Why we’re yet to zone ticket – Adamu, APC chairman

PDP clears 15, disqualifies 2, silent on zoning

I’ll respect PDP’s decision on zoning – Obi, Emmanuel

Bello, Nwajiuba, Umahi, Okorocha, Tinubu buy APC forms

By Clifford Ndujihe, John Alechenu & Johnbosco Agbakwuru

THE ruling All Progressives Congress, APC; and main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, literally kept Nigerians guessing on where they would zone their presidential tickets.

While the National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, pointedly said his party has not taken a decision on the issue, the PDP was silent as its committee screened no fewer than 17 aspirants drawn from across the country, yesterday.

The PDP screening committee led by former Senate President, David Mark, cleared 15 of the aspirants and disqualified two.

The polity has been astir of recent over clamour for zoning. There are three schools of Thought on zoning, namely: Power-shift to the South; zoning the presidency to the South-East; and throwing the race open to all parts of the country.

Ahead of the presidential primaries on May 28/29 (PDP) and May 30 to June 1 (APC), the two leading parties are threading cautiously on the zoning turf. There are indications that both parties may leave the race open to side-step problems that could arise from the decision. While PDP sold the forms to 17 aspirants, APC is still selling its forms and as of press time only five of the no fewer than 20 people who declared their presidential ambitions on APC’s platform had bought N100 million nomination and expression of interest forms.

Presidential aspirants who have bought the APC forms are Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello; Minister of State for Education, Chief Emeka Nwajiuba; Ebonyi State Governor, Engr Dave Umahi; former Imo State Governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha; and former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Why APC is yet to zone presidential ticket — Adamu

Natioinal Chairman the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, whi said that the party has no regret fixing its presidential nomination forms at N100 million, also said that no decision has been taken on the zone to produce the presidential candidate of the party for the 2023 election.

The Party chairman stated this while briefing State House correspondents after presenting the APC governorship candidate for Ekiti State, Abiodun Oyebanji to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Senator Adamu noted that the decision on which part of the country should produce the APC candidate was beyond him.  

“I am today privileged to be the chairman of the party. The party is greater than me. The party has not made a decision and I cannot pre-empt what the party’s decision will be,” he said.  

Some leaders of the party alongside President Buhari agreed on swapping of national offices between the North and South, leading to the emergence of Adamu from the North-Central as national chairman.  

Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State had said just before the last national convention of the party that even though the APC had not decided on zoning the presidential ticket, the swapping of national offices was an indication of where its presidential candidate would come from.  

On the high cost of Its presidential nomination forms, Adamu said that the party has no regret whatsoever fixing it for N100 million, adding that the APC was bent on discouraging people that have no chance of winning election from sponsoring individuals to play the role of spoilers.  

He said the party did its homework before arriving at the amount, adding that the cost had to be exorbitant because of the need to raise sufficient funds to conduct primaries and successfully prosecute coming elections.  

Senator Adamu said that the party was aware that some of the aspirants are not serious contenders but mere jesters that have the intention to cause problems.

His words: “On the issue of cost. Yeah, I’ve been listening with rapt attention to the hues and cries from our lovers and from our adversaries. We have no regrets whatsoever.  

“We did some home work. We know what it takes to go through primaries, presidential campaign, and election for the President. We know what it takes.  We also do know that there are citizens who are qualified to contest but who are not serious contenders, who will just want to take anything cheap by the roadside, and assert what they call their rights and create problems for our party.  

“We are also aware that some parties that have no chance whatsoever to win presidential election in Nigeria will sponsor people into parties that have prospects for winning the election, to create problems for us, to divert our attention.

“Over and above that, yes, we are the ruling party. Yes, we need to set examples in what we do…When I contested for the Senate, all I paid was just a token—N5 million, N10 million, including the expression of interest. When my colleague wanted to be chairman of the party, in the days of Adams Oshimhole, it took him N500,000. Today, for me, just as an example, to contest the national chairman of our party, I had to pay N20 million.  

“Alright, and even the enormity of work that has to be done, and this work will be done with money. We don’t want to continue going abegging.  So, I want to ensure say that we are able to mobilise sufficient funds to support our efforts to win election.”

On the position of the party over the refusal of some political appointees interested in contesting election to resign in accordance with Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, he said: “Our luck on this end is that I happen to be a lawyer and the issue you are raising is in court right now. So, it will be subjudice for me to discuss it at all.”

PDP clears 15 disqualifies 2 aspirants

The Senator David Mark-led PDP Presidential Screening Committee, yesterday, cleared 15 of the 17 aspirants who were screened at the PDP Legacy House.

After the exercise, Chairman of the panel told reporters: “We screened 17 (aspirants), 15 were cleared, two were not cleared. They have the right to appeal. All the aspirants are qualified to become candidates of the party.”

Mark declined to name those affected or why they were disqualified.

He said: The exercise, as far as we’re concerned, has gone on very well. We’ve been here since morning, and I’m sure you people have been here since morning also.

“We’ve been very thorough this time around. See how much time we’ve taken to screen each individual who has been here. We screened 17 aspirants, which is quite a number. We cleared 15, two have not been cleared.

“Now don’t ask me those who have been cleared and those who have not been cleared because I won’t tell you. We haven’t released the result to them. So if you ask question in that direction, you’re wasting time. I think on the whole that’s what we’ve done. And we’re quite satisfied with the standard of the aspirants by and large. And we think that any one of them who gets the ticket would win the election in 2023.

Asked w hat he found wrong with the unlucky two, he said, “they didn’t meet the requirements.”

Asked if he could be specific, he said, “No, I can’t be.”

It was, however, gathered that apart from the curriculum vitae and documents submitted by the aspirants, the panel will look at party loyalty,  track record, financial standing and national appeal in making a recommendation.

It was also gathered that the panel conscious of the fact that its decisions will be subject to appeal “will ensure that no loose ends were left,” an insider said told Vanguard.

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, a former President of the Senate Bukola Saraki; Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, former Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose and Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, were among the first set of aspirants screened.

Most of the aspirants who spoke to reporters after the exercise expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the committee.

They were, however, non-committal on the subject of zoning.

I won’t run against Jonathan — Mohammed

Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, in response to a question on the botched consensus arrangement among Northern aspirants, said: “With regards to the consensus that you mentioned, we have talked about this several times.    We have taken it behind our back.

“The party has a process for the emergence of candidates through the primaries but what we did in the consensus is not new one it had been done before and some people have benefited on it. I’m a democrat. If anyone of us gets it  other than myself, I am ready support him.”

In response to another question on his earlier assertion to stay out of the race if former President Goodluck Jonathan was contesting, he said: “This is another new development, politics is dynamic. I have told Nigerians and I am a man of my own words. I will not be contesting alongside with Jonathan and I got his go ahead before I came to this level. I have gone very far.

“I have gotten a consensus status from my section of the country, and I have gotten supporters we can see across the country, but certainly it’s something that we are going to sit down and discuss.

“I’m not going to swallow my words. I respect President Jonathan so much and I know up to this moment, he has not declared he is not here.

“And declaration is not the assumption of the ticket of the party. Certainly, if he collects the ticket of any other party, I will not be joining issues with him.”

I’ll respect party decision on zoning — Obi

In his remarks, former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi, described the exercise as thorough and “it was like every other normal  well organized screening where they went through documents we were supposed to present.”

On zoning, he said: “Whatever the party does, for me is to care more about what Nigerians are looking for. How do we create a future for the teeming unemployed Nigerian youths pulling Nigerians out of hunger?

“The party has the final say. I can’t have a thought (on zoning). I’m a member of a party. If the party says this is where they want the party to go, if you’re a member of an organization, you respect that organization. And that is why I said, whatever we do, the most critical thing is, what we do to pull Nigerians out of poverty and create a future for teeming unemployed youths of Nigeria?”

Many things are in my favour — Emmanuel

Speaking in a similar vein, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom, said: “I want to believe that so many things are to my own advantage, if you look at my antecedents, training, capacity and above all, I think age is also on my side because Nigeria today needs a very strong agile young man. I think as so many factors are in my favour, and that will be decided by the electorate on the primaries.

On the position of Southern Governors on the issue of zoning, he said: “Party is Supreme, if the party has spoken we will all abide by what the party has said.”

I was grilled on stomach infrastructure — Fayose

Former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, on his part said:   “The panel said they’ve gone through my CV, they’re satisfied and they only want me to talk on the stomach infrastructure policy of my government while I was holding sway in Ekiti State.

“So, I told them, the importance of stomach infrastructure. And I equally made it very clear that if I become president of Nigeria, I will have minister of stomach infrastructure, and welfare of the people. For me, stomach infrastructure is part of being supportive of the ordinary Nigerian. Stomach infrastructure under my watch, as president of Nigeria, will be a major theme.”

On zoning, he said: “I say it again, very expressly, that I am for zoning and I believe the best thing this party can do for posterity, for tomorrow, so as not to cause confusion is for this party to zone this presidential campaign or presidential election.

“You know why, If we fail to do it, even if we say anybody can contest, you must officially zone it to the South. In 1999, it was zoned to the South, which brought Obasanjo and Olu Falae. Rimi still congested  within the ambit of the Constitution. But the party must remember, whatever we do today will stand against us tomorrow.

“The system is not functioning in our country; the institutions are not functioning that is why we have all these problems. We must be courageous enough to say this is going to South. If you want to contest, the Nigerian constitution still gives you the leverage, the opportunity to do so. I support zoning the ticket to Southern Nigeria.

“And if you look at APC largely those obtaining these forms are from the South because they know the president of Nigeria currently is from the North. It is not a party affair. President Buhari is president of Nigeria. The Presidency is in the North now; it must come to the South.

“This is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign to make sure that you don’t have the leeway for some people who will be using it negatively in future.”

Momodu, Kalu speak

Dele Momodu, expressed confidence that he would scale through, saying: “It was a very straightforward exercise. I’m looking forward to a robust engagement with Nigerians in the coming days. Anyone who feels Dele Momodu is here to waste time or to step down for somebody tell them that Dele Momodu is a man of principle.”

Former Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, Chinwendu Enyinnaya Kalu, on his part commended the panellists for being thorough and “trying to make sure that we get it right.”

The aspirants, who purchased the forms include the 2019 presidential candidate of the party, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; two-term governor of Kwara State and immediate past president of the Senate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, former President of the Senate and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.

Others  Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, a United States-based medical doctor, Nwachukwu Anakwenze; investment banker and economist, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen; a pharmacist, Sam Ohuabunwa;    former Speaker of Abia House of Assembly, Cosmos Ndukwe; Charles Ugwu; Chikwendu Kal; and the only female aspirant in the race, Tareila Diana.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.