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We are disappointed in Saraki, says leadership of not-too-young-to-run group

Sowore, Moghalu pull out of PACT

THE leadership of the not-too-young-to-run group has expressed disappointment at Senate President Bukola Saraki, for usurping its platform to make his presidential declaration on Thursday.

Saraki had declared his presidential ambition during townhall meeting which was organised by the not-too-young-to-run group to liaise with the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and get them to reduce the price of nomination forms for young people who wish to run for office on the party’s platform.

National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, while speaking at the townhall meeting, assured that young people members of the party will be given special consideration and support, but when it got to Saraki’s turn to address the gathering, he turned it into his personal declaration speech.

“The (not-too-young-to-run) movement wishes to express its disappointment with Senator Saraki for usurping a platform designed for young aspirants to dialogue with party leadership to advance his political ambition,” the group said in a statement.

“We strongly condemn this act by the President of the Senate and dissociate ourselves from this political move.

“The movement reaffirms its identity as a non-partisan citizen-led movement dedicated to the defense of democracy, political inclusion and transformative leadership. The movement restates its commitment to sustain its engagement with political parties to ensure youth candidacy and democratic party primaries.”

The Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), one of the civil society groups behind the not-too-young-to-run movement, had begun a campaign to demand that political parties reduce the cost of nomination forms for young aspirants.

“Any party that seeks the support of the youth in 2019 must do three things. They must take intentional steps to assist young people and women with disability who are seeking to run. Political parties must also reduce the cost for ruining for office and cost for nomination. And finally, Nigerian youth want democratic and direct primaries,” says Samson Itodo, Convener of the group during a sensitization rally earlier this month.

Sowore, Moghalu pull out of concensus arrangement

Meanwhile, the hope by many Nigerians, of having a young and fresh president by 2019, may have been dashed a little earlier than expected, following the pulling out of two of the leading young presidential candidates from a coalition that was aimed at throwing up one consensus candidate.

The Presidential Aspirants Coming Together (PACT) is an initiative to bring the leading young aspirants together and have them select one candidate who would enjoy the support of the other aspirants. This, it was thought, would give the younger aspirants a better fighting chance in the attempt to defeat President Muhammadu Buhari, who is sure to emerge the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), as well as the opposition PDP, which is also expected to present a candidate from among the so-called political elites.

At the end of a meeting, on Thursday, to choose who would be PACT’s concensus candidate, Fela Durotoye, of the Alliance for New Nigeria, emerged victorious. The development did not go down well with Kingsley Moghalu and Omoyele Sowore, candidates of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) and the African Action Congress (AAC) respectively.

In a statement, Moghalu, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said he was going ahead with his presidential ambition because the process that threw up Durotoye as PACT’s concensus candidate was fraught with irregularities.

“The arrangement had unraveled even before the final selection of the consensus candidate. Only seven aspirants participated in the final voting out of the original 18 aspirants, mainly because many of the aspirants had withdrawn from the process. Four candidates who were present in the meeting this morning withdrew from the process even while the voting process was ongoing. Therefore, PACT did not produce a true consensus candidate,” Moghalu explained.

“I therefore have chosen to continue without distraction to pursue my vision in the presidential race for 2019 in the national interest and in deference to the overwhelming outpouring of support for my candidacy from all parts of Nigeria.”

For his part, Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters, said he had pulled out of the PACT arrangement even before the vote to elect a concensus candidate.

A statement issued by Sowore’s campaign director, Malcolm Fabiyi, read in part: “We have been very clear in our position, that the choice of who becomes the leader of almost 200 million Nigerians should not be determined by only about a dozen people.

“As democrats and progressives, we believe that leaders should emerge, only through a transparent process that allows the millions of Nigerians that are yearning for national development and transformative leadership, to have their say in electing their own representatives, in free and fair party primaries and eventually at the national polls in February 2019.”

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