Our Reporter, Abuja
After the screening of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential aspirants, supporters of former President Goodluck Jonathan stormed the National Secretariat on Friday, demanding that the party adopts him (Jonathan) as consensus candidate.
The party had earlier distanced itself from Jonathan, stating that he was not in the list of the presidential aspirants.
Among the 23 names submitted to the Screening Committee led by the former National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the name of the former President, Jonathan, was not included.
However, the supporters who were at the Headquarters of APC said, “We are calling on the Nigerian President and the national working committee under the distinguished leadership of Senator Dr. Abdullahi Adamu to adopt Goodluck Jonathan as the consensus candidate for the betterment of this country.
“We have seen what he had done in the last six years when he was steering the affairs of this country. We need him most. We need him at this crucial time, because Nigeria needs to be united. We believe he will be the only person that will unite this country so that he will take us to the promised land where we ought to be and where we should be in this country.”
The group, under the aegis of ‘Goodluck Nigeria Ambassadors’ was led by Umar Wanda, who hails from Gombe state.
Meanwhile, the Screening Committee announced yesterday that 10 aspirants were disqualified to contest the Presidential ticket of the APC. The Chairman of the Committee, Chief Oyegun stated this after submitting the report of the Committee.
Oyegun could not give the reasons the aspirants were disqualified beyond saying that the committee considered youthful aspirants.
The committee chairman also put to rest the speculation that former President Jonathan was screened virtually.
Asked if Jonathan was among those screened, Oyegun said no.
While presenting the report to the National Working Committee (NWC), Oyegun said, “Having been a tenant in this building before, Mr chairman, I came in I thought I was in the wrong premises. I want to say you have performed something short of a miracle in this building. And I can thread properly now that I am in the secretariat of the governing party.
“I thank you for the assignment that you gave us as enormous and how short time has been. I know the environment on which you took over. And so, we are quite happy to do as much as we could to make the work of the party lighter.
“We had the privilege of being inaugurated by you. Precisely on the 30 of May and we immediately started work that very day after a brief meeting. I will just summarize the main thing.
“First, we had 23 member aspirants that we interacted with. And my first comment is that we were very in-occupant. Those were 23 that presented themselves. We had a lot of others, prominent Nigerians both within and outside the country that had applied but for whatever reason, could not proceed with their applications.
“The point I want to make is the quality of the people that want to govern this country.
“The second point I want to make is that, we were surprised at the active participation of the youthful members of the party. Some of whom really surprised us as to what they have accomplished in life, their understanding of the situation in this country and why they want to have the privilege of governing this country. What was important was that they so believed in the country and the party that they were able to pay the sum that some of us considered princely handsome to participate in the process. And I think the party ought to pat itself on the back for them.
“Our report is basically simple and short. I don’t want to beat about the bush. There were two aspects to it.
“The basic constitutional qualifications for you to aspire to be a president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That was simple and straight forward.
“And on that basis, every single aspirants that presented himself qualified. Because it was basic and simple. But we are a governing party. And we are keen on continuing the process and replacing at the proper time our president with yet another member of the party.
“So, the ability to lead, background, experience and your understanding of the Nigerian situation, your ideas as to how issues, difficulties and problems can be addressed and how the country can be moved forward became a critical consideration. It is on that basis; who are you, what have you achieved, your understanding of the nation and things you can contribute to move the nation forward. It was on the basis of that we made our final shortlist. I don’t list the names. I think I will leave that to you. We have a shortlist which brought the number down to 13. We could have cut it a little shorter. But we wanted a pedigree with a longer element to surface. For them to be seen whether to be noticed, who knows? We hand them over to the party. And it is for the party to decide who their preferred candidate will be.
“It is also an opportunity to showcase the kind of people that exist within the party with their usefulness and kind of experience. Let the world know that this is a party that cares for the young and a party when we say the young can aspire, we really mean it. And this has been showcased in the report that we have written.
“I will conclude by saying that we only drew a word of caution. That there is this cleavage that is gradually becoming the centre stage in a national discourse. As between the North and the South and the presidency. And we just want to advise strongly that the party should please think of it in making its decision, address it and let it influence their thoughts because it has its own implications.
“Outside that, just on behalf of the wonderful colleagues you gave me to work with, I want to thank you very much. It was a sensitive assignment, a challenging assignment but very interesting assignment on which all of us have profited immensely from which the party will also profit.
“Against every aspirants, the issue of consensus and it is pleasant surprise that 98 to 99% agreed that the party is supreme. And that whatever the party finally decides with proper consultation, they were likely to accept. We had only one exception who said yes, he will accept consensus so long as it is built on him. So, I think it is a point that needs to be made and emphasized. So, that gives you a lot of leeway in the days and hours ahead to trim down even more drastically. But, finally we think you should not be afraid for a contested primary if anybody insist on the contest.
“I thank you very much Mr chairman. It is now my honor and privilege on behalf of the committee set up to present to you the report.”
However few hours after the Screening Committee submitted its report, aspirants from the South-East met at the residence of the former President of the Senate, Senator Ken Nnamani in Abuja. The agenda of the meeting was not clear but an insider said it was in continuation of the meeting held at the residence of the former governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha.
The APC South-East Presidential aspirants had earlier met at the house of Senator Okorocha, where they resolved to support any of them that emerged as Candidate.
Among those that attended the yesterday meeting were: Senator Ken Nnamani, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Governor Dave Umahi and Mrs. Uju Kennedy Ohanenye.
The former Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha told the media that they had not concluded the meeting and therefore it would be inappropriate to speak on the meeting. He, however, said the meeting would be reconvened.