We’ll Reclaim Kwara from Saraki, Vows Oshiomhole

We’ll Reclaim Kwara from Saraki, Vows Oshiomhole
  • Saraki: you’re day-dreaming, you will struggle to keep Edo
  • APC aspirants protest high cost of nomination forms, threaten defection

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, has vowed that the party will reclaim Kwara State from the grip of Senate President Bukola Saraki at the forthcoming general election. Oshiomhole said this in Abuja during a meeting with APC stakeholders from Kwara State led by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. He directed leaders of the party to ensure the conclusion of the election of executives from the ward to the state levels this weekend.

Oshiomhole said his earlier position that Saraki planned to destroy APC because of his inordinate ambition was vindicated by the senate president’s recent declaration of his presidential ambition on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

But Saraki, who recently defected from APC to PDP, issued a quick response through his Senior Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Yusuf Olaniyonu, mocking the claims of the APC national chairman. Olaniyonu told THISDAY yesterday by text that Kwara people were too sophisticated to be dictated to by outsiders.

In a related development, THISDAY learnt that ahead of the planned commencement of the sale of APC’s expression of interest and nomination forms tomorrow, some members seeking the party’s ticket for the 2019 general election were protesting what they called the exorbitant cost of nomination forms, and threatening to leave the party if the price was not slashed. A reliable party source told THISDAY that the party would have commenced the sale of forms to aspirants on Friday but for the complaints about the cost of the forms.

Oshiomhole’s assertions were contained in a statement yesterday by his chief press secretary, Mr. Simon Ebegbulem. The statement quoted the APC national chairman as saying that reclaiming Kwara from Saraki’s domination “is a task that must be accomplished.”

Addressing the Kwara delegation, Oshiomhole said, “When I was saying that all these defections is not about APC but the personal ambition of these people, they took hired writers to say I was being too hard. But Saraki’s declaration has vindicated me. Thank God, he has moved on because his inordinate ambition was almost destroying our party, but he has failed.

“These are not principled politicians but bread and butter politicians who can go extra miles to pursue their selfish ambition and never think about the well-being of Nigerians.”

He advised APC members in Kwara State to close ranks and work towards ending the reign of Saraki in Kwara politics as the country head towards 2019.

In a swift reaction, however, the senate president described Oshiomhole’s statement as mere wishful thinking. Saraki’s senior special adviser on media stated regarding Oshiomhole’s claims, “He can continue to day-dream about Kwara. We assure him that he will have so many states to struggle to keep in 2019, including Edo State, that Kwara will be the least of his concerns. This man who talks more than he thinks will soon find out that Kwara people are too sophisticated to be dictated to by outsiders.”

Speaking on efforts to reposition the Kwara State chapter of APC, Oshiomhole said he had formed a committee made up of two deputy national chairmen to work with the National Organising Secretary and the Vice Chairman (North-central) to put in place new party executives in the state.

The statement quoted him as saying, “The last time I spoke with the minister he told me we have accomplished 80 or 85 per cent, that for me is not good enough because we don’t have more time. So this week, we must achieve hundred per cent by whatever means. If you can’t do it, we have to help you get it done.

“I am very impressed with the enthusiasm of the people of Kwara State. They are experiencing a new dawn, a new sense of freedom and a sense of ownership of the APC where we are trying to do bottom up rather than top down.

“Where we have politics of inclusion, no godfather, everybody matters. Now I superintended over the liquidation of godfathers in Edo state, now I will not be here and allow and support the emergence of a new godfather.

“When we vanquished the godfathers we created a level playing field for equal opportunity to participate and that is what I think we have achieved so far and we need to take full advantage of that to do what needs to be done for us to get on with the job of organising, mobilising. I believe all of us, the APC leadership, we are anxious to come to Kwara State to interface with the great people of Kwara State, beyond llorin, to other major cities in Kwara.

“Let them know and carry the message of change and use the broom to sweep away the past, including the thorn umbrella. The task of sweeping away the past and rebuilding a new Kwara is a task that must be done. That should give you the energy, the incentive and the appropriate spirit to work together so that victory will be ours, not for our own good but for the good of the great people of Kwara State who have been oppressed for such a long, long time. Like they say, there can be many days for the thief, one day for the owner.”

Meanwhile, a source in APC said in keeping with the directive of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), Oshiomhole and members of the National Working Committee (NWC) will be meeting to review the cost of the nomination forms with a view to stemming the agitation. Aspirants, who had brought their complaints before the just concluded NEC meeting, said they were forming a bloc to demand immediate review of the cost of nomination forms.

One of the aspirants, who did not want his name mentioned, told THISDAY yesterday that they would jointly articulate a position on a new cost template to be presented to the NWC for consideration. Another demand the aspirants made was the adoption of only direct primary election for all elective positions.

The aggrieved aspirants said they were ready to leave APC if their demands were not satisfactorily addressed. To underscore their protest, it was learnt that an aspirant sent out text messages early Saturday to other contenders to convene at Agura Hotel in Abuja at 12 noon.

The SMS read, “As a concerned aspirant, I invite you, my fellow aspirants, on the platform of our great party, the APC, to a World Press Conference to demand immediate slash of the high cost of nomination forms, which is even higher than the corrupt PDP, which was in power for 16 years.

“This is a direct attack on Mr. President and the APC credibility.

“We demand direct primaries for all elections of our great party, the APC, at all levels. If you are not popular to win in a direct primary, you are not qualified to participate in the general elections.”

In the proposal presented by the APC leadership to the NEC meeting last Thursday, the party sought approval to fix fees for nomination forms for House of Assembly at N1.1 million, House Representatives at N3.8 million, Senate at N8.5 million, governorship at N22.5 million, and presidency at N55 million.

Although the NEC meeting did not approve the charges, it mandated the NWC to review the fees and go on with the sale of nomination forms without seeking further approval from NEC.

But the aggrieved aspirants said they had compared the charges with other parties and that it was ahead of what the opposition parties were collecting. They gave the example of the PDP, which fixed the cost of nomination forms for House of Assembly at N600,000, House Representatives at N1.5 million, Senate at N3.5 million, governorship at N6 million, and president at N12 million.

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