Strong indications have emerged that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will pick its presidential candidate for the 2023 polls through consensus.
This is sequel to the rising number of aspirants vying for its ticket ahead of the party’s primary poll slated for May 30, 31 and June 1, 2022, despite the high cost of its expression of interest and nomination forms.
Sources within the party hinted to our correspondent that APC top shots were prevailing on some presidential aspirants to step down to allow room for consensus.
A reliable source at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja who confirmed the development to our correspondent, forwarded a copy of the party’s “Form 18” to be filled by aspirants withdrawing from the race as evidence.
It was hinted that the party instructed the aspirants to fill the Form 18 and submit same to the APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, together with their nomination forms.
This, Daily Trust reliably gathered, the party instructed must be done in the presence of a commissioner for oaths.
The source said the signing of the withdrawal letter in the presence of a commissioner for oaths and submission of the letter alongside the nomination form to the party’s helmsman was to ensure that the aspirants had no legal backing in the event that they later changed their minds and decided to go to court.
A member of the APC National Caucus, Chief Sam Nkire, told Daily Trust in a telephone chat that consensus was also a constitutional mode of nominating candidates for election and should be respected if the party decided to adopt it.
He added that, “Some of the presidential aspirants will voluntarily withdraw from the race when the going gets tough.”
Aspirants in the race
The presidential aspirants who have picked their N100m forms are Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; National Leader of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello; a former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha; Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi; Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi; a former Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole; Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige; and Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba.
Others are Jigawa State Governor, Abubakar Badaru; a former Senate President, Ken Nnamani; Overseer of Citadel Global Community Church, Nigeria, Tunde Bakare; Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and a female aspirant, Uju Kennedy.
As at the time of filing this report, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio; Chima Dallas and many others were yet to pick their forms.
Why APC extended deadline for forms sale
The APC had on Wednesday extended the sale of its expression of interest and nomination forms for various categories of aspirants ahead of its primaries by four days.
The initial deadline for the sale of the forms was Friday, May 6, 2022. But in a statement Wednesday, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Barrister Felix Morka, said the exercise had been extended to Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
In a revised timetable issued by the APC National Organising Secretary, Sulaiman Muhammad Argungu, the last day for submission of completed forms and accompanying documents is now May 11, 2022.
But while the party didn’t state any reason for the extension, some party leaders and members say the extension is to ensure all members aspiring for various positions have adequate time to pick their forms.
Some party chieftains, however, believe that the extension is aimed at accommodating all interests in the party ahead of the primaries and the 2023 general polls.
But top sources told our correspondent yesterday that the main aim of the forms sale extension was to gain more time to initiate the process that would usher in former President Goodluck Jonathan into the party.
It was hinted that talks were still going on between some top shots in the APC and Jonathan, trying to woo the ex-president to pitch tent with the ruling party and secure its 2023 presidential ticket after getting a waiver.
It was hinted that the additional four days were added to enable Jonathan take a final position on the matter.
Jonathan was vice president during President Umaru Musa Yar’adua’s tenure. But when Yar’adua died in 2010, he rose to the office of president and completed Yar’adua’s tenure. In 2011, he contested election and won, but in 2015, he was defeated by President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC.
Some say if he indicates interest and is given the mandate, he will run the country for only four years in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
There are reports that some APC bigwigs are inviting Jonathan so that he can win election, finish his four years and return power to the North in 2027.
But others still have the feeling that the North is plotting to retain power thereby jettisoning the idea of zoning.
Meanwhile, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Barr Felix Morka, neither answered his calls nor responded to a text message sent to him by our correspondent on the issue.
Imposing Jonathan will spell doom for APC – Protesters
Meanwhile, a large number of protesters under the aegis of APC North-South Patriotic Coalition yesterday stormed the APC national secretariat in Abuja, rejecting alleged plots by top leaders of the party to field Jonathan as presidential candidate.
The protesters carried banners and placards with inscriptions such as, “Don’t kill APC with Jonathan”, “Jonathan was rejected in 2015”, “APC has better presidential materials”, “Jonathan is electoral liability” and “Jonathan is bad luck to APC”.
Addressing newsmen, leader of the protesters, Alhaji Toyin Tahim, who later submitted a petition to the National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, said Jonathan was not yet a member of the APC and should not be considered for the party’s ticket.
The petition, dated May 4, 2022, and addressed to the APC national chairman, was titled: “The destructive potentials of a Goodluck Jonathan presidential candidacy for the APC”.
Part of the petition reads: “Welcoming Jonathan to APC will damage the party. Attracting Jonathan to APC will scandalise the party. Imposing Jonathan as APC’s presidential candidate will ultimately kill the party.
“How do we justify bringing someone we called corrupt, incompetent and clueless back to power through the same party that threw him out of power? It doesn’t make any sense.”
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