By Lateef Adegbite
Ahead of the 2023, general elections and taking advantage of the extended deadline set by the independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, under the close watch of Professor Mahmood Yakubu, SenatorAbdullahi Adamu, led All Progressive Congress, APC, on Tuesday, May 31, 2022, completed the screening of its 23 Presidential Candidates , with the disqualification of 10 aspirants whoe identities remain a closely guided secret.
Former Goodluck Jonathan, Akinwumi Adesina, a former minister of Agriculture and Rural Development , during Jonathan Administration and now, President, African Development Bank, ADB, including Godwin Emefiele, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, who may have been dragged into the ruling APC, Presidential race, by using shadowy groups, to pay the party N100 million fee for each of them to purchase the Presidential nomination forms in other to participate in the screening exercise and primaries were said to have been dropped from the list of screened Presidential aspirants .
Chris Ngige, a former governor of Anambra sate and minister of Labour and Employment and Temipre Sylva, a former governor of Bayelsa state and minister of state , Peroleum Resources, who had paid the N100 million to purchase the APC presidential nomination forms, but took advantage of the window provided by President Muhammadu Buhari, to withdraw, their resignation letter in order to return back to their ministerial position, were said to have also been removed from the list, fueling speculations making the rounds that the APC, Leadership may have given them the free Presidential nomination forms, to swell up the ranks of those interested in contesting the 2023, geneneral elections on the ticket of the party.
Even Senator Rochas Okrocha, a former governor of Imo state, who has been having a running battle with the Abdulrasheed Bawa led Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over alleged N2.9 fraud, who many think would not be present for the screening was able to beat the Tuesday deadline set by the part screening Committee.
As a prelude to the APC Committee screening of the 23 APC Presidential aspirants who eventually made the list of those to be screened, the Kastina born Nigerian President had met with the APC governors where he was said to have described the ideal Presidential Candidate of the party in the 2023 , general elections to retain power at the Federal level. He believe that who have control of the state delegates can still direct them on the Presidential aspirant to support.
Femi Adesina, Special Assistant to the Nigerian President on Media and Publicity, had said that the Buhari was emphatic on the party winning the 2023, general elections at the Federal level. ‘’Our objective must be victory of APC, stressing that the party choice of Candidate must be someone who would give the Nigerian masses a sense of victory and confidence even the elections’’.
He was said to have told the governors ‘’to ensure that the party picks a Presidential Candidate from the 23 aspirants that reflects the APC values and virtues’’. Buhari , who has message to governors , had told them ‘’the processes for the 2023 general elections have commenced in earnest’’, noting that that ‘’the most successful political parties globally have always relied on their eternal cohesion and a strong Leadership brand to achieve a bigger electoral fortunes’’. He may have taken the foot steps of Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President , during Olusegun Obasanjo Administration and PDP , Presidential Candidate , in the forthcoming 2023 , general elections, who sees himself as a unifer and belives in the unity of the party to win the 2023, general elections. He had visited his major challenger in the party primaries, Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers state, to settle their differences before the 2023 general elections to avoid give undue advantage to the APC, to win the elections. ‘’Our Party, APC, shall not be any different’’, he had said. The Ngerian President, who could not hide his feelings had the APC governors at the closed door meeting that he begins the final year of his second term as President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, under the APC. He has recgnised the compelling need ‘’to provide stronger Leadership to the party under his transition process and to ensure that it happens in an orderly manner’’. He maintains that such Leadership is required in the party now for it’’ to remain strong and united’’. Buhari, who could not hide his feelings that the party must retain power at the Federal level in the 2023, general elections was said to have also taken the message to party Legislators in the National Assembly, urging them to work hard to ensure that party ‘’gain additional number of states in the 2023, general elections
.There are fears that the Nigerian President advice to the APC governors to ensure that the state delegates cast their votes on the Presidential aspirant who will walk on the footsteps of patriotism and love for the country may hit a dead end because of the political ambition of some of The APC aspirants.
They cited , Aiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and APC , National Leader and Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers sate and the immediate past minister of Transportation, who are are ready to head to Court if any one of them loses the primary. Tinubu, the former Lagos state governor said that he has been preparing to contest for the office of the Nigerian President for years and the opportunity has come, insisting that nobody cannot stop, not even YEmi Osinbajo, the Vice President or Kayode Fayemi, the governor of Ekiti state and Chirman, Nigerian Governors Forum, NPF, described his godsons in political circles or Adams Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo state and one-time National Chairman of APC, has grown up to stop him.
He may have had the same mindset with Amaechi, the former minister of Transportation, who was conferred with the Chieftaincy title of Dan Amana, in Daura , Buhari, home town, by Farouq Umar, Emir of Daura, meaning the trustworthy son of Daura, for his’’clear commitment to the enormous relationship between the nation’s diverse cultures’’ This may have informed why he has seen himself as the next President of Nigeria after Buhari, in the 2023, general elections and having the audacity to ask Bello Yahaya, the governor of Kogi state, who had paid the N100 million to purchase the party Presidential nomination forms to step down for older Politicians who have the experience for him in his home state during his consultations of the party state delegates. This clearly shows that the former Rivers state governor would not take it if he loses the APC Presidential primaries between June 6 and 8 th, 2022.
In spite of the large number of Southern APC Presidential Candidates, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, a former governor of Abia state, and Chairman of Ahmad Lawn , who incidentally is the Senate President, jostling to take over from Buhari , after the 2023, general elections, Campaign Organisations, may have sent a message to the APC Leadership that if the party fail to elect a norther as the party Presidential Candidate as the Opposition PDP had done , by giving the ticket to Atiku, a Nigerian former Vice President,, the Party should be ready to go on’’ political retirement’’.
He had alluded to the fact that APC Presidential ticket should be given to the Borno state born Politician , Lawan, for his strong Leadership, which has been exemplified in the Senate and going by what he knew of him as his roommate in the University of Maiduguri over years. He had told those that cares to listen that if APC fail to give the party 2023 Presidential ticket to a norther, it will lose the 2023 general elections to the rival PDP. The duo, Tinubu and Amaechi, would want Kalu, who is fighting for his own pecuniary gains to tell that to the marines. The former Lagos state governor is optimistic of emerging as the Presidential Candidate as Amaechi, the former Transport minister and Osin bajo, are banking on the support of the President and the cabal in the north to create a major upset in the APC primaries.