More details have emerged regarding the list of 13 All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential aspirants shortlisted by the party’s screening committee led by Chief John Oyegun, a former national chairman of the party.
Reports had emerged on Friday that the panel, which screened 23 presidential aspirants in total, had disqualified 10 out of the total, with speculation also emerging to the effect that the Oyegun committee favoured mostly youthful aspirants. This had prompted suggestions that Bola Ahmed, former Lagos State governor, who at 70, is the oldest of the aspirants, may have been disqualified.
However, THE WITNESS learnt that the committee did not expressly disqualify any aspirant, but instead suggested a list of 13 aspirants it considered “safe,” and Tinubu actually made the list.
Senior party sources who have seen the report of the Oyegun committee confirmed to our correspondents that the report of 10 aspirants being disqualified is erroneous, as according to them, all 23 aspirants screened were cleared and qualified, but the committee recommended a safe list of 13 names.
“Nobody was disqualified,” one of the sources who craved anonymity said. “What happened is that the committee recommended 13 names in their report. It is left for the Adamu led NWC to work on the recommendation.”
According to the source, those who made the list of the 13, apart from Tinubu, are Rotimi Amaechi, former minister of transportation; vice president, Yemi Osinbajo; David Umahi, governor of Ebonyi State; Yahaya Bello, his Kogi State counterpart; Ahmad Lawan, senate president and Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti governor.
Others who also made the cut are Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, former minister of science and technology; Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, former minister of state for education; Senator Ibikunle Amosun, former Ogun State governor; Badaru Abubakar, governor of Jigawa State; Godswill Akpabio, former minister of Niger Delta affairs and Mr Tein Jack-Rich, an oil mogul.
Meanwhile, among the ten aspirants said to have been excluded from the recommended list are Rochas Okorocha, former Imo State governor who battling corruption cases; Pastor Tunde Bakare; Ben Ayade, governor of Cross River State; Sani Yerima, former governor of Zamfara State; former Minister of Information and Culture, Ikeobasi Mokelu and former Speaker of the house of representatives, Demeji Bankole.
Others are, US-based Pastor, Felix Nicholas; the only APC female aspirant, Uju Ken-Ohanenye and Ken Nnamani, former president of the senate.
Recall that Oyegun, had while submitting the report of the screening committee on Friday, gave reasons why his committee pruned the number of presidential aspirants from 23 to 13.
Speaking at the party’s national secretariat, Oyegun said the committee would have gone a little shorter than 13 but chose to allow the party to decide who their preferred candidate will be.
“First, we had 23 member aspirants that we interacted with. And my first comment is that we were very 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,” he said.
“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 them surprised us with 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.”
On the criteria relied on to screen the aspirants, Oyegun said. “Aside from the basic background, experience and understanding of the Nigerian situation, the ideas as to how issues, difficulties and problems can be addressed were key factors that were considered.
“Our report is simple and short. I don’t want to beat the bush. There were two aspects to it: The basic constitutional qualifications for you to aspire to be a president of the Federal Republic to of Nigeria. That was simple.”