BORNO State governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, has declared that President Muhammadu Buhari who is the leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) would decide the presidential candidate of the ruling party for the next general elections.
Zulum made the declaration on Friday when members of the Progressive Consolidation Group (PCG) paid him a courtesy visit in Maiduguri.
The PCG, chaired by Dr Aliyu Rabiu Kurfias, has, for some time now, been promoting the presidential ambition of the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
President Buhari had, on a live television programme, insisted that he would keep the name of his anointed candidate for the 2023 presidential election on the platform of the APC to his chest.
Those who have openly declared interest in the race include former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu; Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi; former Imo State governor and senator representing Imo West, Rochas Okorocha and former Abia State governor and Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.
The ambition of Vice President Osinbajo remains at the realm of speculation.
Governor Zulum cautioned that individual aspirations must be subordinated to the survival of the APC but gave the assurance that “Borno State will work with the party’s hierarchy, members of the National Assembly and leaders at ward and state levels to ensure the actualisation of decisions to be made by President Muhammadu Buhari who is the party’s de facto leader.”
He stated that whatever consensus that would be arrived at should consolidate the unity of the party and the progress of the country.
He said: “I am solidly behind initiatives aimed towards enhancing the unity of our party and progress of Nigeria. At this crucial time, no one, and nothing, will prevent the party from moving in unison.
“We have to identify the right individuals to lead the nation and the task requires governors, party hierarchy and the president working in concert.
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“Individual aspirations may have to be downplayed because we all have to concur with the decision of the leader of our party.
“Borno State under me will promote unity and all efforts to ensure the success of the APC. We shall work with the party hierarchy, our leaders at the National Assembly and our party leaders at the ward and state levels to arrive at the best solutions for taking the country forward.”
Earlier, the chairman of the PCG, Dr Kurfi, urged Governor Zulum, other state governors and party leaders to forge a consensus towards making Professor Osinbajo the country’s next president in 2023.
“The vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, deserves the right of first refusal and even in a crowded race with great individuals, he stands out as an insider with the right level of competence and intellect to do the job better than all others,” he said.
He stressed the need for all party leaders to reach a solid consensus on ensuring that Osinbajo becomes the next president in 2023, adding that good self-discipline, moral qualities and competency demonstrated during President Buhari’s absence made Osinbajo the best candidate for the APC presidential ticket.
Personalities on the PCG entourage to Borno State included the group’s Deputy Chairman (North), Mr Musa Liman Kwande; Deputy Chairman (South), Dr Ebenezer Faji and former Managing Director of the African Petroleum Plc, Shettima Abba-Gana, who is a former commissioner in Borno State. Others were the PCG women’s leader, Hajiya Rabi Dauda; Mr Emmanuel Pippa (Publicity Secretary) and Mr Jeff O. Ozomegwa, Deputy SecretaryGeneral.