NO fewer than five presidential aspirants on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) including Senate President Ahmad Lawan have submitted their expression of interest and nomination forms.
Governors Mai Mala Buni (Yobe) and Hope Uzodimma (Imo) alongside dozens of Senators submitted the forms on behalf of Lawan at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja.
The immediate past Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, who submitted his form at the party secretariat earlier in the day, expressed readiness to abide by the decision of the party on the choice of its presidential flag bearer.
This is even as the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has withdrawn from the presidential contest. Onu, who spoke through his campaign spokesman, Dr. Uche Egenti, demanded an open and transparent process leading to a fair primary election.
He said: “I am not in the administrative process of the party. Every party member is supposed to abide by the rules that own the party. If the party feels that consensus is the right way to make Nigeria work so be it.
“My principal is a man of faith. I don’t need anyone to tell me that you know that very well; that he is a man that does not like controversies. He will be at peace with anything that will make Nigeria work.
“We need transparency, sincerity of purpose, deep discipline because only when you are transparent and sincere, when you embrace deep discipline and show the world that you are prepared to lead well that everybody will be happy.
“My prayer is that the party should be sincere, strong and be credible in whatever thing they do so that they can show the world that they are ready to get Nigeria working again.”
Among those that had submitted their expression of interest and nomination forms at the national secretariat of the party were Governor Ben Ayade (Cross River), Tein Jack- Rich and the former Governor of Zamfara State, Senator Ahmed Yerima.
Sources, however, disclosed that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, might have withdrawn from the presidential race, as he was yet to submit his forms as at 6:00pm yesterday.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan may also have dropped his purported bid to reclaim the exalted seat, as he also did not submit the nomination forms procured by a band of pastoralists as at 6:00pm yesterday.
Ngige, in a statement he personally signed and made available to newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, claimed that his constituents, political associates, friends and well-meaning Nigerians who bought the nomination form for him drew him into the race.
“My declaration was sequel to pressure on me from my constituents, political associates, friends and other well-meaning Nigerians, who felt I possess the necessary qualifications and experience for the job. Some of these supporters even taxed themselves to procure the Expression of Interest/Nomination Forms of our party, the APC, for me. The forms however are yet to be filled and submitted,” he said.
“As a result of this, I will NOT be participating in any of the internal party processes of the said election, starting with the primary. My constituents, political associates and well-wishers across the country are by this statement informed of this latest decision, which also has the blessing and support of the overwhelming majority, hence supersedes any other interest, personal or otherwise,” he added.
Meanwhile, stakeholders of the party have warned that the imposition of a presidential candidate during the primary could spell doom for the party.
The Convener of the APC rebirth group, Aliyu Audu, stressed the need for the conduct of a free and fair presidential primary. He noted: “The caveat here is that the primaries must be free, fair, credible and transparent. And if APC cannot give free and fair primaries, then they are simply telling Nigerians that they cannot be trusted as a government to ensure a free and fair general election.
“If the villa decides who should succeed Buhari, then what is democracy? Then it becomes appointment. So, the very fact that the villa is divided is a pleasure to me. I do not even think that it is right for the villa at this stage to tell us who our next president should be.”
Former national treasurer of the party, Adamu Fanda, also spoke in the same vein, adding that it behooves the party to ensure the conduct of free and fair primaries.
His words: “I have been asking myself what they are up to. My stand is that the party must conduct a free and fair primary. No Matter how many they are, even if they are up to 100, it is their entitlement. But a winner must emerge through a free, fair and transparent primary election. That is the only thing that would achieve victory for the party.”
Emefiele had approached the court, presided over by Justice D.C. Maidoh, through one Augustine Eddiego, seeking an order to enable him to stay in office while contesting for the Presidency.
He sought for “An order restraining the defendants from treating the provision of Section 9 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007, as amended, as a bar on the Governor and Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from political offices, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice herein, in this suit which borders on the interpretation and supremacy of the 1999 CFRN.”
Section 9 of the CBN Act provides that, “The Governor and the Deputy Governors shall devote the whole of their time to the service of the Bank and while holding office, shall not engage in any full or part-time employment or vocation, whether remunerated or not, except such personal or charitable causes as may be determined by the Board and which do not conflict with or detract from their full-time duties.”
The court granted the order last Thursday and adjourned the case to May 25 this year. The court documents sighted by The Guardian stated: “And the court, upon reading through the Motion papers and hearing C.N. Ofiah Esq. for the claimants/applicants, ordered as follows:
“Applicants also deposed to an affidavit of urgency. From the processes before this court, I find that the said application at this stage has merit, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.
“In the circumstances, in line with Order 39, Rule 3 of our rules, this motion is hereby granted. The motion on notice is accordingly adjourned to 25/5/2022 for hearing.
“The applicant is to enter undertaking if the order sought ought not to have been made.”