President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the presidential hopefuls of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to “come up with a formidable” consensus candidate before the party holds its primary election.

The president said this during a meeting with the aspirants on Saturday at the presidential villa, Abuja.

The ruling party has fixed June 6-8 for its special convention to elect its presidential flagbearer.

In a statement signed by Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, Buhari was quoted as saying: “Looking at this assemblage of personalities and considering your rich pedigree of accomplishments in life, I have come to the conclusion that our party, the APC, is rich in human resources and also that our nation is blessed with capable people that can successfully steer the ship of state into the future.

“Our party, the APC, has won two successive presidential elections in 2015, first when we were in the opposition and in 2019 when I sought re-election. Both processes were achieved through unity of purpose, strategic alignment, consultation, fairness, determination and effective leadership. In both instances, national and party interests were overriding factors in our deliberations and decision-making.

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“The 2023 General Elections are fast approaching in a global, regional and national environment that is constantly changing and challenging. This demands that our party should become more aware of the changing environment, be responsive to the yearnings of our citizens, re-evaluate our strategy and strengthen our internal mechanism so that we would sustain the electoral successes.

“I am pleased to note that the party, recognizing the significance of all these demands, has over time developed several democratically acceptable processes and policies, that promote consultation, internal cohesion and leadership to facilitate victories at the polls.”

The president said it is pertinent for the party to douse the anxiety among its members and proceed to the 2023 presidential elections with unity of purpose.

“Given these circumstances, I charge you to recognize the importance of the stability and unity of the party, which cannot be overemphasized,” he said.

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“Similarly, I wish to remind you that our choice of flag bearer must be formidable, appealing to the electorate across the board and should command such ability to unify the country and capacity to address our critical challenges.

“Ahead of the Convention, the party machinery has screened and found all aspirants eminently qualified. Recognizing this fact, the Screening Committee has, amongst others, recommended that consensus building through consultation, be intensified.

“Without prejudice to your qualifications, I urge all of you to hold consultations amongst yourselves and with the party, with a view to building a consensus in a manner that would help the party reduce the number of aspirants, bring up a formidable candidate and scale down the anxiety of party members.”

The president added that the party’s screening committee had also recommended consensus building through consultation.

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