Oshiomhole Considers Govs’ Complaints over Primaries

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Adams Oshiomhole, APC National Chairman
  • Meets Kyari, perfects Buhari’s confirmation convention
  • Party struggles to meet INEC deadline on submission of candidates

ByOmololu Ogunmade and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, is considering complaints of the party’s governors over the primaries conducted to elect candidates that would fly its flags in the general elections scheduled for the first quarter of next year, THISDAY was told last night.

Details of what he intends to do to assuage the ill feelings of the governors, however, are hazy but he clearly does not have the luxury of time as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has made it clear that the Sunday deadline for the conduct of primaries for all elective offices is sacrosanct.

Nine APC governors had stormed the Presidential Villa, Abuja yesterday for a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari over a wide range of controversial primaries held in their states.

The meeting of the governors had coincided with the one with the Oshiomhole and the Chief of Staff to the President, Alhaji Abba Kyari, over the national convention being convened tomorrow for the purpose of ratifying the election of Buhari as the presidential flag bearer of the party in the 2019 general elections.

The governors said they were bothered by the volume of crises, which engulfed their states over the conduct of the primaries and therefore came to express their plights to the president with a view to finding solutions to the crises.

The nine governors who met with the president behind closed-doors were: Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari; Chairman of APC Governors’ Forum and Governor of Imo State, Chief Rochas Okorocha; Senator Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State; Senator Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State; and Alhaji Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State.

Also in the meeting were Alhaji Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State; Alhaji Sani Bello of Niger State; Mr. Simon Lalong of Plateau State, and Chief Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, of Ondo State.

A similar meeting was held on Wednesday, when Akeredolu and his counterpart in Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, met with the president behind closed-doors.

In some of the states such as Imo and Ogun, among others, parallel primaries were held in which the governors’ candidates lost out.

Hence, in their desperate quest to redeem their reputation and swing victory in their favour by all means, the governors are in dire need of the president’s intervention.

In Ogun State for instance, Mr. Dapo Abiodun won the governorship primaries conducted and endorsed by the electoral committee set up by the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC for the purpose.

The output of the primaries showed that Abiodun polled over 102,000 votes to win the election by landslide, while Amosun’s anointed candidate, Mr. Adekunle Akinlade, scored a paltry over 23,000.

A parallel congress was also held in the state by Amosun’s camp in which Akinlade was then declared winner with 9,000 votes.

However, in Imo State, before the NWC nullified the governorship primaries and sacked the electoral panel, Okorocha’s son-in-law, Mr. Uche Nwosu, came in distant seventh position, which underscored the level of his unpopularity.

Answering questions from journalists after the meeting, Okorocha said they had come to meet with the president to jointly review the crises, which accompanied the primaries in various states with the aim of proffering solutions to them.

Claiming that APC believed in justice, Okorocha said their request was only one – that every willing aspirant should be allowed to participate in the primaries and the right thing should be done.

He said, “We came to review the various crises characterising our primaries especially the APC with a view to finding solution.

“So, we are looking for a way out in this regard. We are going to find solution. Our party believes in justice, equity and fairness. We are requesting that let the right thing be done and let everyone contest the elections.”

THISDAY learnt that the president after listening to the governors’ complaints asked them to go and meet the national chairman for the resolution of the issues raised.

As at yesterday, APC was yet to conclude primary elections for legislative seats and is still having issues with the conduct  of governorship primary elections in at least four states, Imo, Zamfara, Ogun, Rivers and Cross River states.

In compliance with Buhari’s directive, Oshiomhole yesterday met with Kyari, Okorocha, Amosun, Yari and Bagudu in an effort to fix the issues relating to party primaries held across the country.

Other APC governors that were at the meeting with Oshiomhole were Akeredolu, Bello, Tanko Al-Makura and former Ogun State governor, Chief Segun Osoba.

Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Okorocha said the governors came to meet the APC chairman to try to proffer solutions to problems associated with the primary elections in some of the states.

Okorocha who acknowledged that the party was facing serious challenges to try and beat the Sunday deadline for submission of its candidates to INEC, however, assured the party’s members that the meeting had resolved the issues.

He said one thing that was working for APC was the love many of the members had for the president and the fact that most of them were ready to make personal sacrifices to ensure that he was re-elected.

On the botched Imo governorship primaries, Okorocha said what happened in Imo State had introduced a new dimension of fraud in the electoral process.

According to him, “This is something we cannot laugh at or be associated with. The gentleman, (Ahmed Gulak) absconded, disappeared and went to Abuja to announce results when the primary election was supposed to take place the following day, so that was what happened. And he left the rest members of the committee who decided to stay back and complete their duty.”

Okorocha said Oshiomhole was considering whether to accept the result of the primary conducted without committee chairman or to cancel it and conduct a fresh one.

On his part, Amosun said the governors came to see Oshiomhole on the instruction of Buhari to see how to resolve lingering issues in the party ahead of tomorrow’s national convention.

“In all of this we will have to appreciate Mr. President. You will realise that earlier today, some of us governors (APC) met with him and that is the result you are seeing here. And we are now here to see the national chairman on others and the instruction of Mr. President. Just with a view to see that we resolve all lingering issues amicably,” he said.

Both Akinlade, the perceived candidate of the Ogun State governor, and oil magnate, Abiodun, believed to have the backing of Osoba are slugging it out to pick the ticket of the party.

Yari also told journalists that their mission was to resolve issues on the outstanding primary elections and to strategize on how to unite ahead of the 2019 general elections.

He said what had become of concern to leaders of the party was how to conclude primary elections and be able to beat the INEC deadline, adding that the party chairman and the NWC will have to meet to address the challenge.

“We are concerned, if we are having candidates anywhere by October 7th; that automatically means we are not fielding candidates for those positions. It means if we don’t do primaries before on the 7th in those areas then we might not have any candidate for the general elections in 2019. Time is our number one enemy. We are working hard and faster to ensure that we got this things done so that we can be able to come for the convention on Saturday,” he said.

The governor said that apart from the botched governorship primary election, the party still had the Senate, House of Representatives, and State Houses of Assembly to do on Friday, unfailingly.