Okorocha Beats Deadline, Arrives For APC Presidential Screening
In a dramatic turn of events, former Imo State governor and presidential hopeful, Senator Rochas Okorocha, last night perfected his bail conditions and made it to the venue of the screening of presidential aspirants, just as the screening exercise formally ended yesterday.
Also, the APC Presidential Screening Committee quizzed and cleared the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmed Lawan; Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabioand the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello.
Screened too were the Governor of Cross Rivers State, Professor Ben Ayade; Mr. Tein Jack-Rich, former Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu; former Minister of Information, Chief Ikeobasi Mokelu and a former Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of Federal High Court, Abuja, had admitted Okorocha to bail in the sum N500 million in the alleged N2.9 billion fraud charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Ekwo in a ruling held that the fact and circumstances of the case warranted the court to admit him to bail to adequately prepare for his trial.
The court, however, held that Okorocha must remain in the custody of the anti-graft agency until he met the bail conditions.
Accordingly, personnel of the commission took him into custody just as he stepped out of the courtroom, with fears that he might not make his conditions and as such would be unable to make to the presidential screening of the party, which held at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
Earlier, his media aide, Dr. Ebere Nzewiuji, had told THISDAY, in a telephone chat that his bail condition was being perfected, and that “hopefully” he would make the screening.
Meanwhile, Lawan has said he was ready to support any of the aspirants that the party decides to pick as a consensus.
His words: “We are sons and daughters of the same father and mother, those of us in APC, all of us, who took the forms to run for the highest office of the president, believing in the same philosophy and ideology of our party.
“Therefore, we are one and the same thing. I will support anybody, who the party and who the president thinks can do better for us. I have no problem with that. I want to also believe that at the end of the day, I will emerge.”
Lawan noted that if elected, Nigeria would experience improved education, security and economy.
“I have worked very closely with President Muhammadu Buhari in my capacity as Senate Leader. I know the issue of developments, where we have recorded so much successes; I know where we have to rework the tool and rekit our system, strategy and operations.
“I want to reform the educational sector that will serve the sons and daughters of nobody so that we are able to take away from the street the 15 or so million out-of-school children.
“I want to see a situation, where I will come as the elected party candidate and, of course, go ahead to defeat the PDP and other political parties to win the presidency for APC and for Nigeria.”
However, speaking with journalists after Osinbajo had been screened, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, said, the vice-president had all it would take to be the President of Nigeria.
But he asked that the party leadership should be fair, just and equitable in their organisation of the convention at the moment, because it is fair and everybody’s able to carry out its obligation.
Ojudu, a Senior Aide to Osinbajo, noted that in the history of Nigeria and presidential primaries, there was nobody that has campaigned like the vice-president has done.
“We went to 36 states including the FCT. He did not only take questions from everyone, he stood up to answer those questions. And after doing so, he took photographs with every individual and each of the delegates present at those events.
“So, you can see that he is determined and is prepared, and he has done his own work, and he’s not taking our party members for granted. And he wants to let them know his vision, his agenda and what he will do, you know, not just for this country, but even for them as members of the party, if and when he’s elected.”
Chairman of The Progressive Project (TPP), Senator Kabiru Gaya, said they were impressed by Osinbajo’s qualifications and experience, saying he was the only candidate that could defeat the presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He said Osinbajo had been in the system for many years as the vice president and has also acted as president, adding that he was the most experienced aspirant in this race.
“We believe that he will be a candidate for the APC general election and he is the only candidate that can beat Atiku Abubakar. That I’m sure of,” Gaya added.