…Lobbied, failed to get the buy-in of PDP Chairman

…INEC boss, Yakubu rebuffs move

…It’s not going to happen—INEC

…APC extends deadline for sale of forms, holds congresses next week

…Oshiomhole, Fayemi, Akpabio, Jigawa gov, Badaru Abubakar join presidential race

By Dapo Akinrefon, Deputy Regional Editor, South-West, Omeiza Ajayi, Ezra Ukanwa & Fortune Eromosele, LAGOS

There are strong indications that a section of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, is mounting pressure on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to extend the deadline for presidential primaries.

Sources told Vanguard that the plot to get INEC to extend the deadline was hatched at a meeting in Abuja by some APC leaders to prepare the way for some late entrants into the presidential contest.

No fewer than four politicians – Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Dr Kayode Fayemi, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and Jigawa State Governor, Muhammed Badaru Abubakar, joined the presidential race, yesterday. More aspirants are expected to join before the primaries.

Another source privy to the meeting told Vanguard that to scale through this plot, the APC has reached out to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to support it.

Vanguard understood that though the pressure is being mounted on the INEC chairman, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, to extend the deadline for the primaries, Yakubu, so far, appears resolute in his resistance against the extension.

According to sources, the move to extend the deadline may not be unconnected with President Muhammadu Buhari, who is said not to have made up his mind on which aspirant to support.

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The source said: “We were in a meeting and we were told that the APC seeks an extension of the deadline for the presidential primaries.

“You know that the deadline for the APC primaries is no longer feasible and the argument of the party is that they may not meet up with the deadline, hence the call for an extension.

“Also, the APC wants to draft some aspirants like the Senate President into the presidential primaries because President Buhari is yet to make up his mind on who he wants to succeed him.

“There are feelers that the President is yet to make up his mind and pressure is being mounted on him to throw his weight behind a particular aspirant.

“Also, time is running out against the APC and one of the options, which they feel is possible, is to get INEC to extend the deadline for presidential primaries.

“As you know, the APC cannot do it alone and that is why they (APC) want to lobby the PDP into the scheme.

“The APC wants to lobby the PDP with the excuse that they (PDP) have logistics challenges which will give room for the extension of the deadline.”

But the PDP Chairman is said to have turned down the overtures.

It’s not going to happen  — INEC

Contacted, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, said the commission would not be pressured to extend the deadline.

Oyekanmi said: “When INEC releases its timetable and schedule of activities for any election, it becomes a legal document. In other words, INEC cannot change any of those dates without valid reasons and those valid reasons are contained in the Electoral Act.

“For instance, when a date is fixed for an election, INEC cannot postpone that election unless there is an emergency due to natural disaster or likelihood that there will be violence which has to be verifiable. It is not enough to say we are postponing elections in Lagos State because there is violence. You have to explain to us why you say there is going to be violence and it has to be verifiable.

“So, it is not a matter for any political party or any politician to put pressure on INEC to change a date, it is not possible. It is not going to happen.”

APC extends deadline for sale of forms, holds congresses next week

Meanwhile, in a bid to allow more aspirants and equally raise funds for the party, the APC has extended the deadline for the sale of its nomination and expression of interest forms.

The development came amid speculations that some party strategists are seeking ways of getting INEC to alter its timetable and shift the June 3 deadline for political parties to conduct their primary elections.

INEC had consistently warned political parties to stick to the electoral timelines, saying it will not adjust the timetable to accommodate the inactions of any party.

The earlier timetable released by the APC showed that the sale of forms would close this Friday but a revised timetable issued yesterday in Abuja has now extended the deadline to May 10.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Felix Morka, the party said congresses to elect Local Government Areas, State and National Delegates will now be held from Thursday, 12th May to Saturday, 14th May 2022.

The statement reads: “The All Progressives Congress National Working Committee, NWC, on Monday extended the Party’s Sale of Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms for the 2023 General Elections to Tuesday, May 10, 2022.

“In a revised timetable issued by the APC National Organizing Secretary, Sulaiman Argungu, the last day for submission of completed forms and accompanying documents is now set for Wednesday, May 11, 2022.

“Also, congresses to elect Local Government Area, State and National Delegates will now be held from Thursday, May 12 to Saturday, May 14, 2022.”

Fayemi declares presidential bid

The race for the presidential ticket of the ruling APC, widened yesterday, following the entry of the quartet of Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, former National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and Jigawa State Governor, Muhammed Badaru Abubakar, who individually declared their intent to be the standard-bearer of the party.

At a ceremony in Abuja, Dr Fayemi, who promised rapid transformation of the country, said he decided to enter the race after a series of painstaking consultations with the different strata of the nation.

He also kicked against the consensus method of picking the party’s presidential candidate, saying

“compatriots, it is in the spirit of this abiding faith in our country and the promise of its unfinished greatness that I stand before you today, in total humility and with all sense of responsibility, to solemnly declare to all our party cadres and Nigerians at large, my decision to accept for my name to be put forward for consideration by the APC leadership and membership as the party’s standard-bearer in the upcoming contest for a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari.

“I think for me, Nigerians who also want to field the polls for the president of Nigeria must be citizens of the country. I believe from all my travels around the country over the last one month, both inside our party and outside the party, the sentiments will appear to be anything but consensus.

“That is because people want to have a say and don’t forget we have a president who has been an advocate for bottom-up political practices.

“This is not a decision which I have taken lightly. Indeed, to arrive at this point, I carried out a long and deep self-introspection with the help of close family, friends, and colleagues, including my wife and devoted partner, Erelu Bisi Fayemi.

“I have also traversed the length and breadth of our country to consult and explore with our esteemed elder statesmen and women, traditional rulers, a cross-section of party leaders and rank and file members, and various non-partisan leaders of thought and opinion”.

Addressing a crowd of supporters at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum said having served in the public sphere as a student leader; as a two-term governor in Ekiti State; an active member of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, and two-term chair of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, he is fully equipped as an administrator, with a huge wealth of experience, capacity and energy to promulgate policies geared towards addressing the myriad of challenges facing the country.

Oshiomhole joins race

At a ceremony which took place at the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Council for Arts and Culture, former Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, said he would ensure a stable academic calendar by ending the frequent strikes in the sector.

The former Labour leader promised to review the tax system which would compel the rich to pay higher taxes required to address the basic needs of the country.

“It is in the interest of the rich to pay that tax so they can enjoy their wealth,” he said he would purchase the APC nomination and expression of interest forms in the next few hours.

The former APC national chairman, who also made case for subsidies in education and agriculture, said:

“If we can subsidize petroleum products to the tune of trillions, then we can subsidize education, agriculture, etc.’’

On governing Nigeria, he said: “I think the business of governing Nigeria goes beyond entertainment. I do not think it is about beating drums and singing praises. It is about delivering the message and making sure that you deliver it in a manner that is loud and clear, either for people to agree or for people not to agree.”

Oshiomhole added that he would ensure Nigerians “manufacture what they wear, and wear what they manufacture.” He listed quality education, security of life and property, health care facilities as well as employment opportunities for a better Nigeria.

“My presidency would focus on policy issues that would deliver jobs, prosperity for Nigerians. We will deal with the issues of insecurity,” he said.

Akpabio, Badaru too…

At Ikot-Ekpene Township Stadium in Akwa Ibom State, former Governor Akpabio also declared his intentions to run for the Presidency.

In a related development, Jigawa State governor, Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, formally joined the league of presidential aspirants for the 2023 general elections yesterday. The Jigawa governor had reportedly declared his intention at a meeting with APC stakeholders in the state on Tuesday.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Public Relations, Habibu Nuhu Kila, who confirmed the development, said:  “It is true that Governor Badaru has travelled to Abuja to secure nomination form for the 2023 presidential election”.

Some other presidential aspirants in the race on the platform of APC include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, ex-Lagos Governor Bola Tinubu, Ebonyi Governor, Dave Umahi, Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, Cross River State governor, Ben Ayade, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, Senators Rochas Okorocha and Ibikunle Amosun, as well as the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba.

The Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, only recently withdrew from the race.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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