From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

Aspirants on the platform of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) are currently in confusion and fear over the modality the candidate of the party will emerge after the primaries for the 2023 presidential election.

A chieftain of the party told Sunday Sun that the number of presidential aspirants grew astronomically due to the fact that the incumbent will not be recontesting.

At least 10 chieftains of the party have indicating serious interests to wrest the ticket from one another.

From the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, serving and former state governors like Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Prof Ben Ayade (Cross-River), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Ibikunle Amosun, (ex-Ogun governor), Minister of Labor and Employment,  Dr Chris Nwabueze Ngige, and Ananyo Rochas Okorocha (ex-Imo governor).

Other presidential aspirants include the Minister of State, Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba; Minister of State, Petroleum, Timipre Sylva; Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, and Minister, Science and Technology, Ogbonnia Onu, among others.

Although the aspirants have been declaring and have even started purchasing the party’s N100 million expression of interest and nomination forms, however, many of them are groping in the dark and uncertain on how the party’s candidate will finally emerge.

As a mark of respect, almost all the aspirants had approached President Muhammadu Buhari to notify him of their intentions before declaring openly, but surprisingly they all got the same presidential endorsement response.

Starting with Asiwaju Tinubu who announced to Nigerians that; “I have gone to inform Mr President about my intention”, to several other aspirants banking on President Buhari’s pronouncement that they will kill his anointed candidate if he reveals his name, it has been a situation of hope and uncertainty to the aspirants.

Perhaps, in an attempt to discourage the aspirants, the ruling party leadership had jacked up the expression of interest and nomination forms for the presidential aspirants to a whopping sum of N100 million.

However, despite overcoming the astronomical raising of the nomination form fee, the aspirants appear to be confused following President Buhari’s technical endorsements of almost all the aspirants.

More importantly, according to sources, there is every likelihood of a repeat of what played out during the party’s national convention when President Buhari unilaterally anointed Senator Abdullahi Adamu and tactically intimidated other aspirants into withdrawing from the race.

Faced with the uncertainties, the aspirants, in a desperate attempt to outsmart one another, have continued to drop the name of Mr President as well as playing ethnic cards to be at a vantage position.

Speaking on the chances of the presidential aspirants, a member of the National Working Committee (NWC) told Sunday Sun that it is as bleak as ever, arguing that it is almost impossible for any member of the party to categorically say how the candidate of the party will emerge.

“Whoever tells you that he knows how the presidential candidate of the party will emerge must be economical with the truth. From all indications, it is likely going to be an all southern aspirants affair because apart from Governor Yahaya Bello from the North-central, no other aspirant is coming from the core North.

“It is almost certain that the presidential candidate of the party will not come through the normal conventional method of direct primaries because the party wants to reduce post-primary rancours situation. The worst case scenario will be to use of an indirect mode of primaries.

“However, I can tell you that there is palpable anxiety and fear in the minds of the aspirants because they have all concluded that President Buhari will determine who flies the flag of the party. Uppermost in the minds of the aspirants is that the president will still adopt the measure he used during our national convention in anointing the presidential candidate of the party,” the chieftain said.

Equally reacting to the situation, a member of the support group of one of the aspirants, who spoke to Sunday Sun in confidence, also confirmed the fears in the camps of the aspirants.

He also admitted that many of the aspirants have perfected plans to decamp to other political parties, stressing; “I can tell you that the fear of the unknown has driven many of the presidential aspirants to explore plan B option with other political parties that can give them ticket to contest.

“Truth be told, none of the presidential aspirants is very sure of getting the ticket of the party for now. The president is not also helping matters. This aspirant will inform him of his intention, he will not discourage him, but rather encourage him to go ahead.

“He did the same thing to the national chairmanship aspirants during the national convention. In fact, one of them even allegedly visited him in London at the height of the speculation that he endorsed Abdullahi Adamu, but he told the aspirant to go on with his campaigns, only to return and confirm his endorsement of Adamu.”

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