Few days to the all-important Special Convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to elect its presidential candidate, confusion and anxiety has continued to reign supreme both in the camps of the aspirants and the national secretariat of the party.
The apprehension is not unconnected with the recent report the presidential screening committee submitted to the party’s national leadership on Friday, which disqualified no fewer than 10 of the aspirants, clearing 13 out of the 23 that purchased the party’s N100 million expression of interest and nomination forms. Fresh facts however emerged within the week that 17 of the Progressive governors have agreed to support whoever preferred aspirant President Buhari presents.
Saturday Sun further gathered that two governors from North West rejected the idea of President Buhari picking one aspirant for endorsement outright, even as two South West governors and one other from the North West are sitting on the fence on the matter.
Our sources also disclosed that there is a 50-50 chance that the three governors who are neutral now may go either way, adding: “It is expected that by Sunday, the preferred aspirant would be unveiled to the governors, ahead of the Monday, June 6, 2022 special national convention.”
Although the party had commenced activities for the conduct of the presidential primary activities scheduled to hold between Monday to Wednesday, with the composition of various committees, the aspirants have been in the dark over how the candidate of the party will emerge.
However, while the permutations have continued to favour one aspirant or the other, the recent appeal from President Muhammadu Buhari to the Progressive Governors to allow him anoint the party’s candidate contributed in escalating the apprehension of the aspirants.
In fact, the appeal from President Buhari was yet to sink well in the minds of many of the aspirants when the John Odigie-Oyegun-led screening committee released the satanic report, disqualifying former President Goodluck Jonathan on the grounds that he did not appear before it for screening, among nine others whose identities were yet to be revealed.
Speaking during a meeting with members of Progressive Governors Forum in Abuja, President Buhari had told them that he would want to pick his successor, urging the governors to give him their support.
Expectedly, the appeal from the President, the disagreement over zoning and consensus have sharply divided the ranks of the governors, with 17 of them backing Buhari on his preferred aspirant.
A top source close to the governors told Saturday Sun that the those proposing zoning had insisted that if the ticket must be zoned to the North, then it must be micro-zoned to the North East, or to the South East if it must be zoned to the South, hinging the choice of the two zones on fairness and equity since they have not produced president in the past.
Although Odigie-Oyegun did not reveal the identity of the disqualified aspirants, there are strong indications that the committee laid emphasis on the agility, capability and age of the aspirants.
Speaking while submitting the report, Oyegun said: “Every single aspirant that presented himself qualified because it was basis and simple. But we are the governing party and we are keen on continuing the process of replacing, at proper time, our president with another member of the party and so the ability to lead, your background, your experience, your understanding of the Nigerian situation, your ideas as to how issues, difficulties and the rest can be addressed and how the country can move forward to begin a critical consideration.
“It is on that basis we made our final shortlist. I don’t want to read the names, I think I would leave that to you (Chairman), but we have a shortlist which brought the number severely down to 13. We could have cut it a little shorter, but we wanted deliberately the younger elements to surface for them to be seen, for them to be noticed and no noise. We would hand them over to the party and it is for the party to decide whom their candidate will be.
Speaking further, Oyegun said: “One thing I have to emphasize is: we engage every aspirant on the issue of consensus and it was a pleasant surprise that 99 per cent agreed that the party is supreme and whatever the party finally decides with proper consultations, they were likely to accept.”
Asked whether former President Jonathan appeared before his committee, he said: “No, Jonathan did not appear.”
Responding, the party’s national chairman, Adamu, warned the aspirants that the decision of the party is very supreme, urging them to abide by whatever outcome.
Curiously, protesters, seeking one form of attention or the other from the national leadership of the party, held the national secretariat of the ruling party, in Abuja, in the early hours of Friday, practically to a standstill.
Although former President Jonathan was technically missing in the list of the aspirants cleared, the protesters under the platform of Goodluck Jonathan Support Group had stormed the party’s national secretariat, drumming and dancing for hours. While the pro-Jonathan protesters were still disrupting activities, another group of protesters from Abia State had joined them to inform the leadership that they were not in support of the primaries conducted in the state that produced some of the candidates of the party for next year’s elections.
Complicating the situation, a colony of Persons Living with Disability equally arrived the secretariat to drum support for the presidential aspiration of the governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello.
While the protest lasted, vehicular and human movement was grounded, making impossible for those on genuine mission at the secretariat to gain entrance.
Earlier around 10.30am, the leadership of the party had beefed up security, deploying more police and other security personnel in anticipation of a possible breakdown of law and order in the secretariat.