By Uche Amunike
The APC presidential primary election which will produce the 2023 flag bearer of the party is still ongoing in earnest at the Eagle Square, Abuja, as delegates are still voting to produce their preferred presidential candidate, as at press time.
Shortly before the commencement of the APC Presidential Primary election, a total of 28 hopefuls had picked their nomination and Expression of Interest formers, although five of them eventually pulled out .
The remaining 23 contenders later met with the APC presidential screening committee which is headed by the former Chairman of the party, John Odigie-Oyegun.
Nigerians have been watching with interest, the intrigues that have taken place so far over the zoning of the presidential ticket and consensus candidacy since the convention commenced. As a matter of fact, after a consensus candidate reportedly emerged, Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari averred that the delegates be allowed to decide who the party’s presidential flag-bearer will be.
Northern APC Governors also made it clear that they wanted the party’s candidate to come from the southern part of the country.
The main contenders whose fates are in the hands of the 2,203 delegates lined up for voting presently are APC Chieftain and former Lagos State Governor, Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Ahmad Lawan and 9 others.
The 14 aspirants who were still in the race as at the time this report was filed include Pastor Tunde Bakare, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Mr Ahmed Yarima, Governor David Umahi, Mr Ogbonnaya Onu, Vice President Yomi Osinbajo, Mr Jack Rich, Gov Yahaya Bello, Gov Ben Ayade, Senator Rochas Okorocha and Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu.
A total of 9 aspirants withdrew from the race earlier. They include former Governor Godswill Akpabio, Dr Felix Nicholas, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, Senator Ken Nnamani, Gov Kayode Fayemi, Mrs Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, former Speaker Dimeji Bankole, Former Gov Ibikunle Amosun and Gov Muhammad Badru.
On her part, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye stated, before stepping down for Tinubu: ‘I believe Nigeria needs a mother. But I am stepping down for Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Former Imo state Governor, Rochas Okorocha, however had this to say: ‘I am not running for president to accumulate riches but to save the lives of ordinary Nigerians.’
Former Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi did not step down for any candidate but rather told all present at the APC Presidential Primary election ground, that he was the most experienced of all the candidates and will therefore improve the economy if they gave him their votes.
Pastor Tunde Bakare was adamant as he spoke these words: ‘I am not here to step down for anyone. I am here to step up as the 16th president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’
While addressing the audience, Osinbajo stated: ‘to our dear delegates, when you vote tonight, know that your vote carries the answer to your prayers for our country and its future.’
As at 5.30am, Wednesday, delegates were still casting their votes.