The All Progressives Congress, on Friday in Abuja, said it had yet to determine where it would zone its presidential ticket to.
This came days after the party commenced the sale of nomination and expression of interest forms for various electoral offices.
The party’s National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, disclosed this to State House correspondents shortly after he presented the party’s governorship candidate in Ekiti State, Biodun Oyebanji, to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
When asked where the governing party would zone its presidential ticket to, Adamu said such a decision was beyond the National Working Committee and was the prerogative of the entire party, which he acknowledged, was bigger than the chairman.
The PUNCH had reported that the APC, during its National Executive Committee meeting last week Wednesday, gave full powers to the NWC led by Adamu, to take decisions on its behalf for 90 days.
This empowers the NWC to take critical decisions without approval from the NEC.
However, Adamu said, “I am today privileged to be the chairman of the party. The party is greater than me. The party has not made a decision and I cannot pre-empt what the party’s decision will be.
“We also do know that there are citizens who are qualified to contest, but who are not serious contenders, who will just want to take anything cheap by the roadside and assert what they call their rights and create problems for our party.
“We’re also aware that some parties that have no chance whatsoever to win the presidential election in Nigeria will sponsor people to create problems for us and to divert our attention, whichever party is involved in that.”
Adamu also noted that the APC had no regrets about the high cost of nomination forms for aspirants seeking elective offices.
He noted that the high cost was justified by the party’s need to raise sufficient funds to successfully prosecute the coming elections.
He said, “On the issue of cost. Yeah, I’ve been listening with rapt attention to the hues and cries from our lovers and our adversaries. We have no regrets whatsoever. We did some homework; we know what it takes to go through primaries, go through presidential campaigns and go through elections for the President. We know what it takes.
“Over and above that, yes, we are the ruling party. Yes, we need to set examples in what we do, but I ask you, I don’t know which part of the country you come from if God forbid, your traditional ruler dies today, contestants to that office will give more than N100m. It’s no news.
“When I contested for the Senate, all I paid was just a token; N5m, N10m, including the expression. When my colleague wanted to be the chairman of the party in the days of Adams Oshimhole, it cost him N500,000. Today, for me, just as an example, to contest the national chairman of our party, I had to pay N20m.
“The enormity of work that has to be done will be done with the money. We don’t want to continue begging. So, I want to say that we’re able to mobilise sufficient funds to support our efforts to win the election. Some protests may be well-founded, I have no quarrel with that, but the propensity of this, that people just assume it’s the ruling party.”
Receiving the Ekiti APC governorship flag bearer, Buhari noted that Oyebanji’s governorship would be a continuation of service since he had served in several capacities, including as Chief of Staff, commissioner, and Secretary to the State Government.
He wished the candidate “the best of luck.”
Adamu was accompanied to the Presidential Villa by the Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Kebbi State Governor and Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, Atiku Bagudu; and the National Secretary of the APC, Senator Iyiola Omisore.
Meanwhile, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndgibo Worldwide, and the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, knocked Adamu for saying the APC was undecided on what zone the presidential ticket of the party would go to.
The spokesman for Ohanaeze, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, said in a telephone conversation with one of our correspondents that the APC was “vacillating and insulating like a pendulum,” because it knew the truth.
He urged the ruling party to “be wise and do the right thing for equity and fairness to all the regions.”
Ogbonnia stated, “They know the truth, that is why they are moving left, right, and centre like a pendulum. It is not good that this should be the identity of the APC.
“The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, is the leader of the party today. He should step in and take decisions just like former President Olusegun Obasanjo took the decision in 2006 that a northerner should be the President since he was from the South.
“Because of the power-rotation principle agreed upon by the party, the Presidency had to move to the North. All eyes are on Buhari to do to the South-East what Obasanjo did to the North-West. They have seen the truth and don’t want to accept it.”
The Secretary-General of Afenifere, Dr. Sola Ebiseni, said Adamu’s statement did not come to the group as a surprise.
Noting that the country was bigger than any one particular group, Ebiseni stated, “That the new national chairman of the APC is now wavering on the zoning of its presidential ticket to the South after he has secured his own position based on that understanding did not come to us in the Afenifere as a surprise because we saw it coming and our leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has used every available platform to warn those who may be so deceived. These are all permutations driving towards the ultimate decision on what Nigeria will make of itself.
“While it may sound predictive that having swapped the party positions between the North and the South, the positions in government such as the President, Vice-President, Senate President, and Speaker of the House of Representatives will equally be so exchanged by the party; the prized seat of the President and the Leviathan powers at its command are too tempting to be allowed to pass by those who believe Nigeria is their exclusive estate. This is the reason behind the deliberate resistance to restructuring.”
Ebiseni further stated that for the country to survive as a corporate entity, true federalism must be enthroned, and “all regions must have equal opportunities for all the ethnic nationalities and citizens.”
Also speaking, the spokesman for the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Mr. Ken Robinson, noted that the indecision by the ruling APC was “unnecessary, insensitive and completely out of place.”
Robinson told Saturday PUNCH, “The APC saying they are undecided on the issue of zoning is unnecessary. In 2014, it was the same APC that zoned its presidency to the North, producing Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). The national chairmanship position was zoned to the South, where Pa Akande emerged as the interim national chairman before a former governor of Edo State and then later, Adams Oshiomole. Today, they have reversed those positions earlier occupied by southern Nigerians and given them to the North.
“It is, therefore, expected that the presidency will go to southern Nigeria. If the national chairman of the party is now saying they are undecided, that is unacceptable. It is completely out of place. It is inconsistent and is against protocols that have been established since 1979 and zoning since independence.”
He stressed that if the APC eventually threw the race open, it would be a “call for more disaffection, dissension, and crisis that have already engulfed our country.”
APC did not promise South presidency – Northern groups
However, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, the spokesman for the Coalition of Northern Groups, a conglomerate of over 40 pro-North bodies, said the APC did not promise any region the presidency.
He noted that the best move for all political parties was to throw the ticket open so that candidates could emerge on merit.
He stated, “As far as the CNG is concerned, that is the proper thing to do. We have never had faith in that zoning arrangement that does not actually look at the merit of candidates but their region, religion, or tribe.
“We have all along been of the view that until that day when we are able to elect a leader we can all trust and rely on as a Nigerian President, then we have not reached true nationhood.
“In any case, there is no evidence that the APC had in the first place bound itself to any arrangement on zoning or rotation of power on a regional basis.
“That arrangement had all along been most pronounced in the PDP and even they could not get it right. The agreement was respected only in the first four years of Obasanjo and it became shaky towards the end of his second term with the notorious third term agenda, which was aborted.”