Seven Presidential aspirants on the platform of the All Progressives Congress have dismissed the names of five presidential aspirants purportedly submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for a consensus candidate, stressing that they were not consulted before the governors arrived at the decision.
Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, who is the chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum had on Tuesday morning said the list of shortlisted “frontline candidates” had been presented to the President, who he said okayed the recommendation.
Those who are to remain in the race are; former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu; a former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi; Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi and Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.
“The president told us any of these five are qualified to be president and have contributed to the party (APC). He said he is comfortable with any of them,” said Lalong while speaking on Channels TV.
“Our recommendation is to enable us to give direction for the party as we go into the primary. We cannot go with everybody, but in our view, these are the people we think should remain.”
However, the seven aggrieved presidential hopefuls in a statement described the move as shambolic and an already failed attempt to sideline other aspirants particularly those from the South-East and South South.
The aspirants namely; Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade; former minister for state for Education,Emeka Nwajiuba; former Minister for science and technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, former governor Rochas Okorocha and businessman Tein Jack-Rich in a joint statement issued by Ogbonnaya Onu on their behalf distanced themselves from the purported list.
According to them, the motive of the governors is in their personal selfish interest not the South.
They also clarified that at no time did the President equivocally support zoning of the presidency to the South, saying that though they were in support of the Presidency to the South especially the South-East, neither them nor other South-East Presidential aspirants were consulted before any or such decision was taken.
Urging Nigerians to disregard the report, Onu stressed that neither the Governors Forum nor Northern Governors had any moral or constitutional jurisdiction to determine the political fate of the South.
The aggrieved aspirants alleged that the governors were merely acting based on gratifications being promised to them by a certain Yoruba aspirant from the South-West, who was also included in the list.
Onu said that five of the northern governors had been promised the office of Vice President, which has suddenly prompted some of the governors to push for the zoning of the APC ticket to the South.