….’Count me out of presidential race’ – says Adesina
The coalition of 28 groups which procured an All Progressives Congress APC Presidential Nomination and Expression of Interest forms for the President, African Development Bank AfDB, Akinwumi Adesina has said it did not have the consent of the continental public servant to purchase the forms.
According to the coalition, 24 hours after paying for the forms, it has not been able to reach the banker. It however said Adesina remained the best man for the job and that the groups needed to procure the forms to meet with relevant deadlines before trying to convince Mr Adesina.
This was as the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu dismissed insinuations that he could one day enter the 2023 presidential race.
Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi in a statement on Sunday said any such innuendo or proposition is preposterous.
He said; “Our attention has been drawn to innuendoes in certain quarters that Nigerians should not be surprised if the INEC Chairman joins the Presidential race or urging him to do so. It is a preposterous proposition. It will not happen.
“The Chairman remains an umpire committed to free, fair and credible elections. His constitutional responsibilities as the Chief Electoral Commissioner of the Federation and Returning Officer for the presidential election are onerous enough for him to even contemplate straying into extraneous matters at variance with the law, morality and his personal principles.
“The Chairman will continue to discharge his responsibilities without affection for, or illwill against, any political party or candidate”.
Speaking on Sunday after physically picking the forms at the International Conference Centre ICC in Abuja, the coalition said it has not been able to reach Mr Adesina.
The coalition had earlier on Saturday paid for the forms and it said between the period it paid for the forms and when it picked them on Sunday, it was yet unable to get across to Mr Adesina.
Leader of the Youth Arise Movement, one of the groups in the coalition, Babatunde Ademola, said they are very certain that Mr Adesina is a member of the ruling party.
He said; “I am one of the group leaders of this team of 28 groups that have been working tirelessly and consulting across the country and even outside the country to ensure that we get him to come and obey the clarion call.
“I will tell you significantly that we have tried to reach out to him, we have sent messages, we have looked at any which way we will get across to him. We have not gotten any definite response from him, but because we know the Constitution of Nigeria is very clear, and the Act that governs the umpire for electioneering is also clear, and we know that the timing is not on our side and we believe that for such person after we have looked at the situation of this country, we need Dr Adesina to come and solve Nigeria’s problem and because of this, we have put our resources together.
“It is very certain that such a man who knows very well that when he was contesting for the AfDB, the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, supported him wholeheartedly for the first time, supported him wholeheartedly for the second time, such person will not want to throw away the call of over 200 million Nigerians and also feel that he cannot defend the legacy and the goodwill of the President of Nigeria.
“It is a time for him to come and reciprocate the good gesture that President Muhammadu Buhari has given to him by accepting this forms that we have struggled to purchase.
“It is not easy to gather N100 million but we have ensured that we gather as many people as possible. Like he said, on the issue of if we are going to meet up, we have people on ground and we are very certain that he is a member of APC before we begin to do what we are doing. So, we are calling him to come out and accept this form from us. It is a gift to serve this country and solve our problems. We are calling Adesina because it is a call to save Nigeria and I think he is going to accept”.
On when the coalition would present the forms to Mr Adesina, he said; “By the grace of God we will ensure that, we know that he is not available, right now. We have been trying to reach him, but when we get him we will inform you”.
President of the One Nigeria Group, Mohammed Saleh who led the delegation said Adesina is a man of proven integrity and experience.
“He has done so much for Nigeria as Minister for Agriculture. He has solved the problems of so many farmers, created so many jobs by solving the corruption in the agricultural sector. Particularly the fertilizer, which he brought the e-wallet for fertilizer which the farmers are enjoying now and it has created a lot of jobs. It has also helped millions of farmers in Nigeria which they are still benefiting and also as President, African Development Bank he has brought a lot of initiatives that solve Africa’s food security problem. So, we will like him to come back home and apply it here in Nigeria”.
On whether Adesina is a member of the APC and if he would be able to get party delegates to vote for him, Mr Saleh said; “When we get there, we will cross that bridge, don’t worry about that. First, the most significant thing is for us to get him to agree and come and collect the forms, sign it for us and then join the race. That is the most significant thing at the moment. Issue of delegates, everybody and I know all Nigerians apart from not even the delegates even you, everybody in Nigeria knows that Adesina has the capacity to bring Nigeria back from the brink.
“God’s willing, we will be able to submit (the forms). We are going to meet up with the deadline”.