Following the disaffection expressed by some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who lost out in the just concluded primaries, the party hierarchy may have begun behind-the-scene manoeuvres to stop more party chieftains from quitting the party. This is just at the senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Comrade Shehu Sani, yesterday resigned his membership from the ruling APC following the submission of the name of his opponent, Uba Sani, to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the APC senatorial candidate in the 2019 polls. The APC, it was learnt, decided on the reconciliatory moves to forestall any more defection plans by its stalwarts, LEADERSHIP Sunday has learnt. The recent primaries held by the party in different states and zones had thrown up several contentious issues with party faithful threatening to dump the party and join forces with the opposition ahead of the 2019. LEADERSHIP Sunday recalls that the APC had after the primaries inaugurated its national Appeal Committee headed by former governor of Edo State, Prof Oserheimen Osunbor.
According to a source who was privy to the decisions reached by the Appeal Committee which submitted its report to the National Working Committee (NWC) penultimate Monday, a lot of the party men who lost out in either the gubernatorial, senatorial or House of Representatives primary elections in their states were already poised to ensure that they take their own pound of the flesh on the party as they felt betrayed the process. For instance, the decision of the party to drop Senator Shehu Sani despite the appeal panel’s verdict upholding the choice of his candidacy for the Kaduna Central Senatorial District, the candidacy of Uche Nwosu, the son-in-law of the Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, against the alleged winner, Senator Hope Uzodimma, and the case in Zamafara had all left a bitter taste in the mouths of party stalwarts.
In its report, the appeal panel held that the primary conducted by the electoral panel for Kaduna was done in contempt of a court order, adding that the only aspirant cleared by the party to contest the election was Senator Shehu Sani. The source was of the opinion that the party leadership would have to move in urgently to avoid its members defecting in their droves to the other various political parties, thereby weakening APC’s chances in the 2019 general elections.
“If they do not make moves to appease some aggrieved party men, what Shehu Sani did is just the beginning of many more to come,” the source added. Another party insider who spoke on the condition of anonymity stated that several of the petitions submitted to the Appeal Panel were either not entertained or were dismissed for lacking in substance and this did not go down well with many of those who felt they did not get fair hearing. It was also gathered that a majority of the petitions against the conduct of the Senate and House of Representatives primaries were not upheld for various reasons, ranging from lack of merit, lack of proof to lack of time for fresh primaries. No reasons were adduced for not upholding some others. Similarly, some petitions were upheld and some of the petitioners declared as candidates of the party either because they actually won the primaries and were substituted, or for other reasons, ranging from lack of clearance and others the committee did not explain. Senator Sani, who was reportedly earlier granted an automatic ticket by the leadership of the APC to recontest his seat in the 2019 general election, did not participate in the just concluded primary poll in which Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s political adviser, Uba Sani, defeated other aspirants and emerged winner.
Our correspondent gathered that the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) may field Senator Sani as its candidate for Kaduna Central zone, though political parties had already submitted presidential and National Assembly candidates’ names to INEC to beat the October 18 deadline. The senator had been expected to leave the APC along with some restoration groups members, like Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi and Isah Ashiru, among others, but he was persuaded by national leaders of the party including Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and party chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, not to quit. It learnt that Senator Sani has tendered his exit letter to the APC chairman in ward 6, Tudun Wada. However, when contacted, his political adviser, Suleiman Ahmed, promised to confirm the development and made available the resignation letter, but he had yet to do so at the time of going to press. Meanwhile, Buhari/Osinbajo Support Groups have called on the APC leadership to flush out the bad eggs within the party in Kaduna State before the 2019 general elections. The coalition also appealed to the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, to expel Senator Sani from the party over his past criticisms of President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling party.
Addressing a news conference in Kaduna, convener of the group, Abdulrauf Abdullahi, reiterated their full support for the APC and President Buhari’s developmental policies and programmes, saying only genuine members should be allowed stay in the party.
According to them: “As compatriots, we feel deeply concerned about the serial media attack against President Buhari and the APC by the senator after scaling to victory on the massive goodwill of the president and his party. “It is because of the need to set the records straight and expose the questionable, downright suspicious betrayal and barefaced hypocrisy that we embarked on the compilation of this compendium. It is a joint effort whereby each of the stakeholders in this coalition took divergent angles of the multiple news media coverage of the regrettable compromise by the incumbent senator.
“We are glad to inform the whole world that we have set aside today for presenting our humble research work for the records and to further enlighten the public on the kind of moles and untrustworthy people in the APC deliberately working in opposite direction. We are bold to say that this indecorous media attack on our president and the APC smacks of back-stabbing and ingratitude,” they wrote.
Meanwhile, the APC leadership has reacted to the reported defection of Senator Sani, saying that even though it got the news of the defection through media reports, it will give a befitting response after it has discussed the issue.
In a terse response, the national publicity secretary said, “We received the news of the alleged defection of Senator Shehu Sani through media reports. “The party leadership will relate with all the facts concerning the reported defection and react appropriately in due course.” LEADERSHIP Sunday recalls that, in the course of the week, there was palpable tension among members of the governing APC as the leadership of the party left the national secretariat to submit the list of its presidential and senatorial candidates to INEC. The party’s director of organisation, Alhaji Abubakar Kyari, led other senior staff of the party in a branded APC bus to submit the list. LEADERSHIP Sunday reports that many members of the party across the country, who were not sure whether the decisions of the appeal panel were in their favour, were seen nosing around the party secretariat to get a clue about their date. Some who got to learn their ill fate had already begun looking for other options to actualise their political aspirations.
Meanwhile, a source within the party told our reporter: “I can guarantee you that the leadership of the party is taking steps to ensure that we resolve all issues as a result of the primaries. We cannot afford to go into the general elections with a divided house.”