By George Agba
With the time ticking rapidly against the timetable of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for activities leading to the 2023 polls, compelling the All Progressives Congress (APC) to engage in a rapid fire approach towards its presidential primary, the presidency is yet to take a stand on who should clinch the presidential ticket of the party.
It was gathered on Sunday that President Muhammadu Buhari was still studying the manner in which the presidential aspirants were engaging party stakeholders on the race for the presidential ticket as well as feedback from party faithful and the great mass of Nigerians in respect of who appears to be the popular choice.
So far those who have declared interest in the race are Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; former Lagos State governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi; former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha; Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and Senate majority whip, Orji Uzor Kalu.
Others expected to declare are minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige and his minister of State for Education counterpart, Emeka Nwajibua.
According to reports, the party would likely fix its presidential primary for May 30/31.
Those familiar with events within Aso Rock, the country’s seat of power, confided in Akelicious that President Buhari is yet to openly give his nod to any of contenders scrambling to succeed him at the moment.
A top presidency official told our correspondent last night that “the president is yet to open up on who is his preferred aspirant at the moment.”
Another reliable presidency source however told this paper that the president seems inclined to the aspiration of his deputy, Osinbajo, who appears to be the popular choice, noting that this explains why the vice president was bold a enough to openly declare his interest in the presidential race.
“You are aware that it is unprecedented in the country’s political history to see a deputy to either a president or a governor coming to declare to contest his principal’s. Vice President Osinbajo wouldn’t have made his declaration without the blessings of his boss.
“Even though Buhari has not openly said anything, some of in Ado Rock are thinking that he might the preferred candidate President Buhari declined to disclose for security reasons, though it is still within the realm of speculation,” the source who did not want his name in print said.
Recall that President Buhari had in January this year declined to reveal the identity of the preferred candidate to succeed him on grounds of the safety of such a person.
While responding to a question about who his preferred candidate, he simply said, “It is (a) secret.
“No, I wouldn’t say because he may be eliminated if I mention. I better keep it,” the president added, grinning jocularly.
There are high expectations that the leaning of President Buhari would sway the outcome of the forthcoming presidential primary of the governing, if the outcome of the last party’s national convention is anything to go by.
Meanwhile, there is high powered politicking, horse trading and scheming within the party for the consensus option to be adopted as was the case in 2019 where only Buhari emerged the consensus candidate as an incumbent.
But those opposed to the consensus idea are of the view that since the incumbent won’t be on the ballot, the party should hold a presidential primary just like it did in 2015.
Meanwhile, it was learnt that aspirants are running from pillar to post to ramp up consultations for the country’s top seat, with last minute meetings with strategic stakeholders in the party.
The APC had announced on Friday that it would hold its first post-national convention meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) on Wednesday, April 20, 2022.
The emergency NEC meeting which is expected to hold at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja at 10am is expected to finalise arrangement for the party’s presidential primary subject to NEC’s approval. (Source: Akelicious)