2023: Consensus plan unsettles APC, protesters warn against imposition

• Aspirants number hits 30, 12 pick forms, Amosun unfolds six-point agenda

The All Progressives Congress has begun moves to adopt the consensus method at its presidential primary due to the high number of presidential aspirants which has almost hit 30, The PUNCH can confirm.

Despite the decision of the party to peg the cost of its presidential form at N100m, more aspirants are joining the race.

It was gathered that the high cost of the form and the inclusion of voluntary withdrawal form were part of the moves aimed at adopting the consensus method at the primary scheduled for May 30.

However, aspirants and their campaign groups, who had got wind of the planned adoption of the consensus method, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, were divided over the plan with some of them warning that it could lead the party into a major crisis.

While campaign groups of the APC National leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, warned against imposing the method, organisations campaigning for the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, said their principal would emerge the consensus candidate.

On his part, the Minister of Niger Delta, Godwill Akpabio, in an interview on Channels Television, said consensus and selection were not elections.

But a group backing the adoption of The Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, said other aspirants should step down for the minister.

The APC had pegged the cost of its form at N100m all in a bid to reduce the number of aspirants and ensure a seamless presidential primary. The cost, however, failed to scare aspirants.

“The reason we pegged the price at N100m was to separate the pretenders from the contenders. But the opposite has happened and we are heading for a crisis if things are not properly handled. So, the NWC (National Working Committee) will meet and decide on the next step since NEC (National Executive Committee) has relinquished its power for the time being.

“The President prefers consensus that is why it is included in our forms but the problem now is that it will be difficult to push a consensus when there are too many aspirants,” a member of NEC told The PUNCH on the strict condition of anonymity.

So far, 12 aspirants have purchased the presidential form. They are: Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, APC stalwart, Bola Tinubu, the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajuiba, Lagos pastor, Tunde Bakare, Governor Mohammed Badaru of Jigawa State, his Ebonyi State counterpart, Dave Umahi, and Senator Rochas Okorocha, Governor Yahaya Bello; the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio; Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Ms Unu Onaneye, the only female and Nicholas Felix.

Others who have joined the race and are expected to purchase the form include Governor Ben Ayade, Ex-Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Governor Kayode Fayemi, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, former Governor Ibikunle Amosun, Senator Orji Kalu, ex-Speaker, Dimeji Bankole, and Senate President Ken Nnamani.

Mr Yakubu Mohammed; Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim; Tien Jack-Rich; Tech Entrepreneur, Adamu Garba; Rev. Moses Ayom; Dr Ibrahim Bello-Dauda; and Ibinabo Dokubo are also expected to pick forms.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Onu; and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; are expected to join in the coming days. Supporters have also offered to purchase forms for the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele; and former President Goodluck Jonathan

Tinubu, Osinbajo, Onu supporters disagree

However, while groups loyal to Tinubu rejected the consensus option, those supporting Osinbajo welcomed it.

The Ekiti State Coordinator, South West Agenda for Asiwaju Tinubu, Prince Bamgboye Adegoroye, on Thursday expressed reservation over the much-touted plan by the APC national leadership to impose consensus to produce its presidential candidate.

Adegoroye, who wondered why APC would not adopt indirect primary as done to elect Muhammadu Buhari in 2014, said adopting consensus could be difficult.

He said, “Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has the largest followers in APC. The people following Tinubu are more than the APC. In fact, Tinubu’s supporters are in other parties including the Peoples Democratic Party.

“In case of consensus, if it is Tinubu that is picked, it will be well. And if it is not Tinubu, it will be difficult. Why won’t APC go to an elective primary? I don’t believe APC is planning consensus.

“Consensus cannot be imposed. Consensus simply means agreement among all the aspirants. When you start imposing, it is no longer a consensus, it is something else and anything else can happen after. I don’t want to speculate.”

Also in a chat with The PUNCH, Lagos lawmaker and founder of the Tinubu Support Group, James Faleke, said Tinubu would accept any mode of primary that is stated in the APC constitution.

When asked if consensus would be accepted, Faleke, who picked the N100m APC form on behalf of Tinubu last week said, “There is no such thing as consensus in the APC constitution.”

Consensus: APC heading towards disintegration, says party chieftain

An associate of Tinubu, who wished to remain anonymous, said the party would be plunged into a crisis if it insisted on adopting the consensus method.

“The national leadership of the party is aware of the consequences of imposing a presidential candidate in the name of consensus. The effect will be too devastating. On several occasions, the President has said he would not impose a candidate on the party. We hope the leadership of the party will listen to this. We are watching. We want to give the National Chairman, Senator Adamu Abdullahi, the benefit of the doubt.”

Support groups bank on consensus for Osinbajo’s victory

But the Convener of the Osinbajo Grassroots Organisation, Kwara State, Ganiyu Galadima, told The PUNCH during a telephone interview on Thursday that Osinbajo was the most qualified and would emerge as a winner if a consensus candidate was adopted.

He said, “The Electoral Act recognises direct and indirect primaries and a consensus, and a consensus has not in any way violated the laws of the APC. Osinbajo is not above the party, but I want to put it to you that I am very sure that he is going to make the one if there is going to be a consensus. He has the requisite knowledge, he has been groomed in national politics in the last seven years and is aware of the challenges and the successes.

“And now, as far as the presidency is concerned, tell me who among the aspirants has been a vice president? Under normal circumstances, he has the right of first refusal such that even in advanced climes, all the aspirants must support him except if he says he is not interested. So, at the end of the day, if there is a consensus, he is going to be the consensus candidate. None of the aspirants is above the party; the party is supreme and the people will be voting for the party and not the candidate.”

Galadima added that there would be no consequence for the party if it decides on a consensus because all the aspirants would have been carried along.

Also, the leader of Progressives Lawyers for Osinbajo, Mr Kayode Ajulo, told The PUNCH in a telephone interview that Osinbajo had the right of first refusal and would be selected as the consensus candidate.

“Osinbajo is the popular aspiration as it is, and parties all over the world listen to popular aspirations. And when you look at it from the issue of law, the conventions all over the world, Osinbajo has the right of first refusal so whatever may be the consensus adopted by the party, it will take into consideration the right of first refusal which can never be denied to Osinbajo.

So, from whichever angle we look at it, if it is by popular aspirations, by the way and manner people are rooting for him, mind you he will stand to be the only candidate by popular demand, because in any formula, whether by zoning or consensus or the position of aspiration of the candidates with people and delegates, it all falls on the side of Osinbajo,” he said.

Field Onu, his candidacy will stop discontentment in S’East, group tells APC

However, a political support group, ‘The Patriots For Ogbonnaya Onu’, called on the party to ensure that the South-East produced the presidential candidate of the APC while others step down through a consensus.

The leader of TPFOO and former Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics), University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Hakeem Fawehinmi, said this during a visit to Onu in Abuja.

According to him, it was in the interest of equity, justice, fairness, national cohesion and stability for the APC heavyweights to step down for Onu.

He explained that stepping down and supporting Onu would not only save the APC and Nigeria but also ensure that the separatist agitations stop.

Fawehinmi said, “Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, VP Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Kayode Fayemi and others are eminently qualified to be the President of Nigeria. But Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, in our opinion, is the most qualified.

“Moreover, we think that it is the time for the South-East to produce Nigeria’s next leader. In the eyes of natural justice and equity and for the reason of fairness, national cohesion and stability, it is the turn of the South-East that constitutes about a quarter of the country’s population.”

Consensus and selections are not elections – Akpabio

Also in an interview on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, said consensus was not a form of election.

Akpabio, however, said he would be happy if the party picks him through a consensus.

“The question of consensus; this is the reason why Section 84(12) could not have worked because you can’t say that consensus is (an) election. And some political parties have in their guidelines, selection. Selection is not an election.

“So, the contemplation of election, in my view, even though the matter is before the court, is that of…as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution, which is general election; that you must resign 30 days to the general elections. So, a consensus is not really an election,” he said

Akpabio said if the party eventually opted for a consensus and he was not picked, he would support whoever emerged.

Group rejects plan to impose Jonathan

Protesters under the aegis of the Youth Wing of the APC on Thursday stormed the national secretariat of the party in Abuja to register their disapproval over alleged plans by the party to impose Jonathan on the party through a consensus.

The protesters numbering over 100 stormed the party’s Headquarters by about 8 am disrupted vehicular movements along the Blantyre Street of the APC.

The protesters under the aegis of APC North-South Patriotic Coalition carried banners and placards saying imposing Jonathan as the APC presidential candidate would ultimately kill the party.

Addressing journalists, the convener of the group, Alhaji Toyin Rahim, wondered how the party would justify bringing someone they had called corrupt and incompetent back to power.

He said, “In the APC today there are presidential aspirants with credible pedigrees and humongous electoral value and capacity. It is not only unnecessary to smuggle Jonathan into our great party, but it is also self-indicating and meaning that our party’s performance in office has been worse than an administration that Nigerians thoroughly rejected and voted APC in 2015.

“What becomes of those who have been party members from inception, who have laboured to build the APC? What becomes of real APC members who have purchased the presidential nomination forms at a whopping sum of N100 million each?

“What becomes of those who will still declare their presidential ambition and buy the form? It is on good authority that former President Jonathan has declared that the only condition that would make him join the APC is if he is assured to get the presidential ticket of APC automatically. This is not going to happen.”

The Spokesperson for the APC, Felix Morka, when contacted on the phone, failed to respond to the calls and messages sent to his phone as of the time of filing this report.

Presidency: Amosun unfolds six-point agenda

Former Ogun State governor and Senator representing Ogun Central District, Ibikunle Amosun, on Thursday declared for the presidency in Abuja, saying his administration would prioritise human security as a fundamental principle to national security and economic development. He unfolded his six-point agenda including security and economic development.

Osinbajo, Bakare obtain forms

Senator Kabiru Gaya, from Kano on Thursday picked presidential nomination and expression of interest forms for Osinbajo.

A spokesman for the vice-president, Laolu Akande, confirmed the development in a series of tweets on Thursday.

“A passionate team of support groups and individual Nigerians from across the country have raised funds to support the purchase of APC nomination forms for the Vice-President’s 2023 presidential bid,” he tweeted.


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