Seven presidential aspirants on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, have dismissed the names of five presidential aspirants purportedly presented to President Muhammadu Buhari for him to select a consensus candidate.
The aspirants stressed that they were not consulted before the Governors arrived at the decision.
The aggrieved aspirants in a terse statement issued in the early hours of Tuesday, shortly after a brief meeting in Abuja, described the move as shambolic and an already failed attempt to sideline other aspirants particularly those from the South-East and South South.
Describing the move as a joke taken too far, the presidential hopefuls disclosed that the move was total absurdity as it was against the directive of President Buhari.
The aspirants are Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade; former Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba; former Minister for Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, former governor Rochas Okorocha and businessman Tein Jack-Rich.
Their position was contained in a joint statement issued by Ogbonnaya Onu on their behalf.
They distanced themselves from the purported list of five presidential asprantd that the governors reportedly presented to President Buhari.
According to them, the motive of the Governors was in their selfish personal interest, not the South’s.
They also clarified that at no time did the President equivocally support zoning of the Presidency to the South, saying that though they were in support of the Presidency going to the South especially the Southeast neither they nor other South-East presidential aspirants were consulted before any or such decision was taken.
Urging Nigerians to disregard the report, Onu stressed that neither the Governors’ Forum nor Northern Governors had any moral or constitutional jurisdiction to determine the political fate of the South.
The aspirants queried the alleged selection of only one candidate from Southeast which had never produced Nigeria’s president and the picking of three from the Southwest, a zone that has had 16 years at the Presidency and the inclusion of the one from the South-South, a zone which has also produced a President for six years.
Onu pointed out that the governors were merely acting based on gratifications being promised to them by a certain Yoruba aspirant from the Southwest, who was also included in the list.
Onu said that five of the northern governors had been promised the office of Vice President, which had suddenly prompted some of the governors to push for the zoning of the All Progressive Congress presidential ticket to the South.
According to him, governors were paying lip service to their reason for zoning the Presidency to the South, claiming it was based on equity and justice.
He said that if truly they meant their words, the Southeast must be considered first for the Presidency and its aspirants subsequently tabled before Buhari to select from.
Rallying support for the National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, the presidential aspirants commended the decisions made so far by the party leadership.
The aspirants also held that the party leadership remained the official organ through which decisions were made and adhered to, while urging all stakeholders to galvanise support for the Adamu-led executive.
The statement read: “In the past few hours we have been bombarded with calls and messages from my supporters and concerned Nigerians on a list of five Presidential aspirants submitted to President Buhari to choose from.
“As long as we are concerned no list has been submitted to Mr. President, the move by the Governors is considered a joke taken to the extreme with the aim of playing with the intellect of Nigerians particularly us from the South-East.
“Mr President’s directive is very simple, that all Presidential aspirants including those from the North should meet and harmonise inorder to produce a single candidate. As it stands we have not been consulted or attended a meeting where it was agreed that such names be sent to Mr President.
“In the so-called list out of the five names only one was selected from the South-East and we are talking about fairness and justice to the South. What the Governors have done is a mere picnic in the park. These are the same Governors talking about Equity, justice and fairness yet in a clandestine manner purportedly sidelined the South East.
“In the absence of any harmonised agreement no list has been submitted to Mr. President, what they have done is just nothing but a charade which is bound to fail.
“We also have it on good authority that the majority of these Governors have been promised and also given various forms of gratifications in order to thwart the process in favour of one aspirant and such grand plot will fail woefully.
“Moreso, the party led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu remains the official organ of the party through which decisions taken by stakeholders in the party will be communicated and acted upon, in the absence of that any other move remains null and void.
“We urge all well meaning Nigerians to disregard such information, as we remain in the race hence no consensus agreement has been reached amongst all contestants.
“The names, according to the source, included that of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Governor Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti State), Rotimi Amaechi, former Minister of Transportation, and Governor Dave Umahi (Ebonyi State).
“The governors after meeting with the President said they will return to the villa after meeting with the party’s National Working Committee(NWC) and other stakeholders.
“They picked one from South-East, one from South-South and three from South-West geopolitical zones in line with their position that power should shift to the South,” he said.
The presidential primary of the party is scheduled to kick off today.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan was named as the consensus candidate by the National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu.
This has however generated both commendations and recriminations.