President Muhammadu Buhari all but endorsed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo after he told the presidential aspirants on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to pick a consensus candidate amongst themselves using the presidential screening committees ranking as guide.
Buhari in a meeting with the APC presidential aspirants on Saturday night, President Buhari handed each aspirant the ranking of the presidential screening committee to help them make their decision.
Chronicle NG reports that Prof. Osinbajo was ranked top by the committee led by former APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, mkaing him the clear favourite to emerge based on experience, competence and capability.
In a statement by the President’s spokesperson, Femi Adesina, Buhari said, national and party interests should be overriding factors in our deliberations and decision-making, hinting at how the APC won in 2015 and 2019.
“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.”
The President recalled the consultation he had held with stakeholders “that would help the electoral fortunes of our party, beginning with the State Governors. This is the second in the series and I still look forward to meeting with party stakeholders. These steps are being taken to ensure that the unity and cohesion of the party are sustained and to provide direction.
“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.”
Saying the APC will on Monday June 6, 2022 commence its national convention during which one candidate will be picked by delegates to fly the flag of the party for the 2023 Presidential Election, President Buhari said he was aware that there is anxiety among party members about the outcome of the process.
“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.”
President Buhari assured that in the interest of the nation and the party, he would continue to provide effective leadership during the transition processes and on-going consultations, “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.”
Earlier, national chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu had promised that all stakeholders of the party would be reached in the consultation process.
Responding on behalf of the aspirants, former Governor of old Abia State and immediate past Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, thanked the President for his leadership and guidance, pledging that they would hold the consultations as counseled “for the unity and strength of our party, the APC.”