With the release of candidates’ names by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the various elective offices ahead of 2019, the coast appears clear over those who would be the standard-bearers for the governorship, national and state Houses of Assembly elections. While those whose names made the list have rolled the drums to celebrate and get ready for the elections proper, grieving aspirants are considering plan ‘B’.
Many aggrieved aspirants in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have either gone to court or petitioned the ruling party for redress. Not a few heaved a sigh of relief when news broke last week that the national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, was grilled by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) over bribery allegations. To them, time had come for the combative comrade chairman to be shown the way out for a new leader that would address their grievances.
This is coming on the heels of mounting pressure from some governors, including Abiola Ajimobi (Ondo), Rochas Okorocha(Imo), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara) and many others, on Oshiomhole to resign
But analysts believe it is most unlikely for Oshiomhole to be removed from office given the short period of time available before next year’s elections, as well as the deadline given by the INEC for the substitution of candidates,
It is also believed that the former Edo State governor still enjoys the support of powerful forces near the corridors of power, including Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and some APC governors.
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that faced with this reality, many of the aggrieved aspirants within the ruling party in several states have activated their next political plans in order not to lose out in the power game.
Their next plans are said to be taking into account the window of replacement provided by the INEC, which has fixed the last day for withdrawal by candidate/replacement of candidates by political parties for November 17 (for presidential/National Assembly) while that of governorship and House of Assembly) is December
Governorship, national and state assembly aspirants trapped in the logjam of the APC in Zamfara State have kick-started their plan B secretly, Daily Trust on Sunday has reliably gathered. Some of the aspirants and their supporters said they had sealed pact with smaller political parties, only waiting for the “right time” to announce their new platforms.
The INEC said it would not take list of governorship, national and state assembly candidates from the APC for Zamfara State over the failure of the party to conduct primaries/consensus within the stipulated time.
A top politician in the state said he was aware that Governor Yari and all other camps in the state had since sealed alliances separately with other parties.
“Governor Yari, Marafa, Ibrahim Wakala and all other aspirants in the APC have perfected their plans to move to smaller parties. The arrangement will lead to a massive defection from the party in weeks to come,” the politician said, pleading not to be named because of his relationship with the aggrieved aspirants.
It was gathered that Governor Yari, whose endorsement of his Commissioner for Finance, Mukhtar Shehu Idris as the APC governorship candidate for the state led to the crisis in Zamfara, has concluded negotiations with another party as his alternative plan.
An Abuja-based politician from the state said the aspirants had decided to use the substitution period to perfect their plans.
“What my friends who are aspirants in the APC told me is that their names would be sent to the INEC by other parties during the substitution period,” he said.
When contacted, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa (APC, Zamfara), said he was working tirelessly with Oshiomhole to address the logjam in Zamfara State.
Also, there are strong indications that Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s loyalists will be dumping the ruling APC in Ogun State ahead of the 2019 elections.
Sources close to Amosun’s camp confirmed to Daily Trust on Sunday that the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) is the next destination for Amosun’s loyalists.
“This is not the first time they are flying the kite of defection. When it first started, it was with the Accord Party. I am aware that they had already secured the party ticket in Accord Party. Now, it is the DPP. What I know is that Amosun is not likely to defect. The Buhari factor is making things difficult for him,” a source close to Amosun said.
Among those plotting their exit are Amosun’s anointed candidate, Adekunle Akinlade and those who were denied tickets by the National Work Committee (NWC) of the APC.
On Friday, the details released by the INEC foreclosed Akinlade’s chances as he failed to make the list of governorship candidates. The list pasted by the electoral umpire in Abeokuta indicated that Dapo Abiodun is the candidate of the APC, a development that may have put to rest, the controversy over who flies the party’s ticket between Akinlade and Abiodun.
Also, the Amosun-backed 26 candidates vying for Ogun State House of Assembly were conspicuously missing in the list of the assembly candidates. Apart from Adekunle, who currently represents Egbado South and Ipokia federal constituency, four House of Representatives candidates from Amosun’s camp, including the Speaker, Suraj Adekunbi, were denied tickets.
Amosun had described the removal of his candidates as “another evil perpetrated by Oshiomhole in Ogun State.” Already, names of some of the governor’s aides who are still members of the APC have appeared on the DPP list as pasted by the INEC.
On the list as candidates for three senatorial seats in the state are the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Babatunde Ipaye (East); a senior special assistant to Amosun, Alhaji Bola Adeyemi (Central) and another senior special assistant on energy, Chief Taiwo Fagbemi, as the senatorial candidate for Ogun West.
The two APC senators in Kaduna State, Shehu Sani and Suleman Uthman Hunkuyi had issues with the state governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai earlier on; hence it was clear from the onset that it would be difficult for both lawmakers to get the tickets of the party if they wished to return to the Senate.
Hunkuyi read the signs early enough and defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and contested for the governorship ticket of the party, but Shehu Sani remained and tried to secure the ticket for the Kaduna Central zone of the APC. At the end, Sani lost the ticket and left for the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP). Hunkuyi is said to have the PDP ticket for the Kaduna North senatorial zone while Sani secured the ticket of the PRP.
Two members of the House of Representatives, Mohammed Musa Soba (Soba federal constituency) and Ahmed Rufai Chanchangi (Kaduna South federal constituency), also lost APC tickets to return to the National Assembly. Soba is said to have resigned from the APC. It is believed that both lawmakers may directly or indirectly work against the interest of the party in the 2019 general elections.
Initially, there was hope for Governor Rochas Okorocha and his preferred candidate, Uche Nwosu, when the INEC, on Friday left out APC in the list of gubernatorial candidates in the state. But the high expectation was short-lived when electoral umpire later displayed the name of Senator Hope Uzodinma as the governorship candidate of the party. The name of Uzodinma, with Akaolisa Cyprian Okechukwu as his running mate, was pasted at the INEC office along Port Harcourt road in Owerri.
A source said Uzodinma’s name made a dramatic appearance immediately a Federal High Court vacated an earlier order restraining the INEC from publishing any name for the election other than that of Uche Nwosu as the candidate of the party.
Although the matter is in court, many believe that Nwosu may either leave the party to pursue his governorship ambition elsewhere; but in the event he remains in the APC, he might work against the party’s interest.
The unending feud between some federal lawmakers from Bauchi State, including Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Senator Sulaiman Nazif and Isah Hamma Misau, the member representing Ningi/Warji, Salisu Zakari Ningi and the governor, led to their early exit from the APC. This has heightened speculations that they would enter into an alliance with other parties to work against the APC. The lawmakers were given automatic tickets by the PDP.
Leading the revolt in the APC were three governorship aspirants – Dr. Mohammed Ali Pate, Captain Bala Jibrin and Dr. Ibrahim Yakubu Lame – who contested for the ticket against the incumbent Governor Abubakar.
After much acrimony, Pate left the APC and joined the PRP where he secured a governorship ticket for the 2019 elections.
In Niger State, some of the aspirants who lost out are heading to court to seek redress over what they referred to as “stolen mandates” while others have secured the tickets of other parties to realise their ambitions.
The primaries into the Senate, House of Representatives and State House of Assembly were mired in controversy as complaints of malpractices and other underhand dealings trailed the exercise. There were complaints of alleged substitution of the actual winners of the primaries with those of the sitting senators.
In the list displayed by the INEC at its office in Minna, Senators David Umaru, representing Niger East, and Abdullahi Sabi, representing Niger South, were returned as the party’s flag-bearers while their opponents, who claimed they were robbed, protested.
Sani Musa and Haliru Zakari Jikantoro were earlier announced as winners at the party’s secretariat in Minna before the pendulum swung against them in Abuja. Sani has since headed to a Federal High Court in a bid to reclaim what he claimed was his ‘stolen mandate.’ Jinkatoro, on the other hand, has maintained silence on the matter.
Unlike Musa and Zakari, Senator Mustapha Sani lost the party’s ticket to Mohammed Bima in Niger South. Mustapha had vowed that he would seek alternative platform but has, however, not come out clear on his choice.
Like the senatorial tickets, the crisis over the House of Representatives primary election has continued since October. As at yesterday, only names of six out of the 10 federal constituencies and their respective candidates were displayed at the INEC office. They include Abubakar Lado Suleja (Suleja/Tafa/Gurara); Abdullahi Mahmud (Lapai/Agaie); Mohammed Jafaru (Borgu/Agwara); Usman Abdullahi (Lavun/Edati/Mokwa); Mohammed Bago (Chanchaga, and Shehu Barwa Beji (Bosso/Paikoro).
Meanwhile, Yusuf Garba Tagwai, who contested against Lado for the Suleja/Tafa/Gurara federal constituency, has since defected to the Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) while many other aspirants from other constituencies have gone to court.
The political cold war between Senator Magnus Abe and Minister of Transportation Chibuike Amaechi over who flies the APC governorship ticket has taken another dimension with the recognition of Amaechi’s preferred candidate, Arch. Tonye Dele Cole as the party’s governorship flag-bearer.
Last week, the INEC cleared and recognised Cole as APC’s governorship flag-bearer in the oil-rich Rivers State. Cole’s recognition seems to have jolted Abe as he had expected the electoral umpire to abide by the Supreme Court verdict which upheld the Port Harcourt ruling that nullified the ward congresses conducted by the party in the state.
Some of Abe’s key supporters are said to be gradually defecting to the PDP. One of them is Dr Barry Mpigi, a member of the House of Representatives for Tai/Eleme/Oyigbo federal constituency. Mpigi, who defected with a large number of supporters, who are also working for Abe, has since won the heart of Governor Nyesom Wike as he seems to be calling the shots at Brick House, the Rivers State seat of power. Mpigi was said to have nominated some of his key supporters in Wike’s campaign team.
Sources close to Abe told our correspondent that another strong supporter from Oyigbo Local Government Area of the state is set to dump the APC for PDP. The source said the supporter, who is a former member of the House of Assembly and two-time commissioner in the state, is already romancing with Governor Wike.
Recently, the social media was awash with the news that the Ogoni-born senator had defected to the PDP, but Abe’s campaign team was swift to refute the allegation.
The aftermath of the APC primary election in Kano State led to the defection of Senator Isa Yahaya Zarewa to the PRP after he lost. But after his efforts to get the ticket ended unsuccessfully he decamped to the PRP, with the hope that he would get the party’s governorship ticket, but he again lost to Malam Salihu Sagir Takai, who emerged through a consensus
With this development, it appears that Zarewa has exhausted all avenues of getting a ticket to contest for any political position come 2019.
Another strong Kano politician affected by the APC’s primary is Senator Basheer Garba Lado, popularly known as Ladon Alheri. Senator Lado decamped from the PDP to the APC with the hope to replace Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso as senator for Kano Central. When he was received by Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje at the Sani Abacha Stadium, the governor promised to replace Kwankwaso with him in 2019.
However, the sudden defection of the former governor of the state, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau from the PDP to APC completely changed the political calculations and buried Lado’s ambition of becoming the next senator for Kano central.
After Shekarau returned to the APC, he got the ticket for the Kano Central senatorial district on a platter of gold. It was gathered that it took the APC, Governor Ganduje and other top ranking stakeholders of the party some days to convince Sen Lado to concede the ticket to the former education minister.
Although Professor Hafiz Abubakar, a former deputy governor and commissioner for education resigned from his position and subsequently decamped to the PDP, his action had nothing to do with the APC primary election in the state. He resigned and decamped to the PDP before the primary election.
The fear in Kano now is whether Takai, who is in the PRP, would give Governor Ganduje and PDP’s candidate sleepless nights amidst insinuations that he would require a strong political base to win.
As many aggrieved APC aspirants in Adamawa State flood the courts with petitions against the controversial party primaries, others are hell bent on ensuring the disqualification of Governor Muhammadu Jibrilla over an alleged WAEC certificate forgery.
There has been resentment over the manner in which the national headquarters of the APC handled the primaries, with many aspirants for the Senate and House of Representatives denied the chance to participate in the elections on the ground that the incumbents were promised automatic tickets by the Adams Oshiomhole leadership of the party.
The chaos started with the rescheduled governorship primary election, which generated a lot of reactions after Governor Jibrilla was declared winner by the Major-General Ahmad Tijjani-led election committee despite complaints from other aspirants who insisted that elections did not hold in many polling centres across the state.
Both Mahmud Halilu, known as Modi, a brother-in-law to President Buhari and another aspirant, Nuhu Ribadu, the former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) boss, rejected the results, alleging that election officials connived with government agents to manipulate the exercise and that election did not take place in most of the voting centres.
In a phone interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, Mahmud Halilu said his pre-occupation was no longer on the outcome of the governorship primaries as he is currently working to have the governor disqualified by challenging the certificate he presented to the INEC.
“It is no longer about governorship primary election results; I am now challenging Jibrilla’s West African Examination Council (WAEC) papers. I want the governor to be disqualified. I have personally taken him to court and they will soon be summoned,” he disclosed.
The spokesman of the Ribadu Campaign Organisation, Ibrahim Usman, said they were pursuing a court case against the election of the present party executives from ward to the state level, saying the group’s legal victory would automatically nullify all the elections conducted by them.
Also, a former Senate Leader, Jonathan Silas Zwingina, who contested for the APC senatorial ticket in southern district, said that him and other aspirants were contemplating court action should the party fail to address their grievances over the automatic ticket given to the incumbent senator, Abubakar Mo-Allayidi
Daily Trust on Sunday observed that the crises in the party across the 21 local councils in the state were affecting the popularity of the party and the confidence of its members in its leadership as the 2019 elections are fast approaching, especially taking into account, the fact that the presidential candidate of the main opposition party, the PDP, is from Adamawa State.