The South West Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA) has cautioned against any attempt to manipulate the presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC), saying it could have grave consequences on the party.
This came amid speculations that the ruling party may pick its presidential candidate by consensus as it did at the just concluded national convention where the party’s national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu and some other National Working Committee (NWC) members emerged by the arrangement.
Former Lagos state Governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been moving from one part of the country to the other in consultation with notable figures towards the realisation of his presidential ambition.
Also, there are unconfirmed reports that the party might settle for a presidential candidate of South-south extraction.
But the party has not announced its decision on the zone that would ultimately pick the ticket.
But in a chat with our reporter in Abuja, Tuesday, SWAGA Chairman Dayo Adeyeye said going by consensus to produce a presidential candidate might have dire consequences on the party.
He said: “The presidential primary at a national convention is a different ball game from the election of party executives. One is to manage the party and the other is to elect a person who will govern Nigeria. Members of the party should choose their presidential flag bearer.”
The former minister, however, said there’s nothing wrong with the party picking the most popular aspirant as its flag bearer as long as all other aspirants agreed to that arrangement in writing.
“The electoral law stipulates that there must be the consent of other aspirants in a consensus arrangement. Any attempt to short-circuit the system or manipulate it will have grave consequences.
“We have heard that some people don’t want a poplar candidate to emerge. Nobody will deny Tinubu the ticket. The new chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, has promised that election of the presidential candidate will be free and fair and President Muhammadu Buhari is a democrat,” he said.
He said, as the only aspirant on the stage, Tinubu has been going round consulting people, and challenged other aspirants to go round the country to make their interest known.
Adeyeye expressed the belief that whatever the party decides in picking its presidential flag bearer, the former Lagos state governor would be the APC’s choice for the 2023 contest.
He also spoke on claims that his preferred aspirant was wooing people with money to realise his ambition.
“In SWAGA, Tinubu has not spent a kobo on us. The people he bought over should step forward and say so. He is not spending money on the numerous groups supporting him. Those saying that he is spending to buy people over should step forward with evidence,” he said.
Asked to comment on the insistence of leaders from the South- east zone to produce the next president, Adeyeye said they are entitled to it and all the zones in the south are qualified.
He said: “But politics is not a game where people serve you what you want. You have to work for it. It is not served a la carte. You must demonstrate your capacity to manage affairs of the nation if given the opportunity. They should show interest. I urge my compatriots from the South- east to throw their hat into the ring. Nobody will come and beg you to do so. Nigeria has passed that stage.
“But one or two political parties may pick candidates from the South -east. In the end, the matter would be settled by the electorate and whoever wins the majority will be president.”
When asked to comment on the possibility of Tinubu picking a Muslim as vice presidential candidate from the North, he said the party would cross the bridge at the right time.
On the view in some quarters that Tinubu is too old for the job, the SWAGA leader said: “I don’t agree with people saying he is too old to govern Nigeria. President Biden of the United States is 80 and Trump before him was 72 when he became president. I don’t share the view that a 70-year- old is too old to govern Nigeria.”
On the former lawmaker’s state of health, he said the health of all humans is in the hands of God, adding that people also said Buhari was old when he was contesting election.
Adeyeye also spoke on the spread of the pro-Tinubu group, saying apart from taking root in the South-west geo political zone, it had also been launched in Kogi and Kwara states in the North-central and there were plans to launch it in Delta state and the entire South-south zone.