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Friday, 5 October 2018

APC PRIMARIES CRISIS: 9 GOVERNORS BATTLE OSHIOMHOLE, TAKE CASE TO ASO ROCK

9 govs battle Oshiomhole, take case to Aso Rock
ABUJA
—No lesss than nine  governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, stormed the Presidential Villa, Abuja to protest alleged attempts by the party’s national leadership to undermine the stability of the party in their respective states.


The governors apparently took their case to President Muhammadu Buhari as pressure on the APC  mounted, underpinned by time, as it must conclude all issues pertaining to primaries to select candidates for political offices by October 7.

The fuming governors, it was gathered, specifically accused the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, of undermining them by protecting some senators who the governors had prepared for the axe.
Chairman of the APC Governors Forum and Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, said the ongoing primaries, especially as they pertained to his state, had introduced a fresh dimension to electoral fraud in the country.
The governors’ angst, it was gathered, followed permutations by the party’s leadership to hedge against an eventual control of the National Assembly by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, by giving automatic tickets to some senators.
Battle for tickets
However, among the senators being rewarded with automatic tickets were senators in direct combat with either their governors or their constituents.
Senator Shehu Sani, APC, Kaduna; Senate spokesman Shabi Abdullahi, Niger; Senator Gbenga Ashafa, Lagos; Hope Uzodinma, Imo and Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu, Imo North and all three senators from Ondo State were among the more prominent senators that have been at odds with their governors.

Besides, Vanguard gathered that a number of the second term governors, including Governor Okorocha (Imo), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), among others with interest in the Senate, also see the present set of senators as barriers to their legislative ascendancy.
The Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee, NWC, had in its bid to protect the party’s numerical strength in the Senate,  given a number of the senators automatic flags by causing the automatic disqualification of their challengers leaving them to run home with the tickets.
In Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Sani, who had been at odds with Governor Nasir El-Rufai, was according to projections by the governor’s camp, set to be ousted by the governor’s political adviser, Uba Sani.
However, Uba Sani was disqualified by the NWC, setting the stage for an automatic ticket for Shehu Sani.
Oshiomhole’s game plan
“What the governors don’t understand is that we need these senators for the corporate interest of the party as against the individual interest of the governors. You can imagine what will happen when the National Assembly resumes, and Saraki is able to mobilise the senators to come to his side,” a high-level party official disclosed yesterday.

“Oshiomhole is trying to protect the president through retaining the National Assembly members, but the governors have their own interests, and the truth is that they are demonising the chairman before the president.”
“In fact, you know Oshiomhole was himself a governor, and he knows the pressures that they are facing but he is advocating a middle course, but the governors don’t want to yield,” the party official said.
Earlier yesterday, the nine governors stormed the Presidential Villa where they met with the president over their issues with the party. A source privy to the development said they  complained to the president about Oshiomhole.
Why we met  Buhari  — APC govs
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting that lasted for about two hours, Chairman of the APC Governors Forum and  Okorocha said their meeting with the President was to review the various crises in the party as a result of the on-going party primaries.
Governor Okorocha, who was flanked by his colleagues, said they were insisting that everyone should be allowed to contest instead of the automatic tickets given to some of the senators.
“We came to review the various crises characterizing our primaries  with a view to finding a solution. So, we are looking for a way out in this regard. We are going to find a solution; our party believes in justice, equity and fairness.
“We are requesting that the right thing be done and let everyone contest the elections.”
Okorocha was flanked by Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, Tanko Al-Makura of Nassarawa State, Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, Sani Bello of Niger State, Simon Lalong of Plateau State and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State.
It was gathered that the governors were also unhappy with the lot of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State as they felt that the NWC was unnecessarily hard on him.
Following the visit to the villa, Vanguard gathered that the governors proceeded in three vehicles to the private office of Comrade Oshiomhole in the Aso Drive area of Abuja, where they met the president’s Chief of Staff, Alhaji Abba Kyari, who acted as his peace envoy, for further negotiations.
Following the talks, the governors came out expressing optimism that the problem was being addressed.

Race against time
They, however, let it out that the party was pressed for time as the deadline for the conclusion of all party primaries for the selection of candidates as set by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC is this Sunday.
Remarkably, at press time, yesterday, the party was yet to produce governorship and legislative candidates in some states. States affected include Imo, Edo, Zamfara, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Abuja, and Niger.
Speaking at the end of the meeting with Oshiomhole, Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Governor Yari of Zamfara State said it was crunch time for the leadership of the party which he said must make an urgent decision on its candidates before the deadline.
“As you can see some colleagues and others are having issues raNging from the Senate, House of Representatives and state houses of assembly which we discussed as a family.
“The chairman said they are going to have an NWC meeting and at the same time we are concerned if we do not have candidates anywhere by October 7, that automatically means we are not fielding candidates for the positions.
“We are working hard and faster to ensure that we get these things done so that we can come for the convention on Saturday. For instance, I am saying that apart from the governorship election we had yesterday, we have not done the Senate, Reps, and state houses of assembly which must all be concluded today and tomorrow so we can come for the national convention on Saturday and Sunday.
“12am on Monday is the last day of any primary to be conducted by any  party in Nigeria. Any primary done after that is null and void, and is against the Electoral Act,” he said.
Governor Yari is himself aiming to take over the Senate seat held for the last three terms by Senator Ahmad Sani (Yeriman Bakura).
The challenges, by Okorocha
Governor Okorocha on his part admitted that the meeting had its rough edges.
He said: “APC does have some few challenges in some few states, and we have come to soften the rough edges so we can rebuild unity in the party and how we can ensure that aggrieved persons are settled within the primaries. So, that is what brought us here. Majorly the state where there are issues, we have come here to look at what to do. And of course, you know our party believes in fairness, justice, and equity.
“What happened in Imo state has introduced a new dimension to fraud in the electoral process which we call the ‘Gulakin Internal Democracy.’ So, it is rather something we can laugh at and anything to be associated with because the gentleman absconded leaving his hotel room and disappeared rushing to Abuja without result. The election was supposed to take place the following day, and that was what happened. And he left behind all his members, eight, plus the secretary who now decided to stay back and do the rest of their duties.”
Governor Amosun also said the crisis in the party was expected as everyone would want to belong to a winning party where aspirations could have a meaning.
Following the meeting between the governors and Oshiomhole, Amosun returned to the Presidential Villa, where he met privately with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The vice-president is from Amosun’s Ogun State.
We are in a situation room — Oshiomhole
Meanwhile, speaking last night after the meeting with the governors, Oshiomhole warned all party activists that he would not sacrifice his determination to deepen internal democracy in the party for the selfish desires of any particular individual.
He read the riot act to political actors in the FCT chapter of the party who on Wednesday, stormed the party secretariat to protest perceived injustice.
Speaking of his meeting with the governors, he said: “We met with various leaders, whoever has challenges. This is like the political clinic. We are in a situation room and it is normal that when you are carrying out a democratic exercise across the 36 states and the FCT, you are bound to have some challenges.
“We are trying to clean up our party internal democracy and eliminate corruption as much as we can from the process and empower our party members to have a say and a decisive voice on who represents them or who will fly the flag of the party. FCT is the capital of Nigeria. If we cannot do transparent election in FCT, then for me, it will be a sad day.
“We are trying to encourage democracy and if they don’t want democracy, they will have to look for ways of living outside the democratic space. The APC is determined to enforce all the rules of democracy in the FCT.”
Oshiomhole also spoke on the botched primary in Zamfara, saying reports available to him suggested that the process was “botched, materials were snatched and results taken to unauthorized places.
“The panel we sent there has come to explain in unison what transpired. It is unfortunate that many people choose to opt for violence. But I am happy that the panel refused to compromise and stood their grounds even in the face of intimidation.
“We are going to conduct free, fair primary in Zamfara. This process has to be done according to the rules and regulations of the APC and that means it will be done by the electoral body and not by the state government or agents of the state government.


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