In a bid to ensure that presidential aspirants from the South East region do not work at cross purposes, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has finalised plans to meet and strategise with all the contenders from the zone across party lines towards producing a consensus candidate.
The organisation said as much as it is pleased with the number of aspirants that have indicated interest to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, especially in the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it is also mindful of encouraging sportsmanship among the aspirants ahead of the contest.
So far, no fewer than four aspirants have indicated interest in the PDP, namely, former Senate president and secretary to the government of the federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi; business mogul, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, and United States-based medical doctor, Nwachukwu Anakwenze. They had also formed an alliance to work together in the pursuit of the party’s presidential ticket ahead of the May 28 primaries.
In the APC, Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi; former Imo State governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha; former Abia State governor and minority whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, are also in the race, while minister of labour and productivity, Senator Chris Ngige, is expected to formally declare today on the platform of APC.
The minister of state for education, Hon Emeka Nwajiuba, is also set to formally join the contest soon, ahead of the party’s May 30 presidential primary election.
In the African Democratic Congress (ADC), aspirants from the South East are former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof Kingsley Moghalu, Joyce Ugochukwu, and Chukwuka Monye.
Amid the geo-political power rotation debate, prospects of a consensus arrangement, as a strategy for zones, has been rife.
In an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP, yesterday, Ohanaeze spokesman, Alex Ogbonnia, disclosed that the meeting between the organisation and the aspirants is essential to the pursuit of the zone’s presidential bid in the light of presenting the best person for the task ahead in the interest of Nigeria.
While he declined to comment on the move to pick a consensus candidate from PDP presidential aspirants in the South East, he however said he was only aware of the aspirants’ efforts to get more united.
He gave assurance that Ohanaeze was making efforts to unite all the presidential aspirants from the PDP and the APC with a view to arriving at a consensus candidate.
He, however, advised all the presidential aspirants to apply the spirit of sportsmanship while pursuing their ambitions.
Ogbonnia said Ohananeze was pleased with the records of the presidential aspirants that had so far indicated their interest in the nation’s top job.
Although Ogbonnia declined to be specific on when the strategic meeting would hold, it was however learnt that the gathering will be restricted to aspirants from the South East geo-political zone.
Meanwhile, the prospect of the consensus arrangement among South East aspirants comes as move within the PDP to reduce the number of aspirants seems to be facing a setback as one of the Northern aspirants isn’t keen on the idea.
The aspirants are expected to meet this week to begin the process of pruning the numbers towards arriving at a possible consensus arrangement on the party’s platform.
But sources within the party confided in LEADERSHIP that suspicion on the intent of those spearheading the consensus idea, namely former Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki; Sokoto State governor Aminu Tambuwal; Bauchi State governor Bala Mohammed and technocrat, Mohammed Hayatudeen, “is yet to be doused,” a source said.
While former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is not sold on the idea of a consensus arrangement, Rivers State governor, Nyesom While has often insinuated that the ticket should go to aspirants who have never left the party.
“How things turn out in the next few days will be key,” the party leader told LEADERSHIP.
In 2019, attempts by the party in the build-up to the general election to prune the number of aspirants did not yield result as all the 12 aspirants who picked forms contested the primaries.
2023 Presidency: China Denies Backing Rotimi Amaechi
The Chinese Embassy in Abuja has refuted a media report claiming that China has thrown its weight behind the ambition of Nigeria’s minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, to become president in 2023, describing the report as fake news.
The embassy debunked the report in a statement issued on Saturday by its spokesperson, urging the public to ignore such fabricated reports.
Part of the statement read: “The attention of the Embassy of China has been drawn to a misleading report on an online news portal, alleging that Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transport of Nigeria and one of the aspirants to the 2023 presidential election, “has secured the backing of the Chinese Government”, and “… several meetings were held between Amaechi’s allies and the Chinese Government”, even claiming that “China needs to … install its dominance in Africa”.
“The general public is kindly reminded to ignore it and keep vigilance on this kind of fake news, which is fabricated with ulterior motives.
It said mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs of other nations are the basic principle and long-term commitment of China’s diplomacy.
“With respect to Nigeria’ democratic political system, we are confident in the capacity of the Nigerian government and people to organise and conduct a successful general election,” it said.
Meanwhile, worried by the number of aspirants in the 2023 presidential race, the Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC), yesterday, said politicians had reduced the office of the president to nothing as a result of poor performance by the occupants of the office.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP, IPAC chairman, Yabagi Sani, said people aspiring for the office of the president in 2023 feel that if President Muhammadu Buhari, despite his deficiencies, can be president, they too can occupy the office even if they don’t have a clear-cut plan that will help the country and the people.
“It appears the disregard people have for that office is the reason why we are having many people aspiring to be president in 2023,” Sani said.
“The regard for that office has been dwindled by the performance of others. People have no regard for that office. People now say if Buhari can be president , they can also govern the country.
“They are judging by the performance of President Buhari; as poor as it is, if somebody like that can occupy that office, then they can also go there,” Sani said of the reason behind many aspirants for the 2023 Presidential election.
“It is now an all-comers’ affair,” Sani said. “Because of the kind of leaders we have produced, some people are now rating the office of the president as a place anyone can be, since there is no accountability.”
On its part the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), there are 18 political parties and each political party can only nominate one presidential candidate.
Speaking exclusively with LEADERSHIP in Abuja yesterday, the chief press secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi said “only 18 political parties can conduct primaries, therefore, we are monitoring only 18 primaries.”
Oyekanmi also noted that political parties in the country had the responsibility of organising and conducting their primaries, according to their laws and in compliance with the Electoral Act 2022 and the INEC regulations and guidelines.
“Therefore, if presidential aspirants are many, their respective political parties must determine the process of choosing only one of them. So, It’s up to them.
“So, we will only plan to monitor 18 party primaries or even less, depending on how many of the 18 registered parties give notice of their intention to conduct primaries within the stipulated period,” he said.
He explained that the duty of the Commission is to observe and ensure that the parties’ processes are done in the manner stipulated by law.
“We are not to interfere,” he added.