Politicking for 2023 general elections has begun at full throttle. Barely 24 hours after National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ahmed Bola Tinubu, announced his intention to contest the presidential election, governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, has also joined the race, as he, yesterday, declared his decision to vie for the number one seat.
Umahi disclosed this to newsmen after he met behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Emerging from the President’s office, Umahi said he discussed the issue with President Buhari, who told him to go and seek the support of the people.
On his chances, he said he would not be weighed down by Tinubu’s entry into the race because he believes that the contest is not about might but will be decided by who God endorses.
“The Bible that I swore with in 1 Samuel says that by strength shall no man prevail, and power and might belongs to God. He chooses whomever he wills and he will do that in 2023. I’m not in contest with anybody, I’m in contest with myself,” he said.
Recall that Umahi, who left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the APC, had argued that the opposition party was not ready to cede the 2023 ticket to the Southeast. When asked on his chances in the APC, he said he stands a better chance if the APC throws the ticket open.
Asked whether he has the backing of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Umahi said: “Ohaneze leadership should not play politics. Yes, they can speak for the interest of the Southeast, they can speak for fair treatment to Southeast people, but they should not dabble into politics or whom to support and whom not to support.”
On the prevailing insecurity in the Southeast, Umahi, who is also Chairman of Southeast Governors’ Forum, proffered what he called “political solution” to the development, adding that this solution should not interfere with the judicial process.
“I support a political solution to our insecurity problems in the Southeast. And of course, I mentioned it to Mr. President. Political solution does not terminate the judicial process. Also, don’t forget that there’s always what is called out-of-court settlement. It is for our people, and, our brother Nnandi Kanu, to be willing to truly engage so that we can find true peace in our region.”
FOLLOWING the formal declaration by Tinubu and Umahi to run for the Presidency in 2023, the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, has boasted that he will match the former Lagos governor grit-for-grit for the ticket of the APC.
According to the former Abia State governor, he would be ready to contest the APC Presidential ticket with the party’s National leader, if APC zones it to the South.
Tinubu had on Monday declared his ambition to take the reins of power as Nigeria’s next President during his visit to President Buhari, to intimate him of his ambition, a move many believe may have foreclosed the chances of a president of Igbo extraction.
Speaking yesterday, Kalu said that while he has nothing against the aspiration of Tinubu, he believes that his own region, the Southeast, is ripe for the Presidency and that it should be the turn of the zone to produce the next President.
According to a statement, Kalu said he has all it takes to match Tinubu grit for grit and campaign for campaign. Recall that Tinubu had last year November visited Kalu in his Villa mansion where he told the Senator of his aspiration for 2023.
Kalu has also asked the APC to postpone its national convention planned for next month. Speaking on arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, yesterday, after the Christmas and New Year break, Kalu said the party needs a good atmosphere to conduct the exercise.
Although APC has fixed February for the convention, it is yet to select a date for the event.
According to the lawmaker, postponing the convention will protect ‘democracy’ in APC. “I still stand by my words that the APC convention should be postponed. I have a lot of respect for our people and they have to give me an alternative view to have a change of mind that what they are saying is real,” he said.
“What I am saying is a better atmosphere than what they are saying: I know what I am saying, they might not be seeing what I am seeing.
“As a party, we should not cause trouble for ourselves. I believe that the best thing to do is to protect democracy and our party, the APC.
“I also call on the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party to reaffirm our Constitution and institute a President of the party separate from the President of the country. I want us to adopt the African National Congress (ANC) model in South Africa, where you might be President of the Republic and not President of the party.
“So, I want us to test-run it when President Buhari leaves in 2023, for Buhari to become President of the party and there will be President of the republic,” he said.
AS far as supporters of the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, are concerned, the decision by Tinubu should not be seen as a threat to their yearnings and aspirations.
This is as the Organised Private Sector for Osinbajo (OPS 4 Osinbajo) emphasised that Osinbajo’s candidature offers much hope for citizens who have high expectations about job creation, increased earnings and growth.
The group under the aegis of the Progressive Consolidation Group (PCG) maintained that a rich array of strong contenders would only deepen the legitimacy of Osinbajo’s eventual victory.
“As genuine democrats who believe in the progressive ideals that Osinbajo stands for, we welcome others into the race because we strongly believe that a plurality of candidates and political parties only enhances the robustness of our democracy.
“We are mobilising for Osinbajo, a man who believes in the rule of law, a man who is a democrat and a great progressive too; nothing in his antecedents ever speaks of anti-democratic standards.
“Therefore, we do not only welcome the declaration by an aspirant; in fact, we anticipate having half a dozen more, so that Osinbajo would emerge from a very rich array of choices offered to the nation by the APC.
“As to the chances of success, we are very confident that Osinbajo will enter and win the race by virtue of all his good qualities and citizens’ expectations to see him build on the foundation laid by President Buhari,” chairman of PCG, Dr. Aliyu Kurfi, said.
MEANWHILE, some members and stakeholders of the ruling party have warned against allowing a situation whereby the courts will dictate the affairs of the party if necessary actions are not taken.
The stakeholders, who demanded that the process leading to the national convention of the party be made known urgently, added that competent hands should, however, be elected to avoid collapse of APC.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja at the APC stakeholders summit organised by the APC Rebirth Group with the theme: ‘Rebuilding the APC of our dreams,’ Director-General of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF), Salihu Moh Lukman, who was the keynote speaker, blamed the challenges confronting APC on lack of implementation of some of the decisions taken by its stakeholders.
The party chieftains also expressed concerns over the alleged refusal by the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee to take concrete steps aimed at ensuring the conduct of the national convention of the party next month.
Lukman accused the Buni-led caretaker committee of betraying the confidence reposed on him by the leadership of the party, adding that alleged moves by the caretaker committee to breach the February deadline for the conduct of the national convention is tantamount to disrespect for President Buhari and other leaders of the party.
Lukman identified five positions, which are Chairman, Secretary, National Organising Secretary, Legal Adviser and National Publicity Secretary as key positions that must not be left in the hands of misfits ahead of the general elections.
“If we don’t take time and do the proper things at the right time, courts would be running the affairs of the party,” Lukman warned.
While speaking on the party’s national convention slated for February, Lukman said the party needed leaders that would really be sincere and uphold the trust invested in them.
He said the party does not want leaders who would claim to know better than those who took decisions at meetings, this, he said was the problem the party was currently having.
According to him, it amounts to disrespect when a leader who is supposed to implement a decision jointly taken refused to do so.
“That is why we are where we are, a decision is clearly taken that February 5 will be the date for the party’s convention and somebody will sit down and is manipulating it,” he said.
Speaking with newsmen at the event, an aspirant for the office of national chairman, Mustapha Salihu, urged organisers of the summit to always “exploit all possible means within the party to advise and guide so that we don’t wash our dirty linens in the public.
“Definitely the convention will hold but you must allow those who have been saddled with the responsibility to come up with the most appropriate time, which I believe they hinted before that it will be in February. I believe they are putting finishing touches to the mode and conduct and the date that will be chosen. So, for me, it is still work in progress and we must give them that necessary support and give them that benefit of doubt to help us to have a very successful convention.”
The co-Convener of the APC stakeholders forum, Mr Usman Sidiq Abubakar, said his group has been vindicated over the penchant by the Buni committee of holding on to their job to the detriment of the party’s interest. Abubakar said the crisis rocking the party would worsen if Buni reneges on his promise to conduct the national convention next month.
GOVERNOR Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, has, however, declared again, yesterday, that the ruling party does not pose a threat to the PDP reclaiming power at the centre in 2023.
Wike, who stated this at the Oyo State Governor’s Office, Ibadan, when he led top party hierarchy to meet with Governor Seyi Makinde, stressed that the PDP must be united to forge ahead in the 2023 general elections.
Wike pointed out that the general mood of Nigerians showed they are tired of the present APC-led government and want a change in leadership.
Wike, who admitted that the Southern part of the country had canvassed for presidential candidate to come from the zone, maintained that the party must produce a candidate that would be acceptable to Nigerians.
Responding, Makinde urged those jostling for presidency to seek power to make the country better rather for their selfish interests.