The post-primary crises rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are far from being over. Some aggrieved members are ventilating their anger through street protests. Others are warning the party’s leadership on the consequences of substituting candidates. ONYEDI OJIABOR and TONY AKOWE report the development.
THE post-primary election crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is not over yet. Unfolding developments in some stated yesterday showed that members of the party were still nursing grievances against the party.
In Zamfara, some aggrieved members stormed the party’s state secretariat to the demand the removal of Adams Oshiomhole as the APC National Chairman.
Some stakeholders in Imo State warned the party leadership against substituting some of the candidates in the name of automatic tickets. They said that automatic ticket is recognised neither by the party’s constitution nor by the Electoral Act.
A source also narrated how the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) frustrated efforts spearheaded by Oshiomhole to ensure a return ticket to Kaduna Central Senator Shehu Musa.
Call for Oshiomhole’s
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Kabiru Garba Marafa, accused Governor Abdulaziz of sponsoring the protest in Gusau, Zamfara State capital, calling for Oshiomhole’s was.
Marafa, s frontline governorship contender in Zamfara, said that a number of sponsored protesters stormed Gusau, the state capital yesterday calling for the immediate removal of Oshiomhole over his respect for the rule of law in the conduct of party primaries.
The Zamfara Central senator in a statement he issued in Abuja, noted the protesters were “mobilised by the State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari following his inability to bend rules to impose candidates who are his cronies on the party in the state.”
The ranking senator who is also as” leading governorship aspirant of the APC in Zamfara State,” said that Yari should be the one to be sacked and not Oshiomhole.”
He described the APC national chairman as “a law abiding leader.”
Marafa went on: “Yari and his co-travellers are wrong and Comrade Oshiomhole is right as far as the issues in the party are concerned.”
The senator, who recalled the genesis of the party crisis in Zamfara, insisted that “primaries were not conducted in Zamfara State and there was no consensus either!”
He said: “There was a court order that says all parties should not take any step that will render useless the litigation before it. The party under the able leadership of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole respected the order and said all parties in the crisis should hands off. The party and its leadership should be commended for respecting the law, a foundation upon which APC was built.
“Two, when the committee of the NWC came to conduct the primary in Zamfara, violent orchestrated by people suspected to be supporters of the governor, erupted.
The committee was forced to cancel the election. This is also a valid thing. The position taken by the governor that primaries should be conducted by the executives in his camp was irresponsible, contemptuous and height of lawlessness.
“The crux of the matter is that there was no election and there was no consensus in Zamfara. So, we are commending Comrade Oshiomhole and INEC for respecting the court order.”
Marafa said the millions of naira spent by Yari to allegedly organise the protest should have been channelled towards securing the release of 17 persons, including two young girls kidnapped in Dauran, Jangebe, Magami and other locations in the state.
“The money spent on the protest should have been used to assist the security agencies in the state to rescue the abducted persons. The governor has stopped assisting security agencies with fund in the state in the last five months.”
Marafa assured that majority of APC family members in Zamfara are solidly behind Oshiomhole and the leadership of the party.
INEC’s stand on
Zamfara APC wrong
The Coalition of Democratic Watchdog of Nigeria yesterday called on the electoral umpire to revisit its disqualification of the APC from fielding candidates for elective positions in Zamfara for the 2019 general elections.
National Coordinator of the Coalition Bob Opara made the call at a news conference in Abuja yesterday.
The INEC had on October 10 said the APC was not eligible to field candidates for governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly positions in the state for the 2019 elections.
In a letter by its acting Secretary Okechukwu Ndeche, the commission said the APC was not qualified to field candidates because it failed to conduct primaries in Zamfara within the stipulated time-frame.
But Oshiomhole said the INEC got its information wrong. He insisted that the party held primaries in Zamfara contrary to the commission’s stance.
He, however, said that primary election was not the only mode prescribed for producing party candidates for elections in the Amended Electoral Act 2010.
Pitching the coalition’s tent with Oshiomhole, Opara said that the APC had held primaries in Zamfara, contrary to INEC‘s believe, adding that it was in the nation‘s interest for the commission to rectify the supposed disqualification ahead of the 2019 general election.
He said: “In line with the provisions of section 153 of the 2010 amended Electoral Act, INEC is empowered to make regulations governing any election.
“In this instance, INEC`s stipulation that party primaries should end on the October 7 was adhered to.
“The international community is also watching with keen interest how an entire state controlled by the ruling APC is barred from fielding candidates in a primary that was well conducted.”
He said the coalition had been monitoring events following the fallout of the APC primary elections held on October 3 and October 4 in Zamfara.
Opara maintained that contrary to INEC‘s belief, the APC held primaries in Zamfara in the presence of the State Resident Electoral Commissioner; two Assistant Inspectors-General of Police; the Commissioner of Police in the state and the Director of Department of State Services (DSS) in the state, among others.
He said that the primaries were held across the 147 wards that made up the 16 local government areas of the state. Opara said violence, however, erupted in seven wards out of the 147 wards of the state.
This, the coalition coordinator said, led to the cancellation of the elections in the affected local government areas which later held the next day being October 4.
He, therefore, wondered why INEC was in a hurry to issue a statement disqualifying the APC from fielding candidates for Zanfara while the primaries was still ongoing.
Tampering with candidates’ list
In Imo, stakeholders cautioned the APC leadership against tampering with the list of candidates sent to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
They said the party’s constitution and the Electoral Act have no provision for automatic tickets, warning the APC leadership against substituting candidates’ names.
According to the stakeholders, the aspirants being promoted by the party in the Southeast state lack the political wherewithal to win the state for the APC.
They warned that the party risks losing Imo, should it replace the candidates produced by the primary conducted by the committee and whose names were forwarded to the NWC.
Their spokesman, Okenze Sylvester Obinna, told a news conference in Abuja that the development within Imo APC could undermine the party’s political fortune in the state.
He said: “We learnt that some party members who participated in the primary in Imo state had their names removed and four automatic ticket given to those who are aliens to the party and does not have what it takes to deliver Imo state in 2019.
“I have never seen a party that wants to turn its political fortune upside down before. The four aspirants who won the primaries had their names removed and those who did not participate were used to replace them. This is not good for our party. We must not destroy the only airport that the APC has in the south east.”
Leader of the Imo APC caucus in the House of Representatives, Nnanna Igbokwe, said the Electoral Act has no recognition for consensus as a mode of selecting candidates for the general election, warning that any party engaging in such an act will be playing to the gallery.
Igbokwe warned that the act of substituting the candidates with those who did not win in the name of automatic ticket will be dangerous for the party.
According to him, those seeking to represent the party should have gone to the field to test their popularity among the people, adding that the era of getting power through the back door was over.
The lawmaker recalled how Governor Rochas Okorocha built the APC in Imo state and the Southeast “at a time when almost everybody in the region considered the party as a Northern party”.
He said that those seeking tickets through the backdoor cannot win any election and therefore of no relevance in Imo politics.