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• Southeast APC aspirants agree on regional consensus pick • Ohanaeze woos APC, PDP delegates to vote Igbo aspirant • Bankole canvasses ‘modified consensus’ for APC • Zulum: Buhari sole determinant of APC presidential candidate • Ganduje assures Lawan of ‘full cooperation’ over presidential bid • Anxiety as APC shifts screening for presidential aspirants • Extending primaries’ deadline will have dire consequences, INEC warns • PDP links Buhari’s delay in signing amendment Bill to alleged tenure elongation plot

As political parties enter the decision week where delegates will determine flag bearers for the 2023 general elections, some presidential aspirants – in both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – are set to stand down, considering the last minute political tinkering.

The PDP and APC will hold their national conventions to nominate their presidential candidates in Abuja on May 29 and 30 respectively. The PDP has 15 aspirants left in the race after disqualifying two of the 17 that purchased its expression of interest and nomination forms, while the APC is set to screen 24 aspirants.

Days after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo hinted during an interaction with Osun State APC delegates that Southwest leaders and elders would soon reach a consensus on producing a presidential aspirant for the zone, APC presidential aspirants of Igbo origin, yesterday, rose from a meeting with a resolution to support anyone among them that clinches the party’s ticket as a consensus aspirant.

The aspirants, including Senator Rochas Okorocha, Senator Ken Nnamani, former Minister of Education (state), Emeka Nwajiuba; former Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu and Mrs. Uju Ken-Ohanenye, met behind closed door at the Maitama home of Okorocha.

Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi, joined the meeting virtually, after he had to cut short his visit to Abuja to get relevant documents for his screening in Abakaliki. The meeting was chaired by Onu.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting and read by Nnamani, the aspirants agreed to align with the decision of the party, which they said, would do the right thing and heed the clamour for power shift to the Southeast.

In the communiqué jointly signed by the aspirants, they commended APC leadership and the Southeast people “for commitment to the unity of Nigeria and the inclusion of all parts of Nigeria in the governance architecture of the country.

“That we commend all Nigerians, who are committed to the Nigerian project by the whole hearted support for the aspiration of the Southeast to produce the next Nigerian president in 2023; that in furtherance of these commitment, all aspirants here commit to align with any of the Southeast aspirant that is accepted by and chosen by other Nigerians to fly the APC flag.”

Igbo apex cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, also yesterday, urged delegates from APC and PDP to put Nigeria’s unity first by voting Igbo presidential aspirant during their forthcoming national delegates conference.

In a statement in Abakaliki, the Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, insisted that only the Nigerian president of Igbo stock in 2023 from the seven Igbo speaking states, including Anioma in Delta and Ikwerre in Rivers, will be acceptable.

He maintained that the emergence of another Northern presidency after President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023, will spell doom and may reinforce secessionist campaign for Biafra’s restoration.

“We ought to have learned from the use of Boko Haram as a political spear for seizing power in 2015. Never in the history of our country has a particular region produced a presidential candidate and National Chairman at the same time, it will be absolute insanity for PDP National Chair, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu and APC’s Senator Abdullahi Adamu to plot for Northern presidential candidates, as it will spell doom for Nigeria.

“This is the last deciding chance to preserve and defend Nigeria’s unity and peace, APC and PDP national delegates should place patriotism above nepotism and save democracy,” the statement stated.

FORMER Speaker of the House of Representatives and APC presidential aspirant, Dimeji Bankole, has called for the adoption of “modified consensus” as the preferred method for the emergence of the party’s presidential candidate on Sunday.

Speaking with newsmen yesterday in Abuja, the aspirant averred that “modified consensus” was the best approach and least costly option for the emergence of the party’s flag bearer.

According to Bankole, the modified consensus option will see the leadership of the party engage with the various interest groups in the contest to ensure a hitch-free nomination process.

“Consensus is not the same thing as imposition,” Bankole declared, noting that the current opposition to the consensus arrangement in some quarters may be because “consensus is being erroneously equated with imposition.”

Drawing on history, the former Speaker noted: “The emergence of APC itself was a product of consensus, at critical points in the history of Nigeria, consensus had been used to break political logjams.”

He cited, in particular, the adoption of the ‘Doctrine of necessity’ during the illness of late President Umar Yar’Adua as a perfect example of the consensus option. He also added that the consensus option was adopted in the emergence of Adamu as APC chairman.

GIVING an insight into what to expect this weekend, Borno State governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, has enthused that irrespective of competence of the APC presidential aspirants and the strength of their manifestos, the anointed candidate of President Buhari will most likely fly the party’s flag next February.

Zulum made this disclosure, yesterday, in Maiduguri while receiving the campaign team of Rotimi Ameachi, which was led by the aspirant’s campaign Director General, Ali Ndume, and members of the campaign team in a meeting with delegates and members of the APC.

The governor said Borno delegates have no preferred aspirant at the moment but they will vote for a credible candidate based on the preference of the President and their convictions.

“Borno delegates will vote based on their conscience. But again, our leader, President Buhari, is very important in this political equation. We are still waiting for him to tell us what to do and we will follow. His advice is very important so we have to wait for his advice.

“Nigerians should pray for a good candidate to emerge irrespective of tribe, region or ethnic background but a candidate that will ensure the APC forms the central government come 2023,” Zulum remarked.

HOWEVER, the governor of Kano State, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, has assured the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, of “full cooperation” over his ambition to stand as the APC flag bearer.

According to a statement by Senator Lawan’s Presidential Campaign Organisation, Ganduje gave the assurance on Saturday night while the Senate President was on a visit to see party delegates in Kano ahead of the upcoming primaries. The governor described Kano as a swing state in party primaries and even in presidential elections and declared that Kano would swing when it is ready to swing.

Lawan, in his remarks, said he was still in the presidential race, dismissing claims that he has withdrawn to pursue another term in the Senate. He encouraged his supporters not to entertain fear, saying he was working tirelessly to emerge as the APC presidential candidate.

The Senate President described as mischief, report that he has withdrawn from the race. Lawan said that those who planted the report were jittery of his political popularity, regional acceptance and dominance in political space, hence they cooked the fake report to create confusion.

MEANWHILE, there is anxiety among the APC ranks over the decision by the Adamu-led National Working Committee (NWC) to keep to its chest members of the presidential screening committee. The Guardian learnt that the party would inaugurate the screening committee in Abuja today.

No fewer than 20 of the 28 presidential aspirants that filled the N100 million expression of interest and nomination forms are billed to be screened either today or tomorrow.

At the centre of the anxiety is the issue revolving around whether the party will settle for a consensus arrangement or the indirect primary mode sanctioned by the party constitution.

There are also fears that some of the aspirants might be left in the lurch if the party hierarchy decides to open up on its zoning arrangement.

Key stakeholders contend that the party is left with no option than to zone the exalted seat of the presidency to the Southern part of the country after the tenure of President Buhari.

President Buhari’s silence on his preferred candidate has further heightened apprehension among the ranks of the party. It, however, emerged last night that the screening exercise for APC presidential aspirants has been shifted beyond Monday May 23. Spokesperson of the party, Mr Felix Morka, in a terse statement, said a new date for the exercise will be announced soon.

No reason was offered for the sudden change of the date of the exercise, just as the party noted that any inconvenience caused by those affected was deeply regretted.

REITERATING its note of warning, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the extension being sought by parties for primaries, if granted, would disrupt the planning template for the 2023 general election with dire consequences.

The Commission insisted that it has given enough time for parties to conduct primaries to select their candidates for the polls.

INEC was reacting to a claim by a chieftain of the APC, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, who had accused the Commission of endangering the conduct of the general elections with what he alleged to be its “plots and partisan interests.”

Olawepo-Hashim had also warned of looming danger from the “tight INEC schedule of primaries imposed on political parties in the country.”

According to him, INEC’s schedule “has been influenced purely by a section of the political elite who have positioned themselves to benefit from this INEC calendar.”

He argued that it is not the business of INEC to fix dates of primaries in as much as the primaries are conducted 180 days before the election in accordance with the provision of extant law.

But responding, Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, on Sunday, said the extant laws gave INEC power, as a regulator of political parties, to determine when party primaries should hold.

According to Oyekanmi, the extension being sought by parties, if granted, would disrupt the planning template for the 2023 general election with dire consequences.

He said: “The timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 General Election was released as far back as February this year, one full year ahead of the election. The conduct of primaries was fixed for April 4 to June 3, 2022.

“The extant laws, indeed, give INEC the power, as a regulator of political parties, to determine when party primaries should take place, contrary to the gentleman’s view. It is quite obvious that he has not read the Electoral Act, which is quite disappointing.

“The INEC Chairman had, on at least three occasions, urged the political parties to conduct their primaries within the stipulated timeline, as no extension will be entertained.

“Why is it that the parties cannot conduct their primaries within two months (April and May)? Interestingly, none of them complained about the timeline for party primaries when the timetable was released in February. Why now?”

Special Assistant to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Muhammed Kuna, said contrary to Olawepo-Hashim’s assumptions, the timetable for the primaries was carefully deliberated upon in the Commission with the full knowledge of the various critical activities INEC had to conduct before the general elections.

According to Kuna, these include the printing and display of the list of nominated candidates, printing of results sheets, movement of ballot papers among other activities.

“Just imagine the number of candidates and pages that have to be printed for each candidate for all 18 parties, for all constituencies for the election (executive and legislative at Federal and State levels); the printing of ballot papers (for all registered voters for all constituencies (one presidential, 109 Senatorial, 360 Federal Constituencies, 28×2 Governorship and Deputy Governorship; and 993 State constituencies); the printing of results sheets and the movement of ballot papers, results sheets and related election materials and personnel to location,” he stated.

Kuna added that timeline for the primaries was fixed to enable the completion of these and related critical tasks that cannot begin until parties submit their nominees.

THE PDP, in its reaction, alleged that the delay by President Buhari in signing the amendment made to the Electoral Act to allow statutory delegates to vote in the primaries is part of a plot to derail the electoral process and achieve an illegal elongation of the tenure of the present administration.

The party also alerted Nigerians of the plot by the APC to use orchestrated insecurity and political uncertainty to derail the electoral process, stall the 2023 general election and create a situation to justify a tenure elongation.

In a statement by its national publicity secretary, Debo Ologunagba, the opposition party claimed that desperate APC leaders are behind the delay by President Buhari in signing the amendment to the Electoral Act 2022 so as to frustrate the smooth conduct of primaries by political parties and derail the entire electoral process.


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The Presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and former Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, together with a former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, on Friday paid a visit to the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike in Port Harcourt.

Though the reason for their meeting is yet to be known, there are speculations that it is connected to the 2023 presidency and also on the forthcoming general elections.

SaharaReporters earlier reported that the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party and former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, also met with Wike, behind closed doors in Port-Harcourt.

Both men, however, did not speak on the purpose of the meeting, as journalists were not granted access.

Obi’s visit comes four days after the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, also met with Governor Wike at about 9pm behind closed doors.


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Nollywood actress Tonto Dikeh

Nollywood actress Tonto Dikeh has announced that she is the running mate to the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) Rivers State, Tonte Ibraye for the 2023 election.

“I thank Mr. Tonte Ibraye the Governorship Candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) Rivers State for nominating me as his running mate,” Tonto Dikeh said in an Instagram post.

“We are looking forward to investing massively in social protection, creating a social value system for young people, increasing women’s inclusion in our governance system, supporting small businesses and strengthening our traditional institutions to be active players in the drive to bring sustainable development to the good people of Rivers State.

“I am glad to be a proud member of the #RiversRescueMission2023 Please get your PVC and join the movement. You are the Future and The future is now!TonteTonto2023.”

Ibraye won the ADC governorship ticket during the primary elections in early June.

The vice chairman of Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), Abuja chapter defeated Dr. Warmeth Wright and Joyce Barida in a primary election organised by the party in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.

Ibraye, an advocate for maternal, newborn, and child health, polled 187 votes out of 188 votes.

A representative of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Emmanuel Isong, who monitored the exercise, described it as free and fair.

Ibraye called for full implementation of the Electoral Act in all processes leading to the general election, especially the enforcement of the provision for electronic transmission of results during the poll.

Addressing the delegates, he said: “One thing I must tell you is that, you have made history today. It will no longer be business as usual.”

“I believe some of you are aware some people will contest and they go to the ruling party to endorse them. I must assure you that I will not use your votes to trade with anyone.”


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Peter Obi, a former Anambra State governor and LP presidential candidate and Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former Kano State governor and presidential candidate of the NNPP.

The joint panel set up by the Labour Party and the New Nigeria People’s Party to work out an alliance between Rabiu Kwankwaso and Mr Peter Obi has submitted its report for consideration, findings by Saturday PUNCH have revealed.

Kwankwaso, a former Kano State governor and presidential candidate of the NNPP, is said to have a strong followership in the North with his Kwankwasiyya movement, while Obi, a former Anambra State governor and LP presidential candidate, is having an increasing support base among youths in the southern part of the country and the social media.

While it is no longer possible for political parties to merge, in line with Section 81 (2) of the Electoral Act, both presidential candidates are working on a joint ticket with the hope of defeating the ruling All Progressives Congress, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and others in the February 25, 2023 presidential election.

The Section 81 (2) reads, “Political parties intending to merge shall each give to the commission nine months’ notice of their intention to do so before a general election.” Already, the 2023 general elections will commence on February 25, which is less than nine months away.

Kwankwaso in an interview about a week ago confirmed that a committee was set up to work on the alliance and that conversation was ongoing. He said, “We are in talks with Peter Obi and a committee is working to look into how to form a merger between us.

“The merger is important because as you can see, both the ruling All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party did not pick their running mates from the South-East.”

As the deadline for the substitution of candidates and running mates for the presidential and National Assembly candidates draws near, there is a mounting anxiety among the supporters of the two candidates over the progress made in the alliance talks.

Meanwhile, the running mate to Obi and director-general of his campaign organisation, Dr Doyin Okupe, confirmed to Saturday PUNCH that the panel had concluded its sitting and talks were ongoing on the way forward.

Okupe said, “A committee was set up before now and the committee has completed its work. There have been informal meetings and third party stakeholders interventions and we have had structured official meetings too.

“In all, we came to two agreements; one is that we are going to work together as political parties in order to achieve this change that we all desire. What we did not agree upon is who would be the president and who would be the vice-president. We didn’t agree on that. But we left it open.”

Asked if the parties would agree on the issue before the deadline for political parties to submit the names of their final running mates, Okupe said, “We are aware of the deadline, and we are working on it. When we adjourned our last meeting, we adjourned sine die. So, if there is a change, we will reconvene. But we are moving on. There is no problem. We have agreed to work together to create a platform for a national coalition, so that objective is still in place.”

Also, the National Chairman, NNPP, Prof Rufai Alkali, told Saturday PUNCH in an interview that the party was engaging with the people and getting support and solidarity from many places.

When asked who would become the candidate and running mate between Kwankwaso and Obi, Alkali said, “Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso is a seasoned politician and he knows the country very well. Certain decisions have to be taken at the appropriate time in a way and manner that would bring more strength and credibility to this journey.”

Asked if a decision had been reached on it, he said, “When we do, you will be among the first to know. No decision yet.”

About the panel’s report, he said, “I am not aware of anything and I am not going to comment on that.”

On the prospect of the NNPP in 2023, Alkali said, “I have been in other parties before the NNPP, and I must say it is amazing. We keep receiving calls from people that are likely to join us and we are making a lot of progress.”

Sources in both the NNPP and LP confirmed to Saturday PUNCH that an influential former President was among those being consulted on the issue.

Kwankwaso in Rivers

The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Friday received Kwankwaso in Port Harcourt, the state capital.

After losing the PDP presidential primary to Atiku Abubakar and the running mate slot to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, Wike, who is said to be aggrieved by the development, has continued to receive high-profile politicians, including Obi who visited him on Thursday.

Meanwhile, both of them were seen in front of the Wike’s residence exchanging pleasantries on Friday. This was about 24-hours after a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, as well as the senate minority caucus led by its leader, Philip Aduda.

The Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, also visited Wike on Wednesday, while Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State visited him earlier in the week.

It is believed that the visits have to do with the forthcoming presidential election. All the visits were followed by a closed-door meeting but the outcome had remained unknown.

…19 days to go

Meanwhile, the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections released by the Independent National Electoral Commission indicates that political parties have until July 15 to withdraw or replace their candidates and their running mates for the presidential and National Assembly elections.

By implication, the presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Obi of the Labour Party and other candidates who submitted interim names for running mates have about 19 days away to submit the final names.

Item six of the timetable read, “Last day for withdrawal by candidate(s)/replacement of withdrawn candidate(s) by political parties for the presidential and National Assembly (elections) is July 15, 2022, while for the governorship and state Houses of Assembly is August 12, 2022. Section 31 of the Electoral Act 2022 provides not later than 90 days to the election.”

The APC and its presidential candidate had been confronted with the possibility of a Muslim/Muslim ticket, given that Tinubu is a Muslim from a Christian-dominated South while his running mate is expected to come from the North, which is dominated by Muslims.

The Christian Association of Nigeria and other groups and individuals vehemently opposed a Muslim/Muslim or Christian/Christian presidential ticket, saying such would be insensitive and rejected by the people.

Voter registration extension

Amid the growing public clamour for the June 30 deadline for the continuous voter registration to be extended, INEC has said it is unable to extend the exercise for now because the matter is already subjudice.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project and 185 concerned Nigerians had filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Lagos asking the court for, among other things, an order of mandamus to direct and compel INEC to extend voter registration by a minimum of three months and take effective measures to ensure that eligible Nigerians are able to register to exercise their right to vote in the 2023 general elections.

Speaking on rumours that the commission had agreed to extend the exercise for 60 days in line with the request of the House of Representatives, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC National Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said the commission had not extended the June 30 deadline.

In a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, Oyekanmi said, “INEC has not extended the CVR deadline. What the commission did about two weeks ago when we noticed pressure in particular areas, namely the South-East states, Lagos, Kano, and the Federal Capital Territory, was to send additional 209 INEC Voter Enrollment Devices to those areas to ease the CVR procedure.

“The commission wanted to wait and assess the effect of that action to determine the next step, but that is by the way now because SERAP went to court and tried to stop us from stopping the CVR.

“What the court has said, as part of its order, is that we should not announce any date or end the CVR but come on June 29 to respond to issues raised in the suit filed by SERAP. So now, even if we want to extend, we cannot do anything until we have answered the court and responded robustly to the issues raised in the suit and that would be on June 29. So, we can’t take any action on the CVR until then.”

Also speaking on the issue, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said in an interview on Channels Television on Friday night that the chairman of the commission was disposed to extending the exercise.

He noted that the surge in the number of registrants lately had made the extension inevitable.

He added, “We are going before the Federal High Court on June 29 to put the cards on the table. We are convinced that after we make our arguments, the court will be convinced on the reason why we cannot extend the CVR beyond a certain period.

“But we are convinced, given the enthusiasm of Nigerians and the new resolve of Nigerians to register that an extension is inevitable and the commission is disposed towards extending the period for the CVR but not up to the period that some people are canvassing.”

He said it would be a futile exercise to extend the registration and be unable to print the permanent voter cards of those registered and get them to collect the cards and vote. “So, we are favourably disposed to an extension of the CVR,” he added.

‘Tinubu, best candidate’

The Asiwaju Tinubu Campaign Organisation has described the APC presidential candidate as the most successful leader among all the presidential candidates.

The Director-General of the organisation, Chief Adebayo Shittu, at a press conference in Ibadan on Friday, said apart from being a governor of Lagos State for eight years, Tinubu developed leaders who became vice-president,  governors, senators and many others even after leaving power almost 15 years ago.

According to him, governance is not strange to such a leader and getting competent hands to work with him will also not be an issue.

He added, “He turned Lagos State around when he was there. He raised the internally generated revenue of the state and despite that the then president, Olusegun Obasanjo, stopped allocation to the state for two years, the state did not suffer. That is the kind of person we need now.

Speaking about Tinubu’s running mate, Shittu stated that he would pick someone who would help him to win. He added, “We should not place too much emphasis on religion or ethnicity. If you board a plane now, you won’t ask them if the pilot is a Muslim or a Christian or the state of origin. What you would be concerned with is the competence and the experience of the pilot. So, we need to be concerned about competence and not religious beliefs.”

LP as alternative

A presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party in the recently held primaries, Sam Ohuabunwa, has said Obi has widened the options Nigerians could choose from in 2023.

In a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday, he said, “For a long time, it looked as if we had just two options, but now there seems to be the third option. That widens the democratic space and is giving relief to those who want alternatives.

“Though for now, it is too early to say or make any prediction, we are happy that there is a third option for Nigerians. The two parties are formidable and they cannot be glossed over easily.”

Ohuabunwa, who is the founder and former Chief Executive Officer of Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals and former president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, maintained that the APC and PDP presidential primaries were characterised by vote-buying.

“The monetisation of our politics is depressing because at both the APC and PDP primaries, everybody saw the impact of big money. If we thought it was just for the primaries of the leading parties, we also saw smaller parties complain about money and all that. If we leave the primaries and come to the general elections, we see the accusations going on in Ekiti (governorship elections). It is depressing for people like us.”


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