The Road to 2019: Flashpoints to Watch (VI)


Nearly all the political parties, the two major ones especially, are still sprawling in the post-primary election mess, writes Olawale Olaleye

With a recalcitrant and determined Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which made good its resolve not to extend deadline for the submission of lists of candidates by political parties for the presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for the first quarter of next year, the result of sticking to deadline has unsettled many of the parties that didn’t prepare for the worst.

Thus, at deadline, only 84 political parties had submitted their rather untidy lists as confirmed by INEC at the International Conference Center (ICC), Abuja, venue of the collection exercise.

Plagued by confounding disputes as a result of its primaries, the All Progressives Congress (APC) also seized the advantage of deadline to allot tickets to whomever it pleases in the states, including the heavily controversial Zamfara and Ogun States. Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was not left out either.

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Other parties that made it to the finishing line included the Zenith Labour Party (ZLT), Yes Solidarity Electorate (YES), African Democratic Congress (ADC) and Social Democratic Party (SDP).

Although INEC had maintained that there would not be any extension to the deadline, the delay in the submission was said to be because some other parties were equally waiting to reap from the fallout of the primaries by major parties. But with what has happened, some of the other parties are already stressing the need to extend the number of days for submission since the number of political parties had increased to 91.

But so far, below is the state of affairs in some of the states following the INEC deadline and the treatment meted out by the leadership of the parties to some of the aspirants.


Not Yet Uhuru for Ambode

Typical of Lagos, which always throws up peculiar intrigues, the last may not have been heard of some of the conspiracies that characterised the primary elections in the state. If anyone had thought that those up against Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had relaxed their nerves and would be willing to look forward to the future, such a person might be naïve after all.

The latest on Lagos update is that there is an impeachment move against the governor by all those who came together to deny him his re-election ticket, led by their ‘indefatigable leader’, Bola Tinubu. They are accusing him of planning to play the spoiler, because he has everything at his disposal. They claim he won’t fund the election of their candidate, babajide Sanwo-Olu and that he is clandestinely speaking to the opposition.

It is therefore expected that in the days ahead, some interesting high wire politics would come down on the state’s political firmament. That is as far as the governorship bout is concerned.

On the senatorial category, it appears that in spite of announcing a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Bayo Osinowo as winner of the primary election for Lagos East senatorial district, THISDAY can confirm that the name of Senator Gbenga Ashafa is still the one upheld by the National Working Committee of the APC.

The party leadership, THISDAY learnt, has refused to recognise Osinowo, because he was not cleared by the screening committee and therefore considered his participation in the primary a waste of time that would not be accorded any recognition.

According to THISDAY sources in APC, the screening committee that disqualified Osinowo had since been dissolved, as such, no other body is empowered to undo what the committee had done except the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, which is not sitting any time soon. Therefore, any attempt to tamper with the name would amount to illegality and process abuse since the aspirant fell short of a critical prerequisite to be part of the process ab initio.

The other way out is to compel a consent letter from Ashafa, yielding to Osinowo, a development that has remained even more difficult. Although the party leadership in Lagos was said to have partly relied on Ashafa’s concession speech as indicative in the choice of who represents the zone, however, by law Ashafa is expected to write a personal letter to the NWC, admitting he yielded to him.

Unfortunately, the party has not been able to get Ashafa to do that. Besides, a majority of the NWC members were said to be angry with Lagos APC on how it managed its primaries and were not willing to switch the names to further discredit themselves. But Tinubu is said to be planning to bulldoze his way, riding on his camaraderie with the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.

In other news, wife of Tinubu, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, in preparation for the next assembly has been christened SPOT by her admirers, meaning ‘Senate President Oluremi Tinubu’. That is the new alias she cheers at whenever it is chanted. Lagos is quite setting the pace.


The Battle Isn’t Over Yet

The crisis in Ogun State over the choice of governorship candidate is far from being over. Although Governor Ibikunle Amosun of the state was said to have been met half way by the party in the allotment of slots, the governor was not going to play such balls at this time. Besides, his camp had already gone to court to secure an injunction, which forbade both the party from forwarding the name of Mr. Dapo Abiodun to INEC and also INEC from accepting it.

While some reports had it that the party’s appeal committee threw out Hon. Adekunle Akinlade’s petition against Abiodun’s nomination, sources in the governor’s camp said it was part of the lies being doled out by the Abiodun camp because they never approached any appeal panel in the first place. Therefore, with deadline which already caught up with some of the existential discontents, it is left to be seen how the Ogun impasse would be resolved, more so that there is a legal slant to the whole saga now. Abiodun too is in court.


They are Gender Insensitive Here

In Plateau State, apart from a former deputy governor of the state, Mrs. Pauline Tallen, who was also at a time minister, losing her bid to pick up a senatorial ticket, there has not been much to the situation in the state as far as the primaries are concerned.

Unfortunately, for one who had held two critical offices in the state and at the national level, more so a woman, it was shocking to the hearing of many that Tallen was denied an opportunity to represent the party at the senate. How she plans to handle this insensitivity by a chauvinist leadership is not known to no one yet.


A Fresh Battle Signals

In Kaduna State, fresh tension is expected to start building up soon. Senator Shehu Sani has finally lost his seat for the central district. Although the party’s appeal committee upheld his nomination as saved by the National Working Committee (NWC), his name was eventually not on the list submitted to INEC by the party. No thanks to Governor Nasir el-Rufai.

In its report, the appeal panel said it held that the primary conducted by the electoral panel for Kaduna was done in contempt of a court order, adding that the only aspirant cleared by the party to contest the election was Sani. Yet, his name did not make the party’s list.

Naturally, this would open up a fresh battle front in the state, now from opposing camps to Governor el-Rufai.


Tonye Cole In, Magnus Abe Out

Finally, in Rivers State, the appeal panel had dismissed the petition written against the emergence of Mr. Tonye Cole as the APC gubernatorial candidate. This meant that the ambition of Senator Magnus Abe would have to be put on hold for some really good time.

This decision regardless, it does not appear Abe would totally give up as there are insinuations in the state that he might align with the opposition to battle his own party. That, of course, is still in the realm of speculation. But as far as the Rivers matter is concerned, the jury is still out.


The Bulldozer at Work

This may not have been made official, THISDAY however learnt in the week and from a reliable source believed to be privy to some of the decisions reached by the appeal panel, that it eventually upheld the candidacy of Mr. Uche Nwosu, the son-in-law of Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha as the governorship candidate of the state.

This, if true, clearly places Okorocha against the likes of Senators Ifeanyi Ararume, Eze Madumere, Osita Izunaso and others in the APC, while at the same time, emboldening the opposition, who might secure sympathy votes from within and without. It is therefore difficult to establish that Okorocha has won this very battle, but as it seems, he is fast bulldozing his way.

Cross River

A Curious Failure

In Cross River State, speculations are rife that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Uguru Usani, might have lost out in the highly intricate struggle for the governorship ticket of the APC in Cross River State. In his place, Senator John Eno, was reported to have been picked by the appeal committee.

It does not appear the manner the decision was taken would go down well with Usani. But what can he do? No one can tell till he steps in the fray. Until then, let no Eno jubilate yet .


A Colossal Presidential Loss

One of the big time losers in the governorship race is Alhaji Mahmud Halilu Ahmed, brother to the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari. Popularly known as Modi, Ahmed had been up in arms against the incumbent governor, Mohammed Bindow over the party’s ticket. In fact, he was rumoured to have defeated the governor at some point. But the report turned out to be false eventually.

It is also believed that it was because her brother lost out in the race that the First Lady recently shaded the party leadership for the way the primaries were handled. However this is viewed, it could be likened to a major defeat for the presidency as an institution.


Battling the Name-switch Bug

The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Gombe State might be on the verge of running into some crises soon following the alleged alteration of the result of the primary election for the Billiri East State Constituency.

As a result, THISDAY learnt that Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo and the State Party Chairman, Joel Adamu Jagafa, are already at loggerheads over the winner of the election.

Honourable Rambi Ibrahim Ayala allegedly won and had the blessings of the Governor.But the State Party chairman, allegedly in connivance with the Secretary, Alhaji Buba Shanu and some other party officials, preferred Mrs. Rabi Daniel, the immediate past Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare in the party.

Thus, by deliberately standing in the way of the governor, those on the other side apparently know what they are up against and perhaps, are battle ready. This is one spectacle no one should miss.


A Taste of APC’s Bitter Pills

A member of the APC in Niger State, Alhaji Sani Musa, who allegedly won the Niger East senatorial district primary election, has headed to court to challenge his substitution with incumbent Senator David Umaru.

Umaru’s name was among those submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the APC national secretariat. But Musa said his principal had the result slip issued to him by the returning officer, Alhaji Saidu Akawu, and that it was the national secretariat that changed the wish of the people of the zone. Something interesting is also cooking in Niger. Just wait for it.

Situating the Presidential Run

With what many have concluded to be a two-horse race following the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in both the APC and the PDP, next year’s presidential race may have been settled.

But the choice of a former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi as Atiku’s running mate has begun to shape a different narrative in the body polity. Some of Obi’s people are not happy, not because he does not fit the bill but because he was considered a product of imposition by some PDP cabal.

Regardless, that has not stopped anything as the duo of Atiku and Obi have continued to steal the momentum thrust upon them by the staggering acceptability that followed Atiku’s emergence.

Again, the Buhari people are not giving up the fight either and as it appears, the next few days are going to be messy in terms of character assassination and mudslinging campaign by both camps. Watch out for the missiles!