AHEAD of the May 29/30 presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), two of the leading aspirants have begun to plot victory graph on how to secure the ticket of the party.
Sunday Tribune investigation revealed that a former governor of Lagos State and national leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, are pushing ahead of other aspirants by fishing for the votes of the party’s statutory delegates.
Both Tinubu and Amaechi’s jostling for delegates is part of their back-up plans should the rumoured consensus arrangement being flown by some interests within the party fail.
It was gathered that the statutory delegates of the party number about 3,000 across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The statutory delegates are former and serving federal lawmakers as well as former and current principal officers of state assemblies.
Sunday Tribune investigations revealed that they constitute about one third of the total delegates who will decide the fate of the presidential aspirants.
Amaechi’s foot-soldiers, Sunday Tribune gathered exclusively, have met statutory delegates from the South-West twice within a month.
The meetings, which were held during the week of the party’s national convention last month and on April 5, took place in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and 2019 APC gubernatorial candidate in Benue State, Emmanuel Lyambee Jime, led Amaechi’s representatives to the second meeting attended by about 100 of the delegates.
It was gathered that Emmanuel-Lyambee marketed the reasons the delegates should give their votes to the two-term River State governor, chief of which was his legislative experience as a former speaker.
The delegates, who came from all the six South-West states, were told that they would have unhindered access to Amaechi if he becomes the president. A source privy to one of the meetings told Sunday Tribune that “the delegates only listened to them and never made any commitment as to who will get their votes.”
It was learnt the Tinubu also met with about 500 of the statutory delegates at a hotel in Abuja on the eve of the party’s national convention last month. At the meeting, Tinubu, it was gathered, told the attendees why he should be allowed to govern the country, noting that he had paid his democratic dues.
“During the meeting, he told us how he will approach the issue of insecurity and economy,” said one of the delegates.
A former head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu and the Ekiti Central Senator, Opeyemi Bamidele were some of those who accompanied Tinubu to the meeting.
Ribadu, who also spoke at the meeting, described Tinubu as the most qualified to land the job and charged the delegates to give him their votes.
The former EFCC chief was quoted to have said that speculations about corruption allegations against Tinubu could not be substantiated.
He told the delegates that as the EFCC under him investigated Tinubu a number of times and found nothing incriminating against him.
Before the Abuja meeting, about 200 of the statutory delegates from the South-West delegates had gathered at a hotel in Ibadan where they declared their support for Tinubu.
The group of South-West delegates is being coordinated by a former deputy governor of Ogun State and former Senator from Ogun East, Senator Gbenga Kaka and a former Lagos West Senator, Ganiyu Solomon.
Meanwhile, as part of his ongoing consultations, Amaechi is expected to visit the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Lekan Balogun and other leaders of thought in Oyo State tomorrow.