More information has emerged about the 13 All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidates shortlisted by the party’s screening committee, which is overseen by Chief John Oyegun, the party’s former national chairman.
On Friday, reports surfaced that the panel, which assessed 23 presidential candidates in total, had dismissed 10 of them, with speculation circulating that the Oyegun committee favored largely young candidates. This fueled speculation that Bola Ahmed, the former governor of Lagos State and the oldest of the contestants at 70, had been disqualified.
However, THE WITNESS has learned that the committee did not officially disqualify any candidate, but rather offered a list of 13 “safe” candidates, of which Tinubu was one.
Senior party sources familiar with the Oyegun committee’s report verified to our reporters that the claim of 10 aspirants being disqualified is incorrect, as all 23 aspirants examined were cleared and qualified, according to them, 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.”