Nigeria’s two main political parties, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) converge on Port Harcourt and Abuja respectively to pick their candidates for the presidential election slated for February 2019.
For the APC, a special convention holds to endorse the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari who is seeking a second term.
Dubbed “Baba Go Slow” because he took six months to appoint cabinet ministers, he has also faced attacks for his handling of the economy, which plunged into recession in 2016.
He has also come under criticism on security issues, including the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast, long-running farmer-herder clashes in the centre and militancy and kidnapping in the south.
But he is standing unopposed to run again at his party’s convention in Abuja on Saturday.
About 7,000 APC delegates from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory are congregating to formally ratify his candidacy.
The convention is a culmination of series of events which began with the special congresses to select delegates for the convention which will be presided over by the national chairman of the party, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole and members of the national working committee of the APC.
Initially, the convention was expected to also deliberate on the way forward for the party, but the convention committee headed by Oyo State governor, Mr. Abiola Ajimobi said it will be a one-agenda event.
Addressing a news conference at the APC national secretariat in Abuja on Friday, the deputy chairman of the convention committee and Borno State governor, Mr. Kashim Shettima, said the confirmation and rectification of the candidacy of the President is a commitment to steady progressive and positive change.
“Let me assure you that the nomination and ratification of the candidacy of President Muhammadu Buhari is a commitment to service, progressive and quality change.
“Despite some of the problems we have encountered during the primaries in our various states, the national working committee of the party is working assiduously to resolve all the issues. It is a family quarrel and we are going to sort things out amicably.
“The party is doing and will continue to do all it can to resolve all the issues amicably so that everyone can be carried along and we can all unite as one in order to ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari is returned to the poll come February 2019.
“The current APC administration, led by our dear President, is making sure and steady progress and we cannot afford to drop the ball and return our great country to those dark days, especially the 16 wasted years preceding this administration.
“About 7,000 delegates from across the length and breadth of our great country, and all necessary arrangements had been put in place to ensure security,” he said.
He said the event is strictly for the endorsement of the presidential flag bearer of the party.
“This convention is a special convention for the emergence of our Presidential flag bearer, no any other issue with be tabled beyond issues pertaining to the emergence of our presidential flag bearer.
“In subsequent conventions and NWC and NEC meeting, others issues can be discussed and sorted out.
“The convention is to elect our Presidential candidate. It is not an elective convention. Three candidates per local government, apart from the statutory delegates, are expected at the convention.”
But all eyes are on the dozen candidates who are vying to be nominated to challenge Buhari the PDP.
More than 4,000 delegates from the 36 states and the FCT are expected to vote at the PDP primaries in Port Harcourt, in an event due to extend to Sunday.
The aspirants include the former vice president, Mr. Atiku Abubakar, senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki, governor of Sokoto State, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal and former governor of Kano State, Mr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, former governor of Jigawa State, Mr. Sule Lamido, former governor of Kaduna State, Mr. Ahmed Makarfi,
The others are former governor of Sokoto State, Mr. Attahiru Bafarawa (erstwhile Sokoto governor), former minister of special duties, Mr. Tanimu Turaki and former legislator, Mr. Datti Baba-Ahmed, former senate president, Mr. David Mark, governor of Gombe State, Mr. Ibrahim Dankwambo, and former governor of Plateau State, Mr. Jonah Jang
Chairman of convention planning committee and governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, said all 12 contenders were still in the running.
“We are expecting a very good convention, we are working very hard to deliver a process that is credible, free, fair and acceptable,” he said.
With agency reports