- Weighs options in troubled states
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Concerned that the crises generated by the primaries for the selection of candidates for next year’s general election might jeopardise the chances of the party in some states, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, is making strenuous efforts to reconcile aggrieved members, particularly governors, whose interest have been injured in the process.
Some governors have been up in arms against the national chairman because their preferred candidates lost out, rallying their colleagues to move for his removal.
Leading the charge against Oshiomhole are Governors Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN (Ondo), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara) and Rochas Okorocha (Imo).
The governors, whose aspirations had been thwarted by Oshiomhole’s stubborn adherence to the party’s guidelines on the primaries process had raked dust, sponsoring public demonstrations and approaching President Muhammadu Buhari to swing the tide in their favour.
Although they failed to get Buhari, who bluntly told them that it was a party affair, which could only be resolved with the help of the chairman, Oshiomhole, party sources told THISDAY did not think he should take undue advantage of the favourable presidential disposition, but rather he should seek reconciliation.
To this end, Oshiomhole, who party sources said was in the United States and would return at the weekend, has decided to set up a reconciliation committee that would bring all the aggrieved party chieftains to the table.
“His idea is that whilst he is aware that the governors opposed to him are not more than 4 out of 21, he thinks it is the party that would lose out if the crisis persists without a resolution,” a source said.
“He is looking at a situation in which consensus could be reached fast enough to beat INEC’s deadline for substitution of candidates,” he said.
THISDAY further gathered that the APC national chairman had embarked on consultations, aimed at stemming the revolt by some of the aggrieved state governors, before he left for the US.
The party source said the national chairman was not happy with the attacks on him in the media being allegedly sponsored by some of the governors who failed to secure tickets for their anointed aspirants.
The source who did not want his name mentioned due to the sensitive nature of the issues, identified three state governors, Amosun, Akeredolu and Okorocha as being the arrow heads in the campaign to rubbish Oshiomhole.
He said that the chairman had reached out to some leaders of the party, including former Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu and other friendly governors to help mediate with the affected governors.
The party source told THISDAY that as a follow-up to the directive to the party leadership to try and resolve all primary election disputes, the party is planning to set up a reconciliation committee next week.
Speaking on the reasons for the face-off, the source said the governor of Imo State had wanted the chairman to railroad the candidacy of his son-in-law in next governorship election.
“Okorocha wants to install his son-in-law and he want to dethrone a sitting senator. We have two senators there which the party is protecting for the next National Assembly session.
“But he kept insisting on his personal interest. The president doesn’t want the governor to impose his son-in-law on the party in Imo State to avoid losing the state. It is not just about Oshiomhole, all these decisions that he was being attacked are the directives of the president.”
In the case of the Ogun State, the source said that the man who emerged victorious, Dapo Abiodun, is the candidate of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.
He said that governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun who is pursuing his senatorial aspiration also wanted to dictate who succeeds him in office, a situation that has brought him in conflict with other stakeholders.
He said the same scenario replicated itself in Zamfara State where the governor, Abdulaziz Yari is vehement on nominating virtually all the candidates of the party including the governorship candidate.
According to the source, it is only the three governors that have been attacking Oshiomhole and pushing the erroneous narratives that he is at loggerheads with APC governors.
Meanwhile, the National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Isa-Onilu, has dismissed insinuation that the party may have short changed aspirants during the primaries, saying that APC did not circumvent any rule.
Lanre said: “Every step the party has taken was guided by the rules. You know that in politics just as in all human affairs when something favours somebody, it may have disfavoured another person.”
The Spokesman also explained the issues that led to the current face-off between the leadership of the party and some governors.
On the primary election crisis in Ogun State, Isa-Onilu said the governor,
Ibikunle Amosun did what was regarded as self-help by organising an illegal primary election, saying there is no provision for self-help in the party’s constitution.
According to the spokesman, the governor and the state executive of the APC ignored a valid court order and went ahead to hold their primary election and pronounced their favoured candidate the winner.
“Eventually the NWC panel that was constituted to conduct the primary went to Abeokuta and did the primary. The governor’s preferred candidate chose not to participate in that exercise. So the party stands by the result of that primary it conducted in Ogun State,” he said.
Speaking in an interview with journalists in Abuja, the National Publicity Secretary of APC, said that the party has not circumvented its rules in any of the primary elections.
On the state of affairs with the party’s choice of candidate for the Imo State governorship race, Isa-Onilu said the party has resolved to wait for the court verdict.
“The issue of submission of governorship candidates to INEC falls due on November 2, so we haven’t reached the deadline for that,” he said.
Also speaking on the controversy over submission of the Zamfara APC candidates list, the party spokesman insisted that the ruling party forwarded its list to INEC but that it is left for the commission to either receive them or not.
He also said that APC was yet to take a position on the implication of the Supreme Court’s judgment on Rivers State, adding that “we have a legal department and they will look into it and do what is right on it. The party will come out clearly on its position after studying the judgment.”