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Published On: Thu, Dec 4th, 2014

2015: As APC sets to conduct first Presidential primaries

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Buhari vs AtikuBy Umar Muhammad Puma

All is now set for the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential primaries scheduled for the 10th of December 2014 to pick the party’s presidential candidate for the 2015 general election. It would also serve as a litmus-test for the party’s quest to take power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in next year’s presidential election.

Five contenders namely; former Head of state, Muhammadu Buhari; former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; Chairman Progressives Governors Forum, Rochas Okorocha; Serving Governor of Kano State, Rabi’u Musa Kwankwatso and Mr Sam Nda Isaiah have all expressed their readiness face the delegates in the historic event.

Chairman Presidential Screening Committee, Dr. Ogbunnaya Onu while presenting  certificates to the five aspirants that were screened by the committee, said all the aspirants have qualified to run for the Presidential primaries, and that any one of them can become the flag bearer of the party.

“Today marks the rising of this great giant in the mission to ensure that the problems confronting our nation are taken care of because we know that there is really nothing wrong with Nigeria except we have not had the proper leadership. The APC is determined to give the proper leadership to our people.

“We took the aspirants through a very rigorous part to making Nigerians know the calibre of persons, one of which will be the flag bearer of our party to run for President. We also tested their understanding of the problems of this nation.

“During that exercise, we found that these men are so distinguished that there is not one of them that will not make a great difference to our lives. The goal of the party is to control government at the national level so that the problems of our country, those problems that people thought cannot be solved, the APC will show that they can be solved”.

In a bid to ensure a successful outing, which would eventually bolster the chances of the party in the coming election, the screening committee announced a new strategy that they said was aimed at harnessing the support base of the individual aspirants towards achieving a strong foundation to put the APC in a position to challenge the ruling PDP.

To that regard, Onu disclosed that the committee’s insistence on signing a letter of commitment by all the five aspirants is to assure the party that they are running to offer service, and for the others to support the winner and collapse their structure into the party so that the party can move into the election united.

He added that the details in the letter include the commitment to improve the wellbeing of Nigerians, improve security and for those who lose to support the winner by collapsing their structure into that of the party so that the APC can go into the elections as a united party.

Part of the agreement read; “I, on behalf of myself and my primary campaign Organization undertake to accept the outcome of the primaries and actively support whoever emerges as the winner and shall not decamp to any other political party or in any way obstruct the smooth execution of the presidential campaign.

I further affirm that during the campaigns and later in government, I shall be guided strictly by the party manifesto. In the event of my nomination, my campaign team will immediately be collapsed into the party campaign structure for a properly united and focused presidential campaign”.

Muhammadu Buhari, one of the leading aspirants said after he was screened “I’m happy with the screening committee and how it was constituted, the exercise went smoothly and it ended without hitches. This has shown that our party is well prepared for 2015”.

He said the committee dwelled more on the issue of insecurity, job creation.

Chairman of the convention committee, and a former governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, while answering questions from reporters on the update of work by his committee, said about 8,000 delegates both elected and statutory from the 36 states and the FCT are expected to converge at Teslim Balogun stadium in Lagos for the All Progressives Congress National Convention.

“We have briefed all the five Presidential aspirants of our party on the arrangement that we made toward the successful conduct of the exercise, this is something that is being done transparently and it is going to be shown live on television for the whole world to see.

Asked why the committee chose Lagos for the Presidential primaries, despite protest by some aspirants, Kayode said, “this is a democratic party, for us as a committee the process is more important than who will eventually emerge. We have not taken that decision on our own, but with full inputs from all the aspirants.

“Yes we have received complaints from them but all the decision we took was done with all the five aspirants’ representatives , this is something that is being done transparently”, he said.

Nigerians are watching with keen interest to see how the APC would choose its presidential flag bearer. This is because many political observers are of the belief that the process and choice of who emerges as the APC presidential candidate would definitely determine the party’s future.

Though the party’s constitution specifically stated that the presidential candidate shall emerge through direct or indirect primary election, the APC NEC has, adopted indirect primary. This much was confirmed by APC’s National Organizing Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso. Unlike the direct primary where every card carrying member of the party will determine the candidates, the statutory and elected ad-hoc delegates will choose the party’s candidates at all levels, including ward, local governments, state and national level.

“The APC presidential primary as well as other primary elections of our party will be by indirect primaries; delegates primaries. The party has toyed with the idea of direct and indirect. In the last NEC meeting, we decided on indirect. This means that the delegates will be drawn from across the federation in line with the constitution of our party that stipulates delegates to National Convention.

“We have chosen the methodology. We have also chosen the dates. We are going to have our Special Ad-hoc Congress to elect ad-hoc delegates to the Congresses and National Convention. It has been worked out and we are going to publish it so that we will know the delegates. So, we are set for the primaries of 2015 general elections,” he said.

Article 12 of the APC Constitution, which focuses on the composition of party organs, states that the delegates to the national convention, where the presidential candidate will be elected, include members of the Board of Trustees; national chairman and all members of the NEC; serving and past Presidents and Vice Presidents who are members of the Party; serving and past Governors and Deputy Governors of States who are members of the Party; serving and past members of the National Assembly and Speakers and Deputy Speakers and Leaders of State Assemblies who are members of the Party.

Others includes members of the State Working Committee (including that of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja) of the Party; all Party Chairmen and Secretaries of the Local Government Areas; all Local Government Area Council Chairmen who are members of the Party; as well as three elected delegates (at least one of whom must be a woman) from each Local Government Area in Nigeria.

All said and done, considering all projections and permutations the day of reckoning is close when the battle of the titans will take place. Who win the APC’s Presidential ticket? The campaigns go on and the campaigners roar by. The contenders are strategizing and everyone waits with bathed breath for the eventual pronunciation of the winner.

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