The moves by the South West elders to come up with a consensus presidential aspirant for the region seem to have hit the rock as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, are said to be adamant, Daily Trust gathered from credible sources.
Political leaders from the South West geopolitical zone on Sunday continued with their moves to present a common front ahead of the presidential primary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) slated for Tuesday.
Promoters of the consensus move in the South West including former APC Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, and former Ogun State Governor, Olusegun Osoba, had met with the aspirants at the residence of Chief Osoba.
The meeting, which was attended by the aspirants from the South West, governors and elders of the region ended without them reaching a consensus.
The duo of Akande and Osoba had last month met with the aspirants in Lagos, where it was agreed that they should conduct their electioneering campaigns devoid of hostility, free of rancour and in an amicable manner.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Saturday urged presidential aspirants of the APC to consult, build consensus and come up with a formidable candidate ahead of the party’s presidential primary. The directive of the president came around the same time when northern governors asked him to source for his successor from the southern part of the country.
The President’s consultations continued yesterday with the National Advisory Council of the party.
The meeting, held at the State House, Abuja, was attended by Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, Akande, his successor, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, National Secretary, Senator Iyiola Omisore, and some governors including those of Borno, Babagana Zulum; Plateau, Simon Lalong; Zamfara, Bello Matawalle and David Umahi of Ebonyi State.
In a statement last night by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, Buhari had appraised the series of consultations held so far towards getting a widely acceptable presidential standard bearer and said they were on the way towards winning their third straight victory since 2015.
The president said, “I am optimistic that the outcome of this consultation with the National Advisory Council will in addition to sharpening our focus, help to fortify the positive democratic principles, practices and culture that already exists within the party system.
“In the course of these consultative processes, I have already met separately with the Progressive Governors and with all our eminent members who are aspiring to become the presidential flag bearer for our party during the 2023 elections.
“I am pleased to inform you that those meetings have been fruitful and indicative of a party that is prepared and marching towards a third straight victory since 2015, at the presidential polls.”
Daily Trust learnt that the meeting was convened to consider the possibility of coming up with a consensus presidential candidate among the 23 aspirants.
Multiple sources told our correspondents that while the meeting was ongoing yesterday, the duo of Osinbajo and Tinubu were not ready to shift grounds as they have continued to intensify their consultations and engagements with delegates.
The aspirants from the South West region include Osinbajo, Tinubu, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, Ogun State Governor, Chief Dapo Abiodun, Senator Robert Ajayi Boroffice and Pastor Tunde Bakare.
Sources said while some of the aspirants were ready to shift grounds, Osinbajo and Asiwaju are not.
“We expect both Asiwaju and VP to slug it out as efforts to persuade one of them to step down have not yielded results as of now,” a source who does not want to be named, hinted.
The duo of Akande and Osoba, who have been making efforts to arrive at a consensus among aspirants from the South West, have rejected several efforts to comment on the move.
The Director of Media & Communications, Tinubu Campaign Organisation, Bayo Onanuga, said the party is looking forward to a free and fair contest at the convention.
“We are going into the convention for a free and fair contest. Everybody is looking out for a delegates’ election,” he said.
Protest in North, jubilation in South over govs position
Mixed reactions have continued to trail the statement of the northern governors across the country. While they are being applauded in the South, their action is receiving condemnation in some quotas in the North.
The leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide yesterday said that the accord to cede the presidential ticket to the southern region by the ruling party was a true demonstration that the party had the concept of national unity than the PDP.
The apex socio-cultural group, however, reminded the leadership of APC, Mr President and the stakeholders of the need to choose the presidential aspirants of Igbo extraction, noting that one of their sons in the person of the former Minister for Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, was the first to conceive and bear what today is known and called APC.
Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro made this known while briefing journalists at the end of their meeting held in Abakaliki on Sunday.
“We shall forever be grateful as said earlier to Mr President and the northern governors including the leadership of the party for yielding to their voices of Nigerians,” he said.
However, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) expressed displeasure with the northern governors, describing what they did as treacherous.
The group’s spokesperson, Abdul-aziz Suleiman, in a statement, said the decision was also clearly a brazen breach of the standard democratic practice by what he called “The selfish northern governors who see power as an end in itself.”
He said, “For the APC governors from the North to take such a weighty decision at the expense of the collective interest and future of the North, amounts to arbitrary treachery and blatant abuse of privilege.
“The move, aimed mainly at serving the vice-presidential ambitions of the state governors, without minding its unforeseen consequences on the future of the larger population of the North, is not only undemocratic but a betrayal of the region’s past leaders who toiled and paid with their lives to ensure a strong, prosperous region,” he said.
Similarly, a coalition of northern youth groups under the APC has disagreed with the decision of the governors, insisting that the presidency should be retained in their zone.
The youth groups, APC Progressives Youth Elements and North-East Youth Forum of APC, staged protests carrying placards with inscriptions such as: “It’s North or Nothing”, “We are not in support of power shift to South”, “We will not accept the decision of eleven governors”, “It’s in their selfish interest”.
The President of APC Progressives Youth Elements, Alamin Bala Mai’auduga, said that it’s not time for the South to rule the country.
On his part, the leader of the APC North East Youth Forum, Ibrahim Hashim Abdullahi alleged that the governors opted for such an option so that one of them would benefit from being picked as vice president.
In Kano, the concerned APC Youth Group, also staged a peaceful protest condemning the governors’ decision.
Buhari’s consensus request supersedes other decisions – Lawan
Senate President Ahmad Lawan has said that the request by President Buhari that all aspirants should consult among themselves and come up with a formidable candidate supersedes any other decision.
Speaking through Iyke Ekeoma, the spokesperson for Ahmad Lawan Campaign Organisation, the Senate President said until the aspirants reached a consensus, he will remain in the race.
Iyke Ekeoma said: “The statement by President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday urging all the party’s presidential aspirants to consult, build consensus and come up with a formidable candidate suffices and supersedes any other decision.
“It is not a question of whether one person is withdrawing from the race or not. It is up to the aspirants to build consensus among them as requested by the president until that happens.”
Kwara, Yobe govs’ missing in power shift statement
Daily Trust reports that questions are still being asked on why Governors Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State and Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State did not append their signatures alongside their northern colleagues on the need to move power to the southern part of Nigeria.
Efforts to speak with Kwara’s Abdulrazaq on why he did not sign the statement issued by his colleagues on the southern presidency yielded no result as there was no response to calls and text messages sent to him.
However, his aide on Political Communication, Bashiru Adigun, explained that the governor was not part of the signatories because he was at a wedding function.
“The governor was at a different occasion, he was at his niece’s wedding in Abuja along with the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello.
“He was there along with many chieftains of the party. That was why he was not part of the signatories. There is nothing to it,” Adigun added.
It was also gathered that the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni was not part of it because the president and the party have not taken a position on zoning.
A source close to him said it was the agenda of the 11 governors and not that of the party.
“Secondly, he has been in the forefront of Lawan’s ambition and it would not be good for him to abandon the Senate President overnight,” a source close to the Yobe governor, said.
By Ismail Mudashir, Abdullateef Salau, Muideen Olaniyi (Abuja), Abiodun Alade (Lagos), Mumini AbdulKareem (Ilorin), Nabob Ogbonna (Abakaliki), Abubakar Sadiq Mohammed (Zaria), Ahmed Mohammed (Bauchi) & Salim Umar Ibrahim (Kano)