Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti State governor, on Thursday, said he has no knowledge of an anointed or preferred candidate of President Muhammadu Buhari for the chairmanship slot ahead of the upcoming All Progressive Congress (APC) convention.
The governor, however, said that although the president had a right to have a preferred candidate, he (Buhari) will still need to campaign for such a person during the convention.
“As for your question madam as to whether the president has anointed anyone to be the chairman of the party, I have no knowledge of that,” he said.
He also said “the president is well within his right to have a preferred candidate but in our party, let him (Buhari) come and campaign for that candidate at the Eagle Square on Saturday. If his candidate wins, fine, if his candidate loses, he will still have to live with that.”
Mr Fayemi said this at an event in Abuja organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development West Africa (CDD) while responding to a question from an AIT correspondent.
The ruling party, APC, is set to hold its national convention on Saturday (tomorrow) at Eagles Square in Abuja and will be attended by about 4,000 delegates from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Altogether the aspirants will contest for 22 positions in the NWC at the event.
According to the list obtained exclusively by PREMIUM TIMES, seven aspirants purchased the expression of interest and nomination forms for chairmanship seat at N20 million each, generating a total of N140 million for the party.
Meanwhile, during the event themed “Whither Democracy in Nigeria”, Mr Fayemi asked Nigerian youths to pull themselves up by the bootstraps saying no one owed them anything.
“Frankly, nobody owes you anything, you have to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and push for what you consider to be the change you want… not what Governor Fayemi is telling you or her excellency. You can take away from our advice but ultimately, this struggle is not going to be streamed live as was said earlier…,” he said.
“If you do not organise to throw away those that you consider to be the enemies of the people, we will continue having these discussions without making any difference in what is going on in our country,” he said.
During a two-person panel discussion, Mr Fayemi noted that Nigeria has failed the test of inclusion both for women and young people even after committing to international laws that mandates it to do so.
However, he believes that from the ongoing conversations and engagements, the situation will be reversed even at the federal level.
According to Mr Fayemi, Nigerians need to interrogate the content and quality of Nigeria’s democracy in order to better understand its challenges and how to tackle them.
Fatoumata Tambajang, former vice president of The Gambia, who was on the panel with Mr Fayemi, in her submissions, underlined the important role women play in a democracy.
“Men think regime change is democratisation or democracy while we women feel that after change, we need to manage and transform the change into a basket of alleviating poverty, addressing social exclusion, empowering women, providing equal opportunities, education and healthcare,” she said.
Ms Tambajang encouraged women to come together, form coalitions and take a stand if their voices must be heard by their male counterparts in politics.
“We should begin to see every vote as a human being, the bulk of which are women and youth, not just a paper,” she said.
According to Ms Tambajang, her decision to leave her job at the United Nations to join her country’s politics, was because she saw that the men in The Gambia were not working for the people rather they were focused on consolidating power.
“They were focused on becoming presidents, vice presidents, ministers and others while we were losing human capital… arbitrary arrests, raping of women and other atrocities.
She noted that development is the cornerstone of democracy, therefore both cannot be separated.
“Democracy without development is like a white elephant and it is the responsibility of all of us to educate everyone that there is no democracy without development,” she said.