THE All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday explained the crises that rocked some of its state chapters as a result of the primaries to pick candidates for next year’s elections.
Party spokesman Lanre Issa-Onilu spoke on the outcome of the governorship primaries in Ogun and Imo states, the senatorial primaries in Kaduna and Enugu states as well as the submission of the list of candidates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for Zamfara State.
Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun has been up in arms over the party’s decision to recognise Prince Dapo Abiodun as the governorship candidate. He is insisting on his preferred choice, Abdulkabir Adekunle Akinlade, a member of the House of Representatives.
In Kaduna State, Senator Shehu Sani has left the APC for the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), following the exclusion of his name fom the list of senatorial candidates.
In Enugu, Voice of Nigeria (VON) Director-General Osita Okechukwu has been attacking National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole after failing to get an Enugu senatorial ticket.
The party said Amosun resorted to “self-help” to get the ticket for his preferred candidate whereas such does not exist in the party’s constitution.
Issa-Onilu said: “The Ogun State governor gathered some aspirants, stakeholders and said clearly, ‘there won’t be primaries’ and right there he pointed at who the next governor would be; this one, you are the next senator, House of Reps etc and himself the next senatorial candidate and he dished out these positions.”
‘Even if they have accepted those people, it is against the procedure, especially for a governor to openly say a thing like that. It was clearly stated that the party gave two options, which is the direct and indirect primaries, and you are to have stakeholders’ meetings where majority are to decide.
“In the case of Ogun, after they tried to handpick who will be what, they sent a letter that they had agreed on direct primary.
“On the day they all came for screening, including the governor, suddenly they left other aspirants and returned to Abeokuta, gathered some people and sent back to the NWC that they wanted indirect primary and the other aspirants said we were all here together, that they didn’t know when this change was made.
“Meanwhile, someone had gone to court and the court had banned the state exco from anything to do with the party. But we all saw on national TV where the governor and the State Exco, actually conducted their own primary and the process threw up the governor’s preferred candidate and it was the SSG in Ogun State, who was reading the result and it occurred to him that he had no power to call the names. So he handed over to the chairman of the party who shouldn’t have done that.
‘The governor has done his best trying to validate the exercise. The first thing he did was to start saying things that made it look like something wrong has happened when nothing of such has happened.
“Secondly, he took certain monarchs, some traditional rulers from Ogun State to come and meet the President, I am surprised because someone like him should have understood the nature of the President we have, that no matter how close you are to him, he will listen to you, but he will ask for the road to be followed.
‘So, the problem he has is that he was looking for who to blame, and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Aremo Segun Osoba readily came under attack and he blamed them for that. The question to ask is, whether they were the one who gave directive to him to organise his own primaries or they were the one who instructed him not to participate in the primaries or his candidate not to participate in primaries the party organised.”
The party said Okechukwu failed to secure the senatorial ticket from Enugu State and decided to accuse the nattional chairman of nepotism.
“Okechukwu is a highly respected member of the party and a very senior member. But you can also understand that it is not about him and the party, but about him picking the senatorial ticket of his constituency and that is about ambition. When that does not happen, you don’t expect him not to cry; he has the right to ventilate his anger and it is for the party to also listen to him.
“He may have gone overboard in making all sort of ill-accusations. But you also have to understand his present situation. He lost out. If that same process had favoured him, he will be in his office, in an aircondition atmosphere, drinking coffee and laughing at whoever is complaining. But it didn’t work for him, so you dont expect him not to complain and there must be someone to blame in such a situation. So, he has picked on the chairman unfortunately.”
On Kaduna Central Senate seat, the party explained that much as it tried to protect “our legislators, the other people could not understand and accept that”. The initial effort of the party did not get the blessing of other people in that area who are also entitled to bid for positions. The primaries were eventually conducted, Senator Shehu Sani opted out, he relied on the earlier decision.
“At the end of the day, no matter what plan you have, even though you are acting on expedience, rule of law, democracy will prevail. It was democracy that prevailed in Kaduna.”
For Imo State the APC said it would rely on the outcome of the cases in court at the time of submission of the list of governorship candidates on November 2. “The position of the party is that whatever court judgment, good or bad, we must comply with it. We will only decide who will be APC’s governorship candidate for Imo State by November 2nd.”
The party said its Legal Department was studying the Supreme Court ruling on Rivers State to enable it take its decision.
On Zamfara State, the APC said it had submitted names of its National Assembly candidates adding that it was left for INEC to accept or reject them, but added that “INEC cannot disqualify candidates. We all know that.”