By Laleye Dipo in Minna
The confusion over the list of the National Assembly candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Niger State has not abated going by the statements from the Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, and the three senatorial candidates.
The governor and the trio of Sani Musa, Zakari Jikantoro and Bima Enagi in separate statements in Minna Monday evening warned against the substitution of the names of those that won at the National Assembly primary election conducted in the three senatorial zones last week.
The results released by the returning officers for the zones showed that Senators David Umaru, Sabi Abdullahi and Sani lost to the trio of Musa, Jikantoro and Enagi.
Governor Bello, in a statement signed on his behalf by his Chief Press Secretary Jibrin Ndace distanced himself from the “automatic ticket for serving members of the National Assembly”, and maintained that “in resolving all issues I will work closely with the party to ensure that the choice of the people prevail”.
“The adoption of the direct primaries system in the state was aimed at providing level playing field for all aspirants, creating opportunities for participation by party members, giving a sense of belonging, deepening democracy and instituting a free and fair process.
“When we adopted direct primaries out of the three options in line with the party’s constitution, we were very sure and clear about its benefits to the overall democratic process. This was to enable the people choose candidates of their choice in an open, free and fair manner,” the governor said in the statement.
The governor therefore called on “our people to remain calm and peaceful as we will ensure that due process is followed, we will ensure that all issues are settled amicably”.
The three APC senatorial candidates, in a joint statement, said: “We’ve heard of the plans by the officials in Abuja to replace our names with those of the incumbent senators.
“We want to tell the party that doing so will elicit three things. One, it would destroy APC in Niger State. Two, it would be tantamount to stealing the people’s mandate. And finally, APC would lose elections in the state because the people whose mandates were stolen would vote against the imposed candidates by giving sympathy votes to the opposition.”
The candidates therefore advised the party leadership to “uphold the principles of democracy by submitting our names to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) because we won in a free and fair contest and have been accordingly issued with certificates of return by the state APC”.
They concluded the statement by saying: “APC must not and should not become another PDP.”