The All Progressives Congress (APC) on Thursday said it would work to win in at least three of five Southeast states in the 2023 general elections.
The party’s Southeast zonal caucus met at the Uburu country home of Science and Technology Minister, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, who was adopted as APC’s Southeast leader.
Onu said the party would strategically reposition in the Southeast ahead of 2023 to produce no fewer than three governors.
His words: “We are the only zone without a governor elected on the platform of the APC. Is that right? Is that correct? Is it what we want? So, we want a change.
“We have our best people representing us and the national working committee of our great party will be giving us good leadership.
“We believe strongly that by 2023, we should be aiming at a minimum of three governors elected on the platform of APC in the Southeast.
“We will have the majority of the seats in the National Assembly coming from the Southeast.
“We will also have the majority of the seats in the Houses of Assembly in our various states so that we will produce a minimum of three speakers.”
Dr Onu said support for President Muhammadu Buhari increased during last year’s general election, compared to 2015.
“The total vote from the Southeast may be the smallest, but if you look at the percentage increase between the two elections, the greatest among the six geopolitical zones came from the Southeast.
“This signal is reassuring and is telling all those who can look deep into matters that there is the potential for the Southeast to turn around and be the base of APC in the future.
“This we can do and this I believe, with the help of the almighty, we will do it. When we do this, there will be more opportunities for our members.
“We will not only be looking for appointments at the federal level, but we will also be getting those appointments at the states,” the former Abia State governor said.
APC last year lost Imo, the only state it controlled, to the opposition People Democratic Party (PDP).
Four out of the five states in region ars controlled by the PDP; Anambra is controlled by the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).
APC regretted that the PDP was being credited with the Buhari administration’s achievements.
It added that low publicity was given to the APC-led Federal Government’s programmes, projects and policies in the zone.
Onu said most of President Buhari’s achievements in the region were being downplayed by the PDP.
“Lack of adequate information and awareness of Mr President’s achievements in Igboland has made the people believe that PDP leaders championed and brought them in the zone,” he said.
He urged APC leaders in the region to position the party for success in 2023.
“Our achievements are not known by the people. There are so many things the Buhari’s regime has achieved, but our people know little or nothing about them.
“This is why it appears the current Federal Government under Buhari has done nothing in Igboland. This must not continue.
“Think of the Enugu International Airport that the President released N10billion for its repair. We may not know the importance of this project until it is fully completed.
“The Minister of Aviation has given us his word that by Easter, the airport will be up and running. This will boost the economy of the Southeast, among other benefits.
“Think about the Second Niger Bridge. The President said he is not going to play politics with that project as the PDP government did in 16 years.
“So, let’s continue to sing our praises and let our people know what the government is doing for us in this zone. This is important so that the opposition party will not take our glory.”
Dr Onu urged members to develop the spirit of forgiveness.
“If any member of APC has offended you, please try and forgive because all of us are Christians.
“We believe very strongly that when we forgive, we are lifting a great burden on ourselves,” he said.
The minister said there were no factions in the party.
Former Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime, blamed party leaders in the zone for not adequately projecting the Federal Government’s numerous developmental strides.
He said they should not allow PDP governors to take glory for APC’s achievements.
“A lot is happening under this Federal Government, but our people don’t know about them.
“There was a surprise in this festive period. One could drive from Enugu to Aba, hitch-free, without some traffic hurdles.
“Although there are some portions of the road that are still bad, it’s better than what we had before.
“The PDP is taking glory for the achievements of the APC government.
“Things they could not do in 16 years are being done and they are posing as if they are the ones doing them.
“We need to create a lot of awareness to let our people know what is going on,” Chime said.
The APC endorsed Dr Onu as its leader in the zone.
It followed a motion by the National Vice-Chairman (Southeast), Chief Emma Eneukwu, which was endorsed by everyone in attendance.
Also at the meeting were Senator Ayogu Eze, Chief George Moghalu, Ambassador Fidel Ayogu, Chief Mark Wabara, amongst others.
The issue of 2023 presidency was raised at the meeting but discussions were deferred to another date.
2023: Presidency Should Return To South — El-Rufai
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has insisted that the North has no justification to remain in power after the expiration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second tenure.
El-Rufai maintained that the Presidency should rightly return to the Southern part of Nigeria.
He said though the constitution of the All Progressives Congress, APC, does not make provision for rotation but in the interest of justice, equity and fair play, Presidency should go to other regions of the country.
The Kaduna governor said: “The general political consensus in Nigeria is that the Presidency should rotate between the North and the South. It is not written but everyone understands it.
“In some of the parties, like the PDP, it is even written down in their constitution but it was breached in 2015. I think that every politician of honour should understand and abide by that consensus except there is an extenuating circumstance compelling it to be set aside. What could this be?
“President Yar’Adua died in office and it was compulsory for Jonathan to continue but when 2011 election came, there were many people who insisted that Jonathan should step aside for a northerner to complete the tenure of Yar’Adua but I opposed it because I didn’t think it was proper for an incumbent that got there not by his own design should be stopped from contesting when the constitution has not barred him from running.
“In the APC, we deliberately omitted rotational Presidency in our constitution and the emergence of a presidential candidate does not take into account zoning and that was why in 2015, Rochas Okorocha from the East contested, Sam Nda-Isaiah contested, Buhari, Kwankwaso and others contested.”
El-Rufai a chieftain of APC, added that presidential candidates are chosen on the basis of merit and general acceptance.
“I can say that as distinct from the PDP, APC has no rotational Presidency but candidates are selected strictly on the basis of political merit and the general acceptability of the candidate.
“I want to say that those of us from Northern Nigeria honour agreements. We do not violate unwritten political agreements and I will be the last person to lead in violating that agreement. I may have a personal view but that should be the basis. I don’t care where you come from but I look for merit.
“But as a group, the Northern APC will have to sit down and endorse someone, most likely someone from the South, because after eight years of Buhari, I don’t think the Presidency should remain in the north unless there is some extenuating circumstances. But all things being equal, we will honour our agreement and we keep our words,” he said.
JUST IN: Declare Kalu’s Seat Vacant — Abia PDP Chieftain Tells Senate
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia, Chief Charles Ike, has charged the Senate leadership to declare the Abia North Senatorial seat vacant due to the incarceration of Sen. Orji Kalu.
Ike gave the charge in a statement he issued in Umuahia on Saturday, saying that the people of Abia North Senatorial District were no longer comfortable being “totally eclipsed” in the Senate. “I hereby call on the Senate leadership to quickly declare Kalu’s seat vacant to enable the district to elect a capable replacement,” he said.
He said that the area had set a machinery in motion for Kalu’s recall and that the process would soon commence in earnest.
Ike also spoke on the recent defection of Chief Bourdex Ogba, the Senatorial Candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) for Abia North in the 2019 poll, to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He described Ogba’s defection as an act of “political indiscipline”.
He expressed disbelief that Ogba, who dumped APC for APGA, ahead of the 2019 elections, could “so quickly return to pick the same broom he said was not sweeping well”.
He alleged that Ogba’s return to APC was initiated to position himself for the senatorial ticket of the party in the event that the Senate eventually called for a byelection for Kalu’s replacement.
He alleged that Ogba had made four defections in recent time, having moved from PDP to APGA ahead of the 2015 general elections and later to APC and APGA before his latest return to APC.
Ike said: “His jumping from party to party smacks of political indiscipline and his desperation to go to Senate but you know that a rolling stone gathers no moss.
“Unfortunately, too, he lacks the political discipline to be trusted with any public office in Abia north.
“How can you trust a man whose only political antecedent is jumping from one party to another?”
The PDP chieftain further took an exception to a comment credited to Ogba, when he visited the APC national secretariat, where he was quoted to have asked the Senate not to declare Kalu’s seat vacant.
Ike argued that the comment was at variance with the wishes of the people of Abia north who, he said, were earnestly yearning to have a replacement for Kalu.
It would be recalled that Kalu of APC was jailed in December by a Federal High Court for 12 years, having been convicted for a N7.2 billion fraud, when he was Abia governor (1999 to 2003).
Although, Kalu has appealed the High Court verdict, Ike said that his continued incarceration left Abia north without a voice in the Senate.
Senate Declares Bayelsa Governor, Deputy’s Seats Vacant
The President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan has declared vacant the Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa West seats vacated by present Governor and Deputy Governor of the state, Sen. Douye Diri and Sen. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, respectively.
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu made the disclosure on Friday while addressing the first regular meeting of Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) in Abuja.
“In the case of Bayelsa State, both the Governor and Deputy Governor were serving Senators. Consequently, the Commission yesterday Thursday 20th February 2020 received two communications from the Senate President declaring the seats for Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa West Senatorial Districts vacant.
“The Commission will soon meet to determine the dates for bye-elections in the two Senatorial Districts,” the INEC boss stated.
Recall that Diri and Ewhrudjakpo were sworn in as governor and deputy respectively after the Supreme Court invalidated the election of David Lyon and Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo over certificate forgery.