Former Lagos State Governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was set this morning to win the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC), accounts to The Nation newspaper.
Governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa) stepped down for Tinubu while addressing the delegates shortly before the commencement of voting.
Senators Ibikunle Amosun, Ajayi Boroffice, former Speaker Dimeji Bankole and the only female aspirant Mrs. Uju Kennedy Ohaneye also stepped down for the APC national leader.
Senator Godswill Akpabio, former Akwa Ibom State governor, led the floodgate of those aspirants who conceded to the former governor.
Tinubu was the frontline aspirant before he got those aspirants to back down on the convention ground.
The youngest aspirant, 40-year old Nicholas Felix, stepped down for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The endorsement of Tinubu by the seven aspirants was expected to increase his votes substantially.
Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Mr. Babachir Lawal, told Channels Television that the endorsements would increase Tinubu’s projection of votes to 1,800. Two thousand, two hundred and three (2,203) delegates were accredited out of expected number of 2,322.
Twenty-three aspirants were jostling for the ticket. All the aspirants but one took turns to tell the delegates what they would offer if given the chance to fly the party’s flag.
Former Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, failed to address the delegates after the first set of four delegates did so.
He was also called upon to address the delegates before master of ceremony invited Osinbajo to do so.
Nwajiuba, who was sighted at the venue left shortly after the aspirants began to address.
Those who presented themselves before the delegates were Tinubu; Prof. Osinbajo; Senate President Ahmad Lawan; Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi; Pastor Tunde Bakare; former Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha; Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade; businessman Tein Jack-Rich, Ikeobasi Mokelu.
Others were Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello; former Zamfara State Governor Ahmed Yerima; former Senate President Ken Nnamani; former Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Ogbonnaya Onu, Mrs Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye and Nicholas Felix, who dropped his ambition and pledged support for Prof. Osinbajo.
No fewer than 2,022 were accredited to vote at the election which began at about 1:30am.
Tinubu was the first to address the delegates, followed by Lawan.
The former Lagos State governor reeled out his accomplishments in politics and his plans for Nigeria.
Lawan spoke about his competence as a lawmaker of 23 years.
He told the delegates to vote for him because in the United States (U.S.) legislators rose to become president.
Thereafter, Akpabio mounted the rostrum and announced his withdrawal from the race. He threw his weight behind Tinubu, who he described as an influential founding member of the APC.
Nigerian Governors’ Forum Chairman/Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi; his Jigawa State counterpart Mohammed Badaru; former Governor of Ogun State Ibikunle Amosun; Senator Ajayi Borrofice; former House of Representatives Speaker Dimeji Bankole and Mrs. Kennedy-Ohanenye — stepped down for Tinubu.
Bankole’s withdrawal was particularly dramatic having first left the podium without withdrawing from the race. He returned to make the announcement. Boroffice did his own in the same manner.
Akpabio asks delegates to vote for Tinubu
Akpabio urged delegates to vote for Tinubu as he is the only leader with a vision to transform the country.
He said: “As a student of history, the APC came to bed through a very strong alliance between the then ACN in the Southwest and the CPC in the North.
“Today, I want to thank the Progressive Governors of Northern Nigeria for their decision to ensure peace, stability, and unity of the country, that in 2023, the Presidency of this country should go to the Southern region of Nigeria. Their decision is laudable.
“For 2023, I want to join you to go with a President that has a vision. Today I urge all our delegates to look at all of us and bring out a man amongst us that does not only have sight but also has a vision.
“It was that vision that enabled me to turn a pedestrian State like Akwa Ibom State into a destination of choice for all Nigerians and the global community.
“I am able and qualified to be your President and I would have run this race on the basis of my track records but having taken cognizance of the history of the APC, and the efforts of the governors to bring peace in a fragile situation like this, I have seen the man who is older than me and who was the first visioner in governance and that man enabled us to have good governance in Lagos State and also to have the development we have in Lagos State today.
“I will join the next President to turn the boys in Nigeria into men, and therefore I doff my hat and I urge you that as I withdraw now, vote for Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu.
“The 93 delegates from Akwa Ibom, and the hundreds of delegates across Nigeria, and the 1,200 delegates that were ready to put me in office, I urge you and plead with you to unite our party, let APC bring in this man to take over from our current President..”
Announcing his withdrawal, Fayemi said: “I have come to a difficult, but necessary decision which is that we must look for the most appropriate person to do this job.
“I am prepared to sacrifice my ambition to be president of this country. I have one person that I have worked with in 20 years
“To all my supporters across the country. please accord him (Tinubu) the respect and give the support you are giving me to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
Badaru: we are trained to do what is right
I support the Northern governors position that power should come to the South.
Reaffirming the decision of his colleagues, Badaru said: “I accept the position of Northern Governors.
“We are trained to do what is right, what is just and what is fair. What is destined for you will come to you.”
Tinubu can do well, says Amosun
Amosun said he withdrew from the contest because of the need of the hour.
“Nigeria is at the precipice and therefore needs somebody who understands the issues much better. Let me say that I have someone who I will recommend for us all.
“I know this person and we have been together for a very long time. This person is no other than Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“I, therefore, urge all my supporters to allow the one that can do the job to take the stage.
“We have been together for long. On this note, I step down for Bola Ahmed Tinubu” he added.
I want to grow old too, says Bankole
Bankole predicated his decision to back the former Lagos State governor because of his desire to grow old too.
“I want to fulfil my days and grow old, I am still young, I will be stepping down for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu,” he said, eliciting a loud cheer.
Boroffice: Asiwaju is my mentor
Senator Boroffice described the former governor as a “mentor”, saying: ”I want to step down for our great leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The only female aspirant explained that she decided to step down for the former Lagos State governor because he has the experience to develop the country .
She called on her supporters to cast their votes for Tinubu.
Voting halted for two hours
Voting, which began about 1.30am was suspended two hours into the process after it was discovered that some fake delegates had infiltrated the Anambra team.
The intruders were resisted from participating in the process by Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Babagana Zulum (Borno) and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
The development forced the election management committee to halt the process to clear the voting area.
On resumption at 4.30am, the two voting points was reduced to one.