The northern governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have insisted that they would back a southerner to emerge as the presidential candidate of the ruling party in the 2023 general elections.
Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, stated this on Monday while briefing State House correspondents in Abuja.
The governors, 13 of them, made their position known following their meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Governor Lalong, in his briefing, clarified that the leaked memo that went viral last Saturday was the true position of the northern governors and they came to officially consult with the President.
According to the governor, President Buhari has not anointed any of the 23 aspirants expected to participate in the party’s primary as the flagbearer of the APC.
Rather, he explained that the President asked the governors to have a meeting with the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to resolve the issue of a consensus candidate through democratic means.
Governor Lalong stated that the decision of the governors to return power to the South was to ensure equity, peace, and unity in the country.
Other governors who attended the meeting include Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna, Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano, Aminu Masari of Katsina, Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa, and Abubakar Bello of Niger.
Also present were Bello Matawalle of Zamfara, Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe, Babagana Zulum of Borno, Simon Lalong of Plateau, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, and Mai Mala Buni of Yobe.
President Buhari and the northern APC governors met on the day the ruling party said it would commence a special convention to elect its presidential candidate for the 2023 general elections.
A total of 28 aspirants picked the APC presidential nomination and expression of interest forms sold at N100 million. Some of them paid for the forms themselves in some cases while various interest groups purchased the nomination tickets for their preferred aspirants.
Former President Jonathan and the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, were among those whose forms were bought for them, but the duo have since condemned the move and rejected these forms.
Besides both men, the APC also dropped the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige; Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, from aspirants to be screened by its panel.
Thereafter, 23 aspirants appeared before the APC Presidential Screening Committee. In no particular order, they include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, APC chieftain Bola Tinubu, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti; former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole; and oil magnate, Tein Jack Rich.
Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa; former governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun; former governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha; popular Pastor Tunde Bakare, former governor of Zamfara State, Sani Yerima; and former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, also appeared before the panel.
Also screened were former Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba; former presidential candidate, Nicholas Felix; a female aspirant, Uju Ken-Ohanenye; Ondo North Senator, Ajayi Boroffice; and a former Senate President, Ken Nnamani.
Others include Governor David Umahi Ebonyi; former Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Ogbonnaya Onu; Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi, and former Minister of Information under the late General Sani Abacha regime, Ikeobasi Mokelu.
At the end of the primary, the party is expected to produce its candidate who will contest for the office of the President alongside the flagbearers of other political parties in the 2023 general elections.