the final say on who picks the party’s presidential ticket.

All the permutations and intrigues are coming just 6 days to the party’s presidential primaries scheduled to hold May 29/30.

Postponement

 Announcing the postponement in a statement Sunday night, APC National Publicity Secretary Barrister Felix Morka said a new date for the exercise would be announced shortly. 

In a terse statement, the party said: “The Screening Exercise for Presidential Aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC) earlier scheduled to be held on Monday, May 23rd, 2022, is hereby postponed. A new date for the exercise will be announced shortly. Any inconvenience caused is deeply regretted.”

S/east, Bankole mull consensus

And rising from its meeting Sunday in Abuja, presidential aspirants of the South-east extraction, expressed their readiness to back any of them chosen as a consensus aspirant.

In a communiqué issued after the meeting held at Senator Rochas Okorocha’s residence in Abuja, the APC presidential aspirants expressed their commitments to align with any of the South-east aspirants accepted by and chosen by other Nigerians to fly the APC flag. 

The aspirants include; Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Senator Ken Nnamani, Barrister Uju Ken Ohanenye, Governor Dave Umahi, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba and Sen.  Okorocha

The communiqué reads: “That the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the All Progressives Congress and its National Working Committee as well as the teaming members of the party are commended by the entire people of the South-east on their avowed commitment to the unity of Nigeria and the inclusion of all parts of Nigeria in the governance architecture of the country.

“That we commend all Nigerians who are committed to the Nigerian project by the whole hearted support of the aspiration of the South-east to produce the next Nigerian president in 2023.

“That in furtherance of this commitment, all aspirants here commit to align with any of the South-east aspirants that is accepted by and chosen by other Nigerians to fly the APC flag.”

…Bankole too

Towing similar line, another presidential aspirant and former Speaker House of Representatives Bankole, called for the adoption of “modified consensus” as the preferred method for the emergence of the party’s presidential candidate.

Addressing newsmen Sunday in Abuja, the aspirant said, “modified consensus” remained  the best approach and least costly option for the emergence of the party’s flag bearer.

According to Bankole, the modified consensus option would see the leadership of the party engaging with the various interest groups in the contest to ensure a hitch-free nomination process.

“Consensus is not the same thing as imposition,” Bankole declared, noting that the current opposition to the consensus arrangement in some quarters may be because “consensus is being erroneously equated with imposition.”

He argued that there was a need to lay the anxieties of people currently opposed to the consensus arrangement to rest.

By embarking on widespread consultations with all interested groups and tendencies in the party, the leadership, he said, would allay all fears concerning the consensus option.

 “The emergence of the APC itself was a product of consensus,” he said, adding that “at critical points in the history of Nigeria, consensus had been used to break political logjams.”

He cited, in particular, the adoption of the “Doctrine of Necessity” during the illness of late President Umar Yar’Adua as a perfect example of the consensus option.

The former lawmaker also added that the consensus option was adopted in the emergence of the current APC national chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu.

Given the heightened national interest in the emergence of the party’s presidential candidate and frenetic jostling by various groups, Bankole averred that “it is incumbent on the leadership of the party to adopt a method that ensures that the party can go to the 2023 elections as a united and formidable entity.”

The former Speaker concluded that he had “implicit and unalloyed” confidence in the ability of the party leadership to do what is right towards ensuring a united front towards the elections and eventual victory at the 2023 polls.

Buhari holds the ace – Zulum

Also weighing in on how best to produce the party’s flag bearer, Governor Zulum said President Muhammadu Buhari would have the final say on who emerges the choice of the party’s presidential candidate.

The governor disclosed this Sunday in Maiduguri while receiving in audience the Rotimi Amaechi campaign team, led by its Director General, Senator Ali Ndume.

Also on the campaign team were a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Yusuf Buratai (retd.), and former Inspector-General of Police, Abba Suleiman among others.

The governor told the aspirant that Borno delegates had no preferred aspirant at the moment, adding however that the delegates would vote a credible candidate based on the preference of the president and their convictions.

He said: “Borno state delegates will vote based on their conscience. But again, our leader, President  Muhammadu Buhari, is very important in this political equation. We are still waiting for him to tell us what to do and we will follow. His advice is very important so we have to wait for his advice.

“Nigerians should pray for a good candidate to emerge irrespective of tribe, region or ethnic background; a candidate that will ensure the APC forms the central government come 2023.”

Addressing the delegates, Mr Amaechi urged the state delegates to support his aspiration so he could bring an end to insurgency and all forms of insecurity across the country.

Amaechi said he brought about peace, safety, security and stability being enjoyed today in Rivers state as governor, assuring he would replicate same if allowed to fly the APC flag in the 2023 elections.

The former transport minister said: “When I was governor of Rivers State, Buratai was a brigade commander while Abba Suleiman was the police commissioner. We ensured we engaged the teeming and idle youths by giving them jobs that kept them from the street. By so doing, we forestalled peace to the creeks in the state”

‘Osinbajo won’t back down’

Meanwhile, The Progressive Project (TPP), the umbrella body of all groups canvassing support for  Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to emerge as APC presidential  candidate, has denied a viral video indicating that their principal was planning to step down for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

In the viral video released Sunday by one Daniel Bwala, an aide to the Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege, claimed that the VP was planning to concede to Asiwaju.

But reacting to the development through a statement made available to Blueprint and signed by the Director of Operations of TPP, Alhaji Usman Aliyu Usman, the body described the claim as false and “a gutter fight which Osinbajo supporters cannot join.”

The statement warned “paid agents” to stop the spread of falsehoods against Vice President Osinbajo.

“One of our visible supporters, Professor Olusola Adeyeye, a two-term Senator who represented Osun Central Senatorial District between 2011 to 2019 made some weighty statements about the APC presidential primaries on Saturday and by Sunday, really baseless and mischievous anti-Osinbajo statements began circulating.

“Unfortunately, one of these came from Mr. Daniel Bwala, an aide to Deputy Senate President, Senator Omo-Agege who currently appears to moonlight as spokesman for the Bola Tinubu campaign.

“Specifically, without any proof, Mr. Bwala started circulating a video clip with claims that Professor Yemi Osinbajo is ‘allegedly planning to step down for Asiwaju’; Mr. Bwala had no evidence and he ought to know better than going to town with such.”

“Without doubt, Professor Yemi Osinbajo is still riding high in the race and our decision not to interfere in some camps’ deliberate spread of illusion and untruths is only motivated by our genuine confidence in our candidate’s prospects.

“As stated long ago, no group linked to TPP will join any individual or group in playing gutter politics or smearing others but we need to unequivocally state that Professor Yemi Osinbajo is not contemplating any measure of capitulation to any candidate.

“While we are sworn to total allegiance to the Constitution, patriotic values and the spirit of good sportsmanship, we denounce the misleading information and unbecoming tricks that some supporters in other presidential candidates’ camps embrace so eagerly.

“We denounce too, the baseless ad unhelpful information being randomly disseminated by the likes of Mr. Bwala.

“In the interest of the nation and its democracy, TPP appeals to all aspirants and supporters at all levels to learn from the focused and principled campaign methods of Professor Osinbajo and his supporters whose collective determination towards actualising Nigeria’s enduring greatness is a cause that genuinely deserves the support of all patriots.

“We categorically debunk the spate of falsehoods against PYO’s candidature and we urge all Nigerian patriots to look forward to join us in the forthcoming celebrations on the day after APC presidential primaries,’ the TPP official stated.