THERE is palpable tension in the All Progressives Congress (APC) over an alleged plot to throw open the presidential ticket.
Some presidential aspirants are believed to be pushing for an all-comers contest.
This is believed to be part of the new scheming plan to shortchange the Southwest.
According to the Nation, part of the anti-Southwest agenda is the plot to drag ex-President Goodluck Jonathan into the race with two Northwest governors as arrowheads.
But some influential Northerners have insisted on zoning the presidency to the Southwest in appreciation of the backing of the zone for power shift to the North in 2015.
The same bigwigs, it was learnt, have been discouraging potential aspirants from the North.
Only Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello from the North has indicated intention to run.
It was gathered that some of those pushing for an open race are hiding under the ambiguity in the APC constitution over power rotation between the North and the South.
They are claiming that the party’s zoning formula applies only to the election of the National Working Committee (NWC) – the organ that runs the party.
It was also gathered that to achieve the open ticket agenda, these forces have opted for a crowded space.
The increasing number of presidential aspirants from the Southsouth and the Southeast was said to be part of the plot to pressurise the party’s leadership to leave APC presidential ticket open.
More presidential aspirants are expected in the race in the next few days.
However, it was gathered that some Northern APC governors have remained adamant that Southwest should produce the standard-bearer of the party.
The Nation quoting sources said that the latest twist on open agenda is the delay in releasing the party’s zoning formula.
There is also a hide and seek game between the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Because of this, the sources said the APC may adopt the same zoning formula if PDP throws its ticket open.
A top source, who spoke in confidence said, “Ordinarily, there is no point keeping the leaders and members of APC in suspense on the zoning formula for the presidency and other offices but there is internal politics.
With the party’s National Chairman coming from the North and the presidency in the North for seven years, it was taken for granted that the South will produce the next presidential candidate of the party.
“But some forces are trying to change the rules of the game midway by claiming that power rotation clause is not in the APC Constitution.
“Some forces in the party are insisting on laying the presidential slot open for all. So far, three aspirants have indicated interest from the North but only Governor Bello has obtained the nomination form.
“The same forces are flying the Southeast and Southsouth kites in order to spite and shortchange the Southwest. This was why they (especially two governors from the Northwest) came up with ex-President Jonathan option.
“The intrigues in the party among the leaders have made APC leadership to be dilly-dallying on zoning. The politics is intense.
“The situation is more complex with the error committed by the National Executive Committee (NEC) which ceded its powers and functions to the NWC till after the primaries.
“It means the NWC can exercise discretion on zoning formula which may not be acceptable.”
Another source said: “Almost a month to the presidential primaries, APC has not come up with a zoning formula.
“Some leaders and members are suspecting a plot to float an open formula for presidential primaries.
“The preponderance of opinion in the party is in favour of the Southwest but the way and manner the space is becoming crowded with aspirants from the Southeast and the Southsouth pointed to a plan to leave the race open.
“All I know is that many APC leaders from the North and influential leaders from the region have preference for the Southwest to enable APC to win 2023.
“It is clear to all that the Southsouth and the Southeast are traditional PDP strongholds. The option left for APC is the Southwest. Some forces, however, have drawn up different permutations.
“It is left to the leadership of the party to consult and release the APC zoning formula.”
Despite the tension, all aspirants have intensified talks and lobbying shuttles to delegates nationwide.
It was learnt that the camp of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has reached out to Governor Yahaya Bello’s group for “collaboration.”
“Bello’s group is not yet keen on such a partnership,” a source privy to the discussion said.
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