Aspirants’ lobby intensifies in APC, PDP one week to primaries

• Move to adopt Udom as PDP consensus candidate builds up
• Wike blasts Atiku, other aspirants for betraying PDP in 2015
• S’West PDP to speak with one voice at convention, say Makinde, Fayose
• Badaru withdraws aspiration to back Amaechi
• Senate President begins consultations with delegates in Katsina
• Buratai drums support for Amaechi

From next week, all attention will be on Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), as the country’s two major parties – All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – prepare to hold their national convention.

While the two-day presidential primary of the PDP begins on Saturday, May 28, the ruling APC will start its own exercise the day after, on May 29, all in the bid to conclude the processes, including appeal by aggrieved aspirants before the deadline for submission of candidates for all offices to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Already, about 40 aspirants of both major parties are rounding off their nationwide tour and intensification of efforts to capture majority of the voting delegates in the bid to nick the presidential tickets of either the APC or PDP.

They have been selling their credentials and pushing to have the support of enough delegates to become their party’s flag bearer amid talks that either of the parties may yet adopt the consensus option.

In the PDP, the aspirants have expressed hopes that from their interactions with delegates, they are the preferred choice of most voters.

However, many presidential hopefuls have indicated that they will abide by the decision of the party, including a consensus that is based on equity, justice and fairness.

The governors among presidential aspirants are tightening their grips on their state delegates, while the non-PDP states have become the battleground as aspirants scramble to make inroads in such states.

According to a source, in the PDP, “without a governor to determine how state delegates should vote, it is easier for aspirants to break into the states that are not controlled by PDP. Such state delegates will be the ones to determine who becomes the presidential candidate.”

While some PDP governors not in the race for the ticket are rooting for their colleagues, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has secured the endorsement of the Inter-Party Presidential Consensus Forum (IPCF), which has called for him to be considered as the consensus candidate of the PDP.

The group has also called on other aspirants from the North to jettison their ambitions for a Southerner to emerge in the interest of national peace, justice, equity and fairness.

According to the National Coordinator of the group, Abubakar Danladi, there is a widespread preference for the governor judging by the outcome of the nationwide consultations he has held.

He said in a statement yesterday: “We have conducted a series of surveys and reviews among Nigerians with Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and the result shows that most Nigerians support for a younger leader, as well as, power shift to the Southern parts of the country, citing national peace, equity, justice and rapid development as major reasons.”

Facts emerged yesterday that some influential statutory delegates have intensified pressure on other stakeholders for the adoption of Udom as the consensus candidate.

The pressure by pro-Udom delegates, it was learnt, was fuelled by last week’s adoption of consensus by PDP’s National Executive Committee (NEC) as one of the options for the selection of its candidate for the 2023 presidential election.

It was gathered that the lobby for Udom was boosted on Wednesday night at the meeting of PDP governors in Abuja with no fewer than seven out of the 13 PDP governors said to be disposed to discussions in Udom’s favour.

A source at the meeting hinted that the seven governors, who are not in the presidential contest, were disposed to having the Akwa-Ibom governor as consensus candidate because of the conviction that the choice of Udom would douse the tension that has arisen from the South/North contest for the presidency as he is said to be amenable to both sides.

While only four out of the 13 PDP governors are contesting the presidency, no Southeast governor from the PDP is in the race.

The governors are also insisting that the party should draw its presidential candidate from its fold, a position that has gained traction due to the high influence governors exert in the control of delegates to the presidential primary.

Speaking on the development, a top national official of the PDP, who pleaded anonymity, hinted that there might be surprises ahead of the primary, averring that the odds may favour Udom Emmanuel under the consensus arrangement.

Rivers State governor and a presidential aspirant, Nyesom Wike, has berated some PDP aspirants for betraying the party in 2015, saying they do not deserve the party’s presidential ticket for 2023.

Wike, who alluded to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki and governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, said some aspirants in the PDP caused disunity in the party in 2015, formed the new-PDP and sold out the party’s goodwill and electoral opportunities.

He spoke when he met Oyo PDP leaders and delegates in Ibadan, yesterday, to solicit support ahead of the party’s presidential primary. Oyo governor, Seyi Makinde, assured Wike of the support of Oyo and Southwest geopolitical zone.

Wike said: “The issue is, who are those who made PDP to lose election in 2015 that today we are suffering? Today, we are in opposition and trying to take power back.

“But see what the country has been turned into. Who are those who told Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari is a saint, that President Buhari will salvage Nigeria? What is their sense of judgment? Who are those aspirants who abandoned PDP, betrayed PDP and went to support President Buhari?”

He, however, promised that he would never leave the party even if he did not win the presidential ticket, maintaining that he will continue to work for PDP.

Also in Ibadan, former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, yesterday, said Southwest delegates would speak with one voice at the convention. Fayose, himself a presidential aspirant, expressed optimism that delegates from the Southwest would go to the convention with 85 per cent of their votes in one place.

Chairman of the PDP National Convention Organising Committee, Senator David Mark, has urged party faithful across the country to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship in the conduct of the exercise.

In a statement issued by his media aide, Paul Mumeh, ahead of the party primaries, which begin with election of candidates for the state Houses of Assembly seats this Saturday, the former Senate President urged party men and women to comply with the rules of the game.

Mark counselled delegates to the congresses and convention to consider the integrity and past accomplishments of aspirants to make informed choices of candidates for the elections.

He cautioned against politics of acrimony, bitterness or violence saying, “see politics as a sporting competition. If you don’t win today, you can win tomorrow.”

IN the APC, Jigawa State governor and presidential aspirant, Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar, has dropped his ambition to back former Minister of Transport, Chief Rotimi Amaechi. The governor made the disclosure on Wednesday while receiving the former minister.

According to Badaru, he will not contest against his friend. “I repeat I will not contest against my friend and brother,” he said.

He added that they are both sons of ‘Baba Buhari’. “We are brothers who share same mission and cannot in any way run against each other.”

Speaking earlier, Amaechi appealed to the APC delegates to vote for him because of his competence and pan-Nigerian outlook.

He was accompanied on the visit by a large crowd of followers, including a former Chief of Army Staff and Nigerian Ambassador to Benin Republic, Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, and a former Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, among others.

Buratai, yesterday, endorsed the former Minister, stating that his loyalty and love for Nigeria and humanity is unmatched.

Gen. Buratai gave this endorsement at a parley with delegates of the APC in Bauchi State on Wednesday night, when he and other dignitaries accompanied the presidential hopeful to solicit delegates’ support in Bauchi ahead of the party’s primaries.

Burutai stated that he was spurred to give his support to Amaechi due to his outstanding profile and vast experience in governance.

Addressing the delegates, Amaechi said he is the only aspirant in the party with impressive records that would defeat the opposition party. He urged the delegates to vote for him for the overall benefit of all Nigerians.

“This is the moment of decision. For 22 years, I have held public office, as Speaker, as Governor and as Minister. And in all of these, you will see my footprint. There’s a railway construction going on from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri. It includes Bauchi and it’s called the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway. If you vote for me, that project will be completed and it will create employment. So, vote for me, make me the candidate of the party,” he said.

SENATE President and another presidential aspirant on APC platform, Ahmed Lawan, yesterday, stormed Katsina State to meet with delegates. Yesterday’s outing was Lawan’s first meeting with delegates in the country since he declared interest in aspiring for the highest position in the country.

The Senate President, who arrived the state at about 11:00a.m. could not meet with the delegates as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was also scheduled to meet with the delegates by 1:00p.m. He, however, decided to defer meeting with the delegates till the Vice President had first met with them.

It was later learnt that there was a cancellation of Osinbajo’s flight, a situation that allowed the Senate President to meet with the delegates at the President’s home state. The VP is scheduled to visit the state tomorrow.

Speaking, Lawan said he decided to come first to Katsina and meet with delegates before going to other states due to the important role the governor, Aminu Masari, played in his political journey.

According to him, he had known Masari for 23 years right from their days at the National Assembly, and had been mentored by him, giving him direction on how to wade through the nation’s political waters.

Lawan said if given opportunity to lead the country, his focus would be on security, how to address the challenges posed by terrorists in the Northwest and Northeast.

He lamented that the North is faced with security challenges, adding that the region used to be the most peaceful and was producing most of the agricultural needs of the country.


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