Politics

Jonathan: APC extends deadline for submission of forms

.Jonathan, We can't do anything about Jonathan defecting to APC, it’s not new to politicians — ACF
…Tinubu, Bakare submit forms
…As APC Professionals laud Buhari’s decision on Amaechi, Ngige, others
…Tinubu’ll go home if he loses, says Babachir
…Jonathan eligible to run for president —Agbakoba
By Omeiza Ajayi, ABUJA
THE ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has extended its deadline for submission of forms in order to allow ample opportunity for its presidential aspirants to return their nomination and expression of interest forms, Vanguard has learned.
While the sale of forms officially closed on Tuesday, indications emerged yesterday that the party will also extend the exercise till Friday.
The submission of forms was scheduled to be a one-day event but party sources said some of the high-profile aspirants, including former President Goodluck Jonathan, were yet to turn in their documents as at noon yesterday.
It was gathered that one of the chieftains of the party and one-time information minister in the Sani Abacha regime, Chief Ikeobasi Mokelu, only on Tuesday night picked the presidential nomination and expression of interest forms and hence the need to give room to him and others, who entered the race late enough time to fill the forms.
When contacted, National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr.  Felix Morka, said both the sales and submission of forms had now been extended till Friday.
He did not, however, advance reasons for the decision.
Why party extended deadline
“A lot is required to fill the presidential forms and some of them picked the forms late. The whole country is their constituency and so they have to get delegates from across the country to sign some aspects of the forms.
“So, we reckon that one day will not be enough for some of those who picked the forms close to the deadline. So, there is a proposal for extension and I am sure that a formal announcement would be made in that regard,” a party source told Vanguard.
I’ll abide by party’s rules — Bakare
Meanwhile, Serving Overseer of the Citadel Global Community Church, Nigeria, Pastor Tunde Bakare has pledged to abide by the rules governing the conduct of the APC Presidential Convention, expressing faith in God to clinch the party’s ticket.
Bakare stated this on Wednesday in Abuja shortly after submitting his presidential expression of interest and nomination forms.
Stating that he has so far complied with the rules of the game, the cleric said the onus is now on the party to execute other activities on its timelines.
He said: “Anyone who participates in a race must run according to the rules. We have fulfilled our own side and it is now for the party to set the stage and to tell us what next. They will determine what next.
“What I know for now is that there will be screening and after screening for those who may have appeal, they will appeal and thereafter, there will be primary and by the grace of God, we have decided to run according to the rules and we expect to win by His special grace. 
“My chances are as bright as that of any person. I am eminently qualified either by age or experience or everything that counts in this race and I trust God that I will emerge the winner,” he added.
Tinubu’ll go home if he loses, says Babachir
In a related development, National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, yesterday, submitted his presidential expression of interest and nomination forms.
The nomination forms were submitted on his behalf by a team of his supporters led by the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir Lawal and Hon. James Abiodun Faleke.
A support group – Tinubu Support Group TSG had earlier picked the nomination forms for the May 30 APC Presidential primary for Tinubu.
Addressing journalists after submitting the forms, the former SGF said even though Tinubu is in the race to win, he remained a democrat and would not upset the applecart, if he loses.
He said: “We feel elated that today we have come to submit the winning form and we have complied with one of the major requirements of the party for contesting for presidency on the platform of APC. We have done all that is required we have submitted all the required documents. As you can see, we have received our acknowledgement copy and we are confident victory will be ours come May 30 during the convention.
“We are democrats and we believe that if there are one million contestants on the platform of the APC we will carry majority of the delegates at the convention. So, the more the merrier, they are all welcome. We are 100 per cent prepared.
“Asiwaju is a democrat. Every politician should not be afraid of election because the probabilities are two: either you win or lose. So, if we lose at the convention we go back home, we lick our wounds and prepare to support the winner if he emerges in a free and fair manner,” he added.
Also, former Governor of Zamfara State, Senator Ahmad Sani Yarima, who submitted his presidential expression of interest and nomination forms on Wednesday, said he comes to the race adequately equipped to turn around the fortunes of Nigerians.
Promising to tackle the challenge of insecurity, Senator Yarima said he would mobilise the youths for rapid industrialisation of the country.
APC Professionals laud Buhari
Also, the APC Professionals Forum has described the presidential directive to all cabinet members running for elective offices to step down from office as a necessary move to ensure that governance does not suffer ahead of the APC primaries.
The Forum made its position known in a statement issued by its National Coordinator, Akeem Akintayo in the aftermath of the directive handed down by President Buhari at Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting.
“We are aware that Section 84 of the Electoral Act has been contentious since the National Assembly voted to retain it in spite of President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for amendment.
“We are also aware that there had been several court cases on the issue even though our party, the All Progressives Congress had given a timeline for political appointees seeking elective positions to resign.
“In the midst of all these are cabinet members and key members of the Buhari administration who have been in campaign mode rather than paying close attention to their official duties.
“So, we are elated that rather than allow all these to affect governance, the President has given a clear directive to all his appointees interested in running for various offices to resign on or before May 16.
Jostle for ministerial appointments
“Judging from the number of ministers who have purchased nomination forms, there is a possibility that at least nine key cabinet positions will be left vacant. So, since the Buhari administration has to be seen to be working till its last day in office, we expect that the President would move fast to replace the departing ministers.
“We are therefore making a case for competent professionals, who are committed APC members to be identified and placed in the key positions that would be vacant in a few days time.”
Jonathan eligible to run for president — Agbakoba
Meanwhile, Dr Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, has lent his voice to the raging controversy over the eligibility of former President Jonathan to contest for president in 2023.
Recently, there have been varied legal arguments on the eligibility of Jonathan to contest in the 2023 presidential election.
Jonathan was Nigeria’s vice-president between 2007 and 2010. He became the president in May 2010 following the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and completed the latter’s tenure.
He won the 2011 presidential election, but lost his attempt to secure a second term in office in 2015.
Some groups procured the presidential form of the APC for him, which he initially rejected.
In April, Femi Falana, human rights advocate, argued that section 137(3) of the constitution disqualifies Jonathan from contesting, adding that the former president would spend a cumulative period of nine years as president if he wins the 2023 presidential election.
Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, countered Falana, saying Jonathan is “constitutionally” qualified to contest for president in 2023.
Joining the fray, Agbakoba, said the amended section 137(3) of the 1999 constitution does not apply to Jonathan since the clause was not in existence when he was president.
His words: “The eligibility of former President Goodluck Jonathan to run for the office of President has become a vexed issue. In reviewing whether he is eligible to run, I will consider strictly the legal issues. The moral and ethical questions are not for me to consider.
“The question of Jonathan’s eligibility is determined by Section 137 (3) of the 1999 constitution (as amended). The purpose of Section 137(3) of the constitution is to resolve the dilemma of a vice-president, who completes the tenure of a president who dies in office.
“Such a vice-president if he decides to run for the Office of President will be eligible for one term of four years only even though ordinarily he will be entitled to two terms of eight years.
“The logic behind it is that if the vice-president fills the president’s void and runs for two terms, he is most likely to exceed the constitutionally prescribed maximum tenure of eight years.
“But the question is whether Section 137 (3) of the constitution applies to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“I don’t think it applies to him because at the time former President Goodluck Jonathan was president, Section 137 (3) of the constitution was not in existence and there is a rule that you cannot backdate laws. Former President Goodluck Jonathan is eligible to run for the office of President.”
Section 137(3) of the fourth alteration to the 1999 constitution reads: ‘A person who was sworn in to complete the term for which another person was elected as president shall not be elected to such office for more than a single term.’
Vanguard News Nigeria

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