It is unlikely that President Muhammadu Buhari will impose a presidential candidate on the All Progressives Congress (APC), says Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State.
Governor Sule stated this on Tuesday during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today, while giving an update on the meeting between members of the Progressives Governors’ Forum and the President.
“I don’t think it is a situation where the President would just say that ‘this is the person (his preferred candidate), take him’. I don’t think it is going to be that.
“If it is going to be that, then he won’t be inviting people for consultation,” the governor said ahead of the APC convention scheduled to commence next week Monday.
The ruling party officially began the search for its ideal flagbearer in the forthcoming presidential election on Monday by screening those who have indicated an interest in its ticket to contest the poll.
A Sense Of Victory
While the John Oyegun-led APC Presidential Screening Committee was conducting the exercise at a hotel in Abuja, President Buhari held a meeting with governors elected on the party’s platform on how a candidate should emerge.
In his remarks during the meeting held at the State House, President Buhari charged the governors to ensure that the party’s convention picks a presidential candidate that reflects all the values and virtues of the party.
“In a few days, the party will be holding its convention during which primaries would take place to pick the presidential flagbearer for the 2023 general elections,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his media adviser, Femi Adesina. “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.”
“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 the candidate must be someone who would give the Nigerian masses a sense of victory and confidence even before the elections.”
President Buhari had assured the governors that the consultation process would continue, to ensure that all aspirants and stakeholders would be brought on board right through to the convention.
He explained that the process was to also ensure that any anxiety occasioned by different factors was effectively brought under control and that the APC emerges stronger.
Search For Right Candidate
Speaking with Channels Television, Governor Sule stressed that the President was clear on the qualities of who should emerge as the presidential candidate of the ruling party, but he never mentioned anyone.
He added that President Buhari recommended that such a person must be one who would be widely accepted by Nigerians in every part of the country, as well as understands the values of the APC.
“The President clearly mentioned that … our consensus candidate or our candidate to be selected must be somebody (who is) acceptable to Nigerians; somebody who understands what the APC is all about and what the APC is after, and he mentioned clearly that it is somebody that will go to every part of the country and be accepted,” the governor said.
“Similar to what President Muhammadu Buhari has said, we must bring somebody that can win an election and be able to sustain all the good things that the APC has done. So, that is exactly the definition of the President. But if you are looking for a name, the President didn’t mention a name.
“So, he gave us that in a plug and allowed us to think of the right person in these few days while he is in Spain. So, when he comes back, then everybody can say, ‘okay, we have thought about it and we believe it is … who is going to be president.”
Fight For Ticket
With just about five days to its primary, the APC has screened its presidential aspirants expected to participate in the exercise.
In no particular order, they include the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; 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.
Others are 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, APC chieftain, Bola Tinubu; and former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi.
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; a former Senate President, Ken Nnamani; Governor David Umahi Ebonyi.
The rest include 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.
A total of 28 aspirants picked the APC presidential nomination and expression of interest forms sold at N100 million, but the duo of former President Goodluck Jonathan and the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, publicly rejected the forms purchased for them by interest groups.
Besides the duo, the APC had 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.