President Muhammadu Buhari has charged governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to ensure that the forthcoming convention to pick a presidential candidate reflects all the values and virtues of the party. He also said the candidate to be selected has to be one “who would give the Nigerian masses a sense of victory and confidence even before the elections.”
Femi Adesina, the president’s spokesman, in a statement on Tuesday, said the president gave the charge at a meeting with 22 Governors elected on the platform of the APC and the National Chairman of the party, Abdullahi Adamu, at the State House, Abuja.
The APC will hold its convention to pick its presidential candidate in Abuja between June 6 and 8.
Mr Buhari told the governors to ensure internal cohesion so as to achieve bigger electoral fortunes come 2023.
“The processes for the 2023 General Elections have commenced in earnest and I note that the most successful political parties globally have always relied on their internal cohesion and a strong leadership brand to achieve bigger electoral fortunes.
“Our party, the APC, shall not be any different, more so as we are still implementing the blueprint for a more prosperous nation.
“As I begin the final year of my second term as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and leader of the party, I recognize the compelling need for me to provide stronger leadership to the party under this transition process and to ensure that it happens in an orderly manner.
“Such leadership is required so that the party remains strong and united.
“It is also needed to improve our electoral fortunes by ensuring that it retains power at the centre, hold the great majority in various legislative chambers and also gains an additional number of states.
“In a few days, the party will be holding its Convention during which primaries would take place to pick the Presidential Flag Bearer for the 2023 General Elections.
“This is a very significant process and its outcome should prove to the world the positive quality of the APC regarding democratic principles, culture as well as leadership,” Mr Buhari said.
The president appealed to all the governors “to allow our interests to converge, our focus to remain on the changing dynamics of our environment, the expectations of our citizens and the global community.
“Our objective must be the victory of our party and our choice of candidate must be someone who would give the Nigerian masses a sense of victory and confidence even before the elections.”
Mr Buhari assured that the consultation process would continue, to ensure that all aspirants and stakeholders would be brought on board right through to the convention.
According to him, this will also ensure that any anxiety occasioned by different factors is effectively brought under control and that the party (APC) emerges stronger.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, and Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum, said the party must build on the successes of its recent elective convention, and the primaries conducted so far.
He said the party must come up with a candidate who would walk in the footsteps of patriotism and love for the country, which the president had shown.
“We will support Mr President to have a very successful convention,” he pledged.
Altogether, 23 aspirants are currently jostling for the ticket of the ruling party.
The aspirants are former Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajuiba, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, Felix Nicholas, a US-based pastor, former Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun; Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State, a serving senator, Ajayi Borroffice, and former Senate President Ken Nnamani.
Others are; Uju Ken-Ohaneye, former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; former governor of Zamfara State, Sani Yerima, former governor of Lagos state, Bola Tinubu and a popular pastor, Tunde Bakare.
Governor of Cross Rivers State, Ben Ayade, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, a business mogul, Tein Jack-Rich, former Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, former Minister of Information, Ikeobasi Mokelu, former Speaker of House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio and former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha.
A committee set up by the party and chaired by its former National Chairman, John Oyegun, is currently screening the aspirants in Abuja.
It is not clear, however, if Mr Okorocha will appear before the panel as he is in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over corruption