By Willy Eya
Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, has joined the presidential race on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as he, yesterday, purchased the N100 million expression of interest and nomination forms in Abuja.
Saturday Sun had on April 30 exclusively reported that Lawan would join the race after the last Sallah holiday, having been picked by northern elders as preferred aspirant.
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His entry into the already crowded race has sent jitters into the camps of aspirants from the Southern part of the country. By picking the presidential form, the Senate President has further increased the number of northerners on the platform of the APC that have shown interests to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
A highly placed member of the ruling party told Daily Sun that in addition to his connection to the presidency, Lawan is now the new bride of some powerful northern elders and power brokers who want him to succeed Buhari next year. He said the support is because of his wealth of experience in public service and the advantage of age being on his side.
Our source said his background and acceptability among the Northern elite is a major headache to the array of aspirants in the South.
The development has confirmed The Sun’s report that Southern presidential aspirants on the platform of the APC were in a dilemma over the increasing number of opponents from the North.
Daily Sun had also reported that many stakeholders from the South were particularly worried because of reports that Northern aspirants were being encouraged to join the race by President Buhari.
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Aspirants from the South were said to be in a dilemma as their chances are becoming slimmer by the day with the overt interest of aspirants from the North.
Before now, all the APC presidential aspirants, apart from the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello were from the South. But at the last count, Northerners aspiring to succeed Buhari on the APC platform include Governor Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, former governor of Zamfara State, Senator Sani Yerima, Gbenga Olawapo-Hashim, Dr. Ibrahim Bello Dauda and now Ahmed Lawan.
“We want him to be president because of national stability. The president that we are bringing for the Nigerian people is a Nigerian president, not an Igbo president, not a Fulani president, not a Yoruba president, but a Nigerian president who we have watched and seen that there would be no other candidate that will be so level-headed and have feeling for the poor Nigerians.”
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Asked if Lawan has heeded the call to serve, he replied: “We are not here on our own, we have his backing. Even though friends and brothers contributed to purchase this form for him, he has given us the go-ahead.”
On whether the party’s zoning arrangement is no longer standing, he said: “Every politician is in politics to win. It is PDP that is driving us to do this. We have to say so but we don’t want PDP to take the government from us. If you give the position to a Southerner and PDP gives to a Northerner, APC will go into the wilderness and we are not ready to go into the wilderness.”
In his acceptance speech, Lawan said he had consulted widely and listened to various calls from all parts of the country to show interest to run for the office.
“I took my time to pray to almighty God to guide me. I took my time to consult very widely, consult Nigerians from all parts of the country to ensure that I get the understanding of the citizens of this country on whose behalf we will, by the Grace of God, win the election and run the administration.
“Nigeria needs to be taken to the next level. We know what we have been able to achieve as an administration and as a political party and we know where we are supposed to take this level to eventually.
“I want to commit myself to this call and to this movement of Nigerians from all walks of life, rich, poor, north, south, east, west, male, female, old and young.
“This is not my journey. This is our journey. This is our journey because every hand must be on deck for us to achieve exactly what we need to achieve.
“I am joining lately. The field is already full of other aspirants. I want, at this point, to assure Nigerians that the APC is a very beautiful bride and that is why we have many aspirants.
“I will play the game by the rules. I am not going to circumvent any rule. I’m going to respect my party and listen to the leaders of this party because that is our platform in the first place.
“But I will spare no moment going from door to door to ensure that I get the votes when the national convention to elect the presidential candidate of the part will hold.”