Buhari to APC governors, stakeholders: Allow me pick my successor

President Muhammadu Buhari has charged governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to ensure the forthcoming convention to pick a presidential candidate reflects all the values and virtues of the party.

The president also told the governors that like they did in determining who succeeds them, they should also give him the honour of allowing him pick his successor.

He spoke Tuesday at a meeting with the 22 APC governors and National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, held at the State House in Abuja.

He said: “I am delighted to address this gathering of the Progressive Governors’ Forum as part of the consultative processes that have always strengthened the internal dynamics of our Party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“You will all recall that APC came to power at the centre in 2015 through cohesive machinery, notwithstanding its status as the opposition party. Similarly, in 2019, it was returned to power under my leadership, because of the dividends of democracy delivered to Nigerians irrespective of their political leanings.

“The Party has since grown in strength and capacity to govern. The key to both electoral successes is the ability of the party to hold consultations and for its members to put the nation above other interests.

“The transition processes for the 2023 General Elections have commenced in earnest and I note that the most successful Political Parties globally have always relied on their internal cohesion and a strong leadership brand to achieve bigger electoral fortunes. Our party, the APC, shall not be any different, more so as we are still implementing the blueprint for a more prosperous nation.

“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.

“As I begin the final year of my second term as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and leader of the Party, I recognise the compelling need for me to provide stronger leadership to the Party under this transition process and to ensure that it happens in an orderly manner.

“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 centre, hold the great majority in various legislative chambers and also gain additional number of states at state levels.

“In pursuit of the foregoing objectives, the Party has successfully established internal policies that promote continuity and smooth succession plans even at the state and local government levels. For example, first term Governors who have served credibly well have been encouraged to stand for re-election. Similarly, second term Governors have been accorded the privilege of promoting successors that are capable of driving their visions as well as the ideals of the party.

“In a few days, the Party will be holding its Convention during which primaries would take place to pick the Presidential Flag Bearer for the 2023 General Elections. This is a very significant process and its outcome should prove to the world, the positive quality of the APC regarding democratic principles, culture as well as leadership.

“As we approach the Convention, I appeal to all of you 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.

“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.

“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.

“I wish to assure you that the consultation process shall continue to ensure that all aspirants and stakeholders would be brought on board right through to the convention. This would also ensure that any anxiety occasioned by different factors are effectively brought under control and that our party emerges stronger.”

Osinbajo, others screened

Meanwhile, the screening of APC presidential aspirants resumed Tuesday with former President Goodluck Jonathan and former Imo state Governor Rochas Okorocha conspicuously missing at the Transcorp Hilton venue of the screening exercise.

Both Jonathan and Okorocha indirectly and directly obtained the N100 million nomination forms to contest the ticket of the ruling party.

While Okorocha is facing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) battle, Blueprint, however learnt that the former President Jonathan travelled abroad for an international function.

The John Oyegun-led screening committee had attended to 12 aspirants Monday. 

They include Jigawa state Governor Abubakar Badaru, former governor of Ogun state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun;  Pastor Tunde Bakare, former governor of Zamfara state, Senator  Sani Yerima, APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; and former Rivers state Governor Rotimi Amaechi.

Others are former Minister of State for Education Emeka Nwajiuba; Mr Nicholas Felix; a female aspirant, Uju Ken-Ohanenye;  Senator Ajayi Boroffice; a former Senate President Ken Nnamani; Governor David Umahi Ebonyi state.

 Day 2

Among the presidential aspirants screened on the second day are Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmad Lawan; former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Senator Godswill Akpabio and former Speaker House of Representatives Dimeji Bankole, and an oil magnate, Mr Tein Jack Rich.

Others include former Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Dr Ogbonnaya Onu; Cross River state Governor Ben Ayade, Kogi state Governor Yahaya Bello, former Minister of Information under the late General Sani Abacha regime, Ikeobasi Mokelu.

While the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, publicly rejected the nomination forms bought for him, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, was not listed for the screening.

Gaya on Osinbajo 

Speaking to newsmen after the screening, Director General Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Campaign Organisation, Senator Kabiru Gaya, said Osinbajo is the best among all the aspirants and the only one with capacity to defeat the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji  Atiku Abubakar.

 Gaya said: “We are impressed by his qualifications and experience. He has been in the system for so many years as the vice president and he has acted also as a president. So, he’s the most experienced aspirant in this race. We believe that he will be a candidate for the APC general elections and he is the only candidate that can beat Atiku Abubakar. That I’m sure of.”

Similarly, Senator Akpabio told journalists that the exercise was rigorous.

“I think it is quite rigorous and the checklist is very good. At least, they will be able to know the aspirants in totality and also get their idea of how they are going to run the affairs of the country and take the country from the present level to the next level. The array of politicians I have seen there are people who are grassroots based,” said the former Akwa Ibom state governor.

‘I’m ready to do Buhari’s bidding’

Also addressing journalists after taking his turn at the screening exercise, Senate President Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan declared that he was ready to step down for the preferred candidate of President Buhari.

He said all the presidential aspirants are members of the same political family, hence no controversy over whoever the president settles for.

However, the lawmaker expressed optimism that he would emerge the choice candidate of the party.

“We are sons and daughters of the same father and mother, those of us in APC, all of us who took the forms and to run for the highest office of the president believing in the same philosophy and ideology of our party. Therefore, we are one and the same thing. I will support anybody who the party and who the president thinks can do better for us. I have no problem with that. I want to also believe that at the end of the day, I will emerge,” Lawal said.

On his impression of the screening, the lawmaker said: “The screening was very successful. I was asked very fundamental questions about our party’s stands for, about what I believe that I can bring to the presidency of Nigeria.

“Of course, our party stands for progress, national stability and what we have done in the last seven years as an administration, we have recorded so much successes across the country but we also have some challenges we have to deal with. As someone who is aspiring to be the candidate for APC and by the grace of God the president in 2023, I have gone through the nails.

“I have worked before I came into the National Assembly in 1999 and I am still in the National Assembly having served for eight years in the House of Representatives.

“I chaired the two strategic, critical and very important committees of education and agriculture in the House and served as chairman of public account for eight years, served as chairman of Defence Committee in the Senate, served as Senate leader and served as presiding officer and Senate president today.

“I have worked very closely with Mr President Muhammadu Buhari in my capacity as Senate Leader. I know the issue of developments, where we have recorded so much successes, I know where we have to rework the tool and re-kit our system, strategy and operations. And by The Grace of God, if I am given the opportunity, Nigeria will experience improved education, security, economy and I want to reform the educational sector that will serve the sons and daughter of nobody so that we are able to take away from the street the 15 or so million out-of-school children.

“I want to see a situation where I will come as the elected party candidate and, of course, go ahead to defeat the PDP and other political parties to win the presidency for APC and for Nigeria.”

Fresh crisis hits party

In the midst of all this, two members of the APC National Working Committee (NWC) have accused the party’s national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu of taking unilateral decisions and using President Buhari’s name to blackmail other NWC members. 

A statement signed Tuesday in Abuja, by the National Vice Chairman North-west, Malam Saliu Mohammed Lukman and the National Vice Chairman South-west, Isaac Kekemeke, called on all the APC leaders to call Adamu to order.

They said: “We are compelled to make this statement following serial postponement of the scheduled National Working Committee (NWC) meetings, twice within 48 hours. We are convinced beyond doubt that this is a deliberate attempt to foist a fait accompli on the NWC on fundamental issues that affect our great party.

“Within just two months in the lifespan of the new leadership of our great party, APC, led by His Excellency, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, the NWC, organ of the party vested with the power of managing the day-to-day affairs, including implementing decisions of the National Executive Committee (NEC), as provided in Article 13.4 of the APC Constitution, has been rendered redundant. 

“The National Chairman takes decisions unilaterally. When it suits him, he invokes the name of our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari to blackmail NWC members into accepting his decisions. Every effort to get the Chairman to respect the authority of the NWC as elected by the March 26, 2022 APC National Convention is proving very difficult, if not impossible. Note that NEC’s donation of its powers was to NWC and not to the National Chairman or any individual.

“We therefore have no option but to make this public appeal to all APC leaders to intervene please urgently to call our National Chairman, His Excellency, Abdullahi Adamu to order, immediately. 

“The National Chairman must be properly reminded to recognise that the business of managing the day-to-day affairs of the party is the responsibility of the NWC as provided in provisions of the APC Constitution. He is free to consult any party leader(s). Such consultations will not represent decisions of the NWC or any organ of the party unless and until it is adopted by a properly constituted meeting of the NWC or organ in question according to the letters and spirit of the APC constitution.

“As a party, we have suffered enough judicial embarrassments arising from clearly avoidable leadership breach of our party’s constitution and spelt out rules. As members of the NWC who have the mandate of our members, we hereby serve notice to His Excellency, Abdullahi Adamu, and through him to all APC leaders that henceforth, any decision taken by the National Chairman or any other party functionary, which require the approval of the NWC as enshrined in the APC constitution, will be considered as illegitimate and an infringement on the jurisdictional scope of the NWC, unless otherwise confirmed as validly approved decisions of the NWC or any other legitimate organ of the party.

“No NWC member is elected at the March 26, 2022 National Convention to warm seats or offices in the National Secretariat. We therefore call on all our colleagues in the NWC to rise to these challenging situations by joining hands with us to save our great party and return it to its founding mission of moving Nigeria forward based on honest, fair, just and selfless commitment to party building. God bless our party.”

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