…Presidential aspirants intensify battle for 7,747 delegates, as party pegs presidential forms at N100m, governorship N50m

…Fixes Presidential primaries May 30 to June 1

…N-West, S-West zones become delegates’ warehouse

…Lawan, Gbaja demand automatic return tickets for NASS members

…Serving, former govs tearing APC apart — Adamu, as party’s NEC transfers its powers to NWC for 90 days

By Omeiza Ajayi, ABUJA

Following resistance by major stakeholders and presidential aspirants to consensus, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has chosen indirect primaries as the mode of choosing its presidential candidate for the 2023 poll.

Some leading presidential aspirants and stakeholders, Vanguard gathered, were vehemently opposed to consensus and vowed to test their popularity among the delegates of the party.

The Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee, NWC, of the party had earlier proposed the indirect method, which the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the party did not oppose at its meeting, yesterday.

Indeed, NEC ceded its powers to the NWC for the next 90 days as the party pegged the cost of presidential nomination and expression of interest forms at N100 million.

By jettisoning consensus and choosing indirect primaries, it means that no fewer than 7,747 delegates of the party will choose the 2023 presidential candidate of the APC.

The development has accelerated the race for delegates’ support by no fewer than 16 presidential aspirants who have declared their intentions to run.

Each of the aspirants, apart from the females, must cough out N100 million for the nomination forms. Women among them will pay half of the fees. Vanguard gathered that the forms will be on sale from April 23.

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N-West, S-West crowd nearly 50% of delegates

Among the six geo-political zones of the country, the North-West and South-West have almost 50 per cent of the delegates and whoever wins the support of both zones is as good as winning the prized ticket.

As of now, the North-West has 1,924 delegates; South-West, 1,568; North-Central, 1,278; North-East, 1,212; South-South, 927; and South-East, 838 delegates.

Buhari warns against imposition of candidates

The development came as President Muhammadu Buhari warned the leadership of the party against imposing those he referred to as “unpopular candidates” who are incapable of winning elections.

Speaking at the 11th NEC meeting of the APC, yesterday, the president said such actions in the past had forced out stronger aspirants who found acceptance in opposition parties.

The President also vowed to go tough on criminals, noting that the major security challenges have remained in the North-Central and North-West, saying, “we are going to be very tough.”

“I will like us to reflect on what the situation was before we came in. How many local government areas were under the control of terrorists in the North-East? In the South-South, we all know what the situation was; now we have relative peace. With the resources at our disposal, we have done very well.

“People are very forgetful. Our main problem now is in the North-West and North-Central. People are killing one another in these places, what for? We are going to be very tough,” he said.

The meeting was attended by President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and other critical stakeholders who are members of the NEC.

The president also pleaded with all those in courts to withdraw their cases and make use of internal party mechanisms.

He said: “I enjoin you all to follow due process in all the party processes and more importantly to develop more mechanisms against corruption. I call on all party members to abide by all extant laws, rules, and regulations and to leaders of our party to avoid imposition of candidates that cannot win popular elections.

“This dictatorial behaviour cost us many strategic seats in the past. In the recent past, this led to some of our strong members, unfortunately, opting to go elsewhere because of the unfairly oppressive behaviour of party leaders at the state level.

“I must caution strongly against any tendency towards developing cliques, infighting within the party. We want to win well, not succumb to fractions on account of personal acerbities and the desire to retain control at all costs. That surely is the road to winning.

“I enjoin you all to recognise the place of due process in all our tasks as managers of the party. We must develop party in-built mechanisms against corruption. Our success in 2023 will depend more on our capacity to respect our own extant rules and regulations.

“Now that NEC has vested its powers in NWC for the time being, as requested, and in compliance with the party’s constitution in the overall interest of the Party, I want to assure Mr Chairman and the entire NWC members of my full support. “I am constrained to go out of context so that the National Working Committee will be more encouraged that they should please go by this, the constitution of the party. Please, it is very important because how did the APC come about? The PDP thought they were going to be in power for a long time. We recognized that, when I say we ANPP, ACN, APGA, CPC and another party (DPP), we formed committees and we gave the committees terms of reference to go and discuss how we could wrest power from PDP.

“They were not to take decisions, but they will make recommendations to their respective parties. PDP said that would not be possible and when we decided to come together, that is the very importance of coming together, before they realised it, we had removed them from power. So, it is very important and the National Working Committee, it is your job now; to keep the party together.

“If you have evidence of any governor, or myself, not doing very well, send your leadership to discuss the issue so that we can continue to move our country forward. There is no way, with the meagre resources we have, with the time limitations we have, to develop differences among ourselves, we have no time for that.”

Give NASS members return tickets  –Lawan, Gbajabiamila

His admonition came as the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, asked the leadership of the party and state governors to guarantee return tickets to members of the National Assembly, particularly those who have excelled in their calling.

While Dr Lawan also “pledged the total commitment, loyalty and dedication of the APC stock in the 9th Assembly to the party leadership”, the speaker said those who have performed should be adequately rewarded.

“Ours is a great party and the first word in our party is justice. We must not pay lip service to that word. Justice and equity is what will take us forward to our eldorado and I speak on behalf of my members. They love the party but survival is the first instinct of human beings. In terms of primaries, let our members have a fair share. It is very important to the party. If a member is not on ground, that is another thing but where a member is on ground and doing well for his people, then he should not be denied opportunity to serve his people”, said Gbajabiamila.

This was as National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu accused some current and past governors of working at cross purposes to tear the party apart.

Presidential Convention

The party also said it would use three days for its presidential convention where it will elect its presidential candidate for next year’s general election.

According to the APC, its Presidential Convention would hold from Monday, May 30 to Wednesday, June 1, 2022.

NWC to act as NEC for 90 days

Also, the NEC APC has decided to strengthen the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led  NWC to carry out major functions ahead of next year’s general elections.

Accordingly, the NEC has transferred its powers to the NWC for the next 90 days.

The NWC can now take certain decisions without any recourse to NEC within the period. Speaking on the development, the National Secretary of the party, Senator Iyiola Omisore said:

“We resolved on the motion to devolve powers of the NEC of the party to the NWC for the period of 90 days in the interim.

Motion was moved by Senate President, amended by Governor Nasir el-Rufai and seconded by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila.

According to Article 13:3 the powers of NEC therein have been vested in the NWC for the period of 90 days.”

Alphonsus Egba, chairman of the party from Cross River State also spoke on behalf of state chairmen.

“On behalf of the entire state chairmen, we have come to reiterate our total support for the leadership of the NWC headed by Senator Abdullahi Adamu. We have donated our absolute powers.

“Articles 12,18,19,20,21 remain an engine for engendering peace and unity in our party at the various polling units level. The state chairmen are ready to move to the field. This is the time to work”, he said.

The NEC also agreed that a percentage of the money from the sale of forms, be set aside and given to the states.

Nomination Forms

This was as it adopted the proposal for costs of nomination and expression of interest forms, pegging that of presidential at N100m.

Giving a breakdown of the costs, National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Felix Morka said while the Expression of Interest form for state Assembly goes for N500, 000, its nomination form is pegged at N1.5 million bringing the total to N2 million.

The Expression of Interest form for the House of Representatives goes for N1 million while the nomination form goes for N9 million. Also, the Expression of Interest form for the Senate goes for N3 million while the nomination form is pegged at N17 million.

For governorship, the Expression of Interest form is pegged at N10 million and its nomination form is pegged at N40 million.

As for the presidential ticket, the expression of interest form goes for N30 million and while the nomination form is pegged at N70 million.

“Female aspirants and Persons Living With Disabilities PLWDs will get nomination forms free and only pay for expression of interest forms. Youths between 25 to 40 are to purchase the expression of interest forms but with a discount of 50 per cent on the nomination forms”, said Morka.

Adamu warns against rivalry

While Senator Adamu declared that state governors are leaders of the party in their states, he said the APC constitution does not have a provision for dual leadership in the states.

According to him, ego is at the root of the crisis between serving and former governors.

He however conceded that former governors are leaders in their own rights, urging serving governors to accord them all the necessary respect.

Noting that President Buhari has saved APC from implosion and shamed its detractors, Adamu said the task before the party is a moral burden of leadership.

He said: “We must take urgent and target steps now to unite our party at all levels; federal, states, local governments and wards. Our political party must emerge from incessant challenges in order to, prepare for the coming tasks ahead. Secondly, we must begin the process of banishing disagreements and building, inclusive of our past and present experiences.

‘APC not immune to PDP’s  experience’

“The lack of unity in our party is such that none of us can pretend not to be unaware as it was the efforts to unite this party that led the previous caretaker committee to set up a reconciliation committee to find lasting peace. I know Mr President is not unmindful of what happened to PDP in 2014/2015, our party is not immune to a similar fate should it conduct itself in such a way that continues to undermine the legacy of the founding fathers to build this party.

“I was the chairman of the reconciliation committee and came out of the assignment fully conversant of the problems. The battle really is a battle for supremacy between serving state governors and their predecessors in office. It is a crisis fuelled by ego. So, ego is the enemy. Ego between former and serving governors, ego has turned them into bitter enemies. Because of ego, the two groups are putting our party in jeopardy and the effect will be in the polls next year.

“The serving governors and past governors are powerful men, each of them is a leader in their own rights in their states but when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. Similarly, when two powerful politicians fight, the party suffers, because the speech and actions of these powerful men will bring a filthy and odious stench to our party. 

“Our party must have the courage not to pay lip service to it but the serving governors of our party in their various states are the leaders of the party and this is in line with our party’s constitution. It is important that the former governors recognize that the party structure must be respected. Our party’s constitution makes no room for two party leaders in a state. There is no reason to compete with serving governors for the leadership of the party.

“The former governors some of who are in the Senate are also leaders in their own rights and with enormous influence. They must also be accorded their due respect”, he counselled.

PGF working to resolve the crisis

Responding to Adamu’s speech, Kebbi State Governor and Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, hailed the president for enthroning “due process” in the party which he said led to a seamless national convention.

He also thanked the president for the unrestrained access granted to the 22 APC governors, who he said the president has continued to treat equally.

Bagudu disclosed that there is a situation in about five states where governors are at loggerheads with National Assembly members but that the PGF has been working to ensure peace, adding that the development is not peculiar to the party as there are 12-non APC states who are also facing a similar crisis.

Indirect primary

On the mode of election for the primaries, Bagudu said while there was no explicit discussion on it, the party timetable suggests that it is an indirect primary.

“There was no explicit discussion about the mode of primaries but the timetable seems to suggest that it is indirect primaries,” he stated.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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