APC yet to screen presidential aspirants, adopt primary method 72 hours to convention

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The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has fixed Sunday to Monday, May 29 and 30, 2022 for the special convention for primary election to nominate a presidential candidate for the 2023 general election.

However, about 72 hours to the exercise, the ruling party is yet to screen the presidential aspirants who have purchased and returned their expression of interest and nomination forms.

About 25 presidential aspirants had submitted their expression of interest and nomination forms, including; Bola Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, Rotimi Amaechi, Godswill Akpabio, Ogbonnaya Onu, Rochas Okorocha, Ibikunle Amosu, Tunde Bakare, Governors Ben Ayade, Dave Umahi, Kayode Fayemi, Yahaya Bello and Mohammed Badaru Abubakar as well as Ahmed Sani Yerima.

Others are; Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Ken Nnamani, Ajayi Borroffice, Uju Kennedy Ohnenye, Tein Jack-Rich,
Nicholas Nwagbo, Dimeji Bankole, Senate President Ahmed Lawal, Ikeobasi Molukwu and Timipre Sylva who has withdrawn from the race.

APC had fixed the screening of the presidential aspirants on Monday,
May 23, 2022 but it was later postponed indefinitely.

Felix Morka, APC national publicity secretary had in a statement on Sunday night said a new date for the exercise will be announced shortly.

“The Screening Excercise for Presidential Aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC) earlier scheduled to be held on Monday, May 23rd, 2022, is hereby postponed.

“A new date for the exercise will be announced shortly. Any inconvenience caused is deeply regretted,” the statement read.

President Muhamadu had earlier in the week met behind closed-door with APC governors, National Assembly leadership, the party’s National working Committee and presidential aspirants to arrive at a decision concerning the primaries.

While the details of the meeting remain sketchy, it was hinted that the meeting dwelt on exploring the possibility for a consensus presidential candidate for the party before the date for screening would be fixed.

But since then, the screening has remained a subject of speculation with pundits insinuating plans to have aspirants withdraw from the race for the yet to be known consensus candidate.

Another possible reason for the rigamarole about the screening, according to observers, is to have the exercise close to the day of primary election to constrain aggrieved aspirants from seeking redress.

A ranking member of the party told BusinessDay on the condition of anonymity that the delay in the screening of presidential aspirants is to ensure that a consensus is reached and not to give room for aggrieved aspirants to approach court and stop the primary election.

“We are going to do screening but we have to put some things into proper perspective. We want to arrive at a consensus first and if that doesn’t work then we have screened them very close to the convention so that no one goes to court over the outcome”, the party chieftain said.

Apart from screening, the party is yet to be clear on the zoning of its presidential ticket and has not adopted the method of nomination, whether direct, indirect and consensus.

With the emergence of Abdullahi Adamu as Chairman from the North-central had given the indication that the presidency would go to the south.

However, recent permutations in the party showed that if the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) nominated a presidential candidate from the North, APC would follow suit in order not to lose the huge voting population from the region.

Sam Nkire, leader of the delegation that picked presidential forms for Senate President Lawan said if APC gives its presidential ticket to a southerner and PDP “gives to a northerner, APC will go into the wilderness and we are not ready to go into the wilderness.”

“Every politician is in politics to win. It is PDP that is driving us to do this. We have said so. But we don’t want PDP to take the government from us”, he reasoned.

The APC Chairman, Adamu in a recent media interview with journalists in Hausa was not categorical on any of the issues.

For the consensus candidate he said: “You can’t stop our party stalwarts from contesting elections or aspiring for the presidency. It is their right and we are happy for them.

“There is nothing wrong for anybody aspiring for the exalted seat of the presidency. It is God that decides who gets what. Once God makes up His mind and say this is who He wants, that is what we are praying for.

“We have 28 aspirants for the presidential ticket and everybody knows that all of them cannot get the ticket. If it’s God’s wish they all can even be president of the country one after the other. Ours is to ensure justice in the choice of who emerges as the candidate of the party. That does not mean we are perfect. But we pray we do the right thing.

“The party has laid down its rules and regulations for the aspirants. We would scrutinize all of them based on our guidelines to be sure we pick the right one.”

On zoning, the former Nasarawa state governor said: “We have not produced our candidate for the presidency yet. We have to screen the aspirants to know the way forward. We have aspirants from across the country in the race. We will make the decision when we get there.”

Another disturbing situation ahead of the APC presidential primary is that no committee has been set up to organise the special convention as it has always been the case where Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State headed both the 2014 and 2018 exercises that produced Buhari as the party’s presidential candidate.

Also, Eagle Square Abuja, the supposed venue for the APC presidential primary election was as at Thursday evening not under preparation for the convention unlike before where the facility was being worked on a week to the event.

Lamenting the situation in the build up to the convention, Sampson Oburu, national publicity secretary of Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu Support Group, AATSG wondered what kind of change APC promised Nigerians.

He said: “less than 72 hours to the primaries, no screening of aspirants and possible debates between aspirants is zero. I wonder what kind of example we as the ruling party is setting after we promised Nigerians change.

“We moved to the next level, one would have thought that we would move from doing things anyhow to doing the things all the time, which to a large extent would muster unity within the party , raise the status of the party and usher in a new era of hope .

“There is rancour and strife in almost all the states controlled by our party , multiple factions , poor internal democratic processes, where the electoral processes are hijacked by one or a few individuals against the collective strength of the majority.”

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