By Ogechi Okorie
Abuja (Precise Post) – The Presidential aspirants of the ruling All Progressives Congress will have to wait till May to know who among them will fly the party’s flag in the 2023 presidential election even as it has been learnt that the party would peg money for its presidential nomination form at N50m.
Some of the aspirants like a former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello; Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi and a former Governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Kalu; and ex-Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha have openly declared their interest to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari whose second term tenure ends on May 29, 2023.
Other aspirants rumoured to have presidential ambition in the party but have yet to declare their intention include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Amafiele.
Of all the aspirants, only Tinubu has been visiting different caucuses of the party, including its members in the National Assembly, soliciting their support.
He had also visited Buhari to inform him about his desire to succeed him in 2023.
It was gathered that the party had pencilled down May for the presidential primary, but would leave the exact date for the primary to be decided by the members of its National Working Committee that would emerge at its March 26 national convention in Abuja.
A party chieftain, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “Next month is Ramadan so we are not considering April for the presidential primary or any of the primaries.
“The presidential primary should hold in May. And of course, the Presidential form will be going for nothing less than N50m. This is not final but this is what is being discussed and I am sure it will be approved.”
No reason was given for the expected increment in the nomination fee for the party.
In 2015, the APC charged its presidential aspirants N27.5m but raised it to N45m four years later.
Seven years ago, when the President was to run for the office, he openly lamented the high cost of the nomination form.
“I felt heavily sorry for myself because I don’t want to go and ask somebody to pay for my nomination forms, because I always try to pay myself, at least for the nomination. N27m is a big sum,” he had said.
The former military ruler had lamented that his efforts at making the leaders of the party reduced the nomination form felt on deaf ears.
But the then National Chairman of the party, John Odigie-Oyegun, rebuffed Buhari and said to him, “You better pick your form and keep a straight face; that means there is no excuse.”
“Thankfully I have a personal relationship with the manager of my bank in Kaduna and I told him that very soon the forms are coming, so, whether I am on red, or green or even black please honour it otherwise I may lose the nomination,” Buhari said while presenting his cheque for the form.
Sunday PUNCH reports that four years later when the party raised the nomination fee to N45m, Buhari did not protest when he paid for the form.
Recall that the PDP, the main opposition party, had on Wednesday at its National Executive Committee meeting said its presidential candidate would be announced on May 29.
The date was revealed in the ‘Schedule of Activities and Timetable for the Year 2022/2023 Elections’ released by the party.
The timetable was signed by the party’s National Organising Secretary, Umar Bature.
According to Bature, the PDP candidate would emerge on May 29 at the end of the Special National Convention (Presidential Primary) that would start on May 28.
The PDP, at its 95th NEC meeting on Wednesday, also pegged its nomination and expression of interest forms for presidential aspirants at N40m.
In 2019, the party had pegged its presidential nomination and expression of interest form at N2m and N10m respectively making a total of N12m.
Meanwhile, the APC had generated at least N300m from the sale of forms for aspirants seeking offices in the National Working Committee, Sunday PUNCH has learnt.
While about seven people bought chairmanship forms at the cost of N20m each, at least five people had purchased deputy national chairmanship forms for the cost of N10m each.
Forms for those seeking other positions in the National Working Committee were sold for N5m each. These positions include National secretary, deputy national secretary; the national vice chairmen of the six zones, national organising secretary, national legal adviser, national financial secretary, national welfare secretary, national treasurer, national publicity secretary, national auditor, national women leader, national youth leader and leader of persons living with disabilities.
According to the APC, all other positions of the National Executive Committee which are deputy positions, non-zonal and non-NWC would be sold at N1m.
All positions at the zonal level, except the National Vice-Chairman, which is also a member of NWC, would be sold at N500, 000.
These positions include deputy national financial secretary, deputy national legal adviser, deputy national treasurer, deputy welfare secretary, deputy national publicity secretary, deputy national auditor, deputy national women leader, deputy national youth leader, the zonal secretaries of the six zones, zonal youth leaders in the six zones, zonal organising secretaries across all zones and the six ex-officio members.
However, concessions were given for women and persons with disabilities who were given a 50 per cent discount.
Governors compile unity list for NWC positions, chairmanship aspirants reject consensus
Meanwhile, ahead of the national convention of the APC, the 23 governors of the party across different zones have begun micro-zoning party positions and drawing up unity lists which will be affirmed at the convention.
This is just as the chairmanship aspirants on Saturday insisted that there would be no consensus and were ready to test their strengths on the field.
Multiple sources that spoke to Sunday PUNCH said although the positions had been zoned to geopolitical zones, the governors within those regions had agreed among themselves which states would get certain positions. The governors of the states would subsequently endorse a candidate which would be endorsed by others.
An APC chieftain who wished to remain anonymous, said, “By the time leaders meet and agree on positions, every state will vote according to what they have been given and there will be one list. So, if you are not part of it, you will lose and you cannot blame anyone.
“For the zonal congress, for instance, all the leaders in each region have names. So, if for instance your state was not selected for national publicity secretary and you are contesting, you are wasting your time. So, if you spend your money, you are on your own. What we are saying is that there will be a unity list.”
In a related development, it was learnt that the refusal of chairmanship aspirants to reach a consensus was giving the party’s leaders concern.
Sunday PUNCH learnt that some chieftains of the APC had begun putting pressure on President Buhari to meet with the aspirants with a view to getting them to step down.
A national officer of the party said all the former national chairmen of the party were picked through consensus.
The former national chairmen are a former Governor of Osun State, Chief Bisi Akande, and two former governors of Edo State, Odigie-Oyegun and Adams Oshiomhole.
But now, he said about seven people had already bought chairmanship forms at the cost of N20m each, without anyone asking them to step down for a particular candidate.
Chairmanship aspirants who have submitted their nomination forms are a former Governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu; his successor, Umar Tanko Al-Makura; Mallam Saliu Mustapha; Senator Sani Musa; a former governor of Benue State, George Akume; a former Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari; and Mohammed Etsu.
All the aspirants except Yari, who is from the North-West, are from the North-Central.
An APC chieftain said, “Sincerely, this will be the first time in the 10-year history of the APC that we will be having a real chairmanship tussle. It had always been by consensus and we were hoping that they would close ranks but this never happened. The form was set at N20m to discourage too many people from running but seven people have bought forms.
“We are hoping that the President will meet with them in the coming days and tell them his preferred candidate so that the rest can step down. But now that money has been paid, it has even become more difficult to convince anyone to step down.
“The implication is that the convention will be like a presidential primary and will stretch for two days. We are just hoping that it will not lead to any bad blood.”
The APC on Saturday began screening aspirants seeking to hold zonal offices. The screening for those who are running for NWC offices is expected to hold on Sunday (today).
Meanwhile, the committee on the venue, decorations and site servicing for the APC’s forthcoming convention has visited the proposed venue, Eagle Square, Abuja, as part of preparations for the event, the News Agency of Nigeria reported.
The Chairman of the committee, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau, speaking after inspecting the venue on Friday in Abuja, explained that it would begin erecting structures for the convention.
“We are preparing the venue for the convention. There was a science and technology exhibition which concluded today, by tomorrow we will start putting up our structures.
“We want to ensure that the security inspects the place and to guarantee that there is adequate security for all delegates and everybody that is coming here,” he said.
He said his committee had engaged with relevant stakeholders and organisations to ensure that the venue and associated services were put in place for delegates and officials during the convention.
Lalong said the committee was working in synergy with the committees on security and election to ensure proper coordination of delegates and the electoral processes. (Punch)