.buhari

…Says govs were given re-election tickets or allowed to choose their successors

…Adds: ‘we must choose someone that‘ll give us victory’

…Presidents jets to Spain with govs, ministers to perfect plan

…23 aspirants to be pruned to four, one from North, three from South

…Jonathan’s fate sealed as Okorocha’s hangs in the balance

By Clifford Ndujihe, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Omeiza Ajayi, ABUJA

President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, took the first step towards selecting his successor. He asked Governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, at their much-postponed meeting to allow him choose his successor.

Vanguard reporter saw the governors leaving the meeting with long faces, an indication that they were not pleased with the development.

However, the president at the meeting dug in by saying that since the party allowed the governors to pick re-election tickets or determined who would succeed them, they should give him the honour of picking his successor.

The meeting was called for President Buhari “to show his hand” on his preferred successor and concretize plans for the party’s presidential primaries slated for June 6 and 7.

The reasons for the governors’ sad looks are not far-fetched. Pointedly, the president asked them to allow him pick his successor as they had been allowed to do in their various states.

In essence, the party’s flag-bearer may emerge via consensus and the candidate may not be a serving governor.

Five APC governors — Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi) Mohammed Badaru (Jigawa) and Ben Ayade (Cross River) are among the 23 aspirants seeking to succeed President Buhari.

The screening of presidential aspirants by the seven-man panel, led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun started on Monday and was being concluded at press time.

“The party has successfully established internal policies that promote continuity and smooth succession plans even at the state and local government levels. For example, first-term governors who have served credibly well have been encouraged to stand for re-election. Similarly, second-term governors have been accorded the privilege of promoting successors that are capable of driving their visions as well as the ideals of the party.

“In keeping with the established internal policies of the Party and as we approach the Convention in a few days, therefore, I wish to solicit the reciprocity and support of the governors and other stakeholders in picking my successor, who would fly the flag of our party for election into the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023,” President Buhari told the governors in a 12-point speech at the parley.

The president said that the party will present a candidate  who would give the party a sense of victory and confidence and pleaded with the Progressive Governors Forum to align with the position of the party and ensure that the forthcoming convention to pick a presidential candidate reflects the values and virtues of the APC.

However, some of the governors did not look bright after the meeting and declined every entreaty to talk to State House Correspondents who were anxiously waiting to hear the outcome of the parley.

The President said he recognized the compelling need to provide stronger leadership to the party under the transition process and to ensure that it happens in an orderly manner.

He affirmed that consultations will continue in the days leading to the national convention to ensure that all the aspirants are carried along.

He said that the APC’s focus is to remain on the changing dynamics of the nation’s political environment, the expectations of the citizens  and the global community even as he emphasized the need for internal cohesion and a strong leadership brand for the party to achieve bigger electoral fortunes.

Buhari jets out to Spain with govs, ministers to perfect plan

Sources close to the Presidency told Vanguard, yesterday, that President Buhari left with some members of his kitchen cabinet, ministers, and governors including a very loyal Southern governor for Spain to perfect the plan.

The sources added that he would be coming back on Friday with a clear decision on the issue.

It was gathered that President Buhari has recommended that the number of presidential aspirants going into the primaries should be reduced to a manageable figure with the National Chairman expressing the hope that aspirants could be pruned to four.

The “manageable four,” sources told Vanguard, may be three aspirants from the South and one from the North, adding that Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo may be among the four.

Buhari’s 12-point speech that jolted APC governors

President Buhari’s speech read in part: “I am delighted to address this gathering of the Progressive Governors’ Forum as part of the consultative processes that have always strengthened the internal dynamics of our Party, the All Progressives Congress.

“You will all recall that APC came to power at the centre in 2015 through a cohesive machinery, notwithstanding its status as the opposition party. Similarly, in 2019, it was returned to power under my leadership, because of the dividends of democracy delivered to Nigerians irrespective of their political leanings.

“The party has since grown in strength and capacity to govern. The key to both electoral successes is the ability of the party to hold consultations and for its members to put the nation above other interests.

“The transition processes for the 2023 General Elections have commenced in earnest and I note that the most successful political parties globally have always relied on their internal cohesion and a strong leadership brand to achieve bigger electoral fortunes. Our party, the APC, shall not be any different, more so as we are still implementing the blueprint for a more prosperous nation.

“As I begin the final year of my second term as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and leader of the Party, I recognize the compelling need for me to provide stronger leadership to the Party under this transition process and to ensure that it happens in an orderly manner.

“Such leadership is required so that the Party remains strong and united. It is also needed to improve our electoral fortunes by ensuring that it retains power at the centre, hold the great majority in various legislative chambers and also gain additional number of states at state levels.

“In pursuit of the foregoing objectives, the Party has successfully established internal policies that promote continuity and smooth succession plans even at the state and local government levels. For example, first term Governors who have served credibly well have been encouraged to stand for re-election. Similarly, second term Governors have been accorded the privilege of promoting successors that are capable of driving their visions as well as the ideals of the party. 

“ In a few days, the Party will be holding its Convention during which primaries would take place to pick the Presidential Flag Bearer for the 2023 General Elections. This is a very significant process and its outcome should prove to the world, the positive quality of the APC regarding democratic principles, culture as well as leadership.

“As we approach the Convention, I appeal to all of you to allow our interests to converge, our focus to remain on the changing dynamics of our environment, the expectations of our citizens and the global community. Our objective must be the victory of our party and our choice of the candidate must be someone who would give the Nigerian masses a sense of victory and confidence even before the elections.

“In keeping with the established internal policies of the Party and as we approach the Convention in a few days, therefore, I wish to solicit the reciprocity and support of the Governors and other stakeholders in picking my successor, who would fly the flag of our party for election into the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023.

“I wish to assure you that the consultation process shall continue to ensure that all aspirants and stakeholders would be brought on board right through to the convention. This would also ensure that any anxiety occasioned by different factors is effectively brought under control and that our party emerges stronger.”

We’ll support Buhari to have a successful convention — Bagudu, PGF chairman

Speaking on behalf of the state governors, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, and Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum said the party must build on the successes of its recent elective convention, and the primaries conducted so far, “and come up with a candidate who will walk in the footsteps of patriotism and love for the country, which Mr. President has shown,” adding: “We will support Mr President to have a very successful convention.”

Jonathan’s fate sealed as Okorocha’s hangs in the balance

Meanwhile, the fate of former President Goodluck Jonathan regarding the 2023 presidential ticket of the 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, yesterday, in Abuja.

On the same night, the fate of the lawmaker representing Imo West Senatorial District, Senator 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, yesterday, were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Governor Yahaya Bello, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Dimeji Bankole; Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, 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.

“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, on 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.

Why I’m qualified to succeed Buhari —Tinubu

Meanwhile, a presidential aspirant on  the platform of All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, has defended his qualification as the right person to succeed the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, retd, in 2023.

According to the Director of Media and Communication of the Tinubu Campaign Organisation, Bayo Onanuga, in a statement, Tinubu said his exploits as the governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007 made him qualified to become the party’s flagbearer.

Tinubu had appeared before the screening committee of the APC on Monday to defend his presidential ambition in the presence of a committee, led by a former national chairman of the APC, John Oyegun, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.

In the statement, Onanuga said, “He (Tinubu) confidently told the panel why he is qualified to fly the flag of APC as its presidential candidate.

“He cited his success as governor of Lagos State, raising the internal revenue generation of the state from a paltry N600 million monthly, which has now grown to N51 billion today.”

Onanuga added that Tinubu demonstrated a vast knowledge of economic management and a perfect understanding of Nigeria’s political economy in his answers.

Tinubu was also said to have cited his invitation to Enron to start the first state-backed power generation project in the country and how Nigeria would need to take the power transmission lines as a highway.

Questions asked the APC National Leader included his upbringing, and educational and professional background.

“Tinubu impressed the panel during the screening process with the way and manner he answered and provided insight into many of the questions asked.

“The screening committee expressed satisfaction with Tinubu’s knowledge of the economy and socio-political issues that are affecting the country,” Onanuga stated.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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