The party is holding a convention to pick its presidential candidate in Lagos between December 10 and 11.
All the aspirants have signed an agreement not to leave the party after the primary and to support whoever gots the ticket.
The winner is to face President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February election.
Presenting clearance certificates to aspirants who were screened on Tuesday, Committee Chair Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu said the time had come when Nigerians must decide whether to continue with the state of affairs in the country or effect a change for the better.
He said: “There is a choice before us. Are we going to continue the way we have been going in the past 16 years when our security forces are used to intimidate and harass the very citizens who pay for their maintenance?
“Are we going to continue a situation where we are the sixth largest exporters of crude oil and yet we import virtually all the petroleum products that we use and, as we do this, we are exporting jobs and rendering our people unemployed. Is this what Nigerians would want to do?
“Are we going to allow a situation where the rule of law is violated and there is no orderliness whatsoever? This is a choice for Nigerians. The ruling party has had 16 years and so, it is not a question of making promises. We are judging them on their records because they told us that within two years, there will be regular and reliable supply of power 24 hours a day and seven days a week. This is the 16th year and that promise has not been fulfilled.
“So, Nigerians have a choice to make because when you have two things, you can never know until you try them. So, Nigerians ought to try the APC and give us a chance to show that the problems in the country can be solved.”
Onu went on: “Today marks the beginning of the important journey the APC is taking to form government at the centre. The APC came into existence on the 31 of July 2013. On that day, a giant was born and the reason for the formation of the APC was to stop the drift which the nation has been passing through in the last 16 years.
“Yesterday (Tuesday), for several hours, the Presidential Screening Committee met with five very distinguished Nigerians and members of the APC seeking the nomination of the party to contest for the position of President of Nigeria. During that exercise, we found that these men are so distinguished that there is not one of them that will not make a great difference to our nation.
“The goal of the party is to control, government at the national level so that the problems of our country, those problems that people thought cannot be solved, the APC will show that they can be solved.”
He desribed the screening as “rigorous”.
“I want to also tell you that the scores were very narrow and very high, with the least scoring 62 per cent. The highest scored 78 per cent. The second person scored 77 per cent and the third scored 75 per cent. So, you can see how close it was. I really thank you and congratulate you our aspirants for the quality that is in you.
“We told you before the screening that we want the aspirants to sign a letter of commitment for the party.
“I am happy to inform you that all the five aspirants were very happy to sign the letters of commitment and that commitment is principally to assure the party that there is none of them that is running for himself.
“They are running to offer service and improve on the well-being of our people and being happiness to Nigerians, foster unity and bring peace and secure our country because we cannot be the pride of Africa and be losing our territory to insurgents.
“If the aim is really service, it means that they understand that only one of them will fly our flag. They have all agreed that whoever flies our flag, the other four will support him. They have also agreed to collapse their structures into the party so that the party will move to this election united because this will offer the party the best chance to win the election”.
The signed commitment was read out to the hearing of all the aspirants by the Secretary of the Committee, Ambassador Fatima Balla.
Responding on behalf of the other aspirants, former Head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari expressed appreciation to the leadership of the party for putting together a quality team to carry out the screening.
Gen. Buhari said: “I am honoured to speak on behalf of the aspirants. We are grateful to our great party for Organising such a competent team to come and interview us. We went through the process yesterday, discussing foreign affairs, security, economy and what our personal decisions are to the polity.
“It is a very trying time for the five of us, but we are grateful that they have been very generous in their award of marks and that we all made it. The rest of the decision now goes to the public and the delegates.
“In a week time, we will come together and whoever gets the ticket to run on behalf of the party will emerge. The secretary has read the letter, which we were made to sign yesterday so that the loyalty to the party will be supreme.”
No fewer than 8,000 delegates will next week in Lagos elect the candidate.
The National Convention Committee fixed the special event for the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere in the country’s commercial capital between December 10 and 11.
Committee Chairman and former Ekiti State Governor Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who announced the programme in Abuja, said though some of the aspirants expressed concern about traveling such a long distance for the convention, the committee convinced them on the choice of Lagos.
The Presidential Screening Committee cleared all the five aspirants to bid for the ticket. They are: Gen. Buhari , Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Kano State Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha and Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah.
The aspirants signed an undertaking not to defect from the party after the convention and to support whoever gets the ticket.
Fayemi said:”This is a very unique committee that has representations not just the people chosen by the leadership of the party, but also representations from the five aspirants that are running for the presidential ticket of our party. This is something that is being done transparently, with the input of their advice and their concerns being looked into.
“We are not going to a coronation. We are going to an election and that election is going to be done in the full glare of Nigerians.
“Those who are not opportune to be there as delegates but are interested in rescuing democracy in this country would have opportunity to watch it live on television, listen live on radio and follow us online and also be part of it internationally for those who are not in Nigeria as well as other Nigerians who are interested in seeing Nigeria get through these challenges through a process that is credible, transparent and acceptable to all.
“All our aspirants have also been briefed on the various steps we have taken. Our committee is holding our last meeting here in Abuja today and we are relocating to the venue of our convention from this moment.”
In a statement from his media office, Atiku said he was not only delighted that Lagos had been selected to host such an august event, but was confident that the city has all it takes to ensure that the event will be memorable and successful, especially in view of the cosmopolitan nature of the city and the famed easy going nature of its residents.
The statement said that the former Vice President considered Lagos as a second home, bearing in mind that he spent several years of his public service career there. “I’m not any less Lagosian than anyone is. I have a house in Lagos and a part of my large family lives in Lagos. I visit Lagos regularly, so I’m not a stranger to the cosmopolitan city and what it represents as the melting pot of Nigeria,” he said.
I (name of aspirant) hereby undertake to abide by the rules and regulations contained in the All Progressives Congress APC nomination guideline, APC constitution, the Electoral Act and constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
“I, on behalf of myself and my primary campaign organisation undertake to accept the outcome of the primaries and actively support whoever emerges as the winner and shall not decamp to any other political party or in anyway obstruct the smooth execution of the presidential campaign;
“I further affirm that during the campaigns and later in government, I shall be guided strictly by the party manifesto; and in the event of my nomination, my campaign team will immediately be collapsed into the party campaign structure for a properly united and focused presidential campaign”.