•I’ve capacity to articulate a vision of progress, says ex-Lagos gov •Buhari to Delegates: Vote candidate with best chances of victory •Osinbajo: You can’t wish Nigerian well and vote someone you don’t believe in
•Adamu slams NWC members, declares they’re irresponsible •Akpabio, Amosun, Fayemi, Badaru, Bankole, Boroffice, Ohanenye, step down for Tinubu
•Felix steps down for vice-president
Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha, Kingsley Nwezeh and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
With some last minute intrigues and horse-trading, THISDAY is projecting a former governor of Lagos State, often addressed as National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to emerge the party’s presidential candidate for the 2023 elections.
According to exit polls, Tinubu is likely to win most North-west, most South-west, some North-central and doing well in other places.
Indications that the odds might have favoured Tinubu began to manifest after some of the aspirants started to stand down their aspiration and declare support for him and urged their delegates to vote for him at the convention.
As at 5am this morning voting was still far from half way to conclusion. Voting had to be halted due to fears over security of the process. There were issues of accreditation and crowd loitering too close to the designated point of voting. Hawkers of soft drinks, water and such other essentials practically took over the arena. It took the election and planning committee some valuable and security personnel some time to restore order before voting resumed.
Those, who stepped down for Tinubu were former Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio; former governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun; Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Governor of Jigawa State, Abubakar Badaru; former Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole; Senator Ajayi Boroffice and the only female aspirant, Uju Ohanenye.
Tinubu, who was the first to address the special convention, held at the Eagle Square, Abuja, however, boasted as having the capacity to articulate a vision of progress for the country if elected candidate of the party and ultimately, president of the country.
But President Muhammadu Buhari, who spoke before voting commenced, enjoined the delegates to vote the candidate with the best chance of emerging victorious at the general election.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who also took his turn to address the convention after all other aspirants had taken their turns, spoke to the heart of the delegates, when he said there was no one they would wish the nation well and still vote someone they did not believe in.
At the same time, the National Chairman of APC, Senator Abdulahi Adamu, yesterday, told members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party that washing their dirty linen in public was not a mark of courage but a mark of irresponsibility and indiscipline.
Buhari, while addressing the delegates, noted that the critical task ahead of the Adamu-led National Working Committee (NWC) was to continue to forge the unity of purpose among party members and to keep securing needed compromises in the interest of the party.
The president said the candidate of the party must be knowledgeable, fair-minded nationalist with a very strong belief in the unity of the country and strength of character and purpose to steer the country forward.
Buhari also urged party officials and delegates to follow due process and abide by all extant laws and regulations pertaining to election of the party flag bearer.
His words: ”As we go into the presidential primary, I urge all to keep to the same spirit. We must avoid acrimony and maintain the spirit of sportsmanship. The critical task ahead of the Abdullahi Adamu-led NWC remains to continue to forge the unity of purpose among party members and to keep securing needed compromises in the interest of our great party.
”I enjoin you all to be fair to all and to create a level playing field for all the presidential aspirants in the coming crucial party exercise.
”Please, follow due process in all the party decisions and I call on all party members, particularly, the party officials and delegates to abide by all extant laws, rules, and regulations and to consider voting for the presidential candidate with the best chances of securing victory for our great party in the coming general election,.’
While noting that the principal challenge before the party was the need to keep a united front, Buhari affirmed that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party has vested its powers in NWC for the time being, as requested, and in compliance with the party constitution, to ensure smooth party administration and operations in these critical times in the overall interest of the party.
”Please do not hesitate to call on me and all other appropriate quarters for the help that will propel our great party to the victory that we all seek. To ensure a hitch-free presidential primary, please, let us work collectively in the interest of our great party and our great country,” he said.
The President, therefore, congratulated all the winners, and the newly emerged party standard bearers for the 2023 general election and urged the winner to be magnanimous in victory, particularly, towards fellow aspirants, who conceded to him.
On his part, Adamu, who came down on the NWC members, frowned at their approach in dealing with issues.
Members of the NWC, had addressed the press to deflate Adamu’s plan to impose the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan, as the consensus candidate of the party.
In his response, he said, “On the 20th of April this year, I drew the attention to the need for our party to be disciplined; that a political party such as APC, the ruling party, at the heart of our national development, must be exemplary and discipline and fidelity in its core values.
“Washing our dirty linen in the public is not a mark of courage, it is a mark of irresponsibility, indiscipline and indiscriminate to obey extant rules and regulations and play by them.”
The national chairman was of the opinion that unity was the only glue that could hold the party together, saying the ruling party could not go into the general election next year without putting its house in order.
According to him, “it doesn’t take rocket science to unite a party; it takes sincerity of purpose, commitment and determination to sacrifice our individual interest and ambitions for the larger interest of the party.”
Adamu, however, noted that the healing process in the ruling party had commenced, addingthat, “things are not falling apart; things are holding up and I am grateful to you all for standing by me and members of the National Working Committee in seeing that we carry out the first order of business in our party and that is the total reconciliation of all the state branches of the APC that were held hostage by avoidable grievances.
“We have nothing to gain in portraying our party in a bad light. We have everything to lose in undermining the integrity of our great party. I found it necessary to make this observations.”
Adamu said it was a clear indication that the ruling party had emerged stronger from the grievances, noting that the party was united and speaking with one voice once.
According to him, “At the end of the current exercise, we shall begin a steady march towards the 2023 elections, going by our resolute, commitment to win and win big in all levels of elective offices up for contest.”
In his speech, Tinubu, who THISDAY has projected to emerge the APC candidate, said the candidate of the party must be able to unite Nigerians from all parts of the country and must have the experience, leadership, knowledge, and extensive personal contacts to steer a diverse, complicated Nigeria through this challenging period in a dynamic world.
“The other candidates are all good men. But I sincerely believe I am the person this moment calls for.
“I cannot, on this day, talk of a bright and prosperous future without also declaring my determination to fight terrorism and insecurity to the very end. I mourn the lives already lost and vow to do everything possible to ensure justice and forever erase terror from our land.
“Today, you decide our presidential nominee. Let it be the man, who can best articulate a vision of progress and development then implement it. Let us always honour the promise the APC made to Nigeria,” he said.
Osinbajo, in his speech, said the future of the country and the children should compel the delegates to vote right, adding that they could not wish the country well and vote for someone they do not believe in.
He said, “2322 delegates will decide the future of our children and their own children. The future of our children compels all our distinguished delegates to vote right tonight.
“You cannot wish this country well and vote for someone you do not believe in. To our dear delegates, when you vote tonight, know that your votes tonight carry the answer for the future of our children and for our country.”
The vice president said the present situation in the country did not need a leader that would learn on the job, adding that it was the main reason he was the best man to take over from the president in 2023.
“One thing is certain, the circumstances of the country will not allow the next leader to learn on the job. For the past seven years, I have learnt on the job. I will be prepared from day one,” he added.
Immediate past Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, also called on the delegates to ask all the presidential aspirants the sources of their money, adding that, if elected, he would develop the country’s economy.
Amaechi said: “Dear delegates, assess us by our contributions. Do not assess us by how much we bring here, because if you assess us by how much we bring here, ask all of us what is our source of revenue? How did we get all these funds?
“The problem of the Nigerian state is all of us. Nigerian politicians will come and talk to you, bring out money and we accept them. Four years after, they will come back and still make the same promises. Do not vote for me if I lie to you. Do not vote for me if I have not performed but I have performed.
“There is need to move forward, to ask Nigerians to hire me and fire me if I fail. If you vote for me, the first thing is that we must develop our economy, bringing it back to industrialisation and production. We will rebuild our universities to be places of learning. There will be rule of law. People will be punished for their crimes.”
Governor of Kogi state, Yahaya Bello, said he was in the race to win, adding, “I didn’t come this far to chicken out,” boasting that at the end of the contest, he would emerge victorious.
Pastor Tunde Bakare said his aspiration to be the president of Nigeria wasn’t about him, but about the people of Nigeria.
He added: “It is about your people, it is about my people, the Nigerian people, who will once again have a reason to believe that they have a stake in their nation when our presidential commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Rebirth restores lasting peace to Nigeria.
“The time is now and the hour has come. Tonight, I am not here to step down. By the grace of God, I am here to step up with the support of the delegates as the 16th president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Dear delegates, as we converge in our nation’s capital to collectively take a historic step towards the realisation of a nation that works.”
Meanwhile, the youngest presidential aspirant, Nicolas Felix, also a pastor, stepped down for Osinbajo.
But voting was still ongoing at the time of going to press, while only three states had voted, before the planning committee halted the process on account of some challenges.
EFCC: Why We Stormed APC Convention
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday, explained why operatives of the commission stormed Eagle Square, venue of the presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Allegations of financial inducement of delegates made the rounds at the primaries.
Some sources claimed that there was inducement of delegates to the tune of $25,000,$30,000 and $40,000 in some cases, which exchanged hands at the venue of the election.
Spokesman of the EFCC, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, in a chat with THISDAY, said the operatives of the commission were at the Eagle Square to monitor the primaries.
“Is it not obvious? It is obvious. We are there to monitor proceedings,” he said.
The agency had carried out a similar operation during the primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which was won by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
But in spite of the hoopla over financial inducement at the PDP primaries, no arrest was made.
Bello: Playing By Rules Only Way to Win Presidency
Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, has declared that the only way the ruling APC could win the presidency again in 2023 was if it played by the rules of the game.
He said any attempt to exclude some aspirants from participating in the electoral process or skew the process to favour some persons or groups against others would spell doom for the party.
Speaking Tuesday with newsmen after meeting behind closed-doors with President Muhammadu Buhari, at the State House, Abuja, Bello, a presidential aspirant of the APC, alleged that governors of the party from the North and some elite conspired against him to muscle him out of the contest.
Asked if he was sure that the ruling party would win the presidency in 2023, the governor said, “I’m very optimistic that APC will return to power, if we play by the rules of the game.”
On what he meant by playing by the rules of the game, he said, “Follow all the laws, non-exclusion of anybody, who wants to participate and carrying everybody along and ensuring that there’s fairness, equity and justice.”
He reiterated his opposition to the rotational presidency, saying it doesn’t give room for the emergence of a competent person to pilot the affairs of the country.
On what was the agenda of his meeting with the President, the governor said, “Of course, you know that today (yesterday) is the special national convention of our party, where a presidential candidate from the All Progressives Congress will emerge. Leading up to today, there have been various controversies and issues before today.
“Yesterday (Monday), a certain video went viral, that I got angry and I left a particular meeting and then, of course, this is a period, when a lot of lies, a lot of misconceptions, will fill the air. Then, we have our father, the leader of our party, who should always know the reality or the truth, and then I came to brief him exactly what happened.
“Well, some of my colleagues, led by the self-proclaimed leader of them, ganged up to suppress the voice of the people, the voice of over 26 million Nigerians, the voice of the women, the voice of people living with special needs, the voice of the choice of the party. So, that’s exactly what I revolted against. I decided to leave the meeting where such concoction were ongoing. That’s exactly what took place.”
Asked to mention the name of governor that he was talking about, he said, “I wouldn’t mention a name because I am honorable enough. The office I occupy today is an office that should be dignified. Myself, I have respect for leaders, for elders, even if some elders do not respect themselves, I have high respect for those in positions of authority. So, I wouldn’t mention names.”
On why he was not on the same page with Northern APC governors after several attempts made by the governors as revealed by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, to make him consider his colleagues’ position of conceding the presidency to south, he said he was not consulted by anyone.
“I am a unifier, I have demonstrated that severally in my state. I have demonstrated that severally in the various tasks that were given me by the party. So, nobody consulted me. Nobody consulted me over the decision that they took and I will rather say that they were railroaded by certain interest who want to be VP at all costs.
“The issue of turn-by-turn presidency, I continue to oppose it because the insecurity that is facing us today does not respect turn-by-turn presidency, every part of this country is faced with insecurity. Every part of this country is wanting prosperity and the seeming or the disunity that we experiencing today in Nigeria, we want unity in this country and that is exactly what I stand for.”
Only Tinubu Can Defeat Atiku, Says Group
A pro-Bola Tinubu group, The Consolidation Ambassadors (TCA), has said the former Lagos State governor, was the only one that could defeat the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the 2023 presidential election.
The group, in a statement titled: “Our Stand” and signed by Dr. Adelanke Peter, said for Nigeria to consolidate on the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari, a bold, frank, independent, transparent, intelligent, smart-thinker like Tinubu was needed.
Peter said, “Although the TCA is not biased towards any presidential aspirant contesting to be the presidential flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC). We, however, owe it to the party and party members to guide them in terms of direction ahead of the National Convention.
“The Consolidation Ambassadors (TCA) with its firm foundation within 36 States of the Federation and FCT, emerged as worthy Ambassadors of the APC who recognised and appreciated the progress made by the President Buhari led administration.
“Especially in the areas of infrastructure, human capital development, agriculture, anti-corruption, digital economic transformation and all inclusive governance. The group said it resolved to identify and unify all political structures and supporters of the aspirants that contested elective posts under the umbrella of the APC.
“Particularly the 23 presidential aspirants by providing the necessary support to the flag bearers after the primaries. “It is for this reason, after due consultations and considerations, that we suggest that the party should field a candidate that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder, eye-ball-to-eye-ball, kobo-for-kobo, tactics-for-tactics.”
Death at APC Convention
The All Progressives Congress delegate from Buji Local Government Area (LGA) of Jigawa State, Alhaji Isa Baba Buji, has died. He was aged 61. The delegate, who was present to participate in his party’s presidential primaries died yesterday afternoon in Abuja. It wasn’t, however, certain what actually killed Buji. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, has expressed sadness over the sudden death of the delegate, describing it as saddening.
Osinbajo, in a statement by his media Aide, Laolu Akande, condoled with the family, associates, government and people of Jigawa State and prayed for the repose of the soul of the delegate.