2023: Rumpus In APC Over Zoning As Umahi, Kalu Join Race
There is fresh rumpus in the All Progressives Congress (APC) over which zone should produce President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor as Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State on Tuesday announced his intention to vie for the presidential seat.
The governor disclosed his decision after visiting Aso Rock Villa in Abuja, where he intimated President Buhari of the move.
Umahi’s disclosure to the president came 24 hours after the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, did same. Senate’s Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, also yesterday made public his intention to run for the number one seat.
As the politicking for the 2023 presidency gathers momentum, other aspirants are expected to join the race.
Aside from the trio who have declared so far, there are other top shots of the party including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, believed to be eyeing the presidency.
Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi and former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, are expected to declare for the race. Feelers around them said the two politicians are just waiting for the appropriate time to declare for the race.
Daily Trust reports that the declaration by the aspirants has tensed up the agitation for the zoning of the party’s presidential ticket.
While most of the aspirants so far are from the South West and South East geopolitical zones, there are reports that a section of the party, being promoted by some governors who are members of the party are pushing that the presidential race be opened to all including the north.
It was gathered that northerners who are aspiring for the presidential ticket of the APC including the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, are strategising ahead of their declaration. Bello’s foot soldiers have been moving across the country to promote his candidature.
Since the country returned to civil rule in 1999, power had been rotating between the North and the southern part of the country, though there is no constitutional backing for the rotation.
APC was formed in 2013 following the merger of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and new PDP. The tendencies in the party are all out to grab the presidential ticket since the second term of President Buhari, who is of the CPC elapses in May next year.
Insiders said the delay in the conduct of the convention was part of the plot of the tendencies. It is believed that if the chairmanship is zoned to the North, the presidential tickets will go to the South.
Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, had last year said there was a zoning agreement at the formation of the party.
What Buhari told me – Umahi
Governor Umahi told State House reporters that President Buhari had told him to consult widely on his presidential ambition.
Asked whether his discussion with the president had to do with presidential ambition, Umahi said: “Well, generally, yes and no. We discussed politics as the growth of our party, APC, in Nigeria, and the South East.
“And, of course, you know, the interest of South East, for the seat of presidency in 2023. And, of course, I told Mr. President, that without prejudice to whatever will be the decision of the party, which we shall abide by, that if the party throws the ticket open or zones to Southern part of Nigeria, I believe that with what I have put in place in the past six years plus, that I will be running for the presidency on the platform of the APC.
“So, I told him and of course, he believes that whoever wants to run for president of this country must have to consult widely, go to all the leaders and that we must do everything to remove ethnicity and religion in our politics so that this country can grow.”
On whether Tinubu’s declaration poses threat to his ambition, Umahi said: “The Bible that I swore with, a section of it in 1 Samuel says that by strength shall no man prevail, and power and might belong to God.
“He chooses whomever he wills and he will do that in 2023. I’m not in a contest with anybody. I’m in a contest with myself.”
On the question of whether he had equally informed Ohaneze Ndigbo, Umahi advised the leadership of the socio-cultural group not to delve into politics.
“Yes, they can speak for the interest of the South East, they can speak for fair treatment to South East as people but as a matter of equity, justice and fairness, and leaving a level playing field for all the political parties and the aspirants. They should not dabble into politics or whom to support or whom not to support.
“I think that they hear it just like they heard other political parties’ aspirants. We will also write them to notify them that yes, they have capable sons and daughters that if God wills, that could do this job,” he said.
On what his Presidency would bring on board, he expressed his ability to continue with what the president had done and replicated his feats in Ebonyi State.
He, however, said: “One of the greatest problems we have in this country is ethnicity, religion and unpatriotic features of a lot of people.”
I’m ready to slug it out with Tinubu — Orji Uzor Kalu
The Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has said he will be ready to contest the APC presidential ticket with Tinubu if the party zones it to the South.
Kalu, in an interview with newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja, said though he has nothing against Tinubu’s presidential ambition, he believes that the South East is ripe for the Presidency.
The former Abia governor said he has all that it takes to match Tinubu “grit for grit and campaign for campaign” if need be for the APC ticket in 2023.
Fayemi will speak at appropriate time – CPS
When contacted on the matter, the Chief Press Secretary, CPS, to Governor Fayemi, Mr Yinka Oyebode, said: “At the appropriate time, Governor Fayemi would comment on the issue of the presidency, but as at now, Fayemi is busy concentrating on the issue of governance in Ekiti State and how to deliver more dividend of democracy to the people”.
Also, the APC Publicity Secretary, Mr. Segun Dipe noted: “Well, I doubt if the governor’s ambition is tied to that of anyone. If he would seek the presidency, it’s not because of anyone, ditto if he will not.
“Tinubu declaring his interest cannot, therefore, stop or ginger that of Fayemi”, he concluded.
Tinubu not too old for presidency – Sen Abe
A board member of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Senator Magnus Abe has thrown his support over the candidature of Tinubu saying that he is the best material for Nigeria’s Presidency in 2023.
Abe who spoke to Journalists in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital on Tuesday, dismissed insinuations by some people that the former Lagos State governor was too old and too sick to become the next President of Nigeria, saying that age can never be a factor in leadership.
Osinbajo, Tinubu’s ambition
The APC in Lagos State has said that there will not be a clash if Osinbajo decides to run against Tinubu, for the ticket. It said the contest will be treated as a family affair.
It, however, maintained that the declaration by Tinubu to contest the 2023 presidential ambition is the best news it has received in 2022.
The Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Seye Oladejo, disclosed this in an interview with Daily Trust.
“There will be no clash. It will be a family affair and I believe we will overcome it.
“So far, the VP has not declared his intention to run. Asiwaju only responded to the clarion calls to run. He just didn’t stand on his own free will, so they are two different things.
“And generally, in Lagos APC, we see Asiwaju’s decision to run as an opportunity for all of us who are beneficiaries of Asiwaju’s goodwill and large-heartedness, including the VP, to pay back and appreciate Asiwaju for being such a man of honour and destiny helper for a whole lot of people,” he said.
A former Minister of Works and chieftain of the party in the state, Sen. Adeseye Ogunlewe, on his part, called on others who are interested in the race to also declare while maintaining that Asiwaju is the best man for the job.
Ogunlewe maintained that it will be wise for other members of the APC in the South rumoured to be interested in the presidential race to listen and support Asiwaju, whom he described as the captain.
Daily Trust recalled that the Governor of Lagos state, Babajide Sanwo-Olu was the first governor in the country to attend the campaign programme organised by one of the prominent groups supporting Tinubu, SWAGA.
Meanwhile, a civic group – IdentifyingtheRightLeaders Initiative, has urged Prof Osinbajo to declare his ambition, noting that the professor of law is “Eminently competent and qualified to lead a nation with an overwhelming majority of young people in this digital age.”
The group, in a statement by its spokesperson, Dr Abimbola Oyarinu, hinted that it is on the verge of delivering a report that recounts some of the numerous contributions of the Vice President since he began his sojourn as a public office holder in 1999. (Daily Trust)