The race to clinch the All Progressives Congress’ presidential ticket for 2023 became more competitive on Tuesday after Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi and Senator Orji Kalu publicly declared their ambitions.
Their declarations came barely 24 hours after APC chieftain and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, indicated his interest to become Nigeria’s next President.
Governor Umahi declared his intention at a State House press briefing after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Umahi said his presidency will replicate his progressive efforts in Ebonyi at the national level.
He said he intends to bring a business-like spirit into governance.
According to him, President Buhari responded to his interest by asking him to seek the support of the people.
In his declaration, Senator Kalu said while he has nothing against the aspiration of Mr Tinubu, he believes that the South-East is ripe for the Presidency and that it should be the turn of the region to produce the next President.
“I do not see Tinubu’s aspiration having any effect on the President of Nigeria coming from the Igbo area. Because we are talking based on what Nigeria should be. We are talking based on what people should believe. Obasanjo has been President for eight years. Osinbajo is doing eight years as Vice President. And no Igbo man since independence has been a democratically elected President. So it is always good to think of what is reasonable and what will be more sellable.
“I’m the most prepared Presidential candidate in Nigeria. I’m capable healthwise, I’m capable as a person, I’m capable in my pocket. I’m capable to face anybody. But the party is supreme. I only wait for APC as a party.
“For me, contesting for President is not the issue. The issue is who is going to lead the country into an economic miracle, into a turnaround. I’m not against Tinubu. If it’s zoned to his area and the party said he should go. Well, the party is supreme. I’m only waiting for the party.”
After his State House briefing, Governor Umahi appeared on Channels Television’s Politics Today to provide further insights into his presidential ambition.
“I feel within me that the country is passing through a phase and I believe strongly that the miracles that God helped us to do in Ebonyi State by the reason of all the successes we made in all the economic indices and all our programmes, that if given the opportunity, we can replicate it at the national level,” he said.
He explained that his closeness with President Buhari has given him a clear understanding of the President’s intentions and goodwill for the country and he intends to continue from where he stops come 2023.
“This is my conviction and that we can also build from where Mr President would stop,” Umahi said. “I am also close to Mr President, I know his heartbeat for the country and I know what he desires for this country so I think that I understand his programmes and his policies and his integrity, coupled with what we have done in Ebonyi State and it can add and help the country.”