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Oshiomhole: A party leader on hot seat

With the dust raised by the controversial primaries of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) yet to settle, its national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, appears to be on a hot seat as accusing fingers are being pointed at him.

 

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Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari, was unhappy with the manner in which some of the primaries of the APC were conducted. She particularly faulted the role of party’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, who she accused of allowing impunity under his watch.

Describing the conduct as a negation of the principle of change that the APC stood for, the First Lady directed her tirade at Oshiomhole, saying it was regrettable that despite his activism background, the APC national chairman could allow such a conduct under his leadership.

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The president’s wife, whose brother contested the governorship primary in Adamawa State and lost to the incumbent, Jibrilla Bindo, reportedly said: “It is disheartening to note that some aspirants used their hard-earned money to purchase nomination forms, got screened, cleared and campaigned vigorously, yet found their names omitted on election day. These forms were bought at exorbitant prices.

“The All Progressives Congress, being a party which cardinal principle is change and headed by a comrade/activist whose main concern is the common man, yet, such impunity could take place under his watch. It is important for the populace to rise against impunity and for voters to demand from aspirants to be committed to the provision of basic amenities such as potable water and basic health care

“Given this development, one will not hesitate to dissociate from such unfairness, be neutral and speak for the voiceless. Let us vote wisely. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” she stated.

The president’s wife is not the only one embittered by the outcome of the primaries of the APC. Suleiman Abba, a former Inspector-General of Police, reportedly rained curses on the leadership of the party after he was screened out of the contest for the Jigawa Central senatorial seat on the party’s platform. He was disqualified by the screening committee. The committee claimed that his name was erroneously included in the list of NWC-cleared aspirants.

Abba stormed the national secretariat of the party to register his displeasure while addressing journalists in Abuja. Sounding rather spiritual, he said: “You are all aware that a list was released where I was duly cleared, but another list was released delisting my name. This is not the time for too much talk; this is time for prayers and I want you to join me in this prayer.’’

The First Lady’s outburst and the prayer by the former IGP are just a few cases of growing discontent among chieftains of the ruling APC over the rancorous outcome of its primary elections. In all the cases, accusing fingers are being directed at the national chairman of the party for allegedly manipulating the processes to suit his interest. In states like Nigeria, Kwara and Cross River, protests were held by aggrived APC members, to register their displeasure with the party’s chairman handling of the primaries.

No candidates for Zamfara

The crisis arising from the conduct of primaries by the ruling APC assumed a dramatic twist when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) forwarded a letter to the national headquarters of the party, telling them that they could not field candidates in Zamfara after the party failed to meet its deadline on settling all dispute before October 7.

But in a swift reaction, the party had replied INEC, saying that a consensus was reached between the aspirants and they would submit their names to them.

Primary elections for governorship, national and state assemblies for the APC, could not hold in Zamfara State owing to serious internal wrangling.

The aspirants that battled for the soul of the state are the government-backed Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris and eight others, known as Group 8.

The governorship primary election in the state earlier slated for October 3 was marred by widespread violence and alleged voter intimidation, leading to its cancellation midway by the National Working Committee of the party.

However, the state chapter of the party had rejected the cancellation and vowed to conclude the exercise and announce the results. But barely five days after the election was cancelled, the party chairman in the state, Alhaji Lawali M. Liman, declared Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris as winner.

The national secretariat of the party rescheduled the governorship primary in the state to October 7 and constituted another committee headed by Major General Abubakar Mustapha Gana(retd)  to conduct it. But despite the October 7 deadline by the INEC on resolving all disputes, the exercise could not hold, owing to another disagreement on voter register.

The disagreement led to a free-for-all fight at the venue of the meeting in City King Hotel, with supporters of aspirants attacking one another. The exercise ended in a stalemate after a prolonged meeting.

Meanwhile, the crisis seems far from over as one of the governorship aspirants in the state, Senator Kabiru Marafa, has cautioned the party’s national leadership not to cede the ticket to the highest bidder, while also distancing himself from a purported consensus convened last Thursday.

Bauchi

In Bauchi State, there has been an uneasy calm within the APC since the names of the supposed winners of Senate, House of Representatives and State House of Assembly primaries in the state were released. The announcement, which was made in Abuja after the Professor Ahmed Bakori- led election failed to announce the results in Bauchi, was greeted with widespread condemnation from most of the aspirants and their supporters, alleging that the names did not reflect the true picture of the primaries.

Problem started in the party since it held its congresses when some members alleged that Governor Mohammed Abubakar and the APC leadership in the state had hijacked the process and planted their stooges. Prior to the conduct of the primaries, the party, at a stakeholders meeting, decided that it had adopted indirect primaries. The decision was met with stiff resistance from many members of the party, spearheaded by the three governorship aspirants: Captain Bala Jibrin, Dr Ibrahim Yakubu Lame and Professor Mohammed Ali Pate.

However, since the conduct of the governorship primaries, Pate, Jibrin and Lame registered their complaints with the national headquarters of the party. But Governorý Abubakar, who was earlier declared as the winner, was cleared by the party as candidate. The decision angered the three other aspirants, which forced Professor Pate to defect to the PRP to clinch its governorship ticket while Lame and Jibrin remained in the party. Jibrin and Lame have blamed the election committee chairman and the party leadership, especially its national chairman of putting the state APC into jeopardy to satisfy the interest of some few individuals. They alleged that names of winners in the primaries were replaced by other names, allegedly on either the order of Governor Abubakar or some powerful individuals in the corridors of power. In the heat of the controversial results of the primaries, many aspirants and their supporters threatened to leave the party or reject its candidates at the polls.

Adamawa

Following the disputed governorship primary election in Adamawa, in which Governor Muhammadu Jibrilla emerged as winner, the political atmosphere remains uncertain as his opponents mount pressure on the national leadership of the APC to cancel the election over alleged electoral fraud.

The election, initially planned to be indirect and slated for September 30, could not hold due to protest by two of the three aspirants; former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu and Mahmud Halilu Ahmed, a relative of Aisha Buhari, over alleged manipulation of delegates list by election officials to favour Governor Jibrila who is seeking re-election. Mahmud had accused the Yarima Giade-led primary elections committee of bias and working with the governor to rig the election against other aspirants.

He also alleged that the election committee sent from Abuja relinquished most of its responsibilities to the suspended members of the state executive committee who constituted themselves into a local organising committee to favour the governor. On his part, the director-general, Nuhu Ribadu Campaign Organisation, Salihu Bawuro, announced the decision of his principal to withdraw from the primaries for lack of confidence in the election officials, saying: “The decision to withdraw from this race was taken after due consultation at the level of the campaign directorate and other well-wishers of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.”

Following the protests, the National Working Committee of the APC rescheduled the exercise to Thursday October 4, while adopting the direct primary election mode.   However, the  failure of the new election committee, headed by Major-General Ahmad Tijjani Jibrin (retd) to arrive in Yola until evening left the stakeholders with no option than to agree for the election to hold the next day. Despite petitions by the two aspirants, General Jibrin announced results collated from local areas, declaring Governor Jibrilla as winner, even as the other aspirants maintained their prayers for cancellation and disbandment of party executives from state to ward levels to allow for free and transparent election.   The spokesman of Ribadu, Ibrahim Usman, said they had filed a petition backed by strong evidence of fraud and were awaiting the decision of the national secretariat of the party.

Also, a member of Mahmud’s campaign organisation, Ibrahim Waziri, welcomed the recent constitution of appeal committee, saying he was hopeful that Jibrilla’s victory would be reversed. He believed that the weight of their petition and the evidence of electoral fraud committed in the primaries would lead to cancellation of the primaries.

Rivers

In Rivers State, the political cold war between Minister of Transportation Chibuike Amaechi and the senator representing Rivers South-East, Magnus Abe, has assumed a legal dimension as a  Port Harcourt High Court, presided over by Justice Chiwendu Nwogu, reportedly  sacked the Flag Ojukaye Amachree-led executive of  APC.   Ojukaye is the chairman of the faction of APC in Rivers State controlled by Amaechi. The court also nullified the governorship primaries that produced Mr. Tonye Cole as the governorship candidate of the APC, on the ground that his election is a function of illegality and unconstitutional acts. The party had held parallel governorship primary election in Rivers State, with the factions loyal to Senator Abe and Amaechi holding separate events. While Abe’s faction, led by Peter Odike, held its direct primary election across the 23 local government areas of the state and collated the results in its Aba Road, Port Harcourt secretariat, Amaechi’s group, led by Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, held its primary at the popular Igboukwu field, D/Line, Port Harcourt, using the indirect method. Abe’s faction declared him winner, with a total of 144,929 votes while Cole reportedly polled more than 3,000 votes to emerge winner in the Ojukaye faction.    The Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee has endorsed Cole as the party’s flag-bearer, but Senator Abe has since rejected the endorsement and threatened to take his case to the election appeal committee.

Cross River

The fallout of the just concluded APC governorship primaries in Cross River State, which produced two candidates, Senator John Owan-Enoh and the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Usani, has led to a strong demand for the resignation of the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole.

The faction of the party which produced Usani is led by Mr Godwin John Etim, former chairman of Etung Local Government Area.  They alleged that Oshiomhole has openly been supporting the emergence of Owan-Enoh against party rules. They also insisted that he had no power to upturn Usani’s election in favour of Owan-Enoh.

During a public protest in Calabar and other parts of the state, they accused Oshiomhole of partiality, illegality and disobedience to the rule of law.

The director of campaign for Usani, Ekpenyong Cobham, as well as Sylvester Nsa, commissioner of the NDDC in Cross River State, said the coming of Oshiomhole had brought more political crises in the state, adding that they expected him to work with the structures left behind by his predecessor, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

Imo

There is the palpable fear that the APC may not field any candidate for the 2019 governorship election if they are unable to resolve the controversies over the botched primaries.

Although the party had been locked in a logjam since the May 5 ward congress, which pitted Governor Rochas Okorocha against a coalition of other members, also known as Allied Forces, the present contestation is over who would fly the party’s flag in the 2019 governorship election.

The Ahmed Gulak committee had arrived the state to conduct the election, but because of what it described as logistic problems, it was postponed.

It was, therefore, surprising to party members that the state woke up in the early hours of the next day to hear from the chairman that the election had been concluded and announced Senator Hope Uzodinma as the winner. Gulak was said to have hurriedly left his Rockview Hotel room and absconded to Abuja, where he announced the results.

The announcement triggered reactions and confusion in Okorocha’s camp.  Realising that they might have lost, Okorocha rallied other members of the committee still left in Owerri to announce another result, which favoured his son in-law.

As it stands, the battle has shifted to Abuja, where each of the parties in what has become ‘The Imo Drama’ jostles to have the ear of the NWC.

Ogun

In Ogun State, Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s reported planned defection from the APC following disputed governorship primary has set tongues wagging.

The seed of discord was sowed on September 6 when Amosun allegedly used the party structure and the Ogun West Elders Council to pick a member representing Egbado South/Ipokia federal constituency, Adekunle Akinlade, as the governorship consensus candidate.

Amosun had repeatedly declared that his successor would come from Ogun West, the region which hasn’t produced a governor since the creation of the state in 1976. Aside Akinlade’s adoption, all other 39 elective positions were picked through consensus arrangement, a development that polarised the party as those who felt edged out revolted.

At least, five governorship aspirants formed alliance against the governor’s pick. They are: an oil magnate, Dapo Abiodun, Senator Adegbenga Kaka, former commissioner for commerce and industry, Bimbo Ashiru, the special adviser to Kaduna State Governor, Jimi Lawal and Abayomi Hunye.

Interestingly, the state leadership of the APC, which had adopted consensus/direct primary as mode of electing party’s candidates, dramatically reviewed it and adopted indirect primary, barely a week to primary elections. This further plunged the ruling party into disarray.

However, the Oshiomhole-led NWC wielded its power by upturning the Ogun indirect primary mode. It approved the direct primary for the state executive, forcing it to retrace its step.

In ratifying the candidature, the Oshiomhole-led NWC went for Abiodun, leaving Amosun jolted. He rushed into meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari twice, as well as Oshiomhole, but he met a brick wall.

In what appears to be the battle for political survival, Amosun is rumoured to be perfecting his defection from the ruling party. He reportedly gave the hint at a meeting he held with some party stakeholders on Wednesday night upon his return from Abuja, where he met Buhari.

Kaduna

In Kaduna, the recognition of only Senator Shehu Sani as the sole aspirant for Kaduna Central has led to a dramatic crescendo, starting with a protest at the state secretariat of the party, a legal action by Uba Sani, one of the aspirants; the conduct of the primary and the declaration of Uba Sani as the winner, the insistence by the NWC that Shehu remains the candidate of the party, the presentation of certificate to the former and the counter by the NWC.  The matter has lingered to the point that nobody is currently sure of who the candidate of the APC for the Kaduna Central senatorial district is. The national chairman of the party was said to have taken the decision to give Shehu Sani and other senators who had not defected to the PDP automatic tickets as a reward for their loyalty to the party. But many have said there is nothing like an automatic ticket in the constitution of the party, and that even in cases where an aspirant stands unopposed, the party still has to do a primary to affirm his candidacy before giving him the party’s ticket. Shehu Sani boycotted the primary organised to elect the party’s candidate on the grounds that the party has made known its position on the matter, and that the exercise is illegal.   Our correspondent learnt that the final list of candidates would be made public by the party on October 15.

Lagos

Weeks before the primary election in Lagos, there was a running battle between the camp of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who was in search of a second term ticket and that of the loyalists of the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who had supported the candidacy of a two-term commissioner, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Signs of discordant tunes were first noticed when the state party hierarchy insisted that only members with the plastic identity cards would be allowed to vote and that the voting pattern would be through what is known as open direct primary or option A-4. These conditions were considered unfavourable by Ambode’s camp, which impressed it on the Ebiri-led NWC team to also allow members with ordinary registration slips to participate in the voting process.    Despite the stakeholders’ meeting held between the NWC team and the state party leaders, both party stuck to their guns. However, on October 2, 2018, slated for the conduct of the primary, while members of the NWC claimed not to be carried along, the party went on to organise the process, which its result was later annulled.   It was gathered that moments after Ebiri declared the primary as a nullity; back-room politics was activated by Lagos APC stalwarts, who mounted serious pressure on both the party’s national headquarters in Abuja and the presidency. A highly placed source within the Lagos APC said their leaders had threatened Abuja that, “there would be dire consequences if the result of the primary would not be allowed to stand.”    “You can see that a meeting was quickly held between the President Muhammadu Buhari and the national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. And I can say the statement of Oshiomhole after the meeting with the president gave us some hope when he said everything with the Lagos primary was fine and it would stand,” the source said

Kwara

Members of the APC in Kwara State may have been torn apart over the outcome of the House of Assembly, House of Reps/Senate and the governorship primaries held on Friday and Saturday. Our correspondent, however, learned that the party members were kept in the dark regarding the outcome of the primaries as the results were neither officially collated nor released.

A group under the aegis of the Concerned Youth Stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress in the state has condemned the conduct of the just concluded primaries, saying the exercise reeked of fraud.

Speaking with journalists in Ilorin yesterday, the spokesperson of the group, Comrade Ahmed Akorede, alleged that the primaries were an already concluded script aimed at imposing certain individuals upon the people who had toiled for the party.

The governorship primary election was announced in Abuja by the National Working Committee of the party, while that of the state and National Assembly is yet to be released.

Those who said the development did not encourage internal democracy frowned at the declaration of the result in Abuja, an election which took place in Kwara State.

Niger

Like most APC-controlled states, the outcome of the recent primaries has thrown up a lot of crises in Niger State.

The party had adopted a direct approach to elect its flag-bearers to all positions from the governorship to the state Assembly.

The governorship primary was a smooth sail as two aspirants backed down and Governor Abubakar Sani Bello was returned unopposed. However, the senatorial primary, which held on October 4, was crisis-ridden, with protests across polling units and wards.

Seven aspirants contested for the Niger East senatorial district. They are Mohammed Sani Musa, Senator David Umaru, Musa Mohammed, Shaibu Gwada, Umar Faruk, Usman Dattijo and Eunice Afiniki Dauda.

The contest in the district referred to as Zone ‘B’ was narrowed down to Mohammed Sani Musa and Senator David Umaru. Between the two, the incumbent governor was alleged to be sympathetic to Musa against Umaru, with whom he has been having a running battle.

Across the two other senatorial districts where the odds tilted against the sitting senators, Abdullahi Sabi and Mustapha, protesters also stormed party offices in their respective locations over alleged malpractices and other underhand dealings, while supporters of Mohammed Bima Enagi, Haliru Zakeri Jikantotoro and Mohammed Sani Musa laid siege at the state party secretariat in Minna, awaiting announcement of results.

To douse the heightening tension, the state chairman of the party, Mohammed Jibril Imam, had to hurriedly call a press conference to appeal for calm. But the effort hardly had the desired effect as supporters of the perceived winners, Mohammed Bima Enagi, Haliru Zakeri Jikantotoro and Mohammed Sani Musa insisted on the announcement of the results, even as the party said only the returning officers could do so.

With this development, Governor Bello, state party officials and the aspirants had to relocate to Abuja to find a way round the anomaly. But the protesters also shifted their base to the nation’s capital.

After more than four days of struggle and horse-trading in Abuja, it was learnt that stakeholders, including the aspirants, met for a way forward on Wednesday night. Although the outcome of the meeting was yet to be made public, a source close the party hierarchy said aggrieved aspirants may be railroaded into accepting the decision of the national secretariat in the end.

Taraba

Hajia Aisha Alhassan (aka Mama Taraba) had to leave the party and quit the Buhari cabinet as Minister of Women Affairs after the party stopped her from contesting the governorship of Taraba State. Alhassan was not cleared by the party’s screening committee to contest the governorship due to what the chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, described as her questionable loyalty.

But Mama Taraba, who has since picked the United Democratic Party (UDP) nomination form to contest the Taraba State governorship seat, blamed the party’s chairman for her ordeal.

She accused Mr. Oshiomhole of “using his power to deal with her.”

“It was not the screening committee that disqualified me; the chairman of the party personally did it. But, I have put that behind me. I have moved to the UDP and will seek its ticket to contest the governorship election. Oshiomhole has used his powers to deal with me, but it is God that gives power,” she said.

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