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N100m Presidential Form Meant to Shut Out Unserious Aspirants, APC Women Leader Says

Following public outrage over the high cost of nomination forms for aspirants in the All Progressives Congress (APC), the ruling party on Thursday explained that the fee was pegged at

Following public outrage over the high cost of nomination forms for aspirants in the All Progressives Congress (APC), the ruling party on Thursday explained that the fee was pegged at the rate needed to lock out unserious contenders.

APC’s defence of the price of its nominations forms, which was announced Wednesday, came as Chairman of The Progressive Project (TPP) and senator for Kano South, Senator Kabiru Gaya, expressed confidence in Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s candidacy. Gaya said, unlike the moneybags, Osinbajo’s popularity would facilitate the pooling of his supporters’ token donations to raise the N100 million nomination fee for his presidential bid.

However, National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, and former Governor of Cross River State, Chief Clement Ebri, condemned the high nomination cost for elective offices announced by APC.
Human rights activist and lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, also criticised APC for “corrupting democracy” with the high nomination fee, saying the N100 million fixed for its presidential nomination form “rightly sent shock waves of righteous indignation across the country.”

Meanwhile, indications emerged on Thursday that President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmed Lawan, was under intense pressure from a section of the northern elite to run for president in 2023.

The ruling party had during its 11th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held in Abuja pegged its presidential nomination form at N100 million, governorship at N50 million, Senate at N20 million, House of Representatives at N10 million, and House of Assembly at N2 million.

APC National Women Leader, Beta Edu, featuring on “The Morning Show” on Arise News Channel said the high rate of the ruling party’s nomination forms was to curtail the activities of persons with jokey ambitions. Edu said the APC National Working Committee (NWC) had consciously fixed the rate as part of a mechanism to ensure only serious aspirants were on the ballot.

She said the ruling party could not afford to waste time, especially considering the fact that it was working in line with the timetable of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Edu stated, “Everywhere around the world, running for elections has never been cheap and the party must be able to have means to guard several other issues that may arise. You find people who are not interested in running for elections just standing up, picking up forms and just waiting to constitute a kind of barrier or put a stud in the entire process as it goes on.

“These are not things that we want to see as a party. We are the ruling party, the largest party in Africa, a party where if you pick their nomination form and you are the candidate, the probability of you becoming the elected person for that position is almost hundred per cent.

“So, we cannot afford to dabble or joke around or gamble around. We want only serious people who are interested in running and representing different persons to run.”

Edu claimed the cost of forms for House of Assembly was fair.
She stated, “For all we care, N1.5 million for a House of Assembly nomination form is fair to the general population. It’s very fair and for women it’s free, for the disabled, it is free; for young people, it is 40 per cent off, that’s really very fair.

“And, of course, going for the other positions, we know what it was before and what it is now and we are trying to prevent certain persons who sometimes are not the members of the party. They just get their way in or they’re being used as syndicate to pick up forms at the beginning to constitute a kind of stud in the way of the whole electoral process and they pull the party backwards.”

Asked to explain her definition of fairness with regard to the ruling party’s high nomination fee in a country where over 98 per cent of the population did not have N500, 000 in their bank accounts, the APC women leader stated that running for elective office was not an all-comers affair.

Edu said, “Let me say this and very clearly, coming to run for a governorship election is not an all-comers affair. Governorship election is serious business, for you to run through all the local governments, consult people, reach out to people and, indeed, be able to campaign through the local governments requires some good amount of resources. And when you make up your mind that you want to run, you should be able to prepare adequately for that race.

“Beyond that, there are many ways for young people to generate funding for elections. It must not be your money and they are not paying the same amount others are paying.”

On rising disunity within the party, Edu said as part of the reconciliation committee, headed by Senator Abdullahi Adamu, she believed his view that most of the crises in the states were fuelled by ego clash between serving and former governors.

According to her, “We went through all the states in Nigeria and we understood the issues and concerns about unity or some disagreements among members of the party and, of course, like the chairman clearly stated yesterday (Wednesday), if we work together, we can to overcome it soon.”
She said, as the party moved closer to the elections, more aggrieved members would be reconciled.

Osinbajo Popular Enough to Pool Donations to Raise N100m, Supporters Insist

Meanwhile, Gaya said Osinbajo was popular enough to pool supporters’ token donations to raise the N100 million nomination fee with ease.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, Gaya said consultations by members of various support groups, eminent political leaders, and citizens, too numerous to mention, culminated in his decision to lead the Osinbajo supporters’ group.

He noted that for the vice president, the race was not about personal ambition, but a positive response to a popular call from a citizen-driven mobilisation that began without input from him or his office. The lawmaker stressed that people from other parties and even millions of non-partisan citizens, who did not belong to any political party, had strong interest and involvement with the campaign for Osinbajo’s candidature.

Gaya stressed that his specific assignment here was to lead a process of recalibration of all pro-Osinbajo forces towards electoral victory on the platform of APC. He said without doubt, all knowledgeable people in the country could attest to the qualities and competence of Osinbajo.

Gaya noted that his chosen method redefined presidential declarations in Nigeria, adding that the vice president clearly signalled that noble citizens had no need to descend into gutters. No touts were hired by anyone and his message effectively reverberated across the entire country and the Diaspora, he stated.

According to Gaya, “Even an internal issue of the price of our party’s nomination form is being deliberately misinterpreted in some circles, when we feel confident that, unlike moneybags, our truly populist candidate is popular enough to pool supporters’ token donations and raise such money with ease.

“Just one youth group with TPP, the Progressive Group alone, says that they can raise N100 million with rough voluntary contributions of N10, 000 each by 10, 000 of their supporters, who are keen about seeing a better future.

“Our populist mathematics is flawless and very strong; moneybags within or outside APC will only lose their dollars in any contest against the people’s will.”
Furthermore, Gaya said, unlike other political parties, records show that neither the APC presidential ticket nor its vice president’s slot had ever been won by throwing money around, but by populist endorsements from the north and south.

He said the TPP noted the fear of the people’s genuine power had made some elements to resort to heightened propaganda in the past few days.

Gaya added, “We will not descend low to play gutter politics and we have continued to warn our supporters against involvement in insults and vilification. We are democrats, we believe in uniting people and in submitting ourselves and competing ideas to the people’s evaluation and decisions through the ballot box.”

The APC chieftain emphasised that the popular forces behind Osinbajo feared no foe and hated no one, saying they are focused without compromise on the unity, progress and development of Nigeria and would not descend into gutter fights with any person or group.


Lawan Under Pressure to Join Presidential Race

Indications emerged on Thursday that the senate president was under intense pressure to contest for president in 2023. The ruling party released the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 elections, but maintained sealed lips on the issue of zoning.

Although, following the emergence of Adamu as National Chairman of the party at the March 26 convention, observers believed it was an indication that the ruling party would zone its presidency to the south.

National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Felix Morka, had said that the party was yet to take any decision on the zoning of the presidency to the south.
However, a reliable source told THISDAY that some elements within the northern elite were mounting pressure on Lawan to join the presidential race.

The source said, “Yes, he is under intense pressure to run for president. Some northern leaders are making the moves, asking him to run. It’s so serious. But it is not certain yet. It’s an option he’s still considering.”
Interestingly, two businessmen from Igbere, Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, have promised to obtain presidential nomination forms for Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Kalu, and Lawan. The businessmen disclosed this in a statement issued on Thursday and signed by Mr. Ukaegbu James and Mr. Nnanna Kalu.

They said they were convinced that with their track record, managerial skills, experience, and leadership acumen, both Kalu and Lawan had the competence to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari to drive the economy. James and Kalu were of the opinion that APC needed a unifier with deep knowledge of the country’s multi-ethnic, lingual and religious settings.

Ayu Tackles APC over Outrageous Nomination Fee, Extends Sale, Submission of Forms to Accommodate Defectors

PDP extended the sale of its nominations forms to Friday, to accommodate some APC defectors, like Senator Babba Kaita and his supporters. This was to enable them purchase any form of their choice for the 2023 general election.
Commenting on the high price of the APC nomination forms, Ayu, in a statement by his media aide, Simon Imobo-Tswam, said, “Nigerians can all see what the APC is: a fragmented alliance put together to capture power and inflict maximum pain on Nigerians, including their own members.”

Ayu urged Nigerians to recall how in 2014, President Muhammadu Buhari and leader of APC had told Nigerians then that he borrowed N27 million to buy his nomination form.
“The same man, as leader of his party, has now sanctioned the sale of the same forms at N100 million! I am told that’s an increase of 370 per cent,” Ayu said.

He added, “But in 2014, the PDP was in power and the economy was still booming. The incompetent APC presidency has now run the economy aground, making Nigeria the ‘Poverty Capital of the World.’
“How then can impoverished APC aspirants buy nominations at such prohibitively high costs? And yet, only recently he preached ‘Equal Opportunity’ to them.”

The national chairman of PDP said, “By this latest insensitive action, the APC has disenfranchised thousands of her youths, and dashed the hopes of millions of Nigerian youths who applauded President Buhari when he signed the Not Too Young To Run Bill into law in 2018. It is most insensitive, and mind-boggling. In fact, all those buying the N100 million and N50 million nomination forms should be investigated for fraud.”

He further stressed, “We, the PDP, are different. We are a mass movement for the Nigerian people. This is why our nomination fees are soft and democratic. When you compare us with the APC, the difference is clear. This is why we must return to power to save Nigerians from this insensitive government.”

Similarly, a former governor of Cross River State, Clement Ebri, condemned the high cost of forms for Expression of Interest and nomination for elective offices announced by the ruling party. Ebri said it vitiated the principles upon which APC campaigned and was voted into power.

He called on the NWC of the party to rethink the party’s position on the matter.
Ebri, in a statement issued yesterday, said some people might have argued that the reason for the exorbitant cost of nomination forms was simply to prune the number of contenders, or to delineate the pretenders from the contenders, saying, “Then I think that argument is flawed.”

The former governor said true party men and women should be concerned that the party, which was founded on the values and ideals of progressive philosophy, would make pre-qualification for elective offices – at state and national level – the exclusive preserve of party members with either great personal wealth or that have unlimited access to other sources of funding.

Ebri added, “With reference to the recent announcement by the APC concerning the cost of Expression of Interest and Nomination forms for various elective positions, the APC owes it to itself and the teeming numbers of Nigerians who voted it into power for two consecutive terms, to remain a party of true progressives and a true party of progressives.

“The current party position on the cost of forms for Expression of Interest and Nomination for elective offices appears to vitiate the very principles upon which the party campaigned and was voted into power.

“The danger this poses to the party is that many prospective and otherwise eminently qualified office seekers that do not possess enormous personal wealth will in every practical sense, be precluded from seeking party nomination, regardless of the depth and breadth of their popular support.”

Ebri said there were ample objective and progressive criteria, such as integrity, experience, character, political antecedents, empathy, intelligence, goodwill, etc, which could be employed to enable the emergence of genuinely qualified candidates.

He said it was a known fact that personal wealth was not the yardstick of assessment that enabled Buhari to emerge as standard-bearer of the party in 2015 and 2019.

The party chieftain noted that a comparative analysis of the cost of Expression of Interest and Nomination forms in APC and that of the main opposition PDP showed that a member of APC with governorship aspiration would not only be spending more than twice what his/her counterparts in the opposition are, but would also be spending more to vie for governorship office than the opposition candidates vying for the office of president.

Ebri stressed that as laudable as the concession of 50 per cent reduction for youths might seem, it was worthy of note that the youth in the APC that were vying for governorship would still be paying more than their opposition counterparts.

He added that youths vying for the presidential ticket would be paying more than what the opposition presidential aspirants were paying for nomination. The party chieftain wondered if APC had inadvertently been made a party of the wealthy by the wealthy for the wealthy.

Meanwhile, in an apparent move to accommodate defectors from APC, PDP extended the sale and submission of its nomination forms for the 2023 general election.

A statement by National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Debo Ologunagba, said, “After a thorough consideration of various issues and concerns in the party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has further adjusted its Timetable and Schedule of Activities to extend the closing dates for the purchase of Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms for the 2023 general elections to Friday, April 22, 2022.

“Under the reviewed timetable, the last day for the submission of already completed Forms has been extended to Monday, April 25, 2022

“Consequently, the following new dates have been fixed for the screening as well as Appeals arising from the screening of aspirants for various positions:

“State House of Assembly and National Assembly: Wednesday, April 27, 2022; Governorship: Thursday, April 28, 2022; Presidential: Friday, April 29, 2022. Appeals on all screening exercised: Monday, May 2, 2022.
“Under the updated timetable, the three-man Ad Hoc Ward Congress has been fixed for Saturday, April 30, 2022 while the Local Government Area National Delegates Congresses will now hold on Thursday, May 5, 2022.”

The statement added, “All dates for primary election into various positions remain the same. Please, note that all duly completed State Assembly Forms are to be submitted at the various states secretariat of the party.
“All aspirants, critical stakeholders and party members should be guided accordingly.”


Ozekhome: Buhari, APC Corrupting Democracy

Ozekhome accused the president and the ruling party of debasing democracy in a statement yesterday titled, “President Buhari and the APC are corrupting democracy.”

The statement was in response to Wednesday’s announcement by the ruling party fixing various high fees for its nomination forms, which had outraged many Nigerians.

Ozekhome stated, “The staggering sum of N100 million fixed by the APC NEC for its presidential nomination form has rightly sent shock waves of righteous indignation across the country. The APC had fixed N30 million for the ‘expression of interest form’ and N70 million for the ‘nomination form’, making a total of N100 million.

“The party hopes to rake in N1.5 billion from the 15 aspirants that have so far declared interest in the presidential race. By this singular act, the APC has shown a shocking insatiable bacchanalian propensity to corrupt democracy, democratic ethos, and also scam the entire country.

“The vulgarity of this exercise lies not just in the abominable fee prescribed, but more in the party’s pretentious mantra of fighting corruption, using a well orchestrated and carefully oiled Hitler’s Goebel’s propagandist machinery of dubious pedigree. It is the more abhorrent when we realise that this is miles apart from (indeed more than double) the price fixed by the party’s whipping child, the opposition PDP, which has fixed its at N40million (N5 million) for the expression of interest; and N35 million for the nomination form. The N100m is also over 100 per cent of the N40 million fixed by the same APC for the 2018, presidential nomination form.

“President Muhammed Buhari and the APC have, by this singular act, exhibited a very odious and unpleasant example of how not to fight corruption. They have managed to convince Nigerians that politics is, indeed, the art of grand deception, double-dealing, duplicity, beguilement, sham and self-contradiction. They have justified the cliché that diplomacy is the clever art of telling a person to go to hell in such a way that he actually eagerly looks forward to the journey.”

Chuks Okocha and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

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