The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential screening committee on Tuesday concluded the drilling of the aspirants, after the appearance of the last batch of frontline aspirants.
Those that appeared before the John Odigie-Oyegun-led peesidential screening committee at the Transcorp Hilton Abuja, include, Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo and former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, Kogi, Ekiti and Cross-River States governors, Yahaya Bello, Kayode Fayemi and Prof BenAyade.
Others include the former Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, while the duo of former President Goodluck Jonathan and ex-governor of Imo State, embattled Owelle Rochas Okorocha did not appear before the committee as at late at night.
While Akpabio arrived the venue to the rousing welcome by his supporters, the venue had gone into endless frenzy on arrival and departure of Vice President Osinbajo, from his supporters that almost mobbed him.
Grounding the ever-busy Hotel lobby, the supporters had chanted solidarity songs endlessly, shouting, “You don win’, ‘carry go’, ‘you are the one we want’, ‘no Osinbajo, no APC’, and many more.
Another big fish his supporters also made their presence visible at the venue include the governor of Kogi State, Bello.
Speaking on his assessment of the screening exercise after his appearance before e the committee, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs said: “I think it is quite rigorous and the checklist is very good. At least they will be able to know the aspirants in totality and also get their idea of how they are going to run the affairs of the country and take the country from the present level to the next level.
“The array of politicians I have seen there are people who are grassroots based … what the aspirants have for the progress of the country; security, unity of the country which is very fragile, the economy and bring much productivity, infrastructure,” he explained.
On his stand on the speculated consenus arrangement, and what the emergence of Atiku Abubakar portends for the APC, Akpabio said: “Well, you know the party is supreme. On Atiku’s popularity, he is a popular candidate for PDP.”
Asked how he will tackle insecurity, he said: “security is not something you discuss in the public, but I believe that security is everybody’s business and because it is so serious, it is not what we play lip service to.
“I believe in a lot of stakeholders’ engagement, involving even the traditional rulers, everyone building a coalition with our neighbouring countries to enable us and of course we must build Hi-Tech and most importantly, give these children the opportunity to lay down their arms and come back so that we can make them as better citizens.
“Continuous drug abuse is also cause of insecurity because some of them are not doing it in their normal senses. Some indulge in tramadol and all that, some of them are lured by peer influence. Some say is because of unemployment, but you know criminality doesn’t have an excuse.
“We will do our best to get them gainfully employed. We will work on technology, agricultural sector. Let us not pay lip service to insecurity. Let us be realistic. It is not something that will end in a day but something that all stakeholders must put hands on the deck.
“Most of our youths have not been schooled, let us tackle that seriously, take our children off the streets. Everything you do with love you cannot go wrong, with love you will not be able to kidnap someone, with love you can’t behead anybody, with love, you will be able to provide them the best infrastructure,” he said.
Equally speaking, Vice President Osinbajo appealed to the committee to be fair, just and equitable in their organization of the special convention.
Senator Babafemi Ojudu, who spoke on his behalf, said that his principal has high chances of clinching the ticket, stressing that; “he has all it takes to be President of Nigeria and we are ready whichever way it goes. The area I think the party should improve on is that they should just be fair, just and equitable in their organization of the convention and ensure that everybody is able to carry out their obligation.
“In the history of Nigeria and primaries in this country, there is nobody that has campaigned like the vice president did. We went to 36 states including the FCT, he did not only just take questions from everyone he stood up to answer those questions. And after doing so, he took photographs with every individual and each of the delegates present at those events.
“So, you can see that he is determined, prepared, has done his own work, and he is not taking our party members for granted. And he wants to let them know his vision, his agenda and what he will do, you know, not just for this country, but even for them as members of the party, if and when he is elected,” he said.
Similarly, his campaign coordinator, Senator Kabiru Gaya, said: “we are impressed by his qualifications and experience. He has been in the system for so many years as the Vice President and he has acted also as a president.
“So he is the most experienced aspirant in this race. We believe that he will be a candidate for the APC general elections and he is the only candidate that can beat Atiku Abubakar. That I am sure of.”