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Uproar over APC’s N100m presidential nomination

By Leo Sobechi (Deputy Politics Editor), Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Adamu Abuh (Abuja) and Lawrence Njoku (Enugu)
21 April 2022   |   4:30 am
President Muhammadu Buhari’s advice to All Progressives Congress (APC) National Working Committee (NWC) to ensure that the party’s tickets were not given to the highest bidders were ignored, yesterday, as the party’s National Executive Committee...

Governors Hope Uzodimma, Imo State (left); Yahaya Bello, Kogi; Mai Mala Buni , Yobe; Aminu Masari, Katsina ; Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State; Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos; Gboyega Oyetola, Osun; and Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, Ondo, during 11th National Executive Committee meeting of APC, in Abuja… yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

• N100m for nomination form more than Buhari, Osinbajo’s four-year salaries
• CISLAC: Fee shameful, mockery of Buhari’s Not-Too-Young-To-Run policy
• HURIWA: Anybody buying APC nomination form should be arrested, investigated
• Kebbi businessman signs N100m cheque for Tinubu’s presidential form
• Nomination fee will make primary contest less chaotic, says Okorie
• Don’t waste efforts nominating candidate for election, PDP tells APC
• Buhari warns against imposition
• No decision taken yet on zoning, mode of primaries, says APC spokesman

President Muhammadu Buhari’s advice to All Progressives Congress (APC) National Working Committee (NWC) to ensure that the party’s tickets were not given to the highest bidders were ignored, yesterday, as the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) approved N100 million as cost of Presidential nomination forms.

According to the schedule of fees for expression of interest and nomination forms released by the NWC, governorship is N50 million, Senate N20 million, House of Representatives N10 million, while state House of Assembly aspirants would purchase theirs at N2 million.

The N100 million for Presidential nomination form is over 100 per cent increase from the amount it sold the form for the same office in 2018 at N45 million; and nearly 200 per cent hike from N27 million it sold forms in 2014. The N100 million fee is also more than double the fee of the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which fixed its Presidential nomination form at N40 million.

The NEC also revealed that it would begin selling the nomination and expression of interest forms for various electoral offices from April 23 until May 6, 2022.

Presidential aspirants that have so far declared their interest in APC include: the party’s national leader, Bola Tinubu; Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo; Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi; Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello; ex-governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha; former governor of Abia State and Majority Whip of the Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu; Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.

This is just as the second highest leadership caucus of the party (NEC) ceded its powers to the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led NWC to decide on issues regarding the nomination of candidates and disciplinary procedures.

The transfer of the sweeping powers followed a motion moved by President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan and seconded by the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

Moving his motion, the Senate President prayed NEC that its powers “under Article 13(3)(ii)(iii) (iv)(v)(vi); respectively be vested in the NWC for the time,” including devolving its powers to NWC as enshrined in Articles 13.3 (ii) of the APC Constitution to ‘discharge all functions of the National Convention as constituted in between Conventions.

Other aspects of Lawan’s motion include: “that NEC devolves its power to NWC as enshrined in Article 13.3(iv) of the APC Constitution, to consider reports from national, state and Local Government Area/Area Council chapters of the party and take such decisions as are necessary to protect, advance, and consolidate the gains and interest of the party.

“NEC devolves its powers to NWC as enshrined in Article 13,3(v) of the APC Constitution, to ‘’exercise control and take disciplinary actions on all organs, officers, and members of the party and determine appeals brought before it by any member or organ of the party.”

Before the motion was put and carried, Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, had observed the need to set a time frame within which the NWC should exercise the powers being donated to 90 days.

Earlier in his welcome address, the national chairman, Adamu, chided some state governors for banding together to create unnecessary friction within the party, stressing that the activities of such governors were capable of tearing APC apart.

While noting that the APC Constitution holds state governors as party leaders in their respective states, they should work for the development of the party, even as he condemned attempts by former governors to compete with incumbents.

Alluding to the powers ceded to him and the NWC to take charge of the implementation of its election timetable and discipline, Adamu warned that there was nothing like co-leaders.

The Guardian was informed that attempts by governors to dictate the nomination process would fail, since according to a Presidency source, “if Buhari did not dictate for them who would succeed them in their states, how can they be the ones to say who becomes the next President?”

THE N100 million set by the APC for aspirants seeking to run for president is far higher than the four-year salaries of President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo. With the current salary of the President, which is put at N14.058 million yearly or N1.171 million monthly, according to a breakdown by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, it means that the N100 million APC nomination form is the salary of the President for about 85 months or seven years.

For the Vice President who currently earns N12.126 million yearly or N1.01 million monthly, the N100 million nomination form is his salary for 99 months or eight years and three months.

Reacting to the cost of the nomination form, rights group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to probe the source of wealth of any presidential aspirant who picks the APC presidential nomination and expression of interest forms.

The group made this known in a statement yesterday by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko. The group said only corrupt politicians would afford that much for a nomination form.
HURIWA said: “Anyone who buys the nomination form at such a scandalous amount should be arrested and handed over to law enforcement agencies such as EFCC or ICPC or the Nigeria Police Force for investigation on the source of the money.

“We only just finished carpeting the opposition PDP for bastardising the process of nominating its presidential candidate by inflating the cost of its nomination form to N40 million, little did we know that the politicians who run the Federal Government and have ruined the national economy will peg theirs at the extravagant cost of N100 million.

“This same APC government is unable to meet the funding obligations for federal universities and thereby has left millions of students of public schools to roam around in their homes due to industrial strike by university teachers for over two months.

“It is a shame that those who seek to govern Nigeria are made to cough out so much money to purchase forms just to signpost their original intention as persons whose only objective would be to first recoup their huge investments and to further impoverish the citizenry.”

Also describing the cost of APC form as shameful, another rights group, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), has called on all Nigerians to condemn money politics.

In a statement by Executive Director, CISLAC/Chairman, Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), the body said: “It is shameful that the ruling party, that the President belongs to, has endorsed the expression of interest and nomination forms for its presidential ticket at N100 million. This is especially at a time when many have expressed dissatisfaction with the level of youth participation in partisan politics and called for deliberate measures to create the enabling environment for wider inclusion and active participation of women and youths in politics and governance of the country.

“A key question to ask is, ‘who can legally afford N100 million for a Presidential ambition?’ This despicable decision by the APC begs this question as it only serves within the following contexts to marginalise youths, women and average citizens.

“Despite claims of a 50 per cent reduction in nomination fees for women and youths, it clearly shows that N50 million remains higher than the 2019 Presidential aspirant fee, which was N45 million. This will apparently exclude the youths, women and average Nigerians who have clamoured to improve opportunities to exercise their rights to declare their interests and contest in the elections.

“Today’s decision by the ruling party makes a mockery of the efforts of all the stakeholders and general public that campaigned vigorously to secure the signing of the Not Too Young To Run bill into law by President Buhari on May 31, 2018. It once again re-emphasises the lack of sincerity of purpose and political inconsistencies that have plagued this administration’s decisions/commitments to any cause or agenda.

“Needless to say, the Not Too Young To Run law has been reduced to only a facade that masks the true drivers of retrogressive politics in Nigeria, which include money politics, godfatherism and the lopsided economic disparity between the mighty old ruling class and the seemingly apathetic youths, deliberately pauperised by the same criminal political elite.”

But a chieftain of the APC, Chief Chekwas Okorie, has stated that the party’s high presidential nomination fee would make the primary election less chaotic, stressing that it would also determine the seriousness of the aspirants. Okorie also insisted that it would create opportunity for growth and expansion in democracy, as other fringe political parties were likely to benefit from it.

He stated that politicians have continued to behave as if there were only two political parties in Nigeria; the APC and PDP, thereby denying the growth of smaller political parties, stressing that with the development, politicians desirous to serve could still find veritable platforms in other smaller parties.

He said: “I think the APC by this intends to weed out unserious aspirants, because any person who seriously wants to contest the presidency of this country will begin by his determination to participate in the primary election. Any person who can cough out N100 million has indicated some level of seriousness. It is just to make the primary election less chaotic. If you notice, the party has said that the presidential primary election will be by indirect primaries and they are looking at 7,800 delegates at the convention.

“So to make it less chaotic, they begin to determine the seriousness from that angle. There could be other hurdles to prune down the number to a manageable proportion. The level of expression being shown by members in the presidency is unimaginable. The aspiration from the Southeast alone is in legion. So, it is not a bad thing to use the fees to determine those that are serious.”

Reminded that the stand of the party could encourage moneybags taking over the political space, Okorie said that it would not, stressing that, “spending N100 million to buy presidential form does not translate to winning the election.”

BARELY few hours after the APC leadership announced the sale of its presidential nominations form, the Director General, Tinubu Support Organisation (TSO), Aminu Suleiman, has signed a cheque to purchase the form for former Lagos governor, Tinubu.

Suleiman, a Kebbi-born multinational contractor, in a message on the support group platform, reiterated his belief in the capacity of Tinubu to positively transform Nigeria as President.

The message reads: “Asiwaju has helped, raised and lifted lots of people and he is a man with a kind heart. The only thing I can do right now is to buy the N100 million APC Presidential Expression of Interest Form and Nomination Form for my father and mentor.

MEANWHILE, PDP on Wednesday asked the APC to forget about nominating candidate for next year’s presidential election because of its woeful performance since 2015. PDP National Chairman Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, who spoke when he received the Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel, one of the presidential aspirants on the party’s platform, said Nigeria has been faced with myriads of problems since APC took over power in 2015.

Ayu also stated that APC is fragmented and would disappear from the Nigerian political landscape.

“They can’t even hold a convention. They have a forced consensus where people are forced to sign. We are waiting for them to have a presidential convention.

“We challenge them to have a presidential convention openly as we are going to have, so that Nigerians will see the difference between a political party that is ready to rescue Nigeria, and a disorganised political party that has destroyed Nigeria,” he said.

But President Buhari has said his administration has done well despite the limited resources at its disposal. Speaking at the party’s NEC meeting in Abuja yesterday, he said when his government came on board, terrorists were in charge of some local government areas and the South-South, which currently enjoy relative peace, was restive.

“I will like us to reflect on what the situation was before we came in. How many local councils were under the control of terrorists in the Northeast? In the South-South, we all know what the situation was; now we have relative peace. With the resources at our disposal, we have done very well.

The President also warned against imposition in the ruling party, saying such dictatorial tendency has cost APC some seats. He asked party members to follow due process in all the party processes as well as to develop more mechanisms against corruption.

The APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, has said the party is yet to take a decision on zoning, as well as the mode of primaries it will adopt ahead of the 2023 Presidential election. Morka said this on Channels Television’s Politics Today last night, hours after reports suggested that the party might have decided on the indirect mode of primaries.

“That was not decided today”, he said when asked to make the clarification. On the issue of zoning, he said: No. That also was not in conversation today. But in the coming days, I’m sure the party will make a decision, now that the NWC has the authority to decide on those questions”.

Reports of the APC adopting the Indirect mode of primaries surfaced earlier in the day following the party’s 11th National Executive Committee meeting which took place at the Transcorp Hotel in Abuja.

“There was no explicit discussion about the mode of primary but the timetable seems to suggest it is indirect primaries,” Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State had said after the meeting.