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Fears Mount In APC Over Moves To Zone Presidency To North East

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APC

Fears Mount In APC Over Moves To Zone Presidency To North East

APC

In a move that is certainly going to generate shock waves around the country and heighten the already tensed political situation, it has come to light that the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is working towards zoning its presidential ticket to the North-east, with the Senate President,  Ahmad Lawan likely to emerge as its presidential candidate in the 2023 elections.

Many in the South who have been strident in calls for  the presidential ticket to be zoned to the South after eight years of Buhari in the saddle are will not likely to be amused by this evolving development.

Also, with the latest decision of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) to allow ad-hoc delegates to elect presidential candidate at its forthcoming convention,  the chances of a northern aspirant emerging as the presidential standard bearer have brightened even more.

A reliable source in the ruling party who disclosed the new zoning arrangement in the APC to ThisDay yesterday, further confirmed Monday’s disclosure by Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal that the party may have settled for Lawan as its presidential candidate.

 

According to ThisDay, the national Assembly’s latest amendment to the Electoral Act, 2022, to allow statutory delegates – all those elected – to participate and vote in the conventions, congresses or meetings of political parties, was designed to boost the chances of the Senate President in the 2023 presidential race.

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The aim of the fresh amendment to the Electoral Act which received accelerated passage at both chambers of the National Assembly, was to increase the chances of Lawan in the party’s presidential primaries and subsequently  boost the Party’s chances of retaining in the 2023 presidential elections.

However, if President Muhammadu Buhari assents to the Electoral Act 2022 Amendment Bill before him, which will allow statutory delegates to participate in the presidential primaries the dynamics of the contest will change dramatically in favour Lawan

The current Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) has no role for statutory delegates at the convention.

Statutory or “Super” delegates are elected Councillors, local government chairmen and their vice, party chairmen in the 774 LGAs and six Abuja area councils, state and federal lawmakers, governors and their deputies, president and vice president, NWC members, state party chairmen and secretaries.

The provision in the Principal Act reads: “A political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall clearly outline in its constitution and rule the procedure for the democratic election of delegates to vote at the convention, congress or meeting.

Last week, federal lawmakers amended Section 84 of the Principal Act by deleting subsection (8) and inserting a new subsection (8) as follows: “A political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidates shall clearly outline in its constitution and rules the procedure for the democratic election of delegates to vote at the convention, congress or meeting, in addition to statutory delegates already prescribed in the Constitution of the party.”

“What the National Assembly is trying to do is to back Lawan with the huge number of statutory delegates of past and present legislators that the amendment would  allow to attend such conventions and congresses. They are in the region of almost 4,000, who are most likely going  to throw their support behind Lawan. So, that is why they are trying to amend the law again to suit their own selfish purposes and calculations,” a source who pleaded to remain anonymous had stated.

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On the other hand, the source hinted that the APC was considering either zoning the position of the vice president to either the south-west or south-south.

Under the new APC arrangement, it was gathered that the Senate President might be zoned to the south-east if the ruling party gets the majority seat in the Red Chamber and the Speaker of the House of Representative zone by the APC to the North-west. In the same vein, it was gathered that the leadership of the party might have decided to zone its Deputy Senate President to the North Central and the Deputy Speaker to either the South-west or South-south.

Tambuwal yesterday was quoted to have said: “They (APC) are gradually moving away from their zoning arrangement. We know their tricks. They want to see the outcome of our primary come May 28 and 29 before they will decide who will be their candidate.

“Look at the APC national chairman. He is quiet about their supposed zoning arrangement simply because they already have plans to field Senator Ahmad Lawan depending on who is the presidential candidate of our party.”

On his part, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, while speaking on national television reiterated his support for Lawan’s presidential ambition.

The Senate Chief Whip added: “With Ahmad Lawan, I am ready to be the sweeper of the place (Aso Rock). I don’t need to have a position if Ahmad Lawan is the president,” the former Abia State governor noted.

“I can sweep the Villa; my house is very close to the Villa. I can be the sweeper of the Villa; it is just a stone’s throw. I am not joking.”

According to the former Abia governor, some presidential aspirants are already considering stepping down for the Senate President. Kalu expressed optimism that Lawan has what it takes to reset the country.

However, contrary to insinuations that the APC might have dropped the idea of zoning or picking its next presidential candidate from the south, Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, yesterday, said he believed the party would do everything possible to ensure it chose a southern presidential candidate.

Ganduje said this when he received the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, whom the governor described as both loyal and successful, at the Kano State Government House.

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In a related development, APC would today commence the screening of 2,822 House of Assembly aspirants jostling for the party’s tickets ahead of the May 22 primaries.

The party denied altering the date of its presidential primary, billed to take place between May 30 and June 1.

Ganduje received Osinbajo at the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, and accompanied him to the scene of yesterday morning explosion in Sabon Gari, from where they proceeded to the Government House, where the vice president was scheduled to hold his ongoing consultations with APC stakeholders and delegates in Kano State.

Speaking on the debate over the zoning of the party’s presidential ticket, Ganduje noted that though the idea of zoning was “not constitutional”, for the sake of equity and fair play, the party would work to ensure that the south produced the next president on the party’s platform.

“We believe that the next president will come from the South and we will work for that,” he said.

Ganduje’s position came amid speculations that the ruling party was planning to jettison the zoning of its presidential ticket in order to retain power in the north.

Reports early this week had it that it was the idea of retaining power in the north that informed the decision of the senate president, Ahmad Lawan, and Governor Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State to join the presidential race at the last minute.

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