Presidential aspirants intensify consultations as more enter race

By Tunde Joshua

Consultations by presidential aspirants of various parties are gathering momentum nationwide ahead of their primaries for the 2023 general elections.

They are meeting leaders and delegates of the parties in different states just as more aspirants join the race. Transportation Minister, Rt Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi visited Cross River State where Governor Ben Ayade described him as a man with outstanding qualities fit to rule Nigeria.

Ayade spoke when Amaechi paid him a courtesy visit as part of his consultations with delegates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River State. According to him, “I agree with my brother Amaechi, totally.

He comes with a lot of experience. He is one man who has shown commitment to Cross River State and Nigeria. “We started trying to build a Deep Seaport, from the day I spoke to him about the Deep Seaport till today, he has given eight ministerial approvals.

There was no day that our files stayed on his table for twentyfour hours. So, he has shown commitment to the State and to Nigeria, and I say this with all sincerity.

He has also shown very outstanding sense of brotherhood. From the time I moved into APC, he said, “you are our leader, we will work with you and at any point in time we would always work together,” Ayade explained. Governor Ayade who also recently declared his intention to run for the Presidency on the platform of the ruling party, further revealed that between him and Amaechi, there is no competition.

“I have had extensive discussions with Amaechi, and I can tell you that we are not competitors, we are co-petitors. I am comfortable with him.

He is somebody that speaks his mind, he is not somebody that you cannot understand, he is somebody that you can read, and such people are far more innocent, because if they are hurt, you know that they are hurt, and few minutes after, it’s gone.

He is not a trickish politician, and I think that’s a good attribute of leadership. Let me mention clearly here, that for us as as State, outside of Ayade, we are very comfortable if you secure the ticket. “And so, I wish you well, I commend you to go before the delegates of my State, and I ask you (delegates) to judge him based on balanced fairness, because what God has destined for him, I cannot take it,” he said.

Addressing the Governor earlier, Amaechi said, “I will repeat what I tell people, I am 56 years old, so I am among the young candidates of the party. I’m not the oldest, but I am the most experienced. Of all the aspirants, both in APC and PDP, I am the most experienced.

I have been Governor for eight years, Speaker for eight years, Minister for seven years now, I have not seen anybody that comes with that kind of experience for the office of the President that I come with.

I was the Chairman of Governors’ Forum and I was Chairman twice when it was very contentious to vote for the office of the Chairman of that forum.

The reason why it was contentious was because we stood for the people, we spoke the minds of Nigerians at that contentious time. I come with performance in every office that I have held. I had a meeting with the President two days ago, in which we had very good conversation about the LagosCalabar rail, and we agreed that he would launch the LagosCalabar rail here in Calabar.

The moment we are about to sign the loan, I will tell the President to come and launch the project and will commence from Calabar.” Amaechi, who earlier visited the Obong of Calabar, HRM Edidem Ekpo Otu V and his Council of Chiefs, assured of his commitment to provide good governance to the masses, pledging also, that he would run a transparent government if elected President.

The Presidential hopeful also met with party delegates in Calabar where he urged the people to vote for him based on his antecedents and track record and not just because he is from the South South, adding that he would deploy his wealth of experience to bear in his service to humanity.

According to him, “I am your son, but let us not vote just because I am your son. Vote for me because I have the capacity to deliver. You have heard Northern candidate, Southern candidate, Western candidate, I am not a candidate of any tribe, I am a candidate for all Nigerians.

Those who are Governors and running, let them tell us what they have done in their States, how many days do they sleep in their States, let them tell us whether they are owing salaries or not. For me, judge me by my capacity. Go back to Rivers State and find out, when I was Governor, the primary schools, the secondary schools, power, water, new city, roads, and the fact that we provided security.

I am the only aspirant that fought insecurity when I was Governor. So, vote for me because I have the capacity to turn the country around for good.” In his response, Chairman of the party, Alphonsus Eba said, “Your Excellency, there is nothing I will say about you today that will not be laced with praises, with encomiums and cornucopias. You have done so much for this party, to Cross Riverians, even during the era of our former Governor, you were around, we saw the support you gave to Cross River State.

When our Governor (Ayade) came on board, you have given every support. You granted eight ministerial approvals for the take-off of Bakassi Deep Seaport and a super-highway.

The Governor spoke about that in the meeting we just attended. “Today, I stand to say that in Cross River State, you are one man that we could boldly stand up and say, you are politically merchantable. You will not be a difficult product for us to sell. We have only one river to cross and that river is the fact that our leader is in this race, but he has just allayed my fears, when he said to you, that if it is not him, let it be you,” Eba said.

PDP presidential aspirant and Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed has, on a visit to his Edo counterpart, Godwin Obaseki, said his wealth of experience and track record over the years will enable him to deliver good governance to Nigerians if elected president. He said: “I have a track record of being a nationalist, a federalist, a civil servant, and a reporter like these young people.

I know the country very well and the people of the country know me. I have been tested as a civil servant, a legislator in Abuja and in Bauchi, using small resources to do more as you are doing a similar thing here in Edo.”

Bala Mohammed visited the governor to seek his support and that of the party delegates ahead of the party ‘s primary election at Government House, Benin City. Mohammed promised that his reign as the president would foster oneness among Nigerians and further deepen leadership.

Responding, Obaseki said: “I believe that you know what the issues are in Nigeria today and have practically touched all of them. You are sensitive; you come with a lot of sensitivities and you have that displayed always, even when we go through contentious issues in our meetings. “I can confirm that you are a patriot and as a democrat, I like your spirit which is why democracy is about contestation.

There is nothing wrong when you throw your hat in the ring, and you’ve been quite clear and not ambiguous. There may be other aspirants who may possess such attributes. “You feel that you have what it takes to run this country and deal with all the critical issues affecting us today.

What I want to assure you is that for us in Edo, we’re PDP and we want our party to produce the next president.” “Whatever that our party agrees to do, as long as it’s fair and just, we, in Edo will support it. You’ve come to seek the support of our delegates.

They also have the privilege to hear from you and know the decision to take when the time comes. “ Meanwhile, Minister of Science, and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has said that if he emerges as President of Nigeria in 2023, he will unlock the prosperity of the country leveraging on the power of science, technology and innovation. He pledged his readiness to evolve a knowledgedriven economy at his official declaration to run in next year’s presidential election on the platform of APC on Friday in Abuja.

The former governor of Abia State said no nation, whether in ancient or modern times, has ever become truly great without the efficient and effective deployment of science, technology and innovation to nation building. “I am convinced that I have the knowledge, the experience, the credibility, the education having been trained in one of the best universities in the world, the vision, the integrity, maturity and a man who can be trusted, “ he said.

Professing a greater future for the country, Onu stressed:”I have a dream that Nigeria will make one day lead the world. Let no one tell us that it cannot be done because if we cannot achieve it, our children can. “The purpose is for Nigeria to do for the black people of the world, what Japan did for the yellow people,” adding that “we must bring discipline into our nation, promote Justice, fairness and equity and allow creativity to flourish.

“This way, Nigeria will become a nation that all Nigerians will be proud of and other nations will respect. “Let there be nothing that can make any Nigerian lose hope about the future of Nigeria. Working together, we will make use of a knowledge economy driven by STI, to make Nigeria truly great.”

The presidential aspirant called for local content by advocating self-reliance through the production of goods and services consumed in the country rather than an import-driven economy.

“Nigeria must be a producer nation, instead of remaining a consumer nation. We must produce many of the things that we need and use as a people. It is by doing this that we can create wealth and enough jobs for our people, fight poverty, create wealth and prosperity for our nation.” “Nigeria must be selfreliant,” and can “no longer depend on other nations to solve our problems,” he declared.

“We are better equipped to solve these problems ourselves. This is the road that we have to take; this is the road that we must take. I most respectfully ask my political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), to elect me as the Presidential Candidate, and the people of Nigeria to elect me as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for me to be the Chief Servant of the nation.”

A former Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Sani Yerima, has declared to run for the 2023 presidential election on the platform of APC. The former senator who represented Zamfara West, at the National Assembly, was at the Presidential Villa Abuja on Friday, to inform President Muhammadu Buhari about his intentions.

He said when elected President, he 2would focus on fighting insecurity, poverty alleviation and ignorance of the mind which many Nigerians are living with unknowingly. The former governor, who is famous for introducing the Sharia legal system in his state, debunked claims that he was a religious extremist.

According to him, that perception people hold about him is one of the reasons he would work on the ignorance of Nigerians and give every citizen a sense of belonging. While disclosing his plans to State House Correspondents, he noted that he had secured the consent of the President to run for the exalted office. He is due to pick his expression of interest and nomination forms.

Presidential hopeful of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was in Lagos on Friday to seek support of the party’s delegates ahead of the May 28 and 29 presidential primary election. At a meeting in the Ikoyi residence of a party chieftain, Chief Bide George, the former Vice President preached unity among PDP members. He stressed the importance of winning Lagos to the aspiration of the PDP to return to power in 2023. According to Atiku, it is important for the PDP in Lagos State to come under one umbrella.

“As you all know, the major theme of my campaign is unity. But I think we should share the same gospel of unity with the PDP in Lagos State. This call will require shifting of position and common understanding. But this is the sacrifice that we all have to make to ensure that the PDP wins Lagos State.

“I have talked to leaders and elders of the party inside and I made a similar call on them. I am here with all of you too who are esteemed members of our party to please give the necessary support to our leaders and elders in making sure that the party is united,” Atiku said.

George said that the message of Atiku about unity is well taken and it is an appeal that he is committed to. According to Chief George, “it is not in doubt that Atiku knows Nigeria very well and Nigeria knows him too. The next election is the last battle of Berlin and it is necessary that we go into it with all the power and elements that we have. “In Lagos PDP, we shall be united.

It is what we must do to win the next election. “In this upcoming election, Nigeria needs someone with the experience, capacity and deep knowledge of this country and you, Waziri (Atiku Abubakar), fits into that perfectly.

“We wish you well in your campaign. I like the way you ended your remark about winning Lagos for the people of Lagos.

We must end the era of Lagos belonging to a stranger.” Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, has urged presidential aspirants of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not to abandon exploring the consensus option in finding a presentable candidate for the main opposition political grouping. Consensus arrangement, according to him, is a viable option which the PDP can explore because it will reduce contention and make the presidential primary election less acrimonious.

Elumelu gave this advice when one of the party’s presidential aspirants, Dr. Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, met with the PDP House of Representatives caucus to seek their support for his ambition. Recall that Hayatu-Deen and three others; Bukola Saraki, Bala Mohammed and Aminu Tambuwal went into a consensus arrangement which later broke down after the selection of Saraki and Bala by the Prof. Ango Abdullahi- led selection committee. Hayatu-Deen and Tambuwal faulted the process which led to the selection of both Saraki and Bala as PDP northern consensus candidates.

However, Elumelu believed if carefully handled, the process of consensus can bring peaceful resolution of an acceptable recruitment process. Elumelu said: “that brings me to the issue you were championing, which is consensus.

That brings me to the issue of the unity that all of you went around, crisscrossing this nation, seeking understanding amongst yourself, that are aspiring to lead this nation.

“I want to plead that you will continue in that strive. Nigerians are waiting for us; they’re calling on us to rescue and rebuild Nigeria. “Well, we can only do that If we also put ourselves in a position that Nigerians hope to see us, to rescue them and bring them back to where our founding fathers had wished that we should be.”

The minority leader lamented the near total collapse of the socio-economic, political, security and infrastructural sectors of the country under the APC government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said: “when APC was coming, they promised Nigerians that we’ll be able to sleep in our various homes, with our properties and lives secured but today it is a mirage.

Our brothers and sisters that were kidnapped between Kaduna to Abuja bound train are yet to be rescued. One of our sisters had given birth where they are being held captive.

That is the height of it. “It is in this country only that a train will be leaving from Lagos to Ibadan and in the middle of the way, they will tell us the fuel has finished. It has never happened in other country or history of the world.” On behalf of the lawmakers , he expressed confidence in the ability of Hayatu-Deen to govern Nigeria and return the country to the path of prosperity.

Earlier, Hayatu-Deen said he is a detribalized Nigeria who will strive to unite the country. He said: “even though I was born in Maiduguri, I’d hardly ever lived there for more than eight weeks at a time. So I’ve been in Nigeria where I went to school where I lived and commingled with Nigerians from all walks of life, regardless of background, regardless of geography, regardless of tribe or religion.

So I have Nigerian blood flowing through my veins. It is too late at this time for me to be anything else, but a quintessential Nigeria.”

He promised to fix the nation’s economy because he is a shrewd economist that had served three Nigerian Presidents as Economic Adviser and a founding member of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG). “I have been an adviser to three presidents on three presidential advisory councils.

So don’t blame me for the next thing that I’m going to say. I’m proud of what I did with every government. President-Elect Buhari had called me to join other Nigerians to put together a blueprint for his transition program. I was chairman of the committee on the economy and finance.

I led the economic team. I want to let you know that we produced an outstanding document that can withstand the test of time, anytime, any day,” he said.

Read Also: Edo unveils tech training programme for 5000 women

As someone with a proven track record of transformation, he promised to unlock the potential and bring out the entrepreneurial energy that flows through the veins of Nigerians.

Presidential aspirant and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, has pledged not to abandon PDP if elected as President in 2023. He said he has been a committed party man and will work closely with the party leadership as a sitting governor, not distancing himself from it.

He said: “when I get there, I will maintain interaction and consultation with the party and will respect the party’s policy. “I will be in constant touch with the NWC and the NEC, and will run my government with the party manifesto.”

Tambuwal gave this assurance on Friday at an interactive meeting with members of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) at the party secretariat, Abuja.

Speaking about his uniqueness as the best candidate that can win the 2023 election for the party, he said he has the right temperament for a leader and that he is a bridge across ethnic and age divides. He said he is one of the youngest presidential aspirants in the PDP while claiming that he is neither too young nor too old to be president. 

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