The All Progressives Congress (APC) will today commence activities that will culminate in the nomination of its presidential candidate for the 2023 national elections. Adedayo Akinwale highlights the events leading to the special convention
On March 26, 2022, the former Governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu emerged as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) after President Muhammadu Buhari anointed him for the position. Adamu, a serving Senator at the time entered the race very late. Other frontline contestants were persuaded to withdraw their interest, making him the sole candidate, at the end of the day.
The decision of the president to back his candidacy forced other chairmanship aspirants to subsume their ambition due to the respect they have for the president. The chairmanship aspirants that stepped down for Senator Adamu were; former Governor of Nasarawa state,Senator Tanko Al-Makura, Senator George Akume, Senator Sani Musa, former Governor of Zamfara state, Abdulaziz Yari, Mallam Salihu Mustapha and Muhammed Etsu among others.
Few days after he assumed the leadership of the party, Adamu said he would commence the probe of the secretariat and directors of the party after the Transition Committee submits its report. He stated categorically that he would like to know the state of finances of the party.
Directors Ordered to Proceed on Compulsory Leave
Following the submission of the report by the Transition Committee, Adamu directed six directors of the party to proceed on compulsory leave with immediate effect.
The directive was in furtherance of the move by the National Working Committee (NWC) to reorganize the National Secretariat of the party.
Akwa Ibom Debacle
The State Congress of the APC held in October 2021 recognized Mr. Austin Ekanem as the winner and chairman of the Akwa Ibom APC State Executive. APC conducted state congresses across the country on October 16, 2021. In Akwa Ibom, the congress conducted by the seven-member Banki Sheriff-led Election Committee, dispatched by Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Committee, produced Ekanem as chairman, having won the exercise, polling 1,278 votes.
However, in April 2022, Adamu inaugurated Mr. Stephen Ntukekpo as chairman of the party in Akwa Ibom State in defiance to a Court of Appeal order, asking parties to maintain status quo.
Ntukepo is a member of a faction loyal to former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, while Ekanem belongs to the faction loyal to the National Secretary of the defunct Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Senator John Akpanudoedehe.
But, the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini warned INEC would not compromise its stance on the sanctity of the processes that birthed the Ekanem-led state executive of the party. One of the chieftains of the party in Akwa Ibom and former Petroleum Minister, Chief Don Etiebet alerted the National Secretariat of the APC to the dire consequences that the Akwa Ibom APC fiasco may bring on the entire structure of the party nationwide.
Invalid Delegates Lists
A former Minister of Petroleum and a chieftain of APC, Chief Don Etiebet warned that the party might end up not having a presidential candidate in the national 2023 elections if it allows unqualified delegates to vote in its primary.
Etiebet told journalists in Abuja that there was need for the NWC led by Adamu to address the issue of valid delegates list from Akwa Ibom.
He described the recently conducted governorship primaries in Akwa Ibom as inconsistent with the provision of Section 84 (1) of the Electoral Act.
Similarly, the Cross River State APC is currently embroiled in a crisis over the sending of “fraudulent” delegates’ lists by the State Working Committee (NWC) to the NWC. In a statement issued by Mr. Francis Ekpenyong on behalf of Cross River Authentic Adhoc National Delegates, he called on Adamu to ignore a ‘fraudulent’ list of the national delegates sent by the SWC.
The party stakeholders pointed out that the state Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, Hon. Legor Idagbor, Barr. Alphonus Ogar Eba, Sen. Stephen Adi Odey, Dr. Thomas Aruku, among others did not take part in the National Delegate Election and they can not be delegates from their respective local government areas of Cross River State.
The stakeholders stated: “We make bold to say that the so-called National Delegates lists presented to the party by the State Working Committee members of the party was based on a poorly scripted skit comedy shot by the State Chairman of the party and his co-conspirators.”
Outrageous N100 million Presidential Nomination Form
The ruling party incurred the wrath of Nigerians when it fixed its presidential nomination form at the rate of N100 million. The party argued that its decision was aimed at ensuring that aspirants who were not serious do not scuttle the party’s electoral process.
Nevertheless, a former Governor of Cross River state, Clement Ebri condemned the high cost of forms for Expression of Interest and Nomination for elective offices, saying it vitiates the principles upon which the party campaigned and was voted into power.
Also, a former national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun described the N100 million as “princely ransome.”
Olawepo-Hashim, Chima, Garba, Ayom Refuse to Participate
A businessman, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, Ihechukwu Chima, Moses Ayom and Adamu Garba who had previously shown strong interest in contesting for the Number One office in the land on the APC platform later chickened out after the party announced the sum of N100 million for the form. Announcing his withdrawal from the race in a phrase that may have captured the sentiments of fellow presidential aspirants who bowed out, Olawepo-Hashim said, “My day will come.” However, he has continued to engage the public, politicians and the electoral umpire on prevalent issues in the polity.
23 Presidential Aspirants Hustle for APC Ticket
The outrageous cost of the presidential nomination form did little or nothing to stop aspirants from purchasing it. Initially, 28 aspirants bought the forms, while 23 submitted.
The President of African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, former President Goodluck Jonathan, Minister of State for Petroleum, Timpre Sylva, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele and Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige were among those who couldn’t brave the odds.
The 23 aspirants are: Governor of Jigawa State, Abubakar Badaru, former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, Tein Jack-Rich, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, former Minister of Education, Emeka Nwajuiba, former Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senator Bola Tinubu and Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi.
Others are: Senator Ajayi Boroffice, Uju Ken-Ohanenye, Nicholas Felix, former Senate President Ken Nnamani, Pastor Tunde Bakare, former Governor of Ogun state, Ibikunle Amosun, former Governor of Zamfara state, Sani Yerima, former Speaker of House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade and former Minister of Information, Ikeobasi Mokelu.
APC Postpones Presidential Primary
Meanwhile, following the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to give political parties a one-week grace to conduct their primaries, the ruling APC postponed its presidential primary initially scheduled to hold on May 29 and 30 to June 7th and 8th.
Political observers believe that it was the ruling party that arm-twisted INEC to extend the date for the submission of parties’ candidates.
Screening of Aspirants
Surprisingly, the ruling party managed to inaugurate its Presidential Screening Committee headed by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun away from the prying eyes of the media.
At the end of the two-days screening, the Committee cleared 13 aspirants, while 10 failed the screening. But the party later overturned the decision of the committee.
The committee in its report recommended that the ruling party should hold a meeting with all the presidential aspirants with the aim of producing a consensus candidate ahead of the special convention of the party scheduled to hold between June 6th and 8th.
It added, “in the interest of peace within the party, and to achieve peace, the screening committee advises that the party hold a meeting with all the candidates to arrive at a consensus.”
The committee, however, advised that should any aspirant kick against the consensus arrangement, the party should proceed to elective primaries in strict compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
In spite of a Federal High Court ruling in Kano that Section 84 of the Electoral Act did not prevent statutory delegates from voting, Adamu insisted that statutory delegates won’t take part in the convention
In the suit marked FHC/KN/CS/137/2022 instituted by a former lawmaker, Senator Mas’Ud Doguwa; and two others, Habibu Sani and Biliyaminu Shinkafi, the plaintiffs in an originating summons asked the court to determine if Section 84(8) of the Act actually bars statutory delegates from voting.
Recall that the National Assembly had amended Section 84(8) of the Electoral Act to permit automatic or statutory delegates to vote in primaries.
This was based on the interpretation that Section 84(8) only permits elected delegates from taking part in primaries, but President Muhammadu Buhari refused to sign the amendment.
Delivering judgment in the suit, Justice Abdullahi Liman stated, “That Section 84(8) cannot be interpreted to have excluded statutory delegates from voting at the convention, congress or meeting by virtue of Section 223 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Article 20(iv)(c) of the All Progressives Congress Constitution, which allows statutory delegates to vote at convention, congress or meeting.”
Adamu noted: “I am a lawyer. We have served notice of appeal and the matter is in the court and as far as we are concerned, this convention is concerned, statutory delegates are excluded.”
Northern Governors Cede Ticket to South
At the nick of time, APC Governors from the North and party leaders from that part of the country recommended that President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor should come from the southern part of the country.
The northern governors appealed to all aspirants from the northern states to withdraw in the national interest and allow only aspirants from the south to proceed to the primaries.
They said the ruling APC has a duty to ensure that the 2023 elections offers a nation-building moment, reaffirming that a democratic pathway to power exists for all who value cooperation and build national platforms.
In a matter of hours, the ruling APC will unveil its is decision presidential candidate for the 2023 national elections.
A former Minister of Petroleum and a chieftain of APC, Chief Don Etiebet warned that the party might end up not having a presidential candidate in the national 2023 elections if it allows unqualified delegates to vote in its primary