BY BENEDICT NWACHUKWU, ABUJA
Barely six months to the 2023 general election, the crisis bedeviling the ruling All Progressives Congress has taken another form as major presidential aspirants who lost to the presidential candidate of the party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on Wednesday snubbed a well-publicized reconciliation meeting slated for Abuja.
The rejection led to the cancellation of the meeting with a proviso to reconvene at a later date yet to be announced.
Tinubu had defeated former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Vice President Yemi Osibanjo and 12 others to clinch the sole ticket.
He polled 1,271 votes to emerge victorious at the end of the Special National Convention of the party on Wednesday at Eagle Square in Abuja.
The race for the presidential flag bearer started with 23 aspirants, but nine withdrew shortly before the commencement of voting at the convention.
Wednesday’s cancelled meeting, according to the convener and one of the presidential aspirants, Nicolas Felix, was meant to bring all the stakeholders on board, brainstorm and “adopt winning campaign strategies that seek to carry every Nigerian along in our bid to coast home to victory ahead of the 2023 general elections.”
Among those invited for the meeting were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; former Science and Technology Minister, Ogbonnaya Onu; former Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba and former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.
There were also five serving governors, namely Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Ben Ayade (Cross River) and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti).
Others were Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; former Ogun State governor and serving senator, Ibikunle Amosun; a serving senator, Ajayi Boroffice; former Zamfara governor, Ahmad Sani; former Imo State governor and serving senator, Rochas Okorocha; a former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole; cleric, Tunde Bakare; Pastor and Businessman, Dr. Nicolas Felix; former Information Minister, Ikeobasi Mokelu; Businessman, Tein Jack-Rich and the only female among them, Uju Ken-Ohanenye.
However, the organiser claimed that the meeting was postponed without giving a reason for the postponement.
A statement issued by Felix, said a new date will be communicated soon.
The statement read, “Please be informed that the strategic meeting of 2023 Presidential Aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC), scheduled to hold on Wednesday the 31st of August has been postponed.
“A new date for the meeting will be communicated soon. Apologies for any inconvenience(s) that this might cause.”
A source close to one of the aspirants, however, told newsmen that most of the key presidential aspirants invited to the meeting did not show interest.
According to the party chieftain, a particular aspirant from the North did not even acknowledge the invitation letter sent to him.
The source further stated: “It seems some of these aspirants are yet to come to terms with our presidential candidate because some of them are not seen to be rallying the needed support for the party yet.
“All of them are well informed about this meeting. The organisers even sent statements twice to remind them but some did not show interest at all. I can tell you that only nine of them were ready to attend. These nine aspirants are among the heavyweights we expected to show up,” the source revealed.
Meanwhile, a statement from the office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, indicated that he had departed Abuja for the United States of America early Wednesday morning, seeking global partnerships and support for Nigeria’s recently launched Energy Transition Plan.
According to a statement by Osinbajo’s media aide, Laolu Akande, the ETWG, which is chaired by the Vice President, comprises relevant ministers and other top government officials.
In another development, the election of the National Association of the Nigerian Students slated for today (Thursday) is pitching the APC leaders against each other and thereby tearing the party apart.
To this end, a group of the APC youths Wednesday stormed the national secretariat to protest the imposition of a candidate by the national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, for the NANS’s presidency.
The students who chased away the APC National Chairman from his office overpowered the security personnel on the premises which led to the fleeing of the national Chairman while other staff scampered for safety.