…As Yarima vows not to impose Sharia as president
The All Progressives Congress’ presidential race may have turned into a free-for-all as the number of aspirants jockeying for the ticket swelled beyond 30 on Friday.
This is as the likes of the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele; Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Ogbonnaya Onu; former Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole; and Senator Robert Boroffice obtained copies of their N100m nomination and expression of interest forms.
Our correspondent observed that the weeks-long speculation of Emefiele’s candidacy was laid to rest on Friday morning when a coalition comprising Rice Farmers Association, Emefiele Support Group and Friends of Godwin picked the expression of interest and nomination forms for him.
Emefiele, whose campaign posters were spotted during the March 26 APC national convention, had not openly declared his intention to run for the country’s top office.
Rather, he denied having any interest in the presidency through a series of tweets posted in March.
Emefiele, who tweeted with the hashtag #NoDistractionsPlease, said, “My focus at this time is a robust monetary policy and fighting inflation which is now a global problem; building a strong financial system in an increasingly uncertain global economy.
He noted that his concern was “Development finance and supporting farmers & manufacturers in our self-sufficiency and import substitution drive; raising N15tn for InfraCo infrastructure financing building a world-class International Financial Centre in Lagos; as we support the Muhammadu Buhari Administration to finish strong.”
Also at the International Conference Centre to pick nomination forms were various groups representing Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Ibikunle Amosun, Dimeji Bankole and Senator Robert Boroffice and former Zamfara State Governor, Ahmad Yarima, who declared his intention to run after visiting the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Aso Rock Villa shortly after the Friday Jumat Prayers.
Yarima, who got the President’s approval to run the presidential ticket of the APC, said his administration would put a permanent end to the 12-year battle with the Boko Haram sect and fight insecurity, poverty and ignorance.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, Yarima said: “I’m here this afternoon to inform Mr. President of my intention to participate in the 2023 elections and contest the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I’m going to, Insha Allah, purchase my forms today and officially declare this afternoon.
“I’m sure every Nigerian knows that Mr. President has done his best and today, our challenges are still new developments of insecurity; armed banditry. Boko Haram is gone, but we have new challenges of insecurity, armed banditry and poverty because of the world economic problems. And there is still a lot of ignorance in our society.
“So, I have three points as well; to fight insecurity, fight poverty, and ignorance. Some people think that if you say ignorance, you’re talking of only Western education, no. Illiteracy is different from ignorance. There are people who are professors, who are well educated in Western terms, but they’re ignorant of their society.”
The pro-Sharia governor said he would respect the Nigerian Constitution and not impose harsh Sharia laws that characterised his governorship tenure from 1999 to 2007.
“On the issue of Sharia, I’m a Muslim, and I say everywhere I go, that I am a Muslim and I want to die as a Muslim. As I said, I’m going to fight the problem of ignorance and this is one of it. People don’t know, a lot of people don’t know that the Constitution of Nigeria, Section 38, has provided for freedom of religion, including freedom to change your religion, if you want to, to practise alone or in a community with others, in private or in public.
“So, as a governor of the state, I followed the constitutional provision, prepared a law, sent it to the state assembly, and they passed it into law and I implemented what the Constitution gave me the powers to do. In Zamfara State, I have never forced any Christian to follow the Islamic faith.
“So, if I’m elected, by the grace of God, I’m going to be elected under the Constitution and I’m going to take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of Nigeria. So, I will never do anything unconstitutional,” he said.
On zoning, Yarima, who represented Zamfara West in the Senate for 12 years, said every Nigerian is at liberty to run for office at whatever time and from whatever region they hail from.
“The Constitution of Nigeria is very clear; every Nigerian is qualified to contest so long as he reaches the age prescribed for different offices. So, every Nigerian is qualified so long as he follows the constitutional provisions of this country to contest any office and aspire to any office of this country,” he said.
Also obtaining forms was Fabian Azubuike, who is vying to represent the Abia North Senatorial District and who urged Senator Orji Kalu to proceed with his presidential ambition.
Azubuike, who spoke shortly after procuring the expression of interest and nomination forms at the ICC, argued that Kalu would be doing a great disservice to the South-East if he declined to run for the presidency.
“He (Kalu) should play at the presidential level. The Igbo nation is looking up to him to drive home the demand that an Igbo man emerges President of this country. He should not abdicate that function to come back and swim in the canal of the Abia North Senatorial District. That would be very unfortunate,” he said.
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