Presidential aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC) among them Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo; the party’s National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and others are to battle for 7,800 delegates to grab the party’s ticket for the 2023 general elections, Daily Trust reports.
Aside from the trio, five other aspirants; Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, business tycoon, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, a former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha and Ihechukwu Dallas Chima (IDC) have indicated interest in the race.
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The Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi is set to declare after the Ramadan fast as he has begun consultation ahead of his declaration. Also, a former Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, is planning to declare for the race.
The party had reportedly fixed May 30-31 for the conduct of its presidential primary election, where one of the aspirants would be elected to fly its flag for the 2023 presidential election.
Article 20 of the APC Constitution as amended this year, provided for the selection of candidates through consensus, direct or indirect primaries.
In December 2014, President Buhari emerged as the candidate of the party through indirect primaries conducted in Lagos.
He polled 3,430 votes to defeat the then Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso (974), former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (954), Rochas Okorocha (624) and the late Sam Nda-Isaiah who got 10 votes.
However, in 2018, while seeking his second term, the president emerged through direct primaries with all the members of the party in 774 LGAs of the country participating in the exercise. In October of the same year, the election was affirmed at the primaries held in Abuja.
Stakeholders rule out consensus option
Credible sources in the presidency said the moves by two of the aspirants and their supporters for the party’s candidate to emerge through consensus have been rejected.
A source around the president said that though nobody could read the president’s body language as to his preferred aspirant, he has told the contenders that they should woo the delegates ahead of the primaries.
“I think the issue of the consensus has been put aside. The aspirants have been advised to woo delegates ahead of the convention. For us to win the general election, we have to carry all members of the party along in the selection of our flag bearer,” he said.
Asked which mode would be adopted, he said, “The preference now is indirect. Recall that the president while rejecting the electoral act raised issues on direct primaries, saying it is cumbersome and expensive. Yes, he used to like it but now his preference is indirect.”
The National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, had recently said the party would pick either of the three options; direct, indirect and consensus to conduct its primaries.
Composition of delegates
The composition of the delegates, according to a document seen and analysed by this paper include the national chairman, one member of NEC from each state, serving and past presidents and vice presidents, serving and past governors and deputy, serving and past lawmakers (federal and states), past speakers, deputies, and principal officers of the state houses of assembly and past members of the National Working Committee (NWC).
Others are members of the State Working Committee (SWC); each state has 17; LGA chairmen and secretaries; three national delegates from each of the 774 local government areas and elected chairmen.
New electoral act may alter configuration
The controversy over Section 84 (12) of the newly amended Electoral Act is gathering momentum.
The section states that “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.”
While many states have asked their appointees to resign, ministers including Amaechi and others who have indicated interest in contesting elections are yet to leave.
Breakdown of delegates by geopolitical zones
A document obtained from the party leaders showed that a total of 7,800 delegates are going to participate in the selection of the presidential candidate of the ruling APC.
An analysis of the list of the delegates showed that the North West geopolitical zone, regarded as the votes bank of the APC topped the chat with 1, 924. Six out of the seven states in the zone are being governed by the APC. Sokoto is the lone PDP state in the zone.
Coming second is the South West geopolitical zone, where Tinubu, Osinbajo, Fayemi and Amosun hail from. The zone has 1,568 delegates. Oyo is the lone PDP state in the region.
The review of the document revealed that North Central came third with 1,278. The Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello hails from the geopolitical zone. Five out of the six states are APC states as only Benue is being governed by the PDP in North Central.
North East came fourth with 1, 212 delegates. Three of the six states of the geopolitical zone, Adamawa, Bauchi and Taraba are of the PDP. With 927 delegates, South South, where Amaechi hails from came fifth. Five of the six states in the oil-rich zone are of the PDP, making it penetrable to all the aspirants.
The geopolitical zone with the least delegates is South East with 838 delegates. Of the five states in the zone, APC and PDP have two states each while All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has one, Anambra State.
Daily Trust reports that 53 delegates are going to come from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Analysis of delegates based on states
Of the 36 states in the country, the ruling APC controls 22, PDP 13 and APGA one.
Our correspondent reports that aspirants, their foot soldiers and supporters are already lobbying governors and other stakeholders for support.
This is because governors will play a key role in determining the direction in which the delegates of their states will vote. This has been the tradition since the country returned to civilian rule in 1999.
Observers believe that the numerical strength of the regions in respect to delegates as well as the states therein would play a key role in determining who gets what among the various contenders.
While the position of some of the APC governors in respect to the presidential aspirants is clear, findings revealed that most of the contenders are pushing hard through other channels to get the buy-in of the delegates and other stakeholders.
Daily Trust reports that in states where the APC is an opposition like Bauchi, Benue, Sokoto and 11 others, the leaders of the party are being wooed by aspirants to get their votes.
Kano tops the chat with 465 delegates; then Katsina, 384, Borno, 324; Osun, 308; Lagos, 304, Oyo 292; Jigawa, 266; Niger, 251; Ogun, 248 and Nasarawa 245 delegates.
Further breakdown of the delegates showed that Abia has 154, Adamawa 184, Akwa Ibom 165, Anambra 163, Bauchi 202, Bayelsa 79, Benue 180, Cross River 194, Delta 170, Ebonyi 154, Edo 168, Ekiti 216, Enugu 131, Gombe 134, Imo 236, Kaduna 234 and Kebbi 213.
Others are Kogi 222, Kwara 195, Ondo 200, Plateau 185, Rivers 151, Sokoto 193, Taraba 146, Yobe 222, Zamfara 169 and FCT 53.
Odds favour Tinubu
An analysis of the document and sources revealed that odds favour the former Lagos State governor if the indirect primaries mode is adopted.
“We have the full support of the key states where most of the delegates are going to come from including Kano, Katsina, Borno, Lagos, Osun, Niger and Kwara states. We are good to go,” one of the sources said.
It was however gathered that the main challenge that may weigh down Tinubu’s aspiration is the issue of running mate.
“As a Muslim from the South West, it is expected that he would pick his running mate from the Christian community in the North,” another source said.
“But there are calls on him to look for his deputy from the core North and beyond that, he should pick a Muslim. I don’t know if this will work because the advocates of this move are citing the Abiola/Kingibe ticket in the 1990s. However, things have changed now.
“And the implication of the first option is that in the event the PDP picks its flag bearer from the North and the running mate from the South, they would give the APC a run for their money,” he said.
But a leader of the Osinbajo team said they have secured the backing of five state governors and are therefore unperturbed by the confidence in the Asiwaju camp.
“More (governors) would fall in when we get the endorsement of the president,” he said.
For Amaechi, sources said he is hopeful most of the people they defected to APC together from the PDP ahead of the 2015 elections would work for him.
VP, minister bank on Buhari’s ‘expected’ endorsement
Sources around the Osinbajo and Minister Amaechi said besides their personal effort of reaching out to delegates across the regions, they are also banking on the president’s endorsement to actualise their ambition.
Though the duo has commenced campaigns to woo delegates and other stakeholders of the party, one of the leaders in Amaechi’s campaign team told this paper that they are of the belief that the former Rivers State governor is the president’s candidate.
“Like the case of our national chairman, the president will endorse Amaechi before the primaries. Our presidential candidate will emerge through consensus. The president’s endorsement will be ratified during the primaries,” he told our correspondent.
However, when his attention was drawn to the push by the camp of Tinubu, he said, “If the consensus arrangement fails, then we will slug it out at the primaries’ venue.
“The delegates are Nigerians and our selling point is our experience. He is young and healthy and this can be attested to by all. He was a lawmaker, governor and now a minister. This is unlike the aspirant that believes it is his turn to become the president. God is the kingmaker and not him.”
Recalling the president’s statement on how age hinders his performance, the Amaechi’s lead foot soldier said; “Nigerians cannot afford to have an aged person as their leader.”
Similarly, the promoters of Osinbajo’s aspiration are also waiting for the president’s ‘endorsement.’ Villa sources said the delay in the declaration of the vice president until last week was a result of a lack of clarity in Buhari’s body language on the number two citizen’s ambition.
One of them said the president will soon throw his weight behind the aspiration of Osinbajo, saying the president has been very impressed with his conduct and commitment to his administration.
“Forget the glooming picture that mischief-makers are painting, the president is in support of the VP’s ambition. It is just a matter of time, everyone will fall in,” he said.
Party to release timetable Wednesday
Issues involving the party’s primaries will dominate Wednesday’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the party, Daily Trust learnt.
Party sources told Daily Trust that a draft timetable designed by the NWC for the primaries would be debated and approved at the NEC meeting.
It was further gathered that the mode to be adopted for the party’s primaries would also be discussed and adopted.
The National Secretary of the party, Senator Iyiola Omisore, had on Sunday placed an advertorial in newspapers, inviting NEC members to the Wednesday’s meeting.