By Suleiman Umru
Ahead of the ruling All Ruling Progressive Congress, APC, Peoples Democratic Party,PDP, and other registered Political parties upcoming primaries to select their Candidates for the offices of the President, governors and other various positions in the 2023, general elections, Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor and Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has read the riot act to theResident Electoral Commissioners and their staff across the country.
The INEC Chairman, at a meeting with the REC officials and other top officials of the electoral umpire at the Commission’s Headquarters was said to have urged them ‘’to remain unbiased, stressing that anyone found ‘’to be supporting any aspirant to emerge as the Candidate of any particular party stand the risk of being punished’’.
The ruling APC, National Executive Committee, NEC, headed by Abdullahi Adamu, a former governor of Nasarawa state and Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria, had fixed N100 million to buy the expression of interest and nominations at N50 million each.The party NEC, had set the expression of interest and nomination Forms for governorship aspirants at N50 million, Senate, N20 million, House of Representatives, N10 million and the House of Assembly N2,000 million.
The ruling APC, parades such multi- billionaire Presidential aspirants as Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and the party National Leader, Yemi Osinbanjo, a legal luminary and Nigerian Vice President, Engineer Dave Umahi, governor of the south east state of Eboyi as well as Senators Rochas Okorocha, a former governor of Imo state and Orji Uzor Kalu, a former governor of Abia state.
Also in the race on the ticket of the APC, is Rotimi Amaechi, minister of Transportation , believed to be anointed candidate of the the Katsina state born Nigerian President but Ali Ndume , Chairman of the Senate on Army, had said that masterminded the minister’s declaration of his Presidential bid for the 2023, general elections.
The Opposition, PDP, National Working Committee, NCW, headed by Iyorche Ayu, had fixed the cost of expression of interest form at N5 million and the nomination form at N35 milion, bringing the total cost of obtaining the party Presidential form at N40 million. For the governorship aspirants, expression of interest was put at N1 million and nomination form N20 million, , Senate, N3.3 million, , House of Representatives , N2.5 million but youthful aspirants between ages 25 and 35, for the various elective positions were said to have been given a 50% reduction as a way to encourage them to vie for elective positions on the platform of the party in the 2023 , general elections. This is an indications that the 2023, general elections is for the money bags.
The Opposition PDP, parades such political heavy weights and money bags as Ayim Pius Ayim, a former Secretary of Government of the Federation, during Goodluck Jonathan Administration, Peter Obi, a former governor of Aanmbra state and PDP Vice Presidential Candidate to Atiku Abuabakar, who had contested the 2019, Presidential elections but lost to President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, governor of the Caliphate state of Sokoto, Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers state, Bukola Saraki, a former governor of Kwara state and a one – time Senate President and Bala Muhammed, a former minister of Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and now governor of the north east state of Bauchi. Former Presient Jonathan had said IN an interview that Mohammed, the Bauchi state governor, who he had described as his on is the best person to rule Nigeria in these trying times.
The INEC, Chairman, may have known that in the APC and PDP, where the Presidential and governorship aspirants including aspirants for other elective positions have paid millions of naira non – refundable deposits,’’ to buy the form for the 2023 election primaries are very desperate and could go to any length to influence those selected toconduct the primaries of their respective parties and the INEC officials, to be declared winner warned the REC officials that anyone found hobnobbing with any aspirant for his own pecuniary gains would be’’punished’’.
Even Hajia Aisha Buhari, the Nigerian First Lady,had arranged a Ramadam dinner for the aspirants gunning for the Presidency of the country in the different political parties on Saturday April 23, 2022, to dialogue with them for peace to reign but that was how far she could go.
There are indications that 14 political parties have so far submitted their notices and schedule of primaries to the Commission based on released timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023, general election. The timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023, general elections was said to have been released a day after the 2022 Electoral Act passed by the National Assembly was signed into Law by the Katsina state born Nigerian President.
The Northern Elders Forum, NEF, the north-socio-cultural Organisation, may have known that the APC, may not likely field a northern Candidate for the 2023, general elections that it had shifted its interest to the Opposition PDP, to ensure that a northern Presidential Candidate emerges as the party Presidential Candidate.This is where Obi and Ayim, the two south east PDP, Presidential Aspirants and Wike, from the south –south geopolitical region may have problem, if the Party fails to zone the Position to the south.
Indeed, given the position of the north socio-cultural Oranisation that the Presidency should not leave the region, after a recent meeting with Ibrahim Babangida, a retired Army General and former Nigerian military President at his Minna hill top home, they were said to have thrown their weight on Saraki, the former Senate President and Mohammed, the Bauchi state governor as the two consensus Candidates of the PDP, from the north.
Ango Abdullahi, a Professor, and Chairman, NEF, may have spoken the mind of Babangida, when he urged the two aspirants ‘’to work together to make allowance for further consultations to foster understanding among themselves and the PDP Community to ensure a rancor free primaries in which all the eligible candidates are free to contest to come up with one consensus candidate’’.
Babangida, who could not hide his feelings, was said ‘’to have opted for inclusion and assigned with the responsibility ‘’to design the criteria and carry out the necessary consultations with elders across the three geopolitical regions in the north’’ to select a consensus Candidate for the north.
The NEF Chairman had said that arriving at the decision was an easy task. ‘’According to him Saraki, Mohammed, Tambuwal and Mohammed Hayatu-deen, the four Presidential aspirants from the northern part of the country on the ticket of the Opposition PDP, had presented themselves for the selection process which was narrowed down to the two Candidates that were approved as the north consensus candidates in the 2023, general elections on the ticket of the PDP.