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Buhari: In Search of Successor

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By Eric Elezuo

In a move that belies caution, President Muhammadu Buhari told the governors elected under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that as a law of reciprocity, he should be allowed to choose his successor just as the governors have had unrestricted powers in choosing their own successors.

Buhari made this remarks when he specifically invited and hosted the APC governors for a meeting at the Aso Rock Villa during the week, and went ahead to expressly permit governors seeking second term in office to go ahead.

In a 12-point statement that he personally read, Buhari told the governors “parties globally have always relied on their internal cohesion and a strong leadership brand to achieve bigger electoral fortunes’, and the APC will not be any different.

His remarks in full:

I am delighted to address this gathering of the Progressive Governors’ Forum as part of the consultative processes that have always strengthened the internal dynamics of our Party, the All Progressives Congress, (APC).

2. You will all recall that APC came to power at the center in 2015 through a cohesive machinery, notwithstanding its status as the opposition party. Similarly, in 2019, it was returned to power under my leadership, because of the dividends of democracy delivered to Nigerians irrespective of their political leanings.

3. The Party has since grown in strength and capacity to govern. The key to both electoral successes is the ability of the party to hold consultations and for its members to put the nation above other interests.

4. The transition 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.

5. 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.

6. 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 center, hold the great majority in various legislative chambers and also gain additional number of states at state levels.

7. In pursuit of the foregoing objectives, the Party has successfully established internal policies that promote continuity and smooth succession plans even at the state and local government levels. For example, first term Governors who have served credibly well have been encouraged to stand for re-election. Similarly, second term Governors have been accorded the privilege of promoting successors that are capable of driving their visions as well as the ideals of the party.

8. 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.

9. As we approach the Convention, I appeal to all of you 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 the candidate must be someone who would give the Nigerian masses a sense of victory and confidence even before the elections.

10. In keeping with the established internal policies of the Party and as we approach the Convention in a few days, therefore, I wish to solicit the reciprocity and support of the Governors and other stakeholders in picking my successor, who would fly the flag of our party for election into the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023.

11. I wish to assure you that the consultation process shall continue to ensure that all aspirants and stakeholders would be brought on board right through to the convention. This would also ensure that any anxiety occasioned by different factors are effectively brought under control and that our party emerges stronger.

12. I thank you all for listening. God bless you all. God bless our Party, the APC and God bless our nation, Nigeria.

The address which, took the governors by storm, led to a series of meetings to find if not a successor for Mr. President, but a consensus candidate. Much as the meetings ended in stalemate, Buhari is still bent on selecting someone that he will hand over to come May 29, 2023, a situation that has aroused condemnation from opposition parties, especially the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In his reaction, Senator Dino, who was defeated in his quest to return as senator representing Kogi West, warned via a video that went viral that Buhari sounded undemocratic in his utterance about a successor, saying that the president was taking Nigerians for a ride, and plans to impose a choice only accepted by him on Nigerians. He cautioned Nigerians on alertness as the president and the APC were bent on foisting a unwanted person on Nigerians, albeit undemocratically.

However, the president is not backing down as news has emerged, saying that Buhari has shortlisted two candidates among the 23 aspirants that bought the expression and nomination forms to vie for the party’s ticket to contest the 2023 presidential election. Reports say the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo and Senate President, Ahmad Lawan are the preferred candidates of the president.

Apart from former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, other aspirants are the Senate President Ahmad Lawan and former ministers Rotimi Amaechi, Ogbonnaya Onu, Godswill Akpabio, and Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba.

Serving governors who are also aspiring to be president are Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Ben Ayade (Cross River) and Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa).

Others are former Senate President Ken Nnamani, former House of Representatives Speaker, Dimeji Bankole, and serving senators Ibikunle Amosun, Ajayi Boroffice, and Rochas Okorocha.

President Buhari’s running mate in 2011, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Uju Ken-Ohanenye, Nicholas Felix, Ahmad Rufai Sani, Tein Jack-Rich, Ikeobasi Mokelu are also expected to face the party’s presidential screening panel.

But in a twist, the chairman of the APC Presidential Screening Committee, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, announced that 10 out of the 23 aspirants, who appeared for screening were disqualified. He did not however, mention the names of the disqualified or the cleared.

On Saturday, Buhari, in the quest to find the consensus candidate that could eventually become his successor, met leaders and presidential aspirants of the party at the state house, Abuja, and advised on the need to consult, build consensus and come up with a formidable candidate before the primary election between June 6-8, 2022.

Buhari’s intents were elaborated in a statement signed by the Special Assistant on Media and Publicity in part:

“Looking at this assemblage of personalities and considering your rich pedigree of accomplishments in life, I have come to the conclusion that our party, the APC, is rich in human resources and also that our nation is blessed with capable people that can successfully steer the ship of state into the future,” Buhari said, adding that “I must salute your courage and your selfless spirit, in volunteering to serve in the highest office of the land.”

Mr Adedina quoted the president as saying that: “Our party, the APC, has won two successive presidential elections in 2015, first when we were in the opposition and in 2019 when I sought re-election. Both processes were achieved through unity of purpose, strategic alignment, consultation, fairness, determination and effective leadership. In both instances, national and party interests were overriding factors in our deliberations and decision-making.

“The 2023 General Elections are fast approaching in a global, regional and national environment that is constantly changing and challenging. This demands that our party should become more aware of the changing environment, be responsive to the yearnings of our citizens, re-evaluate our strategy and strengthen our internal mechanism so that we would sustain the electoral successes.

“I am pleased to note that the party, recognizing the significance of all these demands, has over time developed several democratically acceptable processes and policies, that promote consultation, internal cohesion and leadership to facilitate victories at the polls.”

Speaking on the meeting he held with governors, Buhari stressed that “Amongst others things, I reminded the APC Governors of the need for the party to proceed to the 2023 Presidential elections with strength, unity of purpose and to present a flag bearer who will give Nigerians a sense of hope and confidence, while ensuring victory for our party. I extend a similar reminder to all of you distinguished aspirants.

“Given these circumstances, I charge you to recognize the importance of the stability and unity of the party, which cannot be overemphasized.

“Similarly, I wish to remind you that our choice of flag bearer must be formidable, appealing to the electorate across the board and should command such ability to unify the country and capacity to address our critical challenges.

“Ahead of the Convention, the party machinery has screened and found all aspirants eminently qualified. Recognizing this fact, the Screening Committee has, amongst others, recommended that consensus building through consultation, be intensified.

“Without prejudice to your qualifications, I urge all of you to hold consultations amongst yourselves and with the party, with a view to building a consensus in a manner that would help the party reduce the number of aspirants, bring up a formidable candidate and scale down the anxiety of party members.”

Concluding his statement with the aspirants, the president said that “until we successfully make the choice on the candidate that will fly the flag of our party for the presidential elections and make the party stronger. I seek your support in this all important responsibility.”

Meanwhile, it has been reported that the party is not happy with the national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who is also an aspirant, for his recent outburst during a consultation meeting with Ogun State delegates in Abeokuta.

Tinubu has alluded that Buhari became president riding on his back, just as others. The aspirant has denied the allegation however, saying that his speech was misinterpreted.

But on Saturday night, the eleven northern governors elected under the platform of APC called on all presidential aspirants of northern extraction to withdraw their aspirations for their southern compatriots in the interest of national unity.

The governors made this known in a statement signed by all of the them after rising from an emergency meeting on Saturday.

The statement revealed that the decision was in support of President Muhammadu Buhari’s call for a consensus candidate that will emerge as his successor as well as for the interest of national unity.

“We therefore wish to strongly recommend to President Muhammadu Buhari that the search for a successor as the APC’s presidential candidate be limited to our compatriots from the southern states. We appeal to all aspirants from the northern states to withdraw in the national interest and allow only the aspirants from the south to proceed to the primaries,” the statement disclosed.

The governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Badaru, who is also a presidential aspirant, was advised to step down in solidarity to the decision.

All the 11 governors were signatories to the statement.

It would be recalled that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) elected Atiku Abubakar, a northerner, as it’s presidential flag bearer for the 2023 election.

Read the statement in full:

Statement by Northern States’ APC Governors and Political Leaders

APC governors and political leaders from the northern states of Nigeria today met to review the political situation and to further support our Party in providing progressive leadership amidst our national challenges.

During our discussions, we welcomed President Muhammadu Buhari’s invitation to governors and other stakeholders to contribute to the emergence of a strong presidential candidate for the APC.

After careful deliberation, we wish to state our firm conviction that after eight years in office of President Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the APC for the 2023 elections should be one of our teeming members from the southern states of Nigeria. It is a question of honour for the APC, an obligation that is not in anyway affected by the decisions taken by another political party. We affirm that upholding this principle is in the interest of building a stronger, more united and more progressive country.

We therefore wish to strongly recommend to President Muhammadu Buhari that the search for a successor as the APC’s presidential candidate be limited to our compatriots from the southern states. We appeal to all aspirants from the northern states to withdraw in the national interest and allow only the aspirants from the south to proceed to the primaries. We are delighted by the decision of our esteemed colleague, His Excellency, Governor Abubakar Badaru to contribute to this patriotic quest by withdrawing his presidential aspiration.

The APC has a duty to ensure that the 2023 elections offer a nation-building moment, reaffirming that a democratic pathway to power exists for all who value cooperation and build national platforms. This moment calls for the most sober and inclusive approach to selecting our party’s candidate, and we call on all APC leaders to fulfil their responsibility in this regard.

Signed, 4th June 2022:

Aminu Bello Masari Governor of Katsina State
Abubakar Sani Bello Governor of Niger State
Abdullahi A. Sule Governor of Nasarawa State
Prof. B.G. Umara Zulum Governor of Borno State
Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai Governor of Kaduna State
Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya Governor of Gombe State
Bello M. Matawalle Governor of Zamfara State
Simon Bako Lalong Governor of Plateau State
Senator Aliyu Wamakko Former Governor of Sokoto State
Dr. A.U. Ganduje Governor of Kano State
Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu Governor of Kebbi State

As Mr. President’s search for a successor through consensus candidate continues, all eyes are on June 6-8, 2023 at the Eagles Square, where the party will hold its presidential primaries.

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You’ve Nothing to Offer Nigerians, Only Insults, Akwa Ibom Gov Slams Tinubu

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Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, on Monday, replied the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, saying that he (Tinubu) always resorts to abusing and insulting people during campaigns because he has nothing to bring to the table for Nigerians.

He also said that despite being insulted by the former Lagos State Governor, he would prefer to allow peace to reign by ignoring him and focusing on helping install good governance to rescue Nigerians from their present woes.

Emmanuel spoke on Monday evening at Government House, Uyo while inaugurating newly appointed Permanent Secretaries, Chairmen and Members of Boards and Commissions, as well as a Transition Committee to ensure the smooth transition of power to the next administration.

Recall that Tinubu had during his rally in Uyo Monday afternoon, reportedly said, “Akwa Ibom, that boy wey bring Atiku here, wey de call himself Governor, tell him enough is enough! He lives in my backyard in Lagos, If no be say we be one, I would have driven him home. You see that mansion he is living, I would just use lizards, pigeons and scorpions to put him inside.“

But reacting few hours later, the Akwa Ibom State Governor said, “for the country to remain in peace, one party must ‘play saint’ and that is why he would refrain from replying Tinubu.

Emmanuel who is the Chairman of the PDP presidential campaigns said, “I also go to other states, and if you watch our campaigns, my principal (Atiku Abubakar) has never spoken about any Governor, he has never spoken openly about Asiwaju before.”

He added that it was unfortunate that Tinubu, who was granted state-owned facilities such as the airport, security, stadium, and a good atmosphere to come in and sell his manifesto, ended up coming to insult the integrity of over 7.9 million Akwa Ibom people.

The Governor wondered if it is possible for any Akwa Ibomite to go to Lagos that Tinubu stays or the actual state that he hails from, to insult Tinubu in like manner and still be allowed to safely return home, “but here our people at the stadium including some state governors just laughed and applauded him.”

“What makes him think he will govern Nigeria? If I reply him now, people will call me and say, haba oga you are not like that. But I will reply him one day. There is nothing like ‘emilokan’ (it is my turn) here, Nigeria is in God’s hands.”

He maintained further that despite being the highest revenue contributor to the federation account, Akwa Ibom State has not gotten a single kilometre of road from the APC-led Federal Government for nearly 8 years adding that the poor response from the Federal Government also caused the delayed commencement of the seaport in the state.

Meanwhile, the governor thanked the newly appointed Permanent Secretaries for accepting the onerous task of service, and urged them to see themselves as ambassadors and work towards raising the bar of leadership which would encourage productivity and promote good working relationship with subordinates in the service.

“This is one thing I promised Akwa Ibom people that appointment of Permanent Secretaries shall be totally on merit and not by mercy, let those that can do the work be given the opportunity. Permanent Secretary is not a promotion, it is an appointment on merit.

Governor Emmanuel also reiterated his commitments towards enhancing efficiency within Civil Service, noting that during his administration civil servants have been promoted on yearly basis.

He assured that before he exits office more Permanent Secretaries would be appointed into the service to fill vacant positions left by the ones who retired.

Addressing Chairmen of Boards and Commissions, Governor Emmanuel who described them as pillars in government, acknowledged their commitment particularly, Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection & Waste Management Agency, Prince Akpan Ikim, for winning laurels for the state through his outstanding performance in keeping and making the state the cleanest in Nigeria for five consecutive years from 2018 through 2022, and tasked others to create an impact that will stand them out.

In the same vein, the Transition Committee members were handed the task of ensuring a seamless transition of government to an incoming administration, and also verify all projects executed by the present administration.

The newly appointed Permanent Secretaries are; Mfon Inuaesiet Edemekong Esq., Dr. Stephen Effiong, Atim Chelly Okoko, Iquo Okon Abia Esq., Uwem Sunday Andrew-Essien, Isaiah Robson Ntekim and Emaeyak Nyong Akpan as Auditor-General for Local Government.

The Transition Committee has Mrs. Ekereobong Umoh -Chairman, Uko Udom SAN, Prof Augustine Umoh, Dr. Ini Adiakpan, Mrs. Nsemeke Daniel, Dr. Nathaniel Adiakpan, Mr Elijah Udoiyak, Mrs. Esther Inyang, Pastor Uwem Andrew-Essien, Mr. Isaiah Ntekim, Mr. Effiong Ekpenyong and Mrs. Bella Akpanya as members.

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PDP Condemns Attack on Buhari in Kano, Blames Tinubu, Ganduje

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The Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Council, has blamed the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and the governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, for the attacks on the convoy of President Muhammadu Buhari, during a visit to the state on Monday.

The spokesperson of the campaign council, Dino Melaye, who shared one of the videos from the reported attack, wrote, “The fight between Tinubu and Buhari is entering a new dimension. The attack in Kano was properly coordinated and funded allegedly by Asiwaju.

“The meeting to push Buhari to submission or face sponsored attack in the north was said to be hatched in Bourdillon. Me, I am busy with Atiku.”

A political activist, Deji Adeyanju, who shared another video of the reported attack, said, “They are showing Buhari and APC Shege in Kano and many northern states.”

Similarly, the PDP in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, on Monday also blamed Tinubu and the Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, for the attack.

According to the party, the attack was designed to undermine the Presidency, cause confusion, trigger violence in the country, disrupt the conduct of the 2023 general elections “and derail our democracy having realised that he cannot win in a peaceful, free and fair electoral process.”

The statement read in part, “The PDP invites Nigerians to note how Governor Abdullahi Ganduje attempted to abridge President Buhari’s movement and even tried to stop him from visiting Kano State.

“More disquieting is the fact that the APC Presidential Campaign sought to humiliate and harm President Buhari while performing his official duties in Kano.

“It should be noted that the APC presidential candidate has been displaying open aversion and making inciting statements against President Buhari since Mr President’s declaration, in line with democratic best practice all over the world that Nigerians should freely vote for any candidate and party of their choice in the 2023 general elections.

“The apparent frustration of Asiwaju Tinubu to resort to encourage or condone violence is fueled by his entitlement mentality, that it is his turn to be President, despite his numerous ineligibility and disability baggage.”

Ologunagba reminded Nigerians about Tinubu’s infamous statement in London where he declared to his supporters that “political power is not going to be served in a restaurant, it is not served a la carte.”

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Organ Harvesting: Ekweremadu Battles for Freedom, Appears in Court Tuesday

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A former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, will on Tuesday appear again in court in the United Kingdom where he has been accused of human trafficking.

The lawmaker was in June 2022 arrested at Heathrow Airport in London after Staines Police Station received a report from a young man claiming to have been trafficked into the UK.

The young man, who made the report shortly after arriving in the UK from Nigeria, also alleged that he was made to undergo some medical tests, none of which he consented to.

Ekweremadu was immediately arraigned before a Magistrate’s Court for bringing a child into the UK to harvest his organs.

While the lawmaker had been in custody since June 23, his wife, Beatrice, who was arrested with him, was granted bail by a criminal court in London shortly after their arrest.

Monday (today) makes it 221 days since Ekweremadu was placed in the custody of UK authorities.

The case against the lawmaker which had been slated for May was later scheduled for January 31.

The 60-year-old, who denied the allegations against him, will again appear before High Court Judge, Mr Justice Johnson.

His daughter, Sonia, had on November 7, 2022, appeared in court to defend the accusation of trafficking a homeless man into the UK to harvest his organs for herself.

According to Daily Mail, the 25-year-old, who is battling a kidney-related illness, pleaded not guilty to the charge level against her when she appeared again in court on January 13.

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