….As INEC releases election regulations, guidelines
THE Chief John Odigie-Oyegun led Presidential Screening Committee of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has axed 10 of the 23 presidential aspirants of the party.
Although it was not immediately possible to get the list of those affected the committee chairman said all the aspirants were basically qualified in terms qualifications and constitutional requirements but his team had cut down the number based on six other factors.
The other factors, according to him are “ability to lead, background, experience, and your understanding of the Nigerian situation, your ideas as to how issues, difficulties and problems can be addressed and how the country can be moved forward. It is on that basis, who are you? What have you achieved, your understanding of the nation and things you can contribute to move the nation forward? It was on the basis of that we made our final shortlist.”
Odigie-Oyegun said his committee could have further pruned down the number but decided to give some of the youthful aspirants a chance.
He, however, dismissed speculations that the committee may have secretly screened former President Goodluck Jonathan with a view to getting APC presidential ticket.
The committee also advised the party to address the issue of zoning between the North and South as regards presidency as it has become a national discourse.
Chief Odigie-Oyegun spoke, yesterday, in Abuja at the National Secretariat of the party while submitting the report of his committee to the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee, NWC.
He said: “I know how short time has been. I know the environment in which you took over. We are quite happy to also do as much as we could to make the work of the party lighter. We had the privilege of being inaugurated by you on the 30th of May and we immediately started work on that very day after a brief meeting.
“First, we had 23 aspirants who we interacted with and my first comment is that we are indeed a very lucky party. Those were 23 who presented themselves. We had a lot of others, prominent Nigerians both within the country and outside who had applied, but for whatever reasons could not proceed with their applications. The point I want to make is, the quality of the people who want to govern this country.
“The second point is that we were surprised by the active participation of youthful members of the party, some of who really surprised us as to what they have accomplished in life, their understanding of the situation in this country and why they want to have the privilege of governing this country.
“What was important was that they so believe in the country and the party that they were able to pay the sums that some of us considered princely ransom to participate in the process. I think the party ought to pat itself on the back for that.
“Our report is basically simple and short and we did not want to beat around the bush. There were two aspects to it: constitutional qualifications for you to aspire to be the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“That was simple, that was straight forward and on that basis, every aspirant who presented himself qualified because it was basic, it was simple. But we are a governing party and we are keen on continuing the process and replacing at the proper time our president with yet another member of the party.
“So, the ability to lead, your background, your experience, your understanding of the Nigerian situation, your ideas as to how issues, difficulties, problems and the rest can be addressed and how the country can be moved forward became a principal consideration.
“It is on that basis, who are you? What have you achieved? What is the understanding of your nation and what you think you can contribute to move the nation forward. It was on the basis of that that we made our final short-list.
“I do not want to read the names, I think we will leave that to you. But we have a shortlist, we brought the number severely down to 13.
“We could have cut it a little shorter but we wanted, deliberately, the younger elements to surface, for them to be seen, for them to be noticed, who knows? We hand them to the party and it is for the party to decide the preferred candidate. It is also an opportunity to showcase the kind of people that exist within the party. Their youthfulness, their kind of experience, let the world know that we care for the young and this is a party that when we say the young can aspire, we really mean it. This has been showcased in the report that we have written.
“We only drew a word of caution that there is this cleavage that is gradually becoming centre stage in national discuss. It is between the north and the south as regards presidency and we advised strongly that the party should please think of it in making its decision, address it and let it influence your thoughts because it has its own implications”, he counselled.
Responding, National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu urged the aspirants go take the report in good faith.
He said; “I listened with very keen interest to the comment that the chairman made in the course of his submission. One thing which I find worthy of very special mention is the fact that the Nigerian youth have responded
They have among them people who braved the spirit of competition and offered themselves to be considered for this important office in the land. They have done this in keeping with the spirit of #NotTooYoungToRun. We feel encouraged by the party that young people and the young women have offered themselves to contest for this office. As it is with every competition, we receive the report now on each of them.
“We will consider it at the very highest level of the party and see how we approach the forthcoming convention which has the ultimate authority and the choice of who takes the flag of our party. The flag does not belong to me, it doesn’t belong to anyone of us, it is the flag of the party, corporate body called the APC and it is my hope that that spirit will be obeyed.
“Various court decisions have affirmed this position, it is the party that is being represented and not individuals. So, whoever emerges as the flag bearer of the party is only the symbol of the party and this I hope that the spirit with which we approach the convention will guide everyone of the contestants, guide us and leaders of the party. We will do the best we can in the circumstances the party finds itself.
“The chairman in his presentation did allude to the north/south divide. It is our hope that due consideration will be given on the basis of the facts available to those who would be opportune to be behind the decision,” Adamu added.
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