From Chuks Okocha in Abuja
•For Kogi primary, sale of form begins Monday
Governors of Ada-mawa, Bayelsa, Cross River and Sokoto states hitherto beli-eved to be standing as candidates of their party, the Peoples Democratic Party, for the rescheduled gubernatorial elections in their states have more hurdles to cross after all.
It emerged yesterday that they are to face PDP fresh primaries to pick candidates for the elections holding in the affected states at various times between now and 2012.
The Court of Appeal had postponed the last April gubernatorial election in five states saying the tenure of Governors Ibrahim Idris (Kogi), Admiral Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Senator Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto) was yet to lapse.
Following the Court of Appeal judgment, the Independent National Electoral Commission, had fixed fresh governorship polls in Kogi for December 3, 2011; Adamawa - January 4, 2012; Bayelsa - February 11, 2012; Sokoto - March 10, 2012 and Cross River - April 14, 2012.
It also fixed the governorship election in Edo for July 14, 2012.
Arising from a meeting with all the 37 governorship aspirants in Kogi, the PDP National Working Committee ordered fresh governorship primary election in the state.
Also, the National Organizing Secretary of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, said on the strength of that there would be fresh governorship primaries in all the states where the election was postponed because the tenure of the governors had not lapsed.
Yesterday, after listening to the presentation of the governorship aspirants in Kogi, the PDP NWC members led by Acting National Chairman, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, ruled that in the overall interest of fair play and justice there should be fresh governorship primary in the state to determine the governorship candidate of the party.
The issue of whether there would be fresh primary election in the state had been contentious for some time now.
Former Executive Director of Afribank Plc, Alhaji Jibrin Isah Echocho who won the January governorship primary before the election was postponed had insisted that his candidature subsists for the new poll holding on December 3 while other aspirants led by his main rival, Alhaji Abdulrasaq Kutepa, argued that since the election could not hold, his ticket had lapsed.
The various parties contesting the fresh poll in Kogi have up till September 28, 2011 to forward their candidates to INEC.
PDP National Organising Secretary, Secondus, said the sale of nomination forms for the primary election would begin next week.
It was gathered that before the party ordered fresh governorship primary, the incumbent governor of the state, Idris, suddenly changed his position from standing by Jibrin’s candidature to demand for a fresh primary election.
As Plan B, the governor is now alleged to be rooting for the state’s Commissioner for Special Duties, Prof. Aaron Baba, as his new candidate.
A source close to the governor told journalists after the meeting that Idris’ decision to come up with a Plan B was due to the persistent opposition of other governorship aspirants to Isah’s candidature.
Though PDP has not said whether or not it would accept fresh nominations from aspirants that did not take part in the January primary election in the state, it however said all the aspirants must pay fresh nomination fees.
Former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshall Isaac Alfa, told newsmen at the PDP national secretariat that the decision approving fresh primary in the state was a decision of the party and should be respected by all.
“If you belong to a group and a decision is taken, because you are a member of the group, it is expected of you to obey that decision,” he said.
The Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Abdullahi Bello, who also said the decision was a party decision, however, appealed that those that paid nomination fees in the past should not be made to pay fresh fees.
But a member of the assembly, Hon. Abdullahi Dollars, said the party would regret the decision for a fresh primary.
He said: “It is a stupid decision that PDP may live to regret”.
One of the aspirants, Alhaji Raji Ogirima, said the decision would give all aspirants a level-playing ground.
The governorship aspirants at the meeting with PDP NWC included the incumbent deputy governor of the state, Philip Salawu, Isah, Kutepa, former Speaker of the state legislative house Clarence Olafemi, Simon Maha, Yakubu Mohammed, Olusola Akanmode, S. T. Shuaibu, Senator Nicholas Ugbane, Col. Bello Fadile, Senator Alex Kadiri, Admiral Attamodi (rtd), Dr. Jacob Abdullahi and Raji Ogirima.
Meanwhile, Baraje has formally announced that there would be fresh primaries in Kogi. He said the option was in consonance with due process, adding that it would deepen internal democracy in the Party.
He said the decision was a fallout of series of consultations by the leadership of the party in the past weeks.