By Lanre Oloyede
Intrigues and power play characterizing the buildup of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to the 2023 elections took a nervy turn Monday as the party commenced the screening of its presidential aspirants.
At least, no fewer than twelve presidential aspirants were yesterday screened by the party away from the prying eyes of the media.
Those screened on Monday included former Lagos State governor and national leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajuiba, former governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, former vice presidential candidate to Muhammadu Buhari in 2011, Pastor Tunde Bakare.
Others are former Zamfara State governor, Ahmed Sani Yerima, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi, the only female aspirant, Barr. (Mrs) Uju Kennedy Ohnenye, Pastor Nicholas Felix Nwagbo, Jigawa State governor, Abubakar Badaru, former Senate President, Ken Nnamani.
The news of the exercise which was discreetly planned and conducted at an undisclosed venue at the prestigious Transport Hilton hotel Abuja, filtered in the early hours of Monday without any prior notice to newsmen.
Journalists who made it to the Hilton hotel were barred from accessing the venue of the screening in what appeared like a sharp departure from the conventional practice where the party would intimate journalists with details such as date, venue and time of event, as newsmen were this time around were completely kept in the dark of the event.
Also, no details were provided about the screening committee for the exercise and when it was set up, but Nigerian Pilot gathered that a seven-man panel hurriedly put together and headed by former national chairman, Odigie Oyegun, conducted the exercise.
It was further gathered that national chairman of APC, Abdullahi Adamu, and national secretary, Iyiola Omisore were also on the Committee.
It was not clear why the party opted for such discreet mode but reports say it may not be unconnected with the ongoing power play in the ruling party amidst plot to oust some serious contenders from the race and probably impose a preferred candidate in the name of consensus.
There are talks of a plot by powers in Aso Villa to draft former President Goodluck Jonathan into the race through a backdoor and make him the consensus candidate of the party.
Indications emerged that a few APC members, including Northern governors, are behind the push to draft Jonathan into the ruling party’s presidential primary.
The Presidency however on Sunday denied the involvement of President Muhammadu Buhari from such a plot.
To this effect, reports say that President Buhari has taken measures to distance himself from the plot.
An impeccable source in the Villa disclosed that instructions have consequently been given that there shall be no public release of photos of any meetings between the former President and the incumbent at this time as the President does not want such images to be used to confer any modicum of support to the plot to get Jonathan into the race.
The APC had postponed its presidential screening exercise about three times and also recently shifted its presidential convention earlier scheduled for May 29-30 after having shifted it twice before.
National leader of APC, Tinubu, who arrived the screening venue at about 5:55pm, was ushered in by a tumultuous crowd who chanted to his praises amidst report of fear in his camp following the appointment of Oyegun, an estranged erstwhile ally of his as chairman of APC presidential screening panel.