ABUJA – Abuja, the federal capital city was held spellbound for three days last week when thousands of delegates and stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) overwhelmed hospitality centres, streets and allies as they gather to nominate the party’s presidential flagbearer for the 2023 general election.
In the mixed crowd of visitors and residents that massed at Eagles Square venue of the Special Convention of APC were an equally large presence of military and paramilitary operatives, uniformed and otherwise, entertainers , urchins, pickpockets, thugs, hawkers, crawlers, name it.
Party delegates had come to pick a candidate from a long list of 23 contenders and pretenders who had somehow found their way to the grand finale of the race despite a rigorous Screening process supervised by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, former National Chairman of the party.
Among Aspirants on the roll call for the presidential primary election were Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Senator Ahmed Lawan, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Governors Kayode Fayemi, Dave Umahi, Prof Ben Ayade, Abubakar Badaru, Yahaya Bello, Ibikunle Amosun, former speaker, Dimeji Bankole, Senator Ajayi Borofice, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu,
Now our brothers in the South, there is three zones in the South. There are South-East, South-West and South-South. Our brothers in the South should reciprocate the same sense of brotherliness which our Northern brothers have shown to the south
In the list also include businessman Tien Jackrich, Senator Godswill Akpabio, the only woman in the lot, Uju Kennedy Ohanenye, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, former governor of Imo State,Chief Ikeobasi Mokelu and Pastor Tunde Bakare who had prophesied long ago that he was going to be Nigeria’s 16th president.
South-East: Missing Leg In Nigeria’s Tripod
Shortly before the polls commenced , Senator Godswill Akpabio, former Minister of the Niger Delta Development and (PDP’s) uncommon transformer, did something equally uncommon by stepping down for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in dramatic fashion. And as with a well rehearsed choreography, the action sets off an avalanche of withdrawals . Akpabio was followed by Governors Ibikunle Amosun, Kayode Fayemi, Ms Uju Kennedy Ohanenye, and Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State. Even Senator Ajayi Borofice and Dimeji Bankole who had left the podium had to quickly beat a retreat to announce their withdrawal as well.
As expected, the instant roar from the camp of the Jagaban Borgu was deafening, and was only matched by an overwhelming endorsement of the delegates, who as one man thumbed the Asiwaju with 1,271 delegate votes. Behind the scenes, a lot more happened!
Nnamani, Onu Demand Justice For South-East
Not even the strident squall for justice sounded from the South East geopolitical zone could sway the delegates as the APC National leader savoured much cherished victory.
Leading the call for call for justice and fairness in addressing the national question that has excluded the Southeast from deservedly leading the country to prosperity, Senator Ken Nnamani, former President of Senate regretted that the southwest and south South have refused reciprocate the gesture of northern Governors who zone the presidency to the South. He urged the party to directly intervene in the same manner it zoned party Leadership offices at recent national convention.
He cried : “The northern Governors have shown that it is good after power has resided in the north for 8years that it is good for it to move southwards. I commend the effort.
“Now our brothers in the South, there is three zones in the South. There are South-East, South-West and South-South.
Our brothers in the South should reciprocate the same sense of brotherliness which our Northern brothers have shown to the south.
“I say this because I have identified there’s no section in the country that has a monopoly of experts.
If it is not deep enough we can look for persons who can give our country strong Leadership in all the zones .
“So I want to encourage the party, unless the party wants to abandon what is started, I want the party to maintain that justice, peace and unity. Justice in the sense that let us rotate or zone offices in such a way that we did in March 26. I don’t see why we should act differently.
“Consistency matters. I’m told that if we maintain this principle we will enjoy peace and harmony. It is one abiding principle I want this party to leave behind for the survival of APC.
Old warhorse and apostle of inclusive politics and founding father of APC , Dr Ogbonnaya Onu directed his concern to President Mohammadu Buhari, suggesting that it would amount to leadership failure if he (Buhari) fails to address the exclusion of Southeast in the power sharing equation of the APC and the country.
He recalled way back in 1999 how he (Dr Onu) voluntarily relinquished his APP presidential ticket to Olu Falaye if the AD so as to allow the South West produce the president and resolve deep-seated anger that impeded the progress of the country following the death of Chief M.K.O Abiola,the presumed winner of June 12, 1993 election.
“There’s one appeal I want to make to the leadership of our party. I want everybody in the leadership of our party to know the role I played in bringing APC into being.
The intellectual preparation for it, the initial bringing of people together and nurturing them etc, and even up to the point that I paid the initial money needed to register APC.
“And I want to say that the motto of APC is justice , peace and unity. And we must uphold that motto because wherever you have justice, you have peace and where you have peace, you have prosperity. This is very important,I say this because Mr President who has done very well, (many people may not know but those of us who served under him know it ) that Mr President you have done so well, but Mr President, what is very very important, exceptionally important is that we must be sure that this justice must be upheld.
“Now Mr President would be completing his tenure by May 29,2023. It is natural, natural that it should be somebody from the South East,( I’m not saying this because I am from the South East). But I think it is somebody from the South East that Should replace him. And that will be the opposite of South vs North, christian vs Moslem, and it will bring peace and stability to our nation. It will strengthen the unity of Nigeria.
“And you know 23 years ago, I made a personal sacrifice, when I held the presidential ticket of one of the three Political Parties and I had to let it go because I want to solve a problem in the South west. To make sure that two Olus contested the presidency, so that head or tail one will be the President of the this country.
“And that brought down tension in the country! And that is what will happen if we allow the South East. Now look at it SouthWest has had 8 years as president, 8years as Vice President and speaker of House of Representatives. South South has had 8years as president and vice president.
“Where is the justice, where is the justice, where is the justice? We need to do what is right,we need to do what is just. May God bless Nigeria!”
As it were the two elderly South Easterners sat and endured what appeared a gang up play out before the global community but not Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba. The acclaimed ally of President Mohammadu Buhari, refused to turn up for the party’s primary, sensing a fait accompli.
He later explained his absence from the grand event, accusing the aspirants of treachery.
In a statement of appreciation and thanksgiving, Nwajiuba told his supporters that there was no need to be disappointed nor despondent, apparently coming to terms with what his forebears have long faced.
Indeed, as many analysts have posited, APC by ignoring the strident cry for justice at its special convention joined the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in losing the South-East geopolitical zone and again put to question the call for a united country
Was his hope lost in the effort to build an inclusive, strong and united nation? He addressed the nation matter-of -factly:
“Good morning compatriots.
I am issuing this statement after a careful review of our campaign for the presidential ticket of the APC.
First, I thank our Almighty God, creator and giver of all things, for the gift of everything we are or have. I then will thank all of the many persons, those a far and those around, who through personal services, prayers, texts, advise, financial gifts, donations, and numerous other means, encouraged me.
“I thank my Family, who have endured my incessant derision of their preference for a less public and risky, lifestyle.
I thank all my friends, well wishers and even those who may not wish us all that well, but have played their parts in the National discuss.
“I would urge that no one should be despondent or disappointed. My approach to the Nigeria presidency, is hinged on being able to present a progressive vision of an inclusive, united and focused brand of energy to transform Nigeria into a wholesome economic power house, whose citizens will be better secured to live more fulfilling.
“I choose to take the tedious path of following the law, meeting requirements and staying disciplined, in other to sell a paradigm of same.
I appreciate all the sacrifices of time, resources and emotions that have been invested by so many persons, young and old, near and afar in this tedious path.
“I and almost all other aspirants agreed to a consensus approach to the selection of our candidate, to effectively maintain the outlook of a progressive family ,away from an all for money by highest bidder image, which had already been assigned to another political party.
“I and other aspirants now of the South East, wrote the leadership of our party to appreciate the commitment to move the presidential ticket to the south, and requested a further deepening to the southeast to reflect our primary reason for seeking the office, which remains, “to build a more united and inclusive secured and prosperous nation.”
“This much has been captured in the communique south east aspirants issued on 22nd May, the speeches of Mr. President at his meetings with APC Governors, that of aspirants and of stakeholders.
” Following the failure of all these entreaties, it became clear that the convention was headed away from these lofty ideals I subscribe to and will still pursue. I therefore declined to attend.
“These ideals reflected in what some of the south east aspirants who choose to attend referred to in their pleas for Justice, or need to constitutionally require it, in the face of the absence of conscience.
“Even their elderly wailing on national television could not move a vote, if I had shouted same in a more youthful voice, it may have become inciteful in face of our current security difficulties in the southeast and may thus spite our efforts. Better to stay out.
“I am committed to pursuing the ideals of a more united, inclusively secured prosperous nation for us all, lending to our dear country, its citizens and those who may be positioned to use it, the experiences acquired, lessons learnt and the various matrix that I may bring to bear.
” I am grateful for the opportunity to engage all strata of our society, all cadres of of leadership both in our party and our country. I appreciate the luxury of your various audience, in sharing this message.”
Indeed, as many analysts have posited, APC by ignoring the strident cry for justice at its special convention joined the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in losing the South-East geopolitical zone and again put to question the call for a united country.