Presidential primaries: Intrigues as PDP loses Eagle Square to APC

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With the presidential, governorship and National Assembly primaries of both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) close by, the intense intrigues and political maneuverings by the parties have pushed the opposition PDP away from the Eagle Square to the MKO Abiola Stadium on the outskirts of the Abuja City Centre. The PDP presidential primary is scheduled for May 28.

It was learnt that the ruling party used the influence of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Muhammed Musa Bello, to quickly reserve the Eagles Square for its presidential primary scheduled to hold between May 30 and June 1. The PDP, which had slated its presidential primary to end a day earlier on May 29, was stopped from holding it at the Eagle Square.

The PDP Convention Planning Committee, led by former Senate President, David Mark, yesterday, visited the MKO Abiola Stadium to assess facilities at the Velodrome of the stadium, proposed venue of the convention.

And for the second time since it first announced its timetable for primaries in March, the PDP has shifted the date for its governorship primary to next Wednesday, May 25.

According to the new timetable, the primary election for state Houses of Assembly will hold on Saturday, May 21, just as the one for House of Representatives is scheduled for Sunday, May 22. The primary for Senate will hold on Monday, May 23.

A source at the PDP national secretariat disclosed yesterday, that the shift was due to delay in conclusion of delegates’ election in many states, as the indirect primaries, which will be adopted, is a delegates’ election.

According to the source, the struggle to prevent the ruling APC from wooing its members who might lose out during its primaries has made the major opposition party to keep shifting its primaries.

“You know that politics is a continuous game of number. So, no party will be stupid to play into the hands of its opponents by playing all its card first. You can’t blame the PDP for shifting dates of its primaries,” the source said.

It was further gathered that disputes over the final list of delegates and reconciliation efforts were central to the decision to shift the PDP primaries. It was also learnt that the party is weighing its options with regards to its desire to build consensus among aspirants.

A top ranking member of the party leadership who spoke in confidence said: “This is politics, we need to reduce friction as much as possible, we intend to build consensus so that the primaries and the national convention will be as rancour free as possible. We are mindful of happenings in the other party and we intend to put our house in order before going into the convention.”

Under the former timetable, primaries for the State Houses of Assembly was to hold today, May 18, Senatorial, May 20 and governorship May 23. Only the presidential primary was unchanged for May 28 to 29.

However, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party in a letter dated May 16, which was addressed to the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, announced an extension.

MEANWHILE, a member of the Convention Planning Committee and Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, has reached out to former President Goodluck Jonathan with a view to getting him to attend the convention, where the party’s presidential candidate would be elected.

Jonathan has not attended any PDP event since he lost the 2015 election. Should he attend this convention, it would be his first in seven years. The former president has been dogged by controversies over his alleged romance with the ruling APC.

Ortom, chairman of the Convention’s sub-committee in charge of venue and protocol, met with Jonathan at his Abuja residence yesterday. According to a statement by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, the meeting was held “in a bid to strengthen the PDP family ahead of the 2023 general elections.”

It was learnt that the visit was part of moves to verify the authenticity of allegations that the former president was on his way to joining the APC. A source said there was no truth in such allegations as confirmed by the meeting.

IN a related development, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has rejected calls by various groups to contest for presidency under the platform of the APC. Akinwumi, in a statement he personally signed and dated May 17, thanked those who sacrificed and laboured to convince him to join the race.

He said he is committed to his assignment in the bank, especially his determination to “accelerate development and economic integration of Africa.”

The statement read in part: “I have been extremely humbled by several calls from Nigerians at home and abroad that I should consider running for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“I am very touched by all who have gone to great extent, with such huge sacrifices, of their own volition, to consider me worthy to be proposed for potential consideration.

“The coalition groups of youth, women, farmers, physically challenged and well-meaning Nigerians that have done this have expressed their genuine free will, political right, freedom of expression and association for my consideration, with the interest of Nigeria at heart.

“While I am deeply honoured, humbled and grateful for all the incredible goodwill, kindness and confidence, my current responsibilities at this time do not allow me to accept to be considered.

“I remain fully engaged and committed to the mission that Nigeria, Africa and all the non-African shareholders of the African Development Bank have given me for Africa’s development. I remain fully focused on the mission of supporting the accelerated development and economic integration of Africa.”

MEANWHILE, the APC has urged its screening committees to ensure justice to all aspirants that purchased and submitted its Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms to contest elective positions in the 2023 general elections. Alhaji Sulaiman Argungu, the party’s National Organising Secretary gave the charge, yesterday, in Abuja.

He spoke at the inauguration of chairmen and secretaries of screening committees for state Houses of Assembly aspirants and special congress committees to elect the party’s Local Government, State and National Delegates.

Argungu said that any aspirant that goes against Section 84(3) of the amended Electoral Act would be disqualified.

Section 84 of the amended Electoral Act provides that: “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”

Argungu, while saying that screening of aspirants was one of the critical segments of transition in the forthcoming elections, noted that the committees’ chairmen and secretaries would be provided with working guidelines.

He said their specific roles included scrutinising aspirant’s minimum educational requirements, their sponsors, and Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms payment receipts.

“It is the proof of payment receipt that qualifies each aspirant to contest, you should also check their sponsors, and if anybody goes against Section 84(3) of the Electoral Act as amended, he stands disqualified.

“All these and more are in the guidelines that will be given to each group, and also, we will provide each group with aspirants’ assessment verification forms. You will endeavour to follow diligently to ensure you do justice to each of the aspirants who purchased forms and submitted same,” Argungu said.

He added that names of duly screened aspirants should, thereafter, be submitted to the party’s national secretariat for issuance of certificates that would qualify them to go for the primary election.

He charged the committee members to do justice to all aspirants and use the provided guidelines as a guide.

Earlier, Alhaji Abubakar Kyari, APC Deputy Vice Chairman North, said screening of aspirants was one of the critical segments of transition for the elections next year.

“This is the foundation of all the primaries; we have just conducted the screening of the gubernatorial, senatorial and House of Representatives aspirants, but the basic foundation is what you are going to do, which is election of local government and state delegates,” he said.

He said he was confident that members of the committees would deliver on their mandate. The APC screening committees are to screen a total of 28 presidential aspirants, 145 governorship aspirants, 351 Senatorial aspirants and 1,197 House of Representatives aspirants ahead of its primaries.

The party`s primaries had been slated to begin on May 20, with the governorship primary, while its presidential primary had been fixed for May 30 and June 1.

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