* APC to Amosun: You need self-appraisal
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on Wednesday spoke on post-primary issues in Zamfara, Ogun, Kaduna, Imo, and Rivers States.
The APC National Publicity Secretary, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, who fielded questions from journalists at the party’s National Secretariat in Abuja, said it was unfortunate that the Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr Osita Okechukwu, had gone to the media to ventilate his grievances over primaries.
Issa-Onilu said as a highly respected senior member of the party, Mr Okechukwu should have used the internal party mechanism for dispute resolution.
He also dismissed the allegation of nepotism in the constitution of five-member National Assembly Primary panel for 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
On the Zamfara issue, the APC spokesman said, “We submitted list of candidates for legislative elections in Zamfara state, if INEC did not take it, it is a different thing. We have a right to submit and INEC has the legal responsibility to receive. INEC cannot disqualify candidates we all know that.
“We have said clearly that whatever claims that INEC is making is not correct or a true representation of what happened and we will continue to take progressive steps to ensure that INEC does what is right.”
Concerning the APC position on the governorship primary election in Rivers State, Issa-Onilu said, “The Supreme Court ruling on the Rivers APC governorship primaries has been subjected to different interpretations. As at today, the party has not yet taken a position on the ruling. 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 judgement.”
He said the outcome of the court judgement would guide the party in the Imo State gubernatorial primary tussle.
He said, “The issue of submission of governorship candidates to INEC falls due on November 2nd, so we haven’t reached the stage of where we will submit names or beat the deadline. You are aware that there was a court action challenging the Imo governorship primary election.
“The position of the party is that whatever court judgement, good or bad we must comply with it. We will only decide who will be APC’s governorship candidate for Imo state by November 2nd.”
On the case of Sen. Shehu Sani in Kaduna State, the party said it was democracy that prevailed as the efforts to protect him and other members of National Assembly were rebuffed by other contenders for the Kaduna Central senatorial district ticket.
Speaking on the protest by Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, Issa-Onilu said the governor needed to do a self-appraisal over the issue.
He said the governor conducted primaries without giving regard to constitutional provision which said the results must be announced by the election panel instead of party chairmen or state governors.
Issa-Onilu said, “It is a straight forward case. If we speak to the merit of this case, the whole world saw it, the visuals were everywhere, where the Ogun State governor gathered some aspirants, stakeholders and said clearly, there won’t be primaries and right there he pointed at who the next Governor, Senator, House of Representatives candidates would be. He named himself the next Senatorial candidate.
“Even if they have accepted those people, it is against the procedure, especially for a governor to openly say a thing like that.
“It was clearly stated; the party gave two options which is the direct and indirect primaries and you are to have stakeholders’ meetings where majority are to decide.
“In the case of Ogun, after that exercise failed; after they tried to handpick who will be what, they sent a letter that they have agreed on direct primary and the party has no choice than to endorse what you want.
“On the day they all came for screening including the governor, he suddenly left with other aspirants and returned back to Abeokuta; gathered some people and sent back to the NWC that they wanted indirect primary and the other aspirants said we were all here together, that they didn’t know when this change was made.
“Meanwhile, someone had gone to court and the court had barred the state executive from anything to do with the party but we all saw on national television where the state Governor and the state Executive, actually conducted their own primary and the process threw up the Governor’s preferred candidate. It was the SSG in Ogun State, who was reading the result until it occurred to him that he had no power to announce the names, so he handed over to the state chairman of the party who also shouldn’t have done that – he is statutory barred, the court had told him not to participate in the primary. Secondly, the state chairman has no power to conduct primary; that power resides with the NWC.
“So, whatever the governor did was self-help and there is no provision for self-help in the party’s constitution. 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 added, “The governor has done his best to get validation for his self-help. That is not possible. The first thing he did was to start saying things that made it look like something wrong has happened when nothing of such has happened.
“Secondly, he took some monarchs to meet the president. I am surprised because someone like him, with due respect to him should have understood the nature of the president we have, that no matter how close you are to him, he will listen to you but he will ask for the rules to be followed.
“So, the next thing we had was he looking for whom to blame, and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Chief Segun Osoba readily came to his mind and he blamed them for that. The question to ask is whether they were the one who gave directive to him to organise his own primaries or they were the one who instructed him not to participate in the primaries or his candidate not to participate in primaries the party organised.
“If he didn’t do all of that, there has not been that consciousness to self appraise and ask himself: have I done the right thing? Am I asking for what is fair? Am I not putting the party in a position to ask them to do what’s wrong? Those are the questions we expect the governor of Ogun State to ask himself. He needs to self-appraise, look at the actions he has taken and come to that conclusions that he’s taking the wrong route.”