The number of those aspiring to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023 on the All Progressives Congress (APC) platform has risen to 21 from the initial 17 that had earlier declared their intention, Blueprint can authoritatively report.
This followed the entrance into the race of Ekiti state Governor Kayode Fayemi, Jigawa state Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, a former national APC chairman and former Edo state Governor, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Senator Godswill Akpabio.
This is coming few days after the APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, said the party had not yet decided on zoning its presidential ticket to any part of the country.
Before now, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Kogi state Governor Yahaya Bello, Ebonyi state Governor Dave Umahi, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Minister of State for Education Emeka Nwajiuba, Minister of Transport Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige, and nine others had announced their bid to succeed the incumbent president whose tenure expires May 29, 2023.
Declaring his presidential bid Wednesday in Abuja, Governor Fayemi promised to decentralise governance if elected.
Fayemi, who is also the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), expressed confidence he would pick the APC presidential ticket either by direct or indirect primary election.
Governor Fayemi said his entry into the race to succeed President Buhari would offer APC members and Nigerians the opportunity to examine competing visions for national rebirth in the best interest of our country.
“Compatriots, it is in the spirit of this abiding faith in our country and the promise of its unfinished greatness that I stand before you today, in total humility and with all sense of responsibility, to solemnly declare to all our party cadres and Nigerians at large, my decision to accept for my name to be put forward for consideration by the APC leadership and membership as the party’s standard bearer in the upcoming contest for a successor to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“This is not a decision which I have taken lightly. Indeed, to arrive at this point, I carried out a long and deep self-introspection with the help of close family, friends, and colleagues, including my wife and devoted partner, Erelu Bisi Fayemi. I have also traversed the length and breadth of our country to consult and explore with our esteemed elder statesmen and women, traditional rulers, a cross section of party leaders and rank and file members, and various non-partisan leaders of thought and opinion.
“And it is on the foundation of a clear vision accompanied by a carefully thought out programme of action that I present my candidature. I do so fully convinced on the basis of what I have experienced, heard, and seen about the demands of the times and the aspirations of our people that the agenda that I am proposing for our country is one which will find favour with APC members and win resounding traction with the generality of Nigerians,” Governor Fayemi said.
Speaking on his agenda for Nigeria, the former minister of mines and steel proposed Integrated Security System to solve challenges of insecurity confronting the country.
He said: “To give full effect to this, concrete programmes of action will be launched in priority areas that will allow for a revamping of the credibility of the Nigerian state, the promotion of an enhanced social contract, and the revamping of the national identity.
“Programmatically, as the standard bearer of the APC, I will be leading the implementation of a wholistic and integrated response to the multifaceted security crises confronting us. To this end, the retooling of our armed forces, intelligence agencies, and border guards will be pursued in tandem with an overhaul of our policing system and the phasing in of bold universal social policies that will enable us decisively to tackle poverty and upgrade human capital and security.”
Speaking on how to tackle impunity, Fayemi said: “What is also lacking in Nigeria is the leadership, the courage to do that what is right. Some people consider themselves as principalities and people who believe that they are the owners of this country, and then do whatever they like. They also believe that the law cannot catch up with them.
“We will not be arbitrary but we would be very very sneaky about upholding the rule of law, and access to justice to all Nigerians. There are different levels of impunity.
“Impunity reigns because our justice system has been crippling and because the entire justice sector system in our country is problematic. If we look at the journey from the investigation of the crime, to conviction of the crime you would have forgotten that the person actually committed the crime.
“I think swift delivery of justice, access to justice, accountability in society are areas we need to pay attention to. We need to also support our judicial officers, so that we will not again tempt them to resort to other misbehaviour because the state has not taken on its own responsibility in terms of remuneration, in terms of support to the judicial officers.”
On his choice of mode of primary, the governor said: “President Buhari is known for its passion for every member of the party having a say in the decision that affects the party. So in that sense, I have no problem stalking a claim to a primary process, whether it’s indirect or direct. I don’t have a problem with that.”
In a similar declaration Wednesday in Abuja, a former APC national chairman, Comrade Oshiomhole, promised to reposition Nigeria and return her to the path of sustainable growth and development.
Promising to create the enabling environment for an egalitarian society in the country, Oshiomhole listed as top priorities the creation of a job creation, healthcare facilities, security and qualitative education for the citizenry if voted into power.
The former Edo state governor promised to review the tax system which would compel the rich to pay higher monies required to address the basic needs of the downtrodden in the country.
The Edo-born politician promised to enforce use of textiles and fabrics, tyres and automobiles assembled and manufactured in Nigeria as part of measures aimed at creating employment opportunities for Nigerians.
Applauding the measures put in place by the Buhari-led administration to address the multifaceted challenges besetting the country, he promised to address the issues relating to poor emoluments of the teachers as well as workers in the public sector.
“Let us forget our religious and tribal differences. My presidency would focus on policy issues that would deliver jobs, prosperity for Nigerians. We will deal with the issues of insecurity. I will assemble a cream of left of the centre economist to fix the economy. Together we will create a prosperous and secure Nigeria,” he said.
In yet another declaration Wednesday also in Abuja, Jigawa state Governor Badaru Abubakar said he was eminently qualified for the job.
The governor, who already picked the N100million Expression of Interest and Nomination forms, was quoted as saying during the party’s stakeholders’ meeting at Government House Dutse Tuesday evening that “I will join the presidential race since everyone knows I’m a highly qualified person to do the job.”
The governor was also said to have told the gathering during the meeting that he was pressurised to contest for the presidential seat by his colleagues.
His media aide, Auwalu Sankara, said his principal sought President Muhammadu Buhari’s blessings before buying the form.
Osinbajo in Adamawa, Taraba
Also in continuation of his nationwide consultation, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said there is no greater privilege than to have the opportunity to give one’s best in the service of the country, contributing to society and making life better for the people.
A statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity Office of the Vice President Laolu Akande quoted Osinbajo as saying this Wednesday during his visits to Taraba and Adamawa states.
The visits were in continuation of his engagements with stakeholders and delegates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) across the country.
The VP was received in both States by their governors, Darius Ishaku and Umaru Fintiri of Taraba and Adamawa states respectively, as well other senior state government officials.
Speaking at the Lamido Adamawa’s palace, Osinbajo said: “My reason for aspiring for the office of the President of Nigeria is to serve the Nigerian people. I have no other reason or objective except to serve.
“After one has been in office as Vice President for 7 years, I know that God did not give me that opportunity so that I would seat down somewhere and write the history of my service as Vice President.
“It is for the purpose of serving the people, and that is why I am so determined that if God gives me the opportunity to serve, the Nigerian people would realise indeed they have done the right thing by putting me in office because I would serve the country with everything, with all my heart and commitment.”
The VP was received at the Palace of the Lamido of Adamawa, by His Royal Highness, Muhammadu Mustapha, who recalled the VP’s chieftaincy title as the Jagaba of Adamawa. The monarch then prayed for the realisation of the VP’s presidential aspiration.
“I hope your coming will add more light to Adamawa because you are the Jagaba of Adamawa. I hope you succeed in your efforts to become the President of this country. As long as when you’re coming to Adamawa, and with your visit to my palace, this will encourage people to see that you are really the Jagaba of Adamawa,” the Lamido said.
Also at the palace, Governor Fintiri welcomed the VP to the state, adding that “we pray that God will answer your heart’s desires. I also hope that the APC delegates will see the reason to put a square peg in a square hole. I welcome you to Adamawa and I wish you the best of luck.”
The Vice President thanked the monarch for his warm reception and prayed for his good health.
He also noted the continuing efforts of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in addressing the diverse challenges facing the country.
Addressing the delegates in both states, Osinbajo “acknowledged all the support that has been offered towards his presidential bid, while again emphasising that his sole purpose for seeking the highest office of the land, was purely to serve Nigeria and give his best for the country.”
Emphasizing the importance of service to the people, Prof. Osinbajo stated that “one of the very important things I want to share with delegates anywhere I go is that the role of the politician is an important one.”
Addressing the delegates during an interactive session, the VP expressed delight at the commendable support he’s been receiving from the delegates across the states.
In Taraba, he told the reporters, “we have had fruitful discussions and robust engagements, and all of it is directed at various ways we can do good things for our country and how we can make progress. I think that the future looks very bright indeed.”
Women in rally for Bello
And in Akure, the Ondo state capital, women in their numbers converged to demonstrate their support for the candidacy of Kogi state Governor Yahaya Bello in the 2023 presidential election.
The women, who defied heavy rain Wednesday morning, took to the streets, chanting solidarity songs and carrying various placards with inscriptions such as “Yahaya Bello, the best man for the job”, “We’re not interested in zoning, this is one Nigeria”, and “Yahaya Bello, hero of women inclusion”, among others.
The women, members of over 700 groups across Nigeria, in the massive rally, tagged, “South West Mega Women Rally for Yahaya Bello”, said anyone who had the interest of Nigeria at heart would not be drumming the beats of zoning, but pray to God to give the country the best leader at this crucial point in history.
“Regardless of what political oppressors might have fed the public, it is an incontrovertible fact that Governor Bello has the capacity to build on President Muhammadu Buhari’s successes and tackle all challenges confronting Nigeria, headlong.
The women cut across different key sectors and professions such as banking, media, Nollywood, medical practice, including frontline entrepreneurs, market leaders, engineers and religious groups, among others.
In her remarks, leader of the South-West market movement for Yahaya Bello and National Vice President, Iyaloja of Nigeria, Princess Nike Aroloye, said the women of Nigeria were already looking beyond the primaries of the two parties.
“We already see the ticket with Yahaya Bello. Once he gets it, we are marching straight to Aso Rock. All my market women are ready to support him. We will go everywhere for this cause. He has said we are important. We will give him the reward,” she told journalists at the rally.
Nollywood actress, Rose Odika, who led other South-west female stars to the rally said, “I have said it before, and I will repeat it here. Yahaya Bello is the one we will support. From all he has done for women and for his state in general, he is the one to beat. We will only support those who support us.
“It has never happened before in the history of Nigeria for a leading presidential candidate to appoint a woman as the Director-General of his campaign.”
Responding, Director General Yahaya Bello Presidential Campaign Organisation Hafsat Abiola-Costello said the dreams of her mother for a better Nigeria for Nigerian women would be actualised with a Yahaya Bello presidency.
“I am so happy that Nigerian women have decided, for once, to take their destinies in their hands by supporting that one Governor that has given them so much voice and has made the world to see how women can turn stone into bread in a troubled economy. He will do the same for Nigeria,” she said.
…Party extends sale of nomination forms
Meanwhile, the APC National Working Committee (NWC) Monday extended the party’s sale of Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms for the 2023 general elections to Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
In a revised timetable by APC National Organising Secretary Sulaiman Muhammad Argungu, the last day for submission of completed forms and accompanying documents is now slated for Wednesday, 11th May, 2022.
Also, Congresses to elect Local Government Area (LGA), State and National Delegates will now be held from Thursday, 12th May to Saturday, 14th May, 2022.