PDP: 13 presidential aspirants emerge as Udom, Hayatu-Deen, Ohuabunwa pick forms
• Party extends sale of forms for all offices
• Consensus: Saraki, others have not stepped down for Atiku, says aide
• Okupe quits race for Obi, Southeast ticket
• Wike woos National Assembly caucus with free legal team for political allies
• Intimidation won’t stop North from fielding candidates, says Northern coalition
The number of presidential aspirants in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has risen to 13 as three more, including Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel, a businessman, Muhammad Hayatudeen and , yesterday, obtained nomination forms.
Those who obtained presidential nomination forms earlier are former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Presidents of the Senate, Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Anyim Pius Anyim, Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, Publisher of Ovation International, Dele Momodu, Oliver Diana Teriela and Nwachukwu Anakwenze.
With this number of aspirants, the Iyorchia Ayu-led PDP has generated some N520 million from the sale of presidential nomination forms alone.
Former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, has declared interest but is yet to obtain the form. Recall that the party produced a total of 12 presidential aspirants in 2019 before it picked Atiku at its convention held in Port Harcourt in 2018.
In separate remarks after collecting their forms, the aspirants canvass extraordinary measures to tackle the problems of insecurity in the country. They believe that the increasing level of insecurity in Nigeria has reached an abnormal situation and as such, the solution needs extraordinary measures.
One of the aspirants, Hayatu-Deen, said: “This is a national emergency and understanding and dealing with this issue is not the exclusive preserve of the armed forces or the military, the entire society needs to be brought in. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary solutions. We need to build up the size of the military, retrain, re-arm and provide them with the tools that they need so that they can fight this battle successfully.”
In his own views, another aspirant, Ohuabunwa, lamented that “our country is now languishing in the throes of chronic retrogression and decay in all indices of nationhood.
“Unprecedented insecurity stalks the land and citizens’ lives are at the daily mercy of all manner of criminals across the country. Our economy gets more downgraded and distressed, with falling Naira value, hyperinflation, disinvestment, industrial unrest and endless borrowings as some of the symptoms.”
Udom Emmanuel’s form was obtained for him by a group led by Innocent Orji.
Also yesterday, Adamawa State governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, obtained a governorship nomination form to seek re-election as governor of the state.
THE party’s National Working Committee (NWC) yesterday extended the sale of nomination forms for all offices from the initial deadline of April 1 to April 8, 2022. The National Organising Secretary of the party, Umar Bature, made this known in a statement.
The party also said “the last day for the return of already completed forms for both the state House of Assembly and National Assembly aspirants are rescheduled to April 10, while their screening was moved to April 12 and 14 respectively.”
The PDP had pegged its nomination and expression of interest forms for presidential aspirants at N40 million, while state House of Assembly expression of interest is N100,000; nomination form, N500,000. For House of Representatives: expression of interest is N500,000; nomination form, N2,000,000; while Senate expression of interest is N500,000; nomination form, N3,000,000; and for governorship: expression of interest is N1,000,000; nomination form, 20,000,000.
MEANWHILE, the Saraki Campaign Council, yesterday, described as untrue reports that he and some other aspirants have stepped down for Atiku. The Director-General of the council, Osaro Onaiwu, in a statement, dismissed such reports as “sheer mischief planted by those who want to gain the PDP presidential ticket by deceit.”
“For clarity purposes, our candidate and three other aspirants met with Atiku on Monday with the sole objective to inform him of their push towards a consensus candidate for the party. At that meeting, there was no talk of any of the aspirants stepping down as it is yet premature.
“When and if there is a concrete agreement on a winning consensus and others step down for whoever, it will be done openly, but until then, Saraki, Tambuwal and Mohammed are still in the race.”
HOWEVER, former Presidential spokesman, Dr Doyin Okupe, has announced his withdrawal from the 2023 presidential race. Okupe was one of the aspirants who indicated interest in the race under the PDP.
While announcing his decision to quit at the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) centre, Iwe Iroyin, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Okupe said he and his supporters would be supporting the candidacy of Peter Obi to fly the PDP ticket in next year’s election. He also asked all other aspirants from the South: Momodu, Anyim and Wike to declare their support for Obi’s candidacy.
Okupe took a swipe at the national leadership of PDP over the yet-to-be resolved zoning of the presidency, saying:
“It is clear that those at the helm of affairs of the party are trying to hoodwink those of us aspirants from the South to commit ourselves to obtain the requisite forms before coming up with the original position that ‘every zone can contest the presidency.’”
He declared that “this position is politically fraudulent, unjust and inequitable. I turned 70 years a few days ago, and I have made a covenant with my maker that for the rest of my life, I shall uphold the spirit and principles of equity and justice.”
“Two weeks ago, Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, called me for the first time into his bedroom and admonished me that no matter what circumstances we Yorubas find ourselves in the ever gyrating political circus of Nigeria, I must uphold the truth and follow the path of equity and justice.
In aligning myself with the wish of our elders and in the interest of equity and justice, I publicly admit that the 2023 political race must be conceded to the Southeast; that is the Igbos.
“I therefore, here and now proclaim that I am, as I have said publicly several times, withdrawing from the presidential race and I am declaring my support for the best aspirant not only in Igboland, but in Nigeria as a whole. I and my supporters within and outside the PDP are teaming up with Peter Obi.”
Rivers governor, Wike, has set up a legal team comprising over 20 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) to take care of election litigations for all National Assembly members supporting his presidential ambition. He announced this on Tuesday night in Abuja when he met the caucus of the PDP in the National Assembly.
Drawing attention to his achievements in Rivers, Wike said he had the advantage of age, energy and determination to carry out whatever is necessary to be done for Nigeria if he is elected President. He also warned PDP leaders against destroying the zoning arrangement put in place by the founders of the party.
Assuring the lawmakers that those who support him wouldn’t need to spend money on election cases, the Rivers State governor said: “To tell you I am serious, we have set up our legal team, 20 SANs. I am fully prepared for this and everybody who is working with me will not have any legal challenge because you will take from the pool. Nobody supporting me here will go to court on their own, our team will take care of it.”
On zoning, he urged aspirants to be truthful and always state the facts. “If you want to run election, you can run but tell us the truth about how things have been done. Our founding fathers never made a mistake, they know the complexity of this country, it is not because they don’t want merit, no, but they said for Nigeria to move forward, this is the way we are going to do it for fairness, equity and justice.”
He said the PDP constitution provided that there shall be rotation of parties, offices and elective positions for fairness, equity and justice.
“But don’t scatter what the founding fathers have laid down because of your selfish interest,” he advised.
HOWEVER, a Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has said no amount of intimidation by Wike, or any group in the country can stop the North from fielding and backing candidates in the forthcoming presidential election.
CNG spokesperson, Abdulazeez Suleiman, stating this yesterday in Abuja, said: “As the representatives of various interest groups from Northern Nigeria, the CNG is no longer disposed to watching with restraint to the point of condoning and accommodating such unreasonable and unacceptable conduct perpetrated against northern interests.”