By Jide Orintunsin, Gbade Ogunwale, Abuja and Alao Abiodun
- Ruling party to begin with prayer rallies, manifesto launch
- PDP inaugurates key councils Wednesday, yet to decide where to start campaign
- New, veteran power brokers, Nollywood stars make 422-member APC Campaign Council
- Osinbajo, Mustapha omitted at Buhari’s request – Keyamo
Officials of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP) and others are now working round the clock to commence their campaigns ahead of next year’s elections, the first and most crucial being the February 25 presidential polls.
The parties and their presidential flag bearers as well as those seeking election are free to start canvassing for votes publicly from Wednesday, September 25, under the time table rolled out by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The APC which announced a 422-member Presidential Campaign Council late Friday to sell its candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, will kick start its campaign on the said date with a prayer session in Abuja.
Similar prayers will be conducted same day at the campaign offices in all the 36 states of the federation.
The PDP is yet to pick a specific date for the commencement of its own campaign. Party sources told The Nation yesterday that consultations were still in progress to firm up the party’s plan on its campaign.
An impeccable source in the APC Presidential Campaign Council said a special invite for “Prayer and Rally for Tinubu and Shettima” had been sent out to party faithful to converge on the Tinubu/Shettima Campaign Office in the Business Central Area of Abuja by 8 am on Wednesday.
“The motive behind the non-denominational and inter-faith prayer session is to commit the whole electioneering process into the hands of the Almighty God. To pray for the success of our flag bearers from Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his running mate Senator Kassim Shetimma, our governorship, National Assembly and State House of Assembly candidates,” the source said.
“The prayer session will be held simultaneously in the 36 states’ capitals. State coordinators are to lead party members and lovers of Tinubu/Shetimma in prayers at the state campaign offices across the country.
“After the prayers, supporters and party members are to embark on a march around the state capital cities and Abuja to drum up support for our candidates in the February 25th presidential and National Assembly and the March 11th governorship and House of Assembly elections.
“We are embarking on the march to symbolically take over the country. We shall walk round and possess the country for Asiwaju. The march is equally spiritual. We are not leaving anything untouched.”
A second source said the council also planned to formally release the manifesto and policy thrust of Tinubu’s presidential campaign.
“Plans are on for our principal to formally present the policy document of his administration. Asiwaju is expected to unveil his manifesto immediately after the march on Wednesday,” the source said.
On the commencement of the campaign proper, our source said: “Although consultations are still going on, the council is proposing to start the nationwide campaign rally on the 10th of October in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.”
Asked what informed the choice of Ilorin, the PCC member said: “Ilorin was strategically picked. Aside from being one of the strongholds of our party, the ancient city is equally central to both north and south.”
Buhari chairs Tinubu’s campaign council
A blend of experience, youthfulness and fervour is the outlook for the 422-member All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council unveiled late Friday by the Secretary of the council, Mr. James Faleke.
Chairing the team is President Muhammadu Buhari who has two deputies in the party’s flag bearer Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the APC national chairman Senator Abdullahi Adamu.
The presidential running mate, Senator Kashim Shetima, is listed as vice chairman. To serve in similar capacity are Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) and governor of Kebbi State Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Barrister Uju Kennedy, the only female presidential aspirant of the party at the June 2022 special national convention and presidential primary.
Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong is Director General and former APC national chairman; Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Deputy Director General (Operations); Hadiza Bala Usman, Deputy Director General (Admin); Hon James Faleke (Secretary) and Christopher Tarka Deputy Secretary.
Also on board are Jigawa State Governor Badaru Abubakar (Regional Coordinating Chairman – North); Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi (Regional Coordinator for South); APC Deputy National Chairmen, Senator Abubakar Kyari (Deputy Regional Coordinator, North); and Hon. Emma Eneukwu (Deputy Regional Coordinator, South); Niger State Governor Abubakar Sani Bello (Coordinator for North Central); Gombe State Governor Inuwa Yahaya (Coordinator for Northeast); Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle (Coordinator, Northwest); Cross River Governor Ben Ayade (Coordinator for South-South); and Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma (Coordinator for Southeast).
Governors elected on the platform of the party and APC governorship candidates in non-APC controlled states are to function as state coordinators.
Other members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) are equally accommodated in the campaign council, with National Secretary Senator Iyiola Omisore and National Organising Secretary Alhaji Sulaimon Mohammadu Arugungu to serve as advisers on party affairs and organisations respectively, while the party’s National Vice Chairmen will assist zonal coordinators in their zones.
Former presidential aspirants in the party’s presidential primary, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun, Governor Kayode Fayemi, Dr. Nicholas Felix, Gov. Yahaya Bello, Ogbonnaya Onu and Chief Ikeobasi Mogahlu also made the final list in various capacities.
The organogram of the campaign structure revealed that there are 33 directorates in the council, each to be headed by a director. There is also a 15-man campaign adviser to the council.
Of note is the creation of an Intelligence and Security Committee and a special performing arts directorate for Nollywood stars.
The Intelligence /Security Committee comprises General Jubril Abdulmalik, General Abayomi Olonisakin, Sadiq Garba, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, Bassey Eteng and Brig-Gen. Ladan Yusuf.
The performing arts directorate is made up of Bala Ahmed, Zack Orji, Jide Kosoko, Ismaila Naba, Jadda Garko, Gentle Jack, Benedict Johnson, Saheed Balogun, Emmanuel Ehumadu, Foluke Daramola, Remi Oshodi, Nuhu Abdullahi, Sani Idris Moda, Taiwo Hassan, Fathia Balogun, Mojisola Adewale, Emmanuel Tangak and Isa Rabiu (Falala), among others.
Yakasai, Akande, Nnamani, Osoba, Kingibe, others named patrons
One of the important segments of the council is the Campaign Patrons which a party source last night described as a massive pool of political heavyweights, some of whom have been around since the First Republic.
They include Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, 96, a lieutenant of the late Mallam Aminu Kano and presidential adviser during the Second Republic; Chief Isaac Shahu, First Republic member of the Northern House of Assembly, Second Republic Minister of Communication and later Benue State Governorship candidate of the Obafemi Awolowo-led Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN); Dr. Paul Unongo, Second Republic Minister of Steel Development and former chairman, Northern Elders Forum; Chief Bisi Akande, former Osun State Governor and pioneer chairman of APC; Chief Olusegun Osoba, former Ogun State Governor; and Chief Audu Ogbeh, Second Republic Minister and former chairman of the PDP.
Also in this category are Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, former Edo State governor and former chairman of APC; Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, running mate to the late Chief MKO Abiola in the 1993 presidential election; Prince Tajudeen Olusi, Second Republic member of the House of Representatives; Chief Barnabas Gemade, former minister and former PDP national chairman; Chief Ameh Ebute, a former Senate President; Chief Ken Nnamani, another former Senate President; Chief Fidelis Tapgun, former governor of Plateau State; Alhaji Yusuf Ali, former chairman of the defunct All Peoples Party (APP); Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, former Ebonyi State governor and immediate past Science and Technology Minister; Alhaji LAK Jimoh, Ilorin born veteran politician and respected community leader.
The Campaign Council Secretary, James Faleke, asked the nominees to “pick up their appointment letters from the undersigned on Monday, 26th September 2022 at 12noon.
“The venue is Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council on Plot 781, Herbert Macaulay Way, Central Area Abuja. All other members will be contacted by the leaders of their respective directorates.”
Why Osinbajo is not a council member
Responding to inquiries about the non-inclusion of the name of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the list, spokesperson for the council and Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, said in a statement in Abuja that President Buhari requested that his deputy and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, be excused.
This, Keyamo explained, was to enable the duo concentrate on the governance of the country and administration of government.
He dismissed as untrue insinuations in some quarters that the exclusion of Osinbajo from the council might be indicative of “something amiss within the family of the All Progressives Congress (APC).”
He said: “Nothing can be further from the facts. For the avoidance of doubt, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, is the Chairman of the Campaign Council. As a result, the President has SPECIFICALLY directed that the Vice-President and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha should be left out of the Campaign Council to concentrate on the governance of the country and administration of Government.
“As a responsible Party and Government, all the key functionaries of government cannot abandon their positions for electioneering campaigns. The APC has the mandate of the Nigerian people to administer the country on their behalf at least till May 29, 2023, and this we intend to do with all sense of responsibility.
“Our candidates and the leadership of the APC have also indicated that the list is not sacrosanct as there may be periodic review of it as circumstances dictate.
“We will not toe the path of those who irresponsibly governed the country before us and our Party is not in total disarray like those who wish to ‘rescue’ the country, but cannot simply manage their internal affairs.”
PDP still consulting, says spokesman
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is still consulting on the commencement of its own campaign, especially the starting point.
Consultations are said to be intensifying ahead of the inauguration of the party’s Presidential Campaign Organisation (PCO) and the National Campaign Management Committee (NCMC).
One of the spokespersons of the PDP Presidential Campaign, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, told The Nation that the two main campaign organs would be inaugurated in Abuja on Wednesday.
Aniagwu said on the phone that decision on which part of the country the PDP will kick off its campaign would be taken after the inauguration of the bodies.
He said: “What I can confirm to you is that the campaign bodies will be inaugurated in Abuja on Wednesday. Nobody can tell you where the campaign will kick off because the PCO and the NCMC that will take that decision have not been inaugurated yet.
“But I can assure you that the two bodies will hit the ground running immediately after inauguration and one of their first assignments will be to decide on where to kick off the campaign.”
For now, only the media unit of the party’s presidential campaign is functioning. Other units will be activated after inauguration.
The PCO is chaired by Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel with the Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed as vice chairman (North), and Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde as vice chairman (South).
Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal is the Director General of the NCMC.
Listed as Deputy Directors General are Senator Liyel Imoke (Operations); Prof Adewale Oladipo (Administration); Chief Raymond Dokpesi Technical and Systems); and Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo (Research and Strategy).
On the vacancies created by the withdrawal from the PCO and NCMC of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and his loyalists, the campaign spokesman said the party had no plan to replace them.
“Replacing them is not on the cards. We believe that they will have a rethink and come back to the fold so that together we can prosecute the campaign,” he said.