Northern aspirants intensify campaign for APC ticket –

Northern aspirants intensify campaign for APC ticket – The Sun Nigeria

By Chinelo Obogo

The entrance of the third highest ranking official in the country, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, into the presidential race just days before the All Progressives Congress (APC) ended the sale of nomination forms, may further increase the possibility of an aspirant from the North to emerge the party’s candidate on May 30.

Lawan is the fourth high profile aspirant from the North after Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, who was the first, Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State, the second and Senator Sani Yerima of Zamfara State, the third.

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Candidates must emerge on or before June 3

Recently, the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye, warned that INEC would disqualify any political party that fails to adhere strictly to regulations and guidelines for the conduct of primaries for the 2023 general elections. He said should any party fail to comply with the provisions regulating the conduct of any of its primaries, its candidates shall be excluded in the election for the particular position.

“So far, two out of the 14 activities in the timetable and schedule of activities have been successfully accomplished. The Notice of Election was published on Feb. 28, while nomination forms have been made available on the commission’s website since March 1 for political parties to download and issue to their candidates. The next activity is the conduct of primaries by political parties in line with the dictates of Section 84 of the Electoral Act for which the Timetable and Schedule of Activities provides a period of 61 days (April 4 to June 3),” he said.

Zoning

With the warning issued by INEC, political parties have from now to June 3 to present presidential candidates. For the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the committee set up to deliberate on zoning announced recently that the contest would be thrown open to all zones.

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But the spokesperson to Atiku Abubakar during the 2019 presidential elections, Umar Sani, said the PDP will very likely consider the fact that the North has only had the presidency for two years on its platform since 1999 in making its decision on zoning.

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Speaking to Daily Sun, Umar said: “Since 1999, political parties have zoned positions based on their party’s principles. In 1999, we considered the fact that the South West needed to be assuaged after MKO Abiola’s loss in 1993 and that was why the PDP gave the ticket to Obasanjo. After his eight years tenure, the PDP zoned it to the North and the late Musa Yar’adua emerged. Unfortunately, Yar’adua died after three years and Jonathan completed his tenure. In 2011, PDP zoned it to the South. So, on the PDP platform, the South has held the ticket for 14 years between Obasanjo and Jonathan and the North has held it for only two years. It is based on this fact that the PDP will make its decision on where to  zone the presidency in 2023.”

For the APC, after President Muhammadu Buhari met with governors before it held its national convention, the resolution was that political offices will be swapped between the North and the South. Until recently, when more northern aspirants emerged in APC and the campaign intensified, the general belief was that the presidential ticket will go to the South.

As it stands, over 24 aspirants have purchased the APC presidential nomination form and of that number, only four are high profile northerners, while most are from the South. However, recent reports state that the APC may very likely support a candidate from the North if the PDP picks a northern candidate. A former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, said on his social media handle that it would be a failed strategy if a strong candidate from the North wins the PDP ticket and the APC still insists on zoning its ticket to the South. He said only a candidate from the North is very likely to beat a PDP candidate.

Kogi Governor

Analysts believe that one of the achievements supporters of Governor Yahaya Bello, who was the first to buy and submit his presidential nomination form can boast of are his efforts in combating crime which has led to the low rate of insecurity in Kogi State.

For many years, statistics showed that Kogi was one of the states well known for its high rate of insecurity but in 2016 when Governor Bello was sworn in as the youngest governor, he promised to make war against crime one of the cardinal points of his administration.

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Operation Total Freedom (OPT) was immediately set up to give support to the already existing security officials and all the resources needed to function effectively was provided for them. Governor Bello also provided over 200 utility vehicles, 500 motorcycles for security patrol and employed the services of vigilance security outfit.

In collaboration with the Federal Government, the state trained 441 Special Constabulary Police at the Nigerian Police Training College, Ilorin and the Special Police have been assisting in gathering intelligence to help the regular police officials fight crime more effectively.

Bello’s administration also targeted youths, who are usually the most susceptible to committing crime and empowered many of them economically and through education. It is on record that his administration has the highest number of women and youths. 

His efforts at combating crime begun yielding results such that in 2017, a report released by the National Bureau of Statistics, stated that out of the 134,663 cases of crime reported, Bauchi, Kebbi and Kogi states had the lowest rates. That same year, Kogi had no cases of burglary while the state with the highest level of crime had 1,213 cases.

Kogi’s economy

The low rate of insecurity has boosted the economy of the state such that the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, NIPC, said the state received about $1 billion in various investments.

In November 21, 2021, the World Bank commended the of Kogi on its 2020 audited financial statement, describing the financial report as a standard for transparency and accountability in the public sector.

The letter written to the state was signed by the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme (SFTAS) Task Team Leader, Nigeria Country Office, Western and Central African Region, Deborah Hannah Isser. SFTAS is a $750 million programme which reward states for meeting any or all of nine indicators that demonstrate improvements in fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability.

The nine indicators are an offshoot of the previous Fiscal Sustainability Plan of the Federal Government where states were to be rewarded for meeting up to 22 targets and the criteria to be achieved are improved financial reporting and budget reliability; increased openness and citizens’ engagement in the budget process; improved cash management and reduced revenue leakages through the implementation of state Treasury Single Account (TSA); strengthened Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) collection; biometric registration and Bank Verification Number (BVN) used to reduce payroll fraud.

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Others are improved procurement practices for increased transparency and value for money; strengthened public debt management and fiscal responsibility framework; improved clearance/reduction of the stock of domestic expenditure arrears; and improved debt sustainability. The of Kogi State said an insecure state would not have achieved such commendation from the World Bank.

When last month, Governor Yahaya Bello officially declared his intention to contest for the 2023 presidential election, he promised to end poverty by raising 20 million millionaires by 2030. He said that economy, security, peace and unity would be his watchword as he works to create a nation where everyone is carried along regardless of religion or tribe.

He said his administration will learn a lot from the South East and invest in its  apprenticeship model by which a boy, from an indigent or affluent background, is taken, trained and turned into a millionaire businessman in as little as 10 years.

“A Yahaya Bello Presidency will have an additional target of creating at least 20 million millionaires by the same year 2030, with the aim that each of them will employ or otherwise empower at least five other citizens. In this regard, we are going to learn a lot from the South East. The apprenticeship model by which a boy, from an indigent or affluent background, is taken, trained and turned into a millionaire businessman in as little as 10 years is one we have to understudy and invest in. Harvard University already studies it and the Nigerian Government must do no less.

“I have personally observed that this model works on average 50 per cent  of the time with at least  five  out of 10 boys who apprenticed with various Igbo friends of mine are millionaires today in their own rights,” he said.

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