By Ezra Odogu
Frontline presidential aspirant Asiwaju Bola Tinubu last night appeared before the John Odigie-Oyegun-led All Progressives Congress (APC) screening panel.
He answered questions bordering “on his upbringing, educational and professional background”, his campaign spokesman Mr. Bayo Onanuga said.
Onanuga, in a statement, said: “He confidently told the panel why he is qualified to fly the flag of APC as its presidential candidate.
“He cited his success as governor of Lagos State, his raising the internal revenue generation of the state from a paltry N600 million monthly, which has now grown to N51billion today.
“He also cited his invitation to Enron to begin the first state-backed power generation in Nigeria and how Nigeria will need to take the power transmission lines as a highway.
“Tinubu in his answers demonstrated vast knowledge in economic management and a perfect understanding of Nigeria’s political economy.
“The screening committee expressed satisfaction with Tinubu’s knowledge of the economy and sociopolitical issues that are affecting the country.”
Eleven other aspirants, including former Minister of Transportation Rotimi Ameachi, Jigawa State Governor Abubakar Badaru, Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi, Dr. Tunde Bakare and the only female aspirant Uju Ken-Ohanenye also faced the panel.
The rest are Former Minister of State, Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajuiba; Senator Ajayi Boroffice, Felix Nicholas, former Senate President Ken Nnamani, Senator Ibikunle Amosu and Senator Sani Yarima Ahmed.
Twenty-eight forms were sold, but only 23 aspirants are listed for screening. Eleven, including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Senate President Ahamad Lawan, will be screened today.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan being touted as a likely candidate on the APC platform is finally out of the equation. He is not listed to be screened. The party’s convention will hold on Monday at the Eagles Square in Abuja.
Before the commencement of the screening at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja, members of the screening panel were inaugurated by party chair Abdullahi Adamu behind closed doors.
Tinubu was accompanied to the venue by Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
He arrived at about 5:50 pm to a large crowd of supporters led by James Abiodun Faleke, former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal and chieftains of Tinubu Support Groups.
Amaechi, who came on the heels of Tinubu, headed straight for the elevator brushing aside all reporters at the hotel lobby.
A source in the screening panel said Tinubu was ushered into Suite 312 venue at about 8:20 pm. He left after less than an hour with the panel.
Amaechi was the last to be screened last night.
Tinubu did not speak with reporters as he headed straight for his vehicle after the screening.
However, Mrs Ken-Ohanenye spoke to reporters after her screening and pastor Bakare spoke before he faced the panel.
Aspirants for today’s screening
For screening today are Vice President Osinbajo, Lawan, former Speaker Oladimeji Bankole, Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, former Minister of Niger Delta Development, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, Tein Jack-Rich, former Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Ogbonnaya Onu, Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade and former Minister of Information, Ikeobasi Mokelu.
Though slated for screening today, the fate of Senator Rochas Okorocha, who is in Economic and Financial Crimes Commission custody, is unknown.
The former governor will have a date in court today over allegations of misappropriating N2.9 billion. He has also filed a N1billion suit against the commission to challenge his arrest.
Missing on the screening list of aspirants that purchased the nomination forms apart from Jonathan are the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwunmi Adesina; Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria Godwin Emifiele; Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige and Minister of State, Petroleum, Timipre Sylva.
Bakare, Ken-Ohanenye ready to step down
Mrs Ken-Ohanenye said she was prepared to step down if the party asked her to do so.
She would insist on the adoption of her economic blueprints.
She said: “I will never see it (stepping down) as a problem to my party because I am going to respect them.
“I am going to do whatever it takes to promote my party and make them relax so that they can make a better decision.
“So, if they decide to ask me to step down, I will not have a choice but to step down. So long as they can carry my blueprints onboard I will respect my party.”
On her screening experience, Ken-Ohanenye commended the panel, recalling that she was relaxed in responding to questions and the conversation with the panel was very frank and straight.
“Let me tell you, there was so much fun. The reception was out of this world. I didn’t want to leave. I was chatting with them explaining myself and what I will do if I am elected the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“And why a woman is needed in things that we do. And I was able to tell them that in my own house I have four children and for that, I have four geopolitical zones. Because every child is different. I am already used to managing things like this.”
The General Overseer of the Citadel Global Community Church, Lagos, Pastor Tunde Bakare said he would be willing to step down if the party mulls a consensus candidate.
He said: “The party supremacy is the utmost essence. You cannot force your way through a party’s structure. The party has the final say. And when we get to that bridge, we will know how to cross it.
“The screening exercise is to check who is guilty and who is not. And it depends on the people who are doing the screening. By God’s grace, we have complied with everything demanded. We have supplied every information.”