Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC) 2023 Presidential Screening Committee has explained why only 13 out of 23 presidential aspirants that appeared before it were cleared.
Oyegun, who was a former National Chairman of the APC, said while submitting the 7-man committee report to the party`s National Chairman Sen. Abdullahi Adamu that
“All the aspirants were engaged on the issue of consensus and it was a pleasant surprise that 98 to 99 per cent of them agreed that the party is supreme, that whatever it finally decides with proper consultations, would likely be accepted.
“Though one aspirant said that; yes I will accept consensus so long as it is settled on me.
“First, we had 23 presidential aspirants that we interacted with and my first comment is that we are indeed a very luck party,” Odigie-Oyegun said.
He added that though 23 presidential aspirants presented themselves for screening, there were other prominent Nigerians within and outside the country that applied but could not proceed with their applications.
He said the quality of the aspirants were unquestionable, adding that the committee was surprised at the active participation of youthful members of the party.
He added that the committee was particularly surprised by the life accomplishment of the youths in the race, their understanding of the country`s situations and why they wanted to have the privilege of governing her.
“What was important was that they so believed in the country and the party that they were able to pay the sums they paid for its Expression of Interest and Nomination forms to participate in the process.
“So, I think the party ought to part itself on the back for that,’’ Odigie-Oyegun who was a former national chairman of the APC and a former Edo governor, said.
He explained that the committee`s report was in two aspects; the basic constitutional qualification to aspire to be a president of the country, and the ability to lead and background of the aspirant.
He said all the aspirants had the constitutional basic requirements and were qualified in that regard, because it was basic and simple.
“But we are a governing party, and we are keying on continuing the process and replacing at the proper time, our president with yet another member of the party,” he said.
He said for this reason, the ability of the aspirants to lead, their background, experience and understanding of the Nigerian situation became critical.
He said their ideas on how difficult issues and problems could be addressed and how they could move the country forward also became a critical consideration at the screening.
“It is on that bases, that who you are, what are you and what have you achieved.
“And the understanding of your mission and what you think you can do to move the country forward made our final list.
“I don’t want to read the names, I think we will leave that to you, but we have a short list which brought the number severely down to 13.
“We could have cut it a little shorter, but we wanted deliberately all the younger elements to surface,” Odigie-Oyegun said.
He said the idea was for the younger aspirants to be seen and noticed and handed over to the party’s leadership to decide who their preferred candidate would be for 2023 presidential election.
He said it was also an opportunity to showcase the kind of people that existed in the APC and within it, their youthfulness and the kind of experience they had.
This, he added, was for the world to know that the APC cared for the young and when it said the young shall aspire, it really meant it.
“This had been showcased in the report we have written.
“We only drew a word of caution that there is this cleavage that is gradually becoming centre stage in national discourse, between the North and the South and the presidency.
“And we just want to advise strongly that the party should please think of it in making its decision, address it and let it influence their thoughts because it has its own implications,” he stressed.
Odigie-Oyegun thanked the party`s leadership for the opportunity to serve in the committee, saying that though it was a sensitive and challenging assignment, it was an interesting one.
“We all profited from the assignment immensely and think the party will also profit,” he said.
He said the committee members were happy to take on the responsibility to do as much as they could do to make the work of the party lighter.
Adamu while receiving the report, said the party’s leadership would look into it.