Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
As the submission of completed expression of interest and nomination forms for aspirants seeking the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) closed wednesday, President Muhammadu Buhari was the only presidential aspirant who collected and submitted the nomination forms.
Consequently, he has emerged unopposed in his bid for a second term of office on the platform of the party.
He would, however, undergo other processes before he would be formally pronounced the presidential candidate of the APC for next year’s election.
According to the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, an unopposed aspirant would have to face a special convention or congress of his party to affirm his candidature.
Specifically, Section 87 (6) of the Electoral Act says, “Where there is only one aspirant in a political party for any of the elective positions mentioned in paragraph (4) (a) (b) (c) and (d), the Party shall convene a special convention or congress at a designated Centre on a specified date for the confirmation of such aspirant and the name of the aspirant shall be forwarded to the Commission as the Candidate of the Party.” The party had in memo stated its clear intention to comply with this provision of the electoral act in a clarification he sent to its state branches on Tuesday, urging full compliance so that any victory obtained at the polls would not be susceptible to being successfully challenged at election petition tribunals.
What this means is that even though Buhari may have technically clinched the presidential ticket of the APC, he still has to face the process of ratification through the direct primary approved by the National Executive Committee some weeks ago.
The president had yesterday submitted his forms to the National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, at the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja.
Before the arrival of the president at the party secretariat, armed security men, comprising the police, Directorate of State Services (DSS), officials of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and the Nigerian Security Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), had cordoned off all the streets leading to the national secretariat of the party.
The president, who arrived at 3.44 pm, spent about 30 minutes with the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) led by Oshiomhole, during which he submitted his form.
Journalists were literally prevented from having a view of the president and his entourage as they entered the NEC Hall of the APC to submit the nomination form.
Journalists covering the APC national chairman were almost held hostage in the media centre throughout the duration of the president’s stay.
Only reporters attached to the Presidential Villa who came with him were allowed to cover the event.
The president’s visit also grounded activities at the party office for several hours as security operatives kept vigil around the secretariat preventing normal movement of people.
Even aspirants of the party coming to submit their nomination forms were not allowed access until the president’s departure.
Buhari had on Tuesday received the nomination forms for presidential ticket of the APC from a group known as Nigeria Consolidation Ambassadors Network (NCAN) at the State House.
The purchase of the nomination forms by the group at a whooping N45.5 million generated concerns by the media and the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which criticised the action.
APC, however, defended the president saying that no law was violated; adding that funds for the president’s nomination forms were raised by supporters who want him back in office at 2019 general elections.