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Published On: Thu, Dec 11th, 2014

Buhari inches towards clinching APC ticket

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By Ali Abare Abubakar & Ayodele Samuel, Umar Muhammad Puma in Lagos

  •  Party big-wigs push for consensus
  •  Aspirants insist on election
  •  Nigeria’s fate not for sale – Buhari

As the over 8,000 delegates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) gathered at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos yesterday to pick the party’s flag-bearer for the February 14 presidential election, side meetings have delayed the outcome of the convention.

The APC presidential aspirants are former Head of State, Gen Muhammadu Buhari (rtd); former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; Kano State governor, Rabi’u Kwankwaso; his Imo State counterpart, Rochas Okorocha and the founder of LEADERSHIP newspapers, Sam Nda-Isaiah.

Peoples Daily gathered that discreet attempts by some party leaders to pick a consensus candidate among the aspirants were unsuccessful. All five contenders preferred to go into today’s contest, believing they could secure victory in a credible primary.

It was also learnt that 12 serving governors under the APC had moved to stop former vice President Atiku Abubakar from emerging as the APC Presidential candidate. A top party chieftain, who does not want his name in print, told newsmen at the venue that the governors, in a meeting that lasted for four hours, resolved to support Buhari, after several pleas to Atiku to step down for the former general failed.

The state governors were AbdulAzeez Yari (Zamfara); Ibrahim Gaidam (Yobe); Kashim Shettima (Borno); Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa); Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara);Babatunde Fashola (Lagos); Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo); Adams Oshiomhole (Edo); Ra’uf Aregbesola (Osun); Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun); Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).

According to the source, “the governors had observed how Atiku has been moving round meeting the delegates, inducing them with cash.”

The source said with the governors’ support for Buhari, some aspirants were expected to step down for him, adding that even if that happens eventually, it would be a tough race between the duo of Buhari and Atiku.

Buhari had earlier met with Atiku on possibilities of negotiating his victory through consensus, and the meeting was said to be what delayed the commencement of the convention for about five hours.

The convention started gathering momentum around 9 pm, when delegates where welcomed to the rally by APC Governors who moved round the stadium.

Buhari says Nigeria’s fate not for sale

General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), said he is seeking to be the president of Nigeria because he has something to offer especially at this time when security challenges facing the nation.

In a letter he addressed to the delegates at the APC convention yesterday, a copy obtained by Peoples Daily, he said insecurity, corruption, and economic collapse have brought the nation low.

Buhari also urged the party’s delegates not to be motivated with money in the choice of the party’s presidential candidate, noting that the fate of Nigeria is not for sale.

He said he seeks to be the next president of Nigeria because he believes he has something to offer the nation at this time of multiple crises and therefore promised to serve the country with all his strength, commitment, sweat and toil in the service of the people.

“As you gather for our convention, please remember that history, change and the hopes of Nigeria are there with you. They are there to ask you to perform according to your best judgment and patriotic conscience. I also ask you to do the same.

“We seek a new Nigeria; it starts with us. It starts today. I have placed myself before you seeking your help to nominate me as your standard bearer for our progressive party, APC.

“Personal ambition does not drive me in this regard. I seek to be the next president of our beloved nation because I believe I have something to offer Nigeria at this time of multiple crises.

“Insecurity, corruption, and economic collapse have brought the nation low. Time is past due that we work together to lift Nigeria up. I am ready to lead Nigeria to its rightful future.

“I have always served Nigeria to the best of my ability. I have always tried to give more to the nation than it has given me. This is the principle of service that has guided my public life. Thus, I am not a rich person. I can’t give you a pocketful of dollars or naira to purchase your support. Even if I could, I would not do so. The fate of this nation is not up for sale,” he said.

Stressing the need for the party delegates to elect him as APC presidential candidate, Buhari promised to govern Nigeria democratically, if elected as next President.

His words: “What I will give you and this nation is all of my strength, commitment, sweat and toil in the service of the people. What I can give you is my all. I do not intend to rule Nigeria. I want to democratically govern it with your help.

“I seek a Nigeria where Christians and Muslims may practice their faiths in peace and security; a Nigeria that is just and where corruption no longer trespasses into our institutions and national behaviour and a Nigeria where our diversity could be used for our national prosperity.

“Nigeria is our home; let us now turn it into the great nation we know it can and should be,” Buhari said.

Also, APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in his address to the delegates, said: “You came not just as party members from your particular states or communities. You came here as representatives of a new Nigeria.

“As APC, we cannot afford to squander this moment. We cannot afford to look history in the face then turn our back to it. Let that which you do here not only be recorded as a high moment for the party but also as an inspiring turning point for our country,” Tinubu said.

He added that with the third National Convention, “the history of our beloved nation is to be rewritten for the better.”

No aspirant stepped down, says Fayemi

Chairman of the National Convention Committee and former governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, debunked reports making round in the social media that some aspirants have stepped down for Buhari saying, “no aspirant stepped down.”

When asked to confirm the authenticity of the report that some aspirants have stepped down for General Muhammadu Buhari, Fayemi said: “I don’t have any aspirant that has stepped down; I am not aware of any aspirant that has stepped down.”

On the reason for the delay of the programme, Fayemi said: “We can’t be sharing space with Abuja people; we want Nigerians to watch them and see what they want to do, so when they finish their coronation we will start our election.”

I’m still in the contest

– Nda-Isaiah

Also, the Sam4Nigeria Presidential campaign organization has denied reports on some online media suggesting that one of the APC presidential aspirants, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, is withdrawing his presidential ambition.

In a press release issued yesterday in Abuja, signed by David Chinda on behalf of the Sam4Nigeria media team, the campaign organization dismissed the said reports as untrue, insisting that their principal is still in the race.

Large security detachments keep vigil

About 2,000 security agents including officers of Nigerian Police, Department of State Services, private security agents also took over the venue of the convention in Lagos.

A security source told our correspondent at the venue that 1000 police officers, 200 DSS officials, 300 Civil Defence personnel and about 100 private security guards including five bomb detectors, two armoured personnel carriers and 15 security trained dogs were strategically positioned at the stadium.


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