PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has advised presidential aspirants on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to work towards arriving at a consensus ahead of the party’s primary election scheduled for Monday in Abuja.
Buhari gave the advice on Saturday night during a meeting with the aspirants at the State House in Abuja.
The President said the meeting was a continuation of the ongoing consultative process to ensure the smooth emergence of a standard-bearer who would lead the party to victory in the 2023 presidential poll.
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari expressed confidence in the aspirants’ capacity but reminded them that the party needs only one flagbearer for the poll.
“Looking at this assemblage of personalities and considering your rich pedigree of accomplishments in life, I have come to the conclusion that our party, the APC, is rich in human resources and also that our nation is blessed with capable people that can successfully steer the ship of state into the future.”
The president added that the party must replicate the unity of purpose, fairness, determination and effective leadership that helped it win two successive presidential elections in 2015 and 2019.
He said national and party interests were overriding factors in the party’s deliberations and decision-making processes.
“The 2023 general elections are fast approaching in a global, regional and national environment that is constantly changing and challenging. This demands that our party become more aware of the changing environment, be responsive to the yearnings of our citizens, re-evaluate our strategy and strengthen our internal mechanism so that we would sustain the electoral successes.
“I am pleased to note that the party, recognizing the significance of all these demands, has over time developed several democratically acceptable processes and policies that promote consultation, internal cohesion and leadership to facilitate victories at the polls.”
Buhari urged his party to present a flagbearer who would give Nigerians a sense of hope and confidence while ensuring victory for the party.
He said the choice of flagbearer must be formidable, appealing to the electorate across the board and should command the ability to unify the country and capacity to address the nation’s critical challenges.
However, sources said the president backed aspirants from the South to succeed him.
It was reported that the APC governors from the North opted for a southern candidate on Saturday, leading to the withdrawal of Jigawa State governor Abubakar Badaru from the race.
On Friday, the APC presidential screening committee headed by John Oyegun said it axed ten out of the 23 aspirants seeking the presidential ticket.
The party has not named the disqualified aspirants as of the time of filing this report.
Aspirants screened by the committee are governors Abubakar Badaru, David Umahi, Kayode Fayemi, Ben Ayade, and Yahaya Bello, former ministers Emeka Nwajiuba, Rotimi Amaechi, Godswill Akpabio and Ogbonaya Onu.
Others are senators Robert Boroffice, Ken Nnamani, Ibikunle Amosun, Bola Tinubu, Rochas Okorocha and Ahmed Lawan.
The list also include former Speaker Dimeji Bankole, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Mrs Uju Ken-Ohanenye, Nicholas Felix, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Tein Jack-Rich, Ahmad Sani, and Ikeobasi Mokelu.
The APC heads for its presidential primaries with its leading candidates in the South, including its national leader, Bola Tinubu, who the party said would be punished for his tantrums against Buhari on Thursday.
Another leading aspirant is the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who hails from the South-West as Tinubu.
Leading the pack in the South-East are former ministers Ogbonaya Onu, David Umahi and Emeka Nwajiuba.
Former ministers Rotimi Amaechi, Godswill Akpabio and Governor Ben Ayade, all from the South-South, are also nursing hopes of clinching the APC presidential ticket.
Meanwhile, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, an aspirant from the North, is yet to step down as of the time of filing this report.
APC flagbearer will face candidates of the opposition parties, including Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP), respectively.
Other political parties will also field presidential candidates in the election, which holds on February 25, 2023.