All the aspirants seeking to vie for the office of the president on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have signed a binding agreement with the leadership not to decamp to another political party on account of failing to secure the party’s ticket during its primary.
Also by the agreement, the aspirants have accepted to abide by the rules and regulations of the party as it affects the conduct of the presidential primary.
The extraction of the written agreement from the aspirants came just as the party said it would go ahead to hold the December 10 presidential convention/primary in Lagos despite the protests registered by two aspirants – Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso and his Imo counterpart Rochas Okorocha.
However, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar endorsed the choice of venue, saying he whole-heartedly welcomes the choice of Lagos for the presidential primary of the APC scheduled for next week.
Speaking while presenting screening certificates to the aspirants at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja, Chairman of the Screening Panel, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu said all the aspirants had signed an undertaking to remain in the party whether they win the ticket or not and to also collapse their campaign structures in support of the person that emerges as the presidential candidate of the party.
“We told you before the screening that we want the aspirants to sign a letter of commitment to the party. I am happy to inform you that all the five aspirants were very happy to sign the letters of commitment and that commitment is principally to assure the party that there is none of them that is running for himself,” he said.
He explained that the reason for the formation of APC was to stop the drift which the nation had been going through in the past 15 years, adding that the party’s leadership expected every would-be candidate of the party to be selfless and not to jettison the platform simply because he failed to actualise his personal ambition.
He said the screening committee got the aspirants to sign the understanding before proceeding with their screening on Tuesday.
“They are running to offer service and improve on the well-being of our people and bring happiness to Nigerians, forster unity and bring peace and security to our country, because we cannot be the pride of Africa and be losing our territories to insurgents.
“If the aim is really service, it means that they understand that only one of them will fly our flag. They have all agreed that whoever flies our flag, the other four will support him. They have also agreed to collapse their structures into the party so that the party will move into this election united, as this will offer the party the best chance to win the election,” he said.
The commitment signed by the aspirants read as follows: “I hereby undertake to abide by the rules and regulations of the convention of the All Progressives Congress’ nomination guidelines, APC constitution, the Electoral Act and Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“I, on behalf of myself and my primary campaign organisation undertake to accept the outcome of the primaries and actively support whoever emerges as the winner and shall not decamp to any other political party or in anyway obstruct the smooth execution of the presidential campaign.
“I further affirm that during the campaigns and later in government, I shall be guided strictly by the party manifesto in the event of my nomination, my campaign team will immediately be collapsed into the party campaign structure for a properly united and focused presidential campaign.”
In addition, the APC convention committee chairman and former Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has said that no fewer than 8,000 delegates both elected and statutory delegates from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) will be expected to arrive Lagos for the party’s national convention to elect the presidential candidate for the forthcoming 2015 general election.
Fayemi disclosed this on Wednesday while addressing reporters on the update of his committee’s work.
He said the convention would hold at the Teslim Bologun stadium in Lagos in the full glare of the Nigerian public.
“We have briefed all the five presidential aspirants of our party on the arrangement that we made towards the successful conduct of the exercise. This is something that is being done transparently and it is going to be shown live on television for the whole world to see,” he said.
Asked why the committee chose Lagos for the presidential primary, despite protests by some aspirants, Fayemi said: “This is a democratic party. For us as a committee the process is more important than who will eventually emerge. We have not taken that decision on our own, but with full inputs from all the aspirants.
“Yes we have received complaints from them but all the decisions we took were done with all the representatives of the five aspirants. This is something that is being done transparently.”
Commenting on the undertaking, which all the APC presidential aspirants were compelled to sign, Buhari said it was done to ensure loyalty to and the supremacy of the party.
“It is a very trying time for the five of us, but we are grateful that they have been very generous in their award of marks and that we all made it. The rest of the decision now lies with the public and the delegates.
“In a week’s time, we will come together and whoever gets the ticket to run on behalf of the party will emerge.
“The secretary has read the letter which we were made to sign on Wednesday so that the loyalty to the party will be supreme,” he said.
On his part, Atiku said he would subject himself to the dictates of the agreement.
“I have always said it in all my campaigns that I will abide by all the rules and that I will support whoever that wins,” he said.
Atiku also endorsed the choice of venue, saying he whole-heartedly welcomes the choice of Lagos for the presidential primary of the party.
In a statement, his media office said the former vice-president was not only delighted that Lagos had been selected to host the August event but was also confident that the city has all it takes to ensure that the event would be memorable and successful especially in view of the cosmopolitan nature of the city and the famed easy-going nature of its residents.
“It should also be pointed out that the city of Lagos to the former vice-president is like a home, bearing in mind that he spent several years of his public service career there.
“I’m not any less Lagosian than anyone is. I have a house in Lagos and a part of my large family lives in Lagos. I visit Lagos regularly so I’m not a stranger to the cosmopolitan city and what it represents as the melting pot of Nigeria,” Atiku said.
He congratulated the government and the people of the state on the opportunity offered them by APC to excel and showcase “the spirit of Lagos”.
Meanwhile, the party again reiterated its stance of a witch-hunt by the security agencies in the country.
Speaking to AFP, the spokesman of APC’s Lagos State chapter Joe Igbokwe, said the party was worried with the way the institutions of democracy were being deployed to “rubbish or witch-hunt the opposition”.
“The security agencies are clearly taking sides,” he said.
Igbokwe was speaking after officials from Department of State Services (DSS) raided the party’s data centre in Lagos and seized documents for the second time in 10 days.
After the first raid on November 22, the DSS said it acted on information about the alleged cloning of voters’ cards “with the intention of hacking” into the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) database.
The APC, which has strongly denied the allegation, accused the DSS of becoming “one of the enforcement arms” of President Goodluck Jonathan’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Igbokwe said neither the APC officials arrested during the first raid nor the documents seized have been released.
DSS officials did not respond to calls when contacted.
Igbokwe said the security agency’s actions were “not good for democracy” and claimed that PDP politicians who had defected to the APC recently had been harassed.
Source: This Day