…Govs’ plot to resist Buhari heightens the tension

…How Buhari failed to name a successor —Source

…Says President not looking north

…Explains how S-West is divided between Tinubu and Osinbajo

…How Aregbesola created problems for Tinubu

…Nine Northern govs push for Southern candidate

By Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & John Alechenu, LAGOS

The seven-man Presidential Aspirants Screening Committee of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has cleared all the 23 aspirants it screened for Monday’s primaries.

A source close to the committee told  Vanguard  that the panel found all the aspirants “electable” and “has no reason to disqualify any of them.”

Asked what the panel did with a petition against one of the frontline aspirants and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the source said “they threw it away. None of the aspirants has been indicted or convicted by any court. No allegation against any of them has been proved.”

23 Aspirants

The 23 aspirants cleared for the presidential primaries are  Chief Emeka Nwajiuba, Governor Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Senator Robert Boroffice, Mrs Uju Ken-Ohanenye,  Mr Nicholas Felix, Governor David Umahi (Ebonyi), Senator Ken Nnamani, Dr Tunde Bakare, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, and Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu.

The rest are Ahmad Rufai Sani, Chief Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Dimeji Bankole, Governor  Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Senator Godswill Akpabio, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Governor Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Mr Tein Jack-Rich, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, Governor Ben Ayade (Cross River) and Mr Ikeobasi Mokelu

The clearing of the aspirants came as tension brewed in the party over the governors’ plot to resist President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan to pick his successor. The governors were said to be against moves to impose a presidential candidate on the party.

Some of the governors are said to be unhappy over President Buhari’s failure to name his preferred successor, at their meeting with him on Tuesday, so that they could deliberate on it. They are also against the alleged plan of the President to limit his searchlight to the North.

Meanwhile, South-West APC leaders have become more divided over Tinubu and Osinbajo, with a source saying that Minister of Interior, Engr Rauf Aregbesola allegedly created problems for Tinubu in the zone.

Governors’ plot to resist Buhari 

The move against Buhari’s appeal to pick his successor, Vanguard gathered, arose from the inability to convince some governors, especially from the North, on why Buhari must impose his successor.

The governors are said to have the buy-in of some northern power brokers against the backdrop of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, primaries that produced former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as its presidential candidate.

The state helmsman, sources said, is afraid that a faulty procedure or imposition of a candidate could cause an implosion that would fling the presidency to the PDP.

Specifically, they picked holes in alleged moves by Buhari to limit his search for a successor to the North with Senate President Ahmad Lawan (North-East) and Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State (North-Central) as the focus.

Hence, some of them are pushing for the party to allow more fresh aspirants to participate in the presidential primaries of the party. They are said to be mobilizing their colleagues to prevail on the National Chairman of APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu to re-open the nomination process to enable more aspirants from the North to join the race.

However, some Southern aspirants and power brokers are against moves by a few Northern governors to re-open nomination after screening has been concluded.

Five Northern governors were alleged to be behind the new plot, while nine are for southern candidates.

“Some of these governors have also been privy to the fact that Buhari might have zeroed in on two or three aspirants including a few Northern aspirants that they don’t want to be adopted.

“I think there must be more to this re-opening of the nomination agenda. We don’t know the mindset of our national chairman on this,” a top party leader reportedly said.

Why Buhari failed to name a successor at meeting with governors

However, another source told Vanguard why the President did not announce his successor when he met with APC governors while dismissing insinuations that Buhari was looking to the North to pick his successor.

The source said: “It is true that President Buhari has a candidate but persons working around him who believe strongly that a Tinubu presidency will be too strong for them to handle, are the ones moving around to see how to edge out Tinubu.

“The Tuesday meeting was originally planned by Buhari to tell the governors to endorse his candidacy. Invariably, Buhari did not have the guts to drop the name of the person. It was a meeting where they were to really brainstorm and possibly look at all the aspirants on their merit and then, take a decision. Instead, the president brought out a speech and started reading.

“That tells you that Buhari is not convinced about the person they are pushing to him. As an individual, I know Buhari has his reservations about Tinubu but he has tremendous respect for Baba Bisi Akande and even if he wants to deal with Tinubu, he (Buhari) cannot because of Baba Akande.

“As recently as two weeks ago, some prominent Nigerians, including those from the South-West had a one-on-one with Buhari and he told them that he had no problem with Tinubu. Some persons around the president are not comfortable with Tinubu but if they go ahead with the primary, Tinubu will carry the day and that is why members of the cabal are trying to see if they can micro-manage the situation and ensure they don’t go into an election.

“If APC makes the mistake of abandoning Tinubu, Atiku will win the 2023 election hands down. It is only a Tinubu candidate that Ayo Fayose, a Wike, will work for and some other prominent persons in the PDP.”

Buhari not looking at the North

Asked whether the President was looking in the direction of the North to pick his successor, the source said: “That is not true. Who is the prominent Northerner in the race? Is it Ahmad Lawan? Ahmad Lawan cannot win Yobe State and they know that.

 “If you are a cabinet member and the form has not closed and you meet Buhari today that you want to run, he will wish you good luck. That is what all of them are carrying about to say that Buhari is supporting them.

Tinubu’s aspiration has been on for three years ago and this is to tell you when the project started. It is not something that started today; it was not an afterthought.

“That is why when some Buhari people got to know that Tanko Al-Makura, who was aspiring to be APC National Chairman, was close to Tinubu, they quickly moved against him. Abdullahi Adamu was not a serious contender for the APC chairmanship and unfortunately for them too, Adamu cannot carry out the things they asked him to do because before the NWC was put together, El-Rufai was not with Tinubu.

“As it is now, el-Rufai’s people in the NWC are giving Abdullahi Adamu tough times.

The Deputy National Chairman (North) was produced by Kashim Shettima, we have the National Secretary. The Deputy National Chairman (South), though from the Buhari camp, has some allegiance with Tinubu. So, Abdullahi Adamu cannot push any anti-Tinubu case. That is the challenge they are facing.”

S-West divided over Tinubu and Osinbajo

On the feasibility of a consensus arrangement in the South-West, the source said: “You know there was a meeting of the South-West APC leaders and the possibility of a consensus was discussed but it didn’t scale through. As I speak with you, former Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun has aligned with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and that also prompted Dapo Abiodun to align with Tinubu.

“Now, from the body language of Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, he will step down for Tinubu. Rotimi Akeredolu and Tinubu have mended their relationship.”

How Aregbesola created problem for Tinubu

Another source, familiar with the workings of the party in the South-West, told  Vanguard how the current Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola has pitched his tent with the Vice-President as against his former political mentor, Tinubu.

The source also narrated how Aregbesola created problems for Tinubu, saying: “What most people do not also know is that it was Rauf Aregbesola who caused most of the issues people had with Tinubu. They have seen for themselves that Tinubu was not as bad as being portrayed by Aregbesola then.

“You know, Tinubu had tremendous respect for Aregbesola, he believed in his judgement; so even when Tinubu does not sanction some of the things he does, people will conclude that because of the free will Tinubu has given to him (Aregbesola), he is carrying out Tinubu’s assignment and that was how he created a problem for the man. I am sure Tinubu’s eyes have been opened.

Aregbesola is working for Osinbajo, there is no doubt about it because all his boys are working for Osinbajo. The campaigns for Tinubu are going on good, and well-coordinated.”

FA fresh crisis over the eligibility of delegates hits Ondo

Meanwhile, a fresh crisis over the eligibility of some delegates from Ondo State is brewing in the APC.

Vanguard gathered, yesterday, that the election of serving appointed members of the executive branch of the state government to serve as delegates to the presidential primaries, has heightened tension in the party.

Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act states: “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the nomination of candidates for any election.”

A document containing the names of delegates from Ondo State indicated that two serving commissioners, as well as the serving head of the State Universal Basic Education Board, made the list.

The current state Commissioner for Finance Wale Akinterinwa, who hails from Ile-oluji Oke-Igbo Local Government Area, is one of such appointees.

The document obtained by Vanguard showed that his name appeared top of the pack with serial number 1 from his local government area.

His counterpart in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Mrs Lola Fagbemi from Ondo West Local Government Area, is also one of the three delegates from her local government area.

Her name was the third on the list of three delegates from her local government area.

The current chairman of the state SUBEB, Hon Victor Olabintan who is from Akoko South West Local Government, was the second name on the list of three from his local government.

An Abuja-based legal practitioner, Law Mefor however noted that the interpretation of the legal provision needed further scrutiny in the light of happenings within the polity.

He said: “The question to ask is if the persons concerned stood for and were elected to serve as delegates for the convention or did their names just appear on the list? The process is as important as the outcome.”

Osinbajo, APC Chairman, and 5 govs meet in Aso Rock

Ahead of the APC, Convention to select its presidential candidate for the 2023 elections, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday evening met behind closed doors with the National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu and five governors of the Progressive Governors Forum.

The identities of the governors at the time of filing this report were unknown.

Nine northern govs push for southern presidential candidate

Meanwhile, no fewer than nine of the 14 northern APC governors are said to be rallying their colleagues to support the emergence of a southerner as the party’s presidential flag bearer.

The nine governors for power shift to the South include Babagana Zulum of Borno, Simeon Lalong of Plateau, Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna and Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano. Others are Aminu Masari of Katsina, Abubakar Bello of Niger, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara, Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa and Bello Matawalle of Zamfara.

However, the governors are yet to agree on who among the 19 southern aspirants should be handed the ticket.

The ruling party has eight governors in the South, who are united in their demand for a southern candidate.

Northern Islamic clerics endorse Osinbajo

Some northern Islamic clerics have endorsed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s presidential aspiration describing him as a man of integrity who has the requisite experience and leadership qualities to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.

Islamic clerics, who shared the view, yesterday, were Abdulmalik Bello, Imam, Gagi community jumua’t mosque, Sokoto; Prof Sani Sagir of Physics Department, Usmanu Danfodio University, Imam and Deputy National President 1, Jama’atu Izalatul Bid’a Waiqamatusunnah; Sheikh Muhammad Talata-Mafara in Sokoto; and Sheikh Bilal Jabir-Elkanawy, in Kano.

Abdulmalik Bello said it is only the Vice President that can take Nigeria out of the challenges it faced presently. “The Vice President is the best for now because he is of good age to deliver a good leadership to Nigerians and has shown courage when allowed to act as President.”

To Prof Sani Sagir Vice President Osinbajo has all the requirements to succeed as a president and he has been very loyal to President Buhari because “we have never heard president Buhari complain about the Vice President or having any allegation of corruption against him.”

Sheikh Muhammad Talata-Mafara also cautioned Nigerians against money bags and urged them to vote for the right person, saying: “A good leader is a person with peoples’ interests at heart, piety and submits himself to improving their living standard.”

Speaking in the same vein in Kano, Sheikh Bilal Jabir-Elkanawy, called on Nigerians to ensure transparency and fairness during the electioneering, while delegates should vote for the most credible candidates at the primary.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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