By EMMANUEL MOGBEDE
ABUJA- Delegates for the All Progressives Congress (APC) Special Convention for its presidential primary election have expressed optimism that the exercise will produce the most popular and acceptable aspirant as the party’s 2023 presidential candidate.
This is as most of the delegates arrive Abuja Eagle Square, venue of the exercise after being accredited by the accreditation committee at the International Conference Centre, amidst tight security.
Mr Chinedu Ogah, a member of the House of Representatives from Ebonyi, while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the venue of the convention, said the APC should come up with a credible, free and fair primary that would be unmatched in the country.
Ogah who is also a member of the APC Special Convention Planning Committee said the party should consider the South East for the position of the president in 2023.
“I expect a free and fair primary today, but if Nigerians consider the South East worthy of the position, we will be most grateful,” he said.
The APC presidential primary election is expected to run through the night as delegates and party officials are just arriving the venue.
NAN reports that 2,322 delegates from the 774 local government areas of the country including the six area councils of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are expected to vote at the presidential primary.
The delegates, three from each local government area, were seen in different uniforms popularly called “Aso-ebi”, especially those from western and southern states as they took their seats at their respective state pavilions.
The delegates would cast their votes into ballot boxes strategically located for their preferred aspirants to emerge as the party’s 2023 presidential candidate if a consensus candidate is not picked.
Although 23 presidential aspirants bought the party’s presidential Expression of Interest and Nomination forms to contest the presidency, 13 were cleared by the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun Presidential Screening Committee.
President Muhammadu Buhari at a dinner with the party’s presidential aspirants on Saturday backed the rotation of power to the southern part of the country in 2023.
The development limited the number of aspirants that would be contesting the party’s presidential ticket at the primary to those from the south if a consensus candidate was not picked.
Even if the party came up with a concensus candidate, it is expected that a voice vote or an affirmative vote would be done to confirm the candidate.
According to some party stakeholders who spoke to NAN on grounds of anonymity, as political calculations and realignment continue, the party may have only four aspirants left to contest for the ticket.
NAN also reports that 11 governors from the north had in a statement on Saturday announced their decision to support power shift to the South
after Buhari’s tenure.
The governors, while urging presidential aspirants from the northern part of the country to step down from the 2023 presidential race, said “the decision to support power shift to the south is in the best interest of the country.”
Security at the Abuja Eagle Square located in the Central Business District, where the convention is taking place has remained tight as vehicular and human traffic are restricted.
All roads leading to the venue have been cordoned off, with mobile policemen and other security details stationed at strategic positions.(NAN)