Chief Elias Mbam, a governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ebonyi, says imposition of governorship candidate on the party will not work.
Mbam, who is the chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) stated this at a news conference on Sunday in Abakaliki.
Mbam was reacting to a statement credited to Governor Dave Umahi, endorsing Mr Francis Nwifuru, Speaker of Ebonyi House of Assembly as his successor and APC candidate for the 2023 governorship election in the state.
He said that Umahi’s endorsement and adoption of Nwifuru could cause an implosion in the party and mar its chances of electoral victory in the state in the forthcoming general elections.
Mbam noted that the Electoral Act, APC’s constitution, and indeed other extant documents on elections in Nigeria did not make provisions for the imposition of aspirants on any political party.
According to him, the unilateral decision did not receive the approval of critical stakeholders of the party, and therefore will not be accepted.
“I heard the statement like every other person; I wasn’t at the venue where the statement was made, and I haven’t been communicated on that.
“But, I’m concerned and worried as a critical stakeholder of our party because if the statement is correct, it means he has closed the political space against potential aspirants.
“Though forms have not yet been sold, I do not think it is good for our party.
“INEC and the party have emphasised that there should be no imposition of candidates.
“If in the disguise of anointing or endorsement, a candidate is imposed on the party, it will not be in the interest of the party.
“And it will close the space against other aspirants, and we will run the risk of losing the 2023 election,” Mbam said.
The RMAFC chairman urged the governor, as the leader of APC in Ebonyi to allow a level playing field for all the aspirants in the race for the party’s governorship ticket.
“I know the governor is the leader of the party in the state; and so, all of us who are members of the party in the state are his children.
“I expect, as the father of the party, he will give every child equal opportunity, and allow the people to determine who becomes their governor,” he added.
The aspirant, however, assured that the alleged endorsement and adoption of the speaker would not deter him from pursuing his dream to become the next governor of the state.
“The endorsement will not stop my aspiration, I’m still in the race, I’m consulting with stakeholders across the state.
“By education, work experience, and social contacts with people across the country, I am very qualified to lead our state.
“I have always indicated my interest to serve my state, and I’m well prepared for this service.
“I don’t think that, among those who have indicated interest, there is anyone who knows the state more than I do,” Mbam said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Umahi announced Nwifuru’s endorsement as APC’s gubernatorial candidate on Friday, at the burial of late Chief Dandy Igweomoke, father of Mrs Chioma Nweze, Commissioner for Trade and Investment.