Primaries: Confusion trails Buhari, governors meeting as APC adjusts timetable

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The confusion within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was palpable, yesterday, when the National Working Committee (NWC) released yet another revised timetable and schedule of activities for the governorship, state House of Assembly, Senate and House of Representatives primary elections.

The new schedule, which comes a day after the party adjusted the old timetable, had a slight alteration in the dates.

Unlike in the previous schedule of activities, the primary for the 340 Senatorial aspirants that were slated for Friday, May 27, will now hold on Saturday, May 28. On the other hand, the primary for the House of Representatives aspirants, earlier scheduled for Saturday, May 28, has been shifted back to Friday, May 27.

Accordingly, the date for primaries of the 145 governorship and state House of Assembly aspirants remains the same – Thursday, May 26.

While apologising for the last-minute adjustment, National Publicity Secretary of the party, Felix Morka, disclosed that “the special convention for the presidential primary will still hold as scheduled on Sunday, May 29 to Monday, May 30.”

The suspense over the suspended presidential screening scheduled to hold, yesterday, continued last night, as indications emerged that the proposed meeting of President Muhammadu Buhari with progressive governors might be delayed till another day.

This is as news emerged that former President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday met with President Buhari’s influential nephew, Alhaji Mamman Daura, in Abuja.

Details of the meeting were not established as at press time, but sources said it might be connected to Sunday’s presidential primary election and his presidential ambition, supporting speculations of a consensus candidate among the 25 aspirants that bought the N100 million nomination form.

“Jonathan has visited Mamman Daura to seek APC consensus candidacy as the further push for President Buhari to back him. The President, some NWC members, led by the chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, APC governors and other key leaders of the party would soon meet with all the presidential aspirants at the villa,” the source informed.

Earlier, the ruling party had shelved its screening of presidential aspirants for the third time till after President Buhari’s meeting with the aspirants at the Villa last night. It was gathered the meeting would discuss modalities for a hitch-free primary and how to foster cohesion in the ruling party ahead of next year’s election.

Its National Organising Secretary, Suliaman Arugungu, on Sunday, said the screening earlier slated for Monday, was to take place Tuesday, but Morka confirmed that the exercise had been put on hold, adding that a new date will be announced as soon as a date is agreed upon.

He said: “I issued a statement on the exercise yesterday (Monday). The screening of presidential aspirants is on hold. It is not held on Tuesday. I will announce the new date as soon as a decision is reached to that effect.”

The NWC was expected to present the list of members of the Presidential Screening Committee to President Buhari yesterday. It was learnt that the Organising Directorate of the party had compiled the list of members of the Presidential Screening Committee (PSC) and committees to handle the three primaries slated for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

It was gathered that the committees were ratified by NWC at its meeting on Monday. Also, the NWC resolved that the National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu should present the list of the committees to the President before making it public.

Governors on the platform of APC, who met in Abuja on Monday night, were expected to discuss their position on the presidential primary with President Buhari last night.

But The Guardian checks at the villa last night showed there were no signs of the meeting holding. Attempts to reach the President’s spokesmen, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, were not successful, as calls made to their phones rang out without response.

A source informed that the “likelihood of the meeting holding in the villa is zero as there is no sign to that effect, but maybe outside the villa, I cannot say.”

The meeting of the progressives governors was held on Monday night at the Kebbi Governor’s Lodge in Abuja with the governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, hosting to discuss issues of interest as the party moved toward the various primaries from state Assembly up to the presidential primary.

It was gathered that governors agreed with the party’s decision to conduct a presidential primary instead of adopting a consensus option. The decision was made public by Joe Igbokwe, an APC chieftain yesterday.

He said the governors agreed to a free and fair election for all the aspirants who purchased and submitted nomination forms.

ONE of the presidential aspirants, Rochas Okorocha, has said a fellow aspirant, Bola Tinubu, is in distress. Okorocha said Tinubu feels the APC should compensate him with the presidency for his contribution to the party.

Appearing on Arise TV yesterday, the Imo West Senator said Tinubu’s feeling is due to his lifelong ambition to be president following his contributions to the APC.

“I think it’s just natural and that everybody should know, and I don’t know what’s behind the mind of Tinubu but I respect him a lot. I think Tinubu is in distress because he feels that it’s time to compensate him on the basis of the role he played in the formation of APC, which some of us were part of it.

“So, everybody has a reason why he’s coming out and these things define power and strength. He (Tinubu) believed that he has made people and this is the time people should allow him or make him or something. More like a reward system.”

The former Imo governor stressed that the ruling party should zone the presidency to the Southeast in 2023.

MEANWHILE, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will collaborate with the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to prosecute candidates of political parties that submit forged academic credentials.

INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, stated this at a meeting on the Collaboration for Effective Tax Compliance of Political Office Holders, convened at the instance of the Joint Tax Board (JTB) yesterday. Other agencies represented at the meeting were the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Yakubu said beyond the nullification of elections of candidates that submitted fake or forged credentials, he believed that such individuals should be prosecuted.

“We are already collaborating with ICPC, which is prosecuting candidates who submitted fake or forged academic credentials to INEC, as a result of which elections were nullified by the Election Petition Tribunals.

“Beyond the nullification of elections, such persons should be prosecuted. And I am happy that the ICPC is handling that responsibility.”

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