…Govs meet on a regional basis to prevail on aspirants to step down for a consensus candidate

…Stepping down won’t work — Aspirant

…It’s  democratic …Ndume

…Buhari knows what to do to keep APC in power — Yahaya Bello

….Buhari may settle for Osinbajo — Source

By Clifford Ndujihe, Dayo Johnson, Dapo Akinrefon, Henry Umoru, Omeiza Ajayi & Shina Abubakar, LAGOS

Some presidential aspirants and stakeholders in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, are poised for a fight and have started mobilizing to abort the emergence of a consensus presidential candidate. They are also fighting to ensure that the party’s standard-bearer does not emerge via imposition.

Conversely, Vanguard gathered that some APC governors are holed up in Abuja, meeting on a regional basis, and working on the “consensus mandate.”

“They are to prevail on aspirants from their regions to step down if they are not chosen as the consensus candidate. We must achieve a consensus by the weekend. They are to discuss with the aspirants.

“Those who accept to step down will be refunded their N100 million nomination form fees or rewarded with positions if APC wins,” a source close to one of the Northern APC governors told Vanguard.

It was gathered yesterday that the next stage of the battle would be fought at the National Working Committee, NWC, where decisions would be taken on the report of the Presidential Screening Committee chaired by one-time Edo State governor and former APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun. The seven-man panel concluded its two-day work on Wednesday. It was not clear last night if it had turned in its report.

However, sources said a decision on the panel’s report will be informed by how well the governors get the aspirants to step down.

APC National Vice-Chairman, North-West, Salihu Moh. Lukman, early in the week, accused the National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, of being dictatorial and not carrying other members of the NWC along in his decisions. Recently, the National Executive Committee, NEC, ceded its powers to the NWC for 90 days. In essence, whatever the NWC decides on the Odigie-Oyegun committee’s report is final.

Vanguard gathered yesterday that some aspirants are not comfortable with Senator Adamu’s style, especially as he declared upon taking over the reins of the APC in March that he would work with the plans of President Muhammadu Buhari to install the next president.

Indeed, President Buhari, on Tuesday, appealed to governors elected on the platform of the APC to allow him to pick his successor. The appeal, yesterday, raised dust in the polity.

The President’s succession plan elicited sharp criticisms from APC national stakeholders, and a member of the NWC, Salihu Moh. Lukman; the Pan Niger-Delta Forum, PANDEF; former General Secretary of the YorubSocio-Political Group, Afenifere, Basorun Sehinde Arogbofa; and Dr Yemi Farounbi.

However, Governor Yahaya Bello, who is aspiring to succeed Buhari on the banner of the APC, Senator Ali Ndume, and Convener of the Progressives Lawyers for Osinbajo, Dr Kayode Ajulo threw their weight behind Buhari. While Ndume said Buhari’s move is democratic, Ajulo urged APC governors to reciprocate, and Governor Yahaya Bello through his campaign organization said Buhari is the leader of the party and knows what to do to keep APC in power.

Stepping down by any aspirant won’t work—Aspirant

A source close to one of the presidential aspirants from the South told Vanguard that the idea of asking any aspirant to step down will not work.

The source warned that any attempt to settle for a northern candidate will affect the fortunes of the party.

“They have gone past the stage of asking aspirants to step down or for a consensus. Who will you ask to step down? President Buhari has the final say, he has the yam and the knife. By the time he returns (from Spain), he will state who he has settled for. What he may likely do is to throw up two names and call for debate and input from party leaders but he will have the final say.

“We are hearing that he may settle for a Northerner. If he does that, the party will go up in flames. We hope he does the needful.”

Choosing your successor is too risky, and costly for democracy, Lukman tells Buhari

In an open letter, APC National Vice Chairman, North-West, Salihu Moh. Lukman urged President Buhari to be conscious of his legacies and avoid falling into the temptation of unilaterally picking his successor.

Noting that it would be “democratically risky and very costly” to allow the president does so, Lukman urged President Buhari not to copy what he described as the anti-democratic credentials of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who foisted his successor, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on his Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and went on to rig the general election to ensure his emergence as president.

Lukman in the piece titled: “Succession and 2023 APC Presidential Candidate: Open Letter to President Muhammadu Buhari” was reacting to the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting between President Buhari and APC Governors.

Noting that ordinarily, Buhari’s appeal should not be a problem as both party members and leaders will always trust the president’s judgment, the APC official however noted that “the big worry is whether loyal party leaders and members should just reduce themselves to being ordinary observers when very sensitive issues with very high potential to diminish and damage Your Excellency’s revered status in the country is being considered.”

Risky, costly

The immediate past Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, PGF noted that it is important therefore to caution APC to keep faith with basic tenets of democracy as its major campaign message to Nigerians for the 2023 elections.

“This was eloquently highlighted in Your Excellency’s message to our Progressive Governors when you stated that ‘the key to electoral successes is the ability to hold consultations and for members to put the nation above other interests.’

“The temptation for leaders to choose their successors is democratically risky and very costly. If in 2013/2014, Your Excellency could submit yourself to internal democratic processes, it is important that your successor also follows the same process.

“It may also be necessary to highlight that a major disadvantage with succession arrangement whereby Governors chose their successors is that it negatively affects the relationship between the successor and the predecessor, which undermines the capacity to influence actions or inactions of successors by their predecessors. Your Excellency, since the period of negotiating the merger that produced our party, APC, I have been a proponent of ensuring that our party takes every step to preserve our leaders who could exercise moral authority. This means that leaders who are highly respected on account of their standing in society should not hold elective or appointive positions. It was for that reason that I openly campaigned against your aspiration to emerge as the Presidential candidate of our party for the 2015 election.

“Sir, recall that one of my arguments was that as President, the capacity of party leaders to influence your decisions will be weak. Without going into details, Your Excellency, this has come to pass. The big fear is that combining both legal and moral authority, being our President if you are to nominate your successor to what extent can other party leaders influence your decision? If party leaders are unable to influence your decision concerning the choice of successor, what will be the guarantee that your choice can aggregate the expectations of Nigerians?

“There is the overriding requirement to appeal to you to kindly resist the temptation. I would have wished we had enough time for open debate within our party.

“Unfortunately, as things are, we have less than one week to settle this matter. Sadly also, a combination of inherited reality, and perhaps vested interests of some party leaders, processes of internal debates around this matter are being impeded. Even meetings of NWC are not exploring these issues. Even logistical issues of organizing the National Convention are being handled informally. And as far as our National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu is concerned, relating with you and probably directly communicating with positions of members of NWC, is his exclusive jurisdiction, which limits you to the selective perspective that may only be self-serving to some party leaders.

Hoping that the President would take the right decisions that would broaden the democratic scope in APC, continue to endear the party to Nigerians and facilitate its electoral victory in 2023, he said: “Like in the case of December 10, ,2014 APC National Convention, everything will be done at June 6, 2022, APC National Convention to guarantee level playing field for all aspiring Presidential candidates of our party. Any recommendation to the contrary will be inimical and injurious to the electoral fortunes of our great party, APC,” Lukman submitted.

Be a moral compass to govs, APC stakeholders urge Buhari

In like manner, the APC National Stakeholders wondered if the president was now being influenced by the antics of state governors who often resort to imposing their stooges as successors, saying the president is supposed to be a moral compass to governors.

Speaking under the aegis of APC Rebirth Group, the stakeholders said President Buhari’s desire to reciprocate gestures must not compromise the party’s internal democratic processes.

At a media parley in Abuja, Convener of the group, Engr. Aliyu Audu, including Mohammed Saidu Etsu, a former national chairmanship aspirant, conceded that the stakeholders recognise the inalienable rights of the president to be interested in whoever succeeds him and the natural desire to reciprocate the gesture of support he received in his 2014 bid to be the party’s flag bearer for the 2015 presidential election.

The stakeholders however opined that “the choice of the president should not amount to an imposition or foreclose the chances of a free and fair contest where the candidate who reflects all the values and virtues of the party and has the potential to defeat the candidates of other political parties will be democratically elected.”

They also painfully recalled how the current National Chairman of the party was imposed on stakeholders in the lead up to the March 26 national convention, saying: “We say this because of the memories of what transpired at the last national convention of the party where the president picked his choice for the position of the national chairman and forced the other aspirants to step down in a manner that can best be described as an imposition is still very fresh.”

“The best legacy President Buhari can leave for the APC and Nigeria as a whole is the legacy of a deeply entrenched democratic process where Nigerians can freely choose who represents them at whatever level in free, fair, credible and transparent processes.”

APC govs should reciprocate —Ajulo

The Convener of the Progressives Lawyers for Osinbajo, Dr Kayode Ajulo threw his weight behind Buhari.

Ajulo said: “That’s the agreement. The President allowed each of the governors to have control over his jurisdiction, that is the state. They should reciprocate by allowing the President to have jurisdiction over his jurisdiction, that is the entire nation.”

PANDEF slams Buhari

THE Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, led by the South-South leader, Chief Edwin Clark,  described an absurd situation where citizens of the country especially party members do not determine the flag bearers of their parties ahead of general elections.

It called for an immediate review of the entire leadership’ selection process to involve the participation of citizens, especially members of the political parties in the emergence of presidential and governorship candidates during primary elections.

Reacting to President Buhari’s request that governors and stakeholders of the APC should allow him to pick his successor that would fly the flag of the party in the 2023 presidential election, PANDEF in a statement made by its National Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson, said: “President Muhammadu Buhari, for some strange reasons, was aristocratic and played the “good boy”, in appealing to his APC Governors to allow him to pick the party’s Presidential candidate, “his successor” in his own words.

“The reflection is that if state governors, the “demi-gods” and their associates can impose their preferred persons in the states as governours, local government chairmen, etcetera, why won’t the President who could be characterized as the “god” of Nigeria, not do likewise?

They are all leveraging the overwhelming powers vested in the executive arm of government by the “military-imposed” 1999 Constitution.

“It’s unfortunate that the vast majority of citizens, and even members of political parties, do not participate in processes that produce those who would go on to contest elections and eventually become our president, governors and lawmakers. We now have situations where less than 800 persons choose a major party’s presidential candidate, in a country of over 200 million people. It is absurd! 

“Politicians employ all sorts of crooked wiles to select or impose crooked officials and see how crooked the nation has become.

And when you talk, they will readily assert that it is a party affair. This has to stop.

“There must be an urgent review of the entire leadership’ selection process to involve greater participation of citizens, particularly membership of the political parties.”

Buhari is right — Ndume

Meanwhile, the former Senate Minority leader and the Director-General of Rotimi Amaechi Presidential Campaign Organisation, Senator Ali Ndume, APC, Borno South has thrown his weight behind President Buhari on the comment, saying it is democratic.

Speaking with Vanguard, Senator Ndume who noted that there was nothing wrong with Buhari wanting to pick his successor, said that there is no President that will not name his successor or be interested in who succeeds him after office.

Ndume who said that former President of the United States of America, USA, Barack Obama picked interest in his Vice, Joe Biden to succeed him and he worked very hard to support Biden, said that there was nothing wrong with the position of President Buhari on the issue.

“The call by President Buhari that he should be allowed to pick his successor is not out of place, it is democratic and he was democratic about it. There is no President that will not name his successor. I would have been disappointed if the President had left the issue open without being interested in who should succeed him. As he said, the Governors were allowed to name their successors, the President should be allowed to do the same. There is nothing out of place for the President to do that.”

Buhari can’t give Nigerians the right choice — Arogbofa

Former General Secretary of the Yoruba Socio-Political Group, Afenifere, Basorun Sehinde Arogbofa said that “the performances and record of service of President Buhari do show he can give Nigeria the right person that will right the wrongs. He alone cannot do it.

“The President is not in tandem with happenings in the country, if he is, he won’t say that he alone should be allowed to pick his successor.

“Nigeria needs somebody who can turn things around, do things differently, restructure the country so that power can devolve to states.  We need somebody that will deal decisively with the problems on the ground without showing tribalism, nepotism or religious sentiments. This is the type of president that Nigeria needs now.”

Buhari’s plan’s undemocratic — Farounbi

Nigeria’s former Ambassador to the Philippines, Dr Yemi Farounbi, described President Buhari’s plan to choose his successor as undemocratic.

In Nig,eria we take democracy for granted. The choice of a President or Governor in any democratic country is subject to the decision of some people and the general populace. Some people like delegates or caucus within the party and to the entire populace, after they emerge from the party primary.

But here, a governor or president, as the case may be, single-handedly decides who succeeds him without recourse to members of the party. The practice of individuals choosing their successors betrays the spirit and struggle of those who fought the military junta and ensured that democracy is enthroned in the country. What even made it worse is that a party that prides itself as ‘progressive’ also engage in the act,” he lamented. 

Buhari may settle for Osinbajo — Source

Meanwhile, a presidential source told some selected journalists in Abuja, yesterday, that President Buhari may have settled for his vice as his preferred presidential candidate of the APC before departing for Spain.

The presidential aide, who spoke in confidence, noted that a political team, comprising prominent Yoruba leaders, has been set up to dialogue with former governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on the need to accept Professor Osinbajo as a consensus candidate.

The source said: ‘’In what is poised to go down in history as the defining moment of the APC’s presidential primaries slated for next week, President Buhari’s speech, when he met with the Progressive Governors on Tuesday provided the clearest signal that his preferred choice as successor, is his vice, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. He also told some of the close aides of his choice before departing for Spain.”

The presidential source also stated that “President Buhari’s careful and strategic highlight of the point of choosing a successor capable of driving his visions is a deliberate and highly consequential announcement of his preference for a candidate with the understanding and who will continue with his programmes and policies, all of which stem from his vision of a country designed to engender economic progress.

The source said ‘’by urging careful attention to changing dynamics and the expectations of citizens and the global community, President Buhari was inexorably calling for the selection of a baggage-free candidate, capable of engaging and successfully navigating the country’s changing dynamics. ‘’Who has impressed the international community as Prof. Osinbajo has done on numerous occasions? He has represented the President and the country.”

It was gathered that whereas the aspirations of others may have thrown up doubts about their seemingly fitness and capacity, Prof Osinbajo – in the estimation of Buhari has ‘’received admiration and respect for his capacity, character, eloquence, rigour, and commitment to service.

S-East APC leaders back Lawan, seek Buhari’s endorsement

Chieftains of the All Progressives Congress APC from the South-east under the aegis of APC South-east Front have asked President Muhammadu Buhari and other party leaders to endorse the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan as presidential flagbearer of the party.

Rising from an emergency meeting Wednesday night in Abuja, the Southeast APC leaders said it would be fair and just for the APC to settle for Lawan as its standard-bearer since he also hails from the same geopolitical zone as Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party PDP.

The party leaders are from the five states of the Southeast geo-political zone.

In a communique issued after the meeting and signed by Chief Sam Nkire as well as 24 other APC chieftains, the group said the APC is left with no option but to take a cue from the opposition PDP which picked its flagbearer from the North-East.

Other signatories to the communique include; Comrade A.C Ude, Barr. Bath Ugwuoke, Barr. K.C Ugboaja, Lolo Queen N Nwankwo, Chief Nduka Onyekwere A., Hon. Tony Alum, Barr. Chijioke Ikpo, Mr. Victor Nwankwo, Mr.  Timothy Chukwuma and Chief Chris Chukwuka.

Fake delegates’ lists threaten APC’s Presidential Convention

Ahead of Monday’s presidential convention of APC, there are concerns among stakeholders about moves by some chieftains to present a fake list of delegates to manipulate the process.

While the issue had in recent days been discussed in hushed tones among some elements in the party, stakeholders from Akwa Ibom and Cross River states have, however, voiced their concerns on the issue.

In Akwa Ibom, the leader of a group of elders within the party, Chief Don Etiebet, said the state chapter has been foisted with persons who did not win any election, at any congress monitored by INEC, as state executives in the state.

“Another instance is the decision on the part of our Party when they unceremoniously withdrew their appeal against the judgment of the trial court that was instituted by their predecessor in office i.e., the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), whose actions in office were fully ratified by the National Convention. 

“Presently, we are all living witnesses to the fact that our Party has been constrained to seemingly conduct primaries that are not consistent with the provision of Section 84 (1) of the Electoral Act which states: ‘A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions which shall be monitored by the Commission. In line with this provision, the Commission shall, in monitoring primaries, only recognize delegates that emerge from Congresses duly monitored by the Commission’.

“The consequence of such conduct of primaries remains clear that our Party in Akwa Ibom State may not be in the position to present any validly nominated candidate in Akwa Ibom State except the issues are redressed immediately.”

In Cross River, a group of party faithful under the aegis “authentic delegates”, called on the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led NWC to ignore a purported ‘fraudulent’ list of national delegates sent by the Cross River State Working Committee to the national leadership.

The APC stakeholders and the authentic national delegates elected on May 17, 2022, also asked the NWC to follow the APC Constitution and Guidelines as it relates to the national delegates’ list submitted to the party.

A statement signed by Chief Francis Ekpenyong, on behalf of Cross River Authentic Adhoc National Delegates, said they were the original people who paid for nomination forms, participated in the processes and emerged as National Delegates of their respective Local Government Areas of the state. 

“The purported national delegate list suggests a parallel exercise and carrying the names of the State Working Committee Members such as Barr. Alphonsus Ogar Eba under Yala Local Government Area, Mensah Offiong Bassey under Calabar South Local Govern-ment Area, Lion Okara Ekawu under Bekwarra Local Government Area, Engr. (Dr.) Thomas Uko Aruku under Ogoja Local Government Area, Erasmus Ekpang under Boki Local Government Area, Hon. Prince Titi Ndifon under Akamkpa Local Government Area should therefore be ignored and/or disregarded as being forged as the original national delegate list was altered and/or falsified.”

“For the avoidance of doubt, we hereby state clearly that Governor Ayade,  Legor Idagbor, Alphonsus Ogar Eba, Senator Stephen Adi Odey, Engr. (Dr.) Thomas Uko Aruku just to mention but a few did not take part in the national delegate election and they are not delegates from their respective local government areas of Cross River State. 

Vanguard News Nigeria

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