Over 2,000 delegates drawn from the 36 states and FCT will elect the APC presidential candidate from the 23 aspirants jostling for the ticket of the ruling party at today’s primary.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is set for its special convention to elect its presidential candidate for the 2023 elections.
The convention will hold for the next three days (June 6-8) at the Eagle Square in the nation’s capital, Abuja.
It was initially scheduled for May 29 and 30 but was postponed after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) shifted the deadline for political parties to pick their candidates for the general elections from June 3 to June 9.
A total of 2,322 ad-hoc delegates drawn from the 36 states and FCT are expected to participate in the primary to elect the APC flag bearer out of the 23 aspirants jostling for the ticket.
The aspirants are Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, former Science and Technology Minister, Ogbonnaya Onu, former Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba and former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.
There are also five serving governors, namely Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Ben Ayade (Cross River) and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti).
Also in the race are former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, former Ogun State governor and serving senator, Ibikunle Amosun, former Zamfara governor, Ahmad Sani, former Imo State governor and serving senator, Rochas Okorocha.
There are also the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, a former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, and a serving senator, Ajayi Boroffice.
Also gunning for the APC ticket are two clerics, Tunde Bakare and Felix Nicholas as well as a former Information Minister, Ikeobasi Mokelu, a businessman, Tein Jack-Rich, and the only female among them, Uju Ken-Ohanenye.
All 23 aspirants had been cleared by the seven-member screening committee of the party headed by former National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun.
The committee had in its report submitted on Friday shortlisted 13 aspirants but encouraged the party to allow everyone to participate in the event of inability to reach voluntary withdrawal from the race.
Twenty-eight nomination and expression of interest forms were procured by aspirants and support groups. However, former President Goodluck Jonathan, Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele and AfBD President Akinwumi Adeshina rejected the forms procured for them by support groups. Two ministers, Chris Ngige (Labour and Employment) and Timipre Sylva (State, Petroleum Resources) opted out of the race.
The journey to the convention has been very rough for the party- partly due to the internal wrangling as well as poor planning.
The days leading up to the convention had been fraught with controversies, bickering, lobbying, meetings and threats.
Moves by some party members, including President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the emergence of a consensus candidate from among the array of aspirants were unsuccessful.
On Saturday, the president held a meeting with the aspirants during which he asked them to go and chose a consensus candidate among themselves.
“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,” Mr Buhari said
The same day, 10 APC governors in the north backed the shift of presidential power to the south, a boost to the demand of the southern governor for power to return to the south. The aspirants from the north are expected to exit the race given the decision by the governors. However, they are still in the race.
However, barring any last minute changes, all 23 aspirants will slug it out at the convention.
The party says it is ready for the convention for which it recently constituted 18 subcommittees. The Eagle Square venue of the event has been given a face lift.
The Chairman of the Convention Planning Committee, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, said many people have been at work to ensure the success of the event.
APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, said the convention is a bit different from the previous convention because it is the first transition convention of the ruling party.
PREMIUM TIMES is at the convention ground to bring you live updates of the event.