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The leadership of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) chaired by Ganiyu Galadima is still at daggers drawn with Obiageli Ezekwesili, its former presidential candidate, over her withdrawal from the 2019 presidential race.
Ezekwesili had withdrawn from the race on Thursday after “extensive discussions with Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora”, citing the need to “help build a coalition to defeat the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election”.
She said her action was also prompted by “an examination of the country’s electoral environment sequel to the 2019 presidential debate of Saturday, January 19, 2019”.
“This decision followed extensive consultations with leaders from various walks of life across the country over the past few days,” she had said. “I deem it necessary for me to focus on helping to build a veritable coalition to ensure a viable alternative to the #APCPDP in the forthcoming elections.”
However, hours after her withdrawal was made public, Galadima, the National Chairman of ACPN who was also her running mate, convened a press conference where he said Ezekwesili’s announcement was not surprising, as she only pre-empted the party’s decision to support another presidential candidate.
“She only pre-empted the decision we would have reached today which was to withdraw her candidacy and give to somebody else. Our presidential nomination ticket is N10 million and expression of interest is N500,000, but when she came she said she did not have money, that she only had N100,000 and because we wanted to encourage women, we gave her our platform,” he had said.
“The reason for calling this press conference is to let the world know about the presidential aspiration of Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, which, in actual fact, is not the truth. We have been put into confidence by several of her aides, one of which is named lyinoluwa Aboyeji also known as Maureen, that she only wanted to use the platform of the ACPN to negotiate to be Nigeria’s Finance Minister. This she did not deem fit to inform the party whose mandate she is holding.”
At the end of the conference, Galadima declared the party’s decision to henceforth support the re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ezekwesili has since dismissed those claims, initially declaring them as “baseless and a figment of Galadima’s imagination”, before subsequently branding the parties’ leaders “political entrepreneurs with a transactional approach to politics”.
The full scale of claims and counter-claims from Galadima and Ezekwesili is yet to be known; however, on the claim that “when Ezekwesili came she said she did not have money”, SaharaReporters has confirmed that it was indeed ACPN that went begging the former Minister in her office to convince her to accept its ticket.
This confirmation was made based on three videos exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters, one of which featured Galadima telling Ezekwesili how he had been given a prophesy that the party would be great in Nigeria but it would be driven by a woman.
Faces that can be seen in the videos include those of Galadima and other party leaders, Aisha Yesufu, Ezekwesili and members of her team.
While the first two videos were recorded on October 2, 2018, the last was filmed three days later.
In his attempt to convince the former Minister of Education to contest on the ACPN platform, Galadima said: “There was this old man. They call him Alhaji Abdullahi. He was the treasurer of the local government. The man has been a source of great inspiration to me. Since that day, out of all of us, he has been like my adopted father. About five months ago, I went to say hello to him as usual and he said ‘Alhaji Ganiyu, what is happening? This your party, let me take you to somebody’.
“When we got there, [we saw] the man, a very old man. He would be over 100 [years old]. He is a very old man, but he is a blind man. When we got there, the man asked ‘whom did you bring? What’s the name of his party?’ I told him ACPN. He said: ‘That your party will be great in this country. But the person that will drive it is a woman’. Since then, I found it difficult to place it. I started imagining that ‘could this be the woman this old man just spoke about?’
“The effect of this meeting had been foretold a long time ago and I pray to God to bless it for us and make this day a day for all of us to remember. This is 5th October, our convention is 7th. It will mark the beginning of great things to come. Congratulations! Congratulations!! Congratulations!!! And congratulations to the team, especially Hajiya Aisha. When I mentioned Her Excellency coming to this party, it has gone further in the North. Some of my friends said she should please take Aisha Yesufu as her vice-presidential candidate. And they have their reasons. They say they want us to make history. That this will address the gender issue. In addition, they said Aisha Yesufu is very popular in the North and the women in the entire North will support her. This job is a job that God has concluded. By the grace of God, I pray that we will all live long to remember this day for good.”
In her response, Ezekwesili said: “One of the things that I can see clearly is that it is going to take a coalition for us to seek what we want to achieve, which is to basically dismantle this old order of governance and to completely refresh our politics. And so, it’s going to be important that we find as many like-minded as the party to come on board.
“I do have a number of parties that have been talking to me, so it’s going to be important for us to bring them on board and find many more of them because it has to be a people’s movement to say we want to redefine what governance is all about. It’s because of that that I appreciate your openness to learning new things because frankly, what helps us as a team has been this willingness to learn things that we don’t know.”
Presenting the nomination form which was contained in a brown envelope, Galadima continued: “On the platform of our party, the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), this is as a result of our conviction that we can make it. You have the capacity; that you have paid your dues; and that you have contributed so much to the accountability of governance of this country. I want to encourage you to practise what you have been preaching. If you think they’re not doing it well, you cannot sit down and still be expecting that the same thing should continue to be recycled.
“We want to encourage you to come out to take up the gauntlet to challenge the bourgeoisie and the people who are deceiving us, deceiving the masses, that they are messiahs, whereas they are not. We will challenge them and we will win the election for you to be able to serve the masses and the people of this country. On behalf of myself, the National Working Committee, the NEC, and members of the ACPN in Nigeria, we, in proxy, [deliver] the invitation and we hope that the response that we will get from you will be positive.”
The brown envelope containing the documents was received by another lady on Ezekwesili’s behalf. According to the lady, the envelope containing the nomination form was accepted “not in commitment” to the proposal, but so that the Ezekwesili camp could “revert” on its decision.
There was mild drama as Galadima attempted to present a souvenir to Ezekwesili, which he said “she must collect”. However, Ezekwesili and her team rejected the souvenir, saying they had not decided if they would accept the offer or not.
Galadima pressed further by saying she could accept the souvenir off the record, but the former Minister nonetheless refused at the time the video playback ended.