The All Progressives Congress (APC) is now poised to go for a southern presidential candidate at its primary scheduled for Tuesday in Abuja following a last minute endorsement by President Muhammadu Buhari and governors elected on the platform of the party.
The governors – 11 of them – convened an emergency meeting in Abuja moments before Buhari hosted the party’s 23 presidential aspirants yesterday and resolved that the president ought to be succeeded by a southerner in the interest of national unity.
They passed their suggestion to the president who gave it his backing immediately.
He said the presidential aspirants should proceed for consultations and come up with a “formidable candidate”.
Chairman of the Southern States Governors Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, hailed Buhari and the northern governors for “this heart-warming decision from our colleagues, great patriots and reliable partners in the collaborative efforts geared towards the attainment of nationhood for our dear country.”
Minister of State for Labour Festus Keyamo called it one of the most pivotal moments in Nigeria’s history.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Special Duties, Mallam Ya’u Darazo, and former Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Senator Magnus Abe, declared that attempts by detractors to cause misunderstanding between Buhari and presidential aspirant, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, would fail.
The APC northern governors, in a communiqué at the end of their Abuja meeting yesterday, asked President Buhari to restrict his search within the party for a successor to the southern states.
They said power shift to the South would be in the interest of building a stronger, more united and more progressive country.
They advised all Northern presidential aspirants to withdraw in the national interest and allow only the aspirants from the south to proceed to the primaries.
Based on their advisory, Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State immediately withdrew from the presidential race.
The communique: “APC governors and political leaders from the northern states of Nigeria today met to review the political situation and to further support our party in providing progressive leadership amidst our national challenges.
“During our discussions, we welcomed President Muhammadu Buhari’s invitation to governors and other stakeholders to contribute to the emergence of a strong presidential candidate for the APC.
“After careful deliberation, we wish to state our firm conviction that after eight years in office of President Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the APC for the 2023 elections should be one of our teeming members from the southern states of Nigeria.
”It is a question of honour for the APC, an obligation that is not in any way affected by the decisions taken by another political party.
“We affirm that upholding this principle is in the interest of building a stronger, more united and more progressive country.”
They pleaded with Buhari to limit his search for a successor to the South.
They added: “We therefore wish to strongly recommend to President Muhammadu Buhari that the search for a successor as the APC’s presidential candidate be limited to our compatriots from the southern states.
“We appeal to all aspirants from the northern states to withdraw in the national interest and allow only the aspirants from the south to proceed to the primaries.
“We are delighted by the decision of our esteemed colleague, His Excellency, Governor Abubakar Badaru, to contribute to this patriotic quest by withdrawing his presidential aspiration.
“The APC has a duty to ensure that the 2023 elections offer a nation-building moment, reaffirming that a democratic pathway to power exists for all who value cooperation and build national platforms.
“This moment calls for the most sober and inclusive approach to selecting our party’s candidate, and we call on all APC leaders to fulfill their responsibility in this regard.”
The governors and leaders made their position known in a communique at the end of a meeting in Abuja.
Signatories to the communiqué were Governors Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Muhammed Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) and Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger).
Others were Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Babagana Umara Zulum (Borno), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) and ex-Sokoto State Governor Aliyu Wamakko.
Addressing the party’s presidential aspirants and other leaders of the APC at a meeting last night, President Buhari said the aspirants should proceed on consultations immediately and come up with a formidable consensus candidate.
He said the APC has, in the aspirants, capable people who could take Nigeria to greater heights.
“Looking at this assemblage of personalities and considering your rich pedigree of accomplishments in life, I have come to the conclusion that our party, the APC, is rich in human resources and also that our nation is blessed with capable people that can successfully steer the ship of state into the future,” his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina quoted him as saying.
The President added: “Our party, the APC, has won two successive presidential elections in 2015, first when we were in the opposition and in 2019 when I sought re-election.
“Both processes were achieved through unity of purpose, strategic alignment, consultation, fairness, determination and effective leadership. In both instances, national and party interests were overriding factors in our deliberations and decision-making.
“The 2023 General Elections are fast approaching in a global, regional and national environment that is constantly changing and challenging. This demands that our party should become more aware of the changing environment, be responsive to the yearnings of our citizens, re-evaluate our strategy and strengthen our internal mechanism so that we would sustain the electoral successes.
“I am pleased to note that the party, recognising the significance of all these demands, has over time developed several democratically acceptable processes and policies that promote consultation, internal cohesion and leadership to facilitate victories at the polls.”