APC Battles to Save Candidates List for Rivers

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…Party soft-pedals on restructuring

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The All Progressives Congress (APC) is currently under pressure over the status of its candidates submitted for 2019 general elections in Rivers State.

The legal challenges facing the party is coming just as it is becoming evident that the APC may have turned its attention off the promise it made to forward the recommendations of its committee on True Federalism to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Following the judgment of the Supreme Court which annulled all the congresses held in the state, the leadership of the party sacked the party executives that emerged from the voided congresses saying it would conduct fresh congresses on a date to be announced later.

However, THISDAY learnt that the candidates who emerged from the recent primary elections in the state, especially the governorship candidate, Tonye Cole, and others who won their tickets from the indirect primary elections patronised by factional state executive loyal to the Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, are yet to know their fate.

They are yet to come to terms with the implications of Supreme Court judgment and the subsequent decision by the party to cancel the congresses.

The National Publicity Secretary of APC, Mallam Lanre Isa-Onilu, said yesterday that the national leadership of party is currently reviewing the situation, adding that it will make public its decision soon.

The party spokesman who responded through telephone, said: “Our legal department will interpret that aspect of the Supreme Court judgment.”

On whether this will affect the list of candidates submitted by the party to INEC especially as the deadline for submission of candidates has expired, Isa-Onilu said: “As far as we are concerned, we are going to conduct fresh congresses for Rivers State, and other issues are going to be sorted out by our legal department and our members will be duly informed.”

However, another reliable source has said the party may be considering substitution as an option to save it from losing the chance of participating in the 2019 general election in the state.

Meanwhile, as preparations for 2019 electioneering takes centre stage, the ruling party seems to have deprioritised action on recommendations of its committee on restructuring.

THISDAY gathered from highly reliable source that the new party leadership feels that the report on restructuring is not on its priority list.

The immediate past National Working Committee (NWC) of APC led by Chief John Odigie Oyegun had set up the committee on True Federalism chaired by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, to articulate the party’s position on restructuring.

The party in a bid to starve off criticism mounted by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), promised to submit recommendations of the restructuring panel to President Muhammadu Buhari for possible legislative action.

Before the exit of the Oyegun-led NWC, APC had met and approved the recommendations of the restructuring committee.

They said it would go ahead to table the document before President Buhari so that he can present it to the National Assembly.

In its recommendations, the APC committee on True Federalism had proposed the devolution of powers to the federating units and some measure of resource control.

It also recommended state police to be operated alongside the federal police with each force having its own defined areas of authority.

The committee recommended that certain items, about 68 of them, be taken off the current exclusive legislative list and transferred to the concurrent list.

Some of the items include prisons, labour matters and registration of business names.

The El-Rufai committee had also recommended fiscal federalism, saying mines and minerals, oilfields and mining, geological surveys and natural gas should be included the in concurrent list.