Nigeria News
APC Presidential Candidates in Last Minute Scramble for Delegates
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APC Presidential Candidates

The five aspirants contesting for the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were on Tuesday engaged in a last minute scramble for the votes of the 8,000 delegates that would determine who would square up against President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 presidential election.

The aspirants will slug it out at the party’s national convention slated to commence wednesday at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.

The contenders for APC’s presidential ticket are former military Head of State, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari; former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar; Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso; Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha; and Founder of Leadership Newspapers, Sam Nda-Isaiah.

In order to outwit each other and win over delegates’ support, the aspirants were said to be offering them money, airline tickets to and from Lagos, as well as promises of luxury hotel accommodation in exchange for their votes.

According to reliable sources, the aspirants dispatched their campaign agents to scout for delegates’ support.

“The agents are wooing delegates with juicy offers including cash gifts ranging from N50,000 to N100,000 each. Some have offered to pay air transport fares while a particular aspirant has offered to place fully air conditioned luxury buses at strategic locations to ferry delegates to Lagos,” the sources revealed.

It was learnt that delegates from non-APC controlled states are getting more attention, as most of them are being treated like beautiful brides that could easily be swayed with inducements.

It was learnt that Okorocha, who until recently had not engaged in a nationwide tour like other aspirants, at the weekend increased the tempo of his campaign by offering delegates comfortable buses to convey them to Lagos.

On his part, Atiku who has shown considerable dexterity, experience and tactics in his preparations for the presidential primary is said to be offering to assist delegates with accommodation where necessary.

The Buhari campaign team was not taking chances either, as a source from his camp told THISDAY that his team had sent out agents to engage in last minute mop up campaigns.

On the convention, the National Publicity Secretary of APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said yesterday that arrangements had been made for a smooth and hitch-free event.

Mohammed, who is also a member of the convention committee, told THISDAY that all the five presidential aspirants were expected to take part in the primary election.

He said Teslim Balogun Stadium had been festooned with decorations and prepared to admit party leaders and delegates coming for the primary.

APC initially could not agree on what form of electoral process to adopt for its primary election before settling for the indirect method.

It took an extraordinary convention summoned by the party to approve the adjustments in the format and number of delegates that will participate in the Electoral College during the primary.

Speaking ahead of the make-or-mar primary, Atiku yesterday urged his party not to leave any stone unturned in its quest to ensure a free, fair and credible presidential primary that would provide the impetus for enthroning the change that Nigerians have clamoured for.

Atiku’s charge to the APC was contained in a press statement issued by his media office in Lagos.

He welcomed the national delegates of the party to its national convention adding: “I do not need to overemphasise the importance of today’s event and the impact which the choice you make at this historic event will have on both our party and the nation at large.”

He stressed that the choice the delegates make today and possibly tomorrow would set the country on the path of enthroning the much-needed change for socio-economic and political progress and development.

“The choice you make, the aspirant you choose to fly the flag of our party at today’s presidential election will make the difference between victory and defeat for our party.

“It will also determine whether the teeming population of Nigerians will get the political change they are yearning for to give them the opportunity of a better life,” Atiku said.

He charged the delegates to be guided by the fact that for the past 15 years, the people of Nigeria have been forced to live under the most oppressive and despicable system of governance during which the ruling PDP rode roughshod over the nation and used the nation’s resources as it liked.

“The result of PDP’s misrule and disregard for the people of Nigeria is the sorry state in which we find ourselves today and we cannot afford to thread this path again,” Atiku said, adding that he remains the best choice of the delegates to lead the charge for the change that will enthrone an inclusive Nigeria for all.

He assured the delegates that he would make good on his commitment as enshrined in his policy document in critical areas of infrastructure, education, health, social services and employment in particular to the teeming army of unemployed youths.

He said the “austerity measures” were the clearest indication that the so-called transformation agenda of the Jonathan government had failed.

“Perhaps, the worst thing that this government has done to our country and our people is the imposition of austerity measures on a people who have been battered by poor government policies, waste and monumental corruption in the past 15 years,” he said.

Atiku called on the delegates to pitch their tents with him in the quest to begin the arduous task of pulling the country back from the brink and setting it on the path of progress, economic rejuvenation and development.

“Let us put an end to continuous poverty, austerity and insecurity by making a sound choice for the APC. The envisaged change starts today by the choice that you make,” he said.

In Lagos, the country’s commercial city was already agog with final arrangements for APC’s convention, as most of the 8,000 delegates had arrived the state for the primary.

In readiness for the convention, the Federal Roads Safety Commission (FRSC) had deployed 100 officers in the state to manage the traffic in the city, especially in Surulere and its environs where the Teslim Balogun Stadium is located.

A statement from the Lagos State Government said yesterday that Western Avenue and Alhaji Masha Road in Surulere would be partially closed to traffic.

The state Commissioner for Transportation, Kayode Opeifa, said the partial closure was intended to control vehicular traffic during the convention.

“Western Avenue will be closed from Alaka to National Stadium. Parking will be available only at the National Stadium, while pedestrian access to the convention venue will be restricted to only accredited APC members, accredited observers and accredited media personnel,” he said.

Vehicles heading to Lagos Island from Ikorodu Road, Yaba, Mushin, and other areas on the mainland will be diverted at Ojuelegba through Itire-Lawanson to Bode Thomas Street.

Those heading from the island to the mainland will be diverted at Costain to link Surulere via Eric Moore, Opeifa said.

The commissioner added that traffic from Surulere to Agege Motor Road, Ikorodu Road and Mushin would be diverted to Bode Thomas, Eric Moore, Akerele, and Itire-Lawanson to link Western Avenue via Ojuelegba roundabout.

Also, vehicles from Surulere, Alhaji Masha and Shitta area to Lagos Island and Apapa will be diverted to Bode Thomas and Eric Moore to link Eko Bridge.

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