Seventy-two hours to the presidential primary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the report of the screening committee of the party is not ready, raising tension among aspirants and their supporters.
The party’s presidential aspirants screening committee, headed by a former National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, had screened 23 contenders for the APC’s presidential ticket at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja between Monday and Tuesday.
Since the completion of the exercise, 72 hours ago, there has been tension among the aspirants and their supporters regarding the outcome of the exercise.
News has it that the committee received a petition against the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The petition was from one Sagir Mai Iyali, who claimed to be a member of the APC from Kano State. He asked the panel to disqualify the former Lagos State governor over alleged false documents he purportedly presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) previously.
Contacted yesterday, the screening committee’s Chairman, Chief John Odigi-Oyegun told Daily Trust that they are still working on their report, assuring that the public would be carried along when it is ready.
When asked via phone when the report of the committee would be ready, Oyegun said “I don’t know yet, we haven’t finished it. We are still working on it.”
The party had fixed its presidential primary for June 6, 7 and 8. Twice, the exercise has been postponed by the ruling party. There were reports that the June 3rd deadline fixed for the conduct of parties’ primaries was extended by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to enable the ruling party to conduct its presidential primary.
Indication emerged on Tuesday that President Muhammadu Buhari has an anointed candidate when he urged governors, who are members of the party to support his candidate. He, however, did not mention who the person is.
The president’s statement has raised dust in the ruling party. The camps of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and that of the former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi are laying claims to be the president’s preferred candidate, to the chagrin of the Tinubu’s camp.
News has it that the camp of the former Lagos State governor had consistently pushed for the conduct of a primary, where the party’s delegates will be allowed to choose who flies the presidential ticket.
The party’s 2,340 delegates will vote at the convention if the consensus arrangement fails. Three delegates are selected from each of the 774 LGAs.
It was also gathered last night that governors from the ruling party are pushing for one of them to be considered as the party’s flag bearer. They have met twice in Abuja.
It was gathered that five governors are in the presidential race. They are: Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi) and Ben Ayade (Cross River)
Meanwhile, governors have dominated the list of the convention sub-committees constituted on Wednesday night by the party. A statement by the APC National Publicity Secretary, Barr Felix Morka said Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum would head the transportation and accommodation sub-committees, respectively.
Kebbi State Governor and Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Atiku Bagudu and Zamfara State governor are to chair election planning and venue and site servicing sub-committees.
According to the statement, Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari would chair the protocols sub-committee while his Nasarawa State counterpart, Abdullahi Sule would be in charge of media and publicity.
Similarly, the party said Gombe State Governor, Inuwa Yahaya would chair the budget sub-committee, while Lagos State Governor, Sanwo-Olu would head the finance and logistic sub-committees.
Moreso, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State and his Ondo State counterpart, Rotimi Akeredolu are to chair accreditation and decoration and security and compliance sub-committees respectively.
Appeal c’ttee yet to be constituted
While the report of the committee is being awaited, Daily Trust reports that the top echelon of the party is yet to set up an appeal committee to attend to grievances that may arise from the report of the screening committee.
Appeal committees are always in place at the end of every screening exercise to attend to aggrieved contestants who wish to seek redress.
The APC National Publicity Secretary, Barr Felix Morka, did not answer the call put to his phone by our correspondent for clarification.
No cause for alarm – Lawan, Yarima, Okorocha
Meanwhile, a cross-section of aspirants interviewed yesterday said there was no cause for alarm.
One of the leaders of the camp of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said the committee needed enough time to work on the report.
“Everything is going as planned by the party. The committee should be allowed to conclude its report and submit it to the party for necessary action,” he said.
On his part, a former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha said there was no cause for alarm about the delay in the completion of the Oyegun panel’s report.
In a phone interview, he said: “It is okay, the report will be out eventually, I don’t foresee any problem because of the caliber of the committee’s members. They are people of timber and caliber. They are not new in politics and elections. There is no cause for alarm.”
Another aspirant, a former Governor of Zamfara State, Senator Ahmed Sani Yarima, said “It’s a party matter; they are in the right direction, they are taking their time to ensure that there are no mistakes. There is still time, the convention is on Monday and the results can be released on Saturday. I have confidence in the committee.”