By Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja
The fate of former President Goodluck Jonathan regarding the 2023 presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC may have been sealed with his non-appearance before the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun Presidential screening panel.
The panel had concluded its two-day task on Tuesday in Abuja.
On the same night, the fate of Imo West Senator, Owelle Rochas Okorocha hung in the balance as it was not certain if he would be able to appear before the screening committee.
Okorocha who had earlier secured a bail to be released from the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC could not make it to the screening as of 8:45pm.
Among those screened on Tuesday were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Gov. Yahaya Bello, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, former House Speaker Dimeji Bankole, Gov. Kayode Fayemi, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu and others.
However, despite speculations that Dr Jonathan may have submitted his nomination and expression of interest forms clandestinely and that he might be screened, the former president was not anywhere close to the venue of the exercise.
At the event on Tuesday, Presidential aide in the vice president’s office, Senator Babafemi Ojudu said Prof. Osinbajo remained the best man for the job.
Speaking of Osinbajo, Senator Ojudu said; “He has all it takes to be President of Nigeria and we are ready whichever way it goes”.
He urged the parry leadership to be fair, just and equitable in its “organization of the convention”, saying at the moment, the screening panel is fair to all.
Speaking further, he said; “In the history of Nigeria and primaries in this country, there is nobody that has campaigned like the vice president did. We went to 36 states including the FCT, he did not just only take questions from everyone he stood up to answer those questions. And after doing so, he took photographs with every individual and each of the delegates present at those events. So you can see that he is determined and is prepared, and he has done his own work, and he is not taking our Party members for granted. And he wants to let them know his vision, his agenda and what he will do, you know, not just for this country, but even for them as members of the party, if and when he is elected”.
Also speaking, Senator Kabiru Gaya who chairs the vice president’s umbrella support group, The Progressive Project TPP said Mr Osinbajo is the only candidate who can defeat the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, Atiku Abubakar.
“We are impressed by his qualifications and experience. He has been in the system for so many years as the vice president and he has acted also as a president. So he is the most experienced aspirant in this race. We believe that he will be a candidate for the APC general elections and he is the only candidate that can beat Atiku Abubakar; that I am sure of”, he said.
Akpabio in his part admitted that the screening was rigorous. “I think it is quite rigorous and the checklist is very good. At least they will be able to know the aspirants in totality and also get their idea of how they are doing to run the affairs of the country and take the country from the present level to the next level. The array of politicians I have seen there are people who are grassroots based”, he stated.
On the issue of consensus, Akpabio said the party is supreme and must be obeyed.
He also said Atiku is only popular in the PDP and not in the country.